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meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da

DigiTrad:
GILGARRY MOUNTAIN (There's whiskey in the jar)
WHISKEY, YOU'RE THE DIVIL


Related threads:
(origins) Origins: Whiskey In The Jar (165)
(origins) Origins: Musha ringum duram da... (115)
Firearms query from 'Whiskey in the Jar' (72)
Whiskey in the Jar by the young fellow (2)
Whiskey in the Jar - Irish? Appalachian? (60)
Lyr Req: Whisky in the Jar parody (10)
Whiskey in the Jar (36)
Lyr Req: Whisky in Jar, Jug of Punch (23)
Lyr Req: Scriptures on the wall (2)
Lyr Req: Tequila in the jar (8)
Lyr Req: Bold Lovell (6)
Lord, There's alot of Whiskey in the jar (19)
Why is Whisky In The Jar... (32)
Whiskey in the Jar (12)
Tune Req: Whisky in the Jar (4)
Gilgarry Mountain a/k/a Whiskey in the Jar (14)
Lyr Req: Whiskey in the Jar (2) (closed)


mryan 31 Jan 99 - 07:30 AM
Roger in Baltimore 31 Jan 99 - 07:58 AM
Liam's Brother 31 Jan 99 - 10:43 AM
Ian Kirk (inactive) 31 Jan 99 - 11:44 AM
31 Jan 99 - 11:55 AM
rick fielding 31 Jan 99 - 12:16 PM
Ritchie 01 Feb 99 - 11:04 AM
Bill D 01 Feb 99 - 12:24 PM
Bill D 01 Feb 99 - 12:35 PM
Sean Mac Ruaraidh 01 Feb 99 - 01:02 PM
Barry Finn 01 Feb 99 - 01:39 PM
Sandy Paton 01 Feb 99 - 05:30 PM
Joe Offer 01 Feb 99 - 06:45 PM
Roger in Baltimore 01 Feb 99 - 07:16 PM
01 Feb 99 - 07:20 PM
Jo Taylor 01 Feb 99 - 07:35 PM
01 Feb 99 - 08:14 PM
Mike Billo 01 Feb 99 - 08:31 PM
Sandy Paton 01 Feb 99 - 08:51 PM
alison 01 Feb 99 - 10:16 PM
Joe Offer 01 Feb 99 - 11:14 PM
karen k 01 Feb 99 - 11:23 PM
karen k 01 Feb 99 - 11:26 PM
O'Boyle 01 Feb 99 - 11:34 PM
Lonesome EJ 02 Feb 99 - 12:25 AM
02 Feb 99 - 01:48 AM
02 Feb 99 - 01:52 AM
02 Feb 99 - 01:46 PM
Bill D 02 Feb 99 - 02:34 PM
Jo Taylor 02 Feb 99 - 07:32 PM
Margo 03 Feb 99 - 12:32 PM
Philippa 03 Feb 99 - 02:45 PM
Philippa 05 Feb 99 - 03:32 PM
Melodeon 05 Feb 99 - 05:55 PM
Rosie 06 Feb 99 - 11:14 AM
Philippa 14 Feb 99 - 02:52 PM
Philippa 14 Feb 99 - 02:57 PM
Jack Hickman, Kingston, Ontario 14 Feb 99 - 04:52 PM
Philippa 15 Feb 99 - 03:51 PM
Philippa 16 Feb 99 - 05:46 PM
GUEST,Patrick Sheehan 27 Oct 03 - 02:40 AM
GUEST 27 Oct 03 - 03:46 AM
GUEST,weerover 27 Oct 03 - 08:33 AM
radriano 27 Oct 03 - 11:30 AM
GUEST,guest 27 Oct 03 - 12:08 PM
GUEST,Patrick Sheehan 14 Nov 03 - 07:53 PM
GUEST,Patrick Sheehan 14 Nov 03 - 10:09 PM
GUEST,Patrick Sheehan 14 Nov 03 - 10:23 PM
Peace 15 Nov 03 - 09:24 PM
GUEST,Philippa 16 Nov 03 - 04:19 PM
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Subject: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: mryan
Date: 31 Jan 99 - 07:30 AM

Does anyone know what the lyrics "musha ring dumma do dumma da" mean? They are from the song Whiskey in the Jar.

If you have any idea of a translation, I would appreciate it. Thanks.


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 31 Jan 99 - 07:58 AM

Mryan,

Irish music is filled with "nonsense" phrases like the one above. They tend to be part of choruses. I don't think they have any meaning or purpose except to fill up melodic space.

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 31 Jan 99 - 10:43 AM

Roger is entirely correct. The meaning is... no meaning.


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: Ian Kirk (inactive)
Date: 31 Jan 99 - 11:44 AM

A more up to date translation may be - Wop Bop a Loo Bop a Lop Bam Boom - Little Richard borrowed it and used it in Tutti Frutti a Rock and Roll song my grandad told me about

Ian


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From:
Date: 31 Jan 99 - 11:55 AM

NOBODY in the world is SO young that he HEARD about Little Richard from his GRANDAD for cripes sake. Now I know there IS a parallel universe out there mocking our own. Ian, you make me feel so old!--John


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: rick fielding
Date: 31 Jan 99 - 12:16 PM

"musha, musha...." before we blame the Irish (or even grandparents who were Little Richard fans) can anyone remember: "iss biddly oten doten bobo". I can swear I heard my mother (singing?) that when I was an impressionable youth. And who of course could forget: "ooh eeh, ooh, ahh, ahh, ting tang wallawalla bing bang". Thank God I discovered Pete Seeger before it was too late!


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: Ritchie
Date: 01 Feb 99 - 11:04 AM

ish shimpul reely jush lishun too "mairzy dotes an does eet dotes an lickle ams eet ivy a kidll eet ivy too woodnt yoo?" an it will all becum so much cleera.

lorra luv

Big Richard


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: Bill D
Date: 01 Feb 99 - 12:24 PM

a few lines on deeper meaning...

"now 'salagadoola' means 'mooshakaboolaroo', but the thinga-a-ma-bob that does the job, is 'Bibbity-bobbity-boo'"


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: Bill D
Date: 01 Feb 99 - 12:35 PM

and, for a complete explanation, click here

Swinburn's tongue-in-cheek response to Tennyson's The Higher Pantheism


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: Sean Mac Ruaraidh
Date: 01 Feb 99 - 01:02 PM

Well, you may say it is nonsense but I have a theory that these garbled lines once meant something and that the meaning was lost in translation from another language or dialect. These gibberish fillers may well have at one point been phonetically translatable but now there is no chance as too many years have passed.

Could 'musha ring umma do umma do' at one time been a bit of Gaelic Irish or did the writer simply run out of words, or is it just something that has the right sound about it.

Its lines like this that might give folk music a bad name in some social groupings - I heard an uneducated English chap refer to it as Hey Nonny Noo music - sounds more like a reference to Much Ado About Nothing than folk music 'Into Hey nonny, nonny..' My dad calls some types of folk music 'diddle-dee-dee' but thats a direct reference to the sound of some of the bands and is onomatapaeic.

Anyway unless someone comes with the goods we can specualte forever. I think too you'll find that 'musha ...' etc. is not even in all versions of that song.

Sean


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: Barry Finn
Date: 01 Feb 99 - 01:39 PM

Sean, a woman I used to sing with 15 years or so ago had the same theory you mentioned, but I haven't seen or heard from her since. She went to Scotland got a new name, a new husband, new band & now sings stuff that even she doesn't understand. Look above do you see the words to "mare's eat oats and doe's eat oats and little lambs eat ivy" that in itself makes for a convincing theory, although I think that Richie knew that when he posted it but many others have said that they haven't a clue as to what those words meant. Barry


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 01 Feb 99 - 05:30 PM

C'mon guys! We know they're all based on ancient Pictish fertility chants such as "Hi-diddle-i-diddle-i-fie, diddle-i-diddle-i-day." Part of the great Jungian collective-unconscious we happily share. Pre-viagara stuff, and no side-effects.

Sandy


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: Joe Offer
Date: 01 Feb 99 - 06:45 PM

Rick Fielding - Isn't it your beloved Pete Seeger who inflicted "Abiyoyo" upon an unsuspecting world? I think I have that song on five different CD's. Listening to it once is quite enough. I like Pete Seeger very much, but not that song.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 01 Feb 99 - 07:16 PM

Thanks, Joe, you echo my thoughts. I was thinking old Pete also sang somethin' called Wimoweh. I suspect that isn't a word in any language, either.

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From:
Date: 01 Feb 99 - 07:20 PM

Damn it joe, you had to remind me about that! Which in turn reminded me that Pete sang: Risselty rosselty, hey bombosity nickety nackety retricule quality willoby walloby now, now, now. He claimed it was from Aunt Emma Dusenbury, but I bet it was some communist plot.

My all time favourite nonsence (or politically cyphered) chorus is that sung by Peter Stampfel on "Mr. Spaceman". It can be found on the Holy Modal Rounders first album. It puts your Pictish fertility choruses to shame, Sandy.


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: Jo Taylor
Date: 01 Feb 99 - 07:35 PM

Rick - several messages back, could it be that you refer to 'BEEP skiddely ogen dogen pogo ske doogen daten'? Other parts like 'kama la kama la kama la vista' and 'eeny meeny macareny ooh ah ooha la meeny'?? If so it's a 'mind-worm' that's been bothering me for a couple of years...can anyone fill in the rest of it? or are those all the bits? It's a question & response sort of song. Do you all get mind-worms?
Jo, who's just caught this one again - thanks Rick... :-/


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From:
Date: 01 Feb 99 - 08:14 PM

Anyone with a modicum of linguistic ability understands it to mean "SHITE". MG Sport


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: Mike Billo
Date: 01 Feb 99 - 08:31 PM

I'll lay claim to the "most pretentious twit" award ( a dubious honor that I'm, unfortunately, very familiar with) by contributing that the technical name for the singing of syllables that are not actually a part of a real language is called turtleage.


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 01 Feb 99 - 08:51 PM

Emma Dusenberry was discovered by some of those good political/social activists at the Commonwealth School in Mena, Arkansas, a fact that undoubtedly thickens the "plot." Lee Hayes was one of 'em, too, so there you are, Rick! Probably a direct conspiratorial link to Abiyoyo and Risselty-Rosselty, designed to weaken our patriotic resolve by filling our heads with nonsense.

Jo: We've collected about a dozen "Mama-lama-kooma-lama, mama-la vistas" in schools around the country, and no two were ever quite the same. Similar, yes, but not identical. Our granddaughter learned a version here in rural Connecticut. Bessie Jones had a dandy one from the Georgia Sea Islands. Trouble is, they've all been done too fast for me to be able to transcribe the words!

Sandy


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: alison
Date: 01 Feb 99 - 10:16 PM

Hi Jo and Rick,

Used to sing it as a brownie and guide. the rhythm is done by slapping your thighs then clapping your hands.

FLEA

(All lines are done by the leader then echoed)

Flea
Flea fly
Flea fly flo
vista

Cumala, cumala, cumala vista
Oh no no no no da vista
Eeney meaney decimeaney ooh wala wala meaney ex a meaney sal a meaney ooh wala wa
Beat biddley oten doten bobo da beeten doten Shhhhht.

Then you do it FAST!!!

Slainte

alison


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: Joe Offer
Date: 01 Feb 99 - 11:14 PM

Hey, Alison, that's exactly the way I learned it from my obnoxious kid sister. She'd do it over and over and over again. It was disgusting. It still is....
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: karen k
Date: 01 Feb 99 - 11:23 PM

My version is the same as Alison's until the first line that ends with vista (but I learned vistey not vista).

FLEA

Each line is echoed back to the leader.

Flea (Flea) Flea fly (Flea fly) Flea fly flo (Flea fly flo) Vistey (Vistey)

Cumala, cumala, cumala vistey

Oh no no no not the vistey

Vistey ( and then it really changes!)

Eeney meney dis a leenee, ooh ahh ahh meleenee Otchicotchee oochirachee, ooh ahh ooh. Ish bibili oaten doten, why not in doten toten, bo bo ski doten toten hey don areema!

This was always a camp song that was lots of fun because you got faster each time until everyone just collapsed in laughter. I've heard other versions but this is the only one I've ever been able to learn.


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: karen k
Date: 01 Feb 99 - 11:26 PM

Oops, Sorry Joe. I forgot all about the
's

karen


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: O'Boyle
Date: 01 Feb 99 - 11:34 PM

I knew some one who asked a band to play the "black balls on the patio" song which he thought were the words to the chorus of Whiskey in the Jar.

Rick


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 02 Feb 99 - 12:25 AM

I was driving with a friend whi is Irish, and we were listening to "Whiskey in the Jar". When hit got to the "musha ring dumma do" part, my friend says "Ah! here's the dirty part"."What ya mean, the dirty part?" I said.He told me that a lot of old Irish tunes were originally performed in pubs frequented by men only, and that the refrains were almost always "off-color", as they say.These were cleaned up for the functions where women,or folk music chroniclers, were in attendance.Now it's entirely possible my good friend was pulling my leg and it wouldn't be the first time. Maybe one of the Irish Mudcatters can confirm or refute this dread insult against celtic music. LEJ


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From:
Date: 02 Feb 99 - 01:48 AM

many years ago I heard Bram Morrison (before he became a trillionaire with Sharon Lois and Bram) singing "A Kangeroo sat on an oak...with the chorus Ki moneero kitty kum ki mo ki mo neero ki mo...he said it was a Newfoundland variant of Carrion Crow, and my friend who was with me wondered if the chorus was gaelic. I'm right now trying to decypher the hidden meaning that has escaped me all these years. In the meantime can anybody tell me what "Diddy wa Diddy" means?


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From:
Date: 02 Feb 99 - 01:52 AM

Not that my postings are Shakespeare-like in their brilliance but can anybody tell me why they're coming out anonymously? Am I doing something wrong?

Rick F


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From:
Date: 02 Feb 99 - 01:46 PM

I dinnae hae th' Irish, anely a wee bit o' Scots Gaelic, but I'm wi' Sean an' th' ithers whae think "Musha ring" comes frae wairds our Modern English/American ears hear as "nonsense."

Allow me tae present ye wi' a relatit example: growin' up subjectit tae Peter, Paul, an' Mary's rendition o' sangs, I thocht for years that th' followin' wairds were "jist nonsense syllables:"

"Shool, shool, shool-a-roon, / shool-a-rack-shack / shool-a-bob a-coon..."

These wairds were pairt o' th' chorus tae th' auld sang aboot th' lass lamentin' that, as usual, "Johnny's gane for a soldier..." Weel, I haed ma suspicions that I wisnae gettin' th' hale story wi' that odd "nonsense" chorus, an' sure eno'!!! I went tae a sang wairkshop at an Irish festival in Alaska, an' there wis a fellow teachin' us th' proper Irish wairds.

"Shool-a-run" actually comes frae th' Irish Gaelic (forgie me for wrichtin' Scots Gaelic an' omittin' accents, I dinnae hae th' Irish wairds printit oot) wairds "Siubhal"--meanin' travel-- an' "Run" meanin' someane verra dear. So th' narrator's nae babblin' like an' eejit, she's lamentin' th' fact that her love maun gae travellin' aff, an' possibly sayin' sumpit tae th' effect o' "sure, gae aff an' leave me, I'll jist sit here on ma hill wi'oot ma spinnin' wheel an' SUFFER..."

I'm thinkin' tis time tae lay this ane afore oor resident Mudcat Irish scholars. Onyane oot there wi' a facility for Irish an' eno' vocabulary/interpretion skills tae render "Musha-ring..." in th' auld Mither Tongue? Barrin' that, onyane oot there wi' eno' Irish tae tell me aff, an' laugh in ma face because ye ken it really IS nonsense, sairvin' tae cover up sumpit waurse?!?

maist humbly submitted,

--Cuilionn


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: Bill D
Date: 02 Feb 99 - 02:34 PM

wasn't it Seamus Ennis who had a funny joke/monologue about a father and his kids, where he doesn't feel good, and they bring him a toddy, and inquire of it's efficacity ..."did da Rum do, Da-Dee?"....


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: Jo Taylor
Date: 02 Feb 99 - 07:32 PM

Thanks Alison & Karen! At least my mind worm will get it in the right order now......Joe (and others) - it must be much nore common in the US - I'd never ever heard it before until a couple of years ago sitting round a camp fire.


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: Margo
Date: 03 Feb 99 - 12:32 PM

Hey alison!

I'm amazed at your "flea fly flo" rhyme. I learned the same one at camp in the sierras. Your version is verbatim to the one I know. THAT'S WIERD! You'd expect the differences.....

Margarita


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: Philippa
Date: 03 Feb 99 - 02:45 PM

Shoo-bop-a-loo-bop. Yes, I heard the Pictish theory before; the lost tongue surviving only in choral remnants. And there certainly ARE songs in which the original language of the song survives in a corrupted form in the chorus. It happens quite a bit with the songs of immigrants in N America. Cuilionn mentions a variant of "si£l a r£in" (in the database as Shule Aroon, Buttermilk Hill, Shule Agra/Johnny has gone for a soldier; and also in an earlier thread in Irish); another example from Irish would be versions of an Drim¡onn D¡lis collected in Canada.
But I would like to offer another theory about the origin of meaningless syllables. In many cases they have no particular function except to sound funny and be fun to sing together. But the custom may have risen out of vocables that were used as mnemonics to help memorise tunes.
Some of you will know about songs that pipers used to learn tunes. As I understand it, the songs were similar to singing a melody with the words "doh, re, mi, fa," etc. fitting exactly which note was played. But the system was more complicated than that because there were also syllables to represent the time the note was held and some of the fingered ornamentation. Thus a piper could practise without an instrument, moving their fingers as the sound symbols of the song indicated.
Scottish waulking songs have characteristic choral lines such as "o hi h-oireann o". Everyone waulking the tweed would sing these choruses together as they worked, while individuals would sing the verses. The verses can be adapted and improvised, but any particular melody has very specific vocables and they are supposed to be strictly adhered to. Given a line of the chorus, those in the know will be able to give you the entire tune. John Campbell and Frances Collinson did some analysis of how particular sounds(for instance the length of vowels)give the rhythm of the tune. I don't know what further study has been done on the topic.
Has anyone got a theory about why Scots Gaels "hi ho", Irish singers "diddle da dee", Jazz goes "beebop", etc - the preponderence of a particular initial syllable in the lilting and vocatives of different cultures or musical styles?


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: Philippa
Date: 05 Feb 99 - 03:32 PM

"whack-fol-the diddle" means "refresh" in Phlipantish.

as in "whack-fol-the didle-i-doh" which means "I'm not looking to have the last word on this topic".


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: Melodeon
Date: 05 Feb 99 - 05:55 PM

Who cares what it means!!! Where else can you stand up and say/sing something like 'musha ring dumma do dumma da' or 'ri fal latterly O' or even 'To me rite fal lal, to me ral tal lal, whack fol the dear oh day', and people applaud you? The Houses of Parliament? - Capitol Hill?


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: Rosie
Date: 06 Feb 99 - 11:14 AM

I've also been thinking that this type of "phrasology" is called "lilting"(shades of me Irish granny *sniff*). The term appears in Philippa's Feb 3 posting.

It's a good warm-up excercise for Irish brogue-ing.

Fiddle-de-di-dilly-deedle-de-day!

Rosie


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Subject: RE: cantaireachd
From: Philippa
Date: 14 Feb 99 - 02:52 PM

I wrote on 3 Feb about the possible relationship of nonsense words to the system of cantaireachd for memorising pipe tunes. I've just been listening to a piping programme on the radio and they played some excerpts of and about cantaireachd from a new CD-Rom "The Great Highland Bagpipe". The reviewers rated it highly, albeit with a couple of quibbles about authenticity, such as an Irish bellows-blown uilleann pipe being played to illustrate the sound of the defunct pastoral pipe. Scotdisc has a webpage advertising this CD-Rom


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: Philippa
Date: 14 Feb 99 - 02:57 PM

I tested the link and it didn't work. I think I had an extra full-stop at the end of the address. So here we go again (Joe is sorry he ever told me about HTML): Scotdisc at http://www.scotdisc.co.uk/shop.htm


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: Jack Hickman, Kingston, Ontario
Date: 14 Feb 99 - 04:52 PM

Greetings, friends.

Just to add my two cents worth to the mix. Without repeating the doggerel in the thread title, I would suggest it is a variant on the ancient art of "lilting" as practiced in Irish ceilidh when the participants were too poor to possess musical instruments. In order that the dancers could have music, one or more of the participants would "lilt" the melody. It's also referred to as "mouth music" and "puert a buill" (spelling questionable.)

In other words it's just a sound to go with the song.


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: Philippa
Date: 15 Feb 99 - 03:51 PM

Jack,
I would call the 'diddly di dee' type of singing 'lilting', but the marvellous thing about 'puirt-a- beul' (mouth music) is that the words DO make a kind of sense, as well as catching the inflections of the music wonderfully.

Cha tig an latha th‚id mi dhachaidh
Gus an tig na caoraich
Cha tig an latha th‚id mi dhachaidh
Gus an tig na caoraich

Gus an tig a' chaora dhubh,

Gus an tig a' chaora,
Gus an tig a' chaora dhubh
'S a h-adhairc as a h-aonais

basically it "means I won't come home till the sheep come". It's true the words are of little consequence, but they are not meaningless. We have similar songs in English; for instance to the reel "Soldier's Joy":
I am my mother's darling pet
I am my mother's darling pet
I am my mother's darling pet
I won't get married for a long while yet

I don't think any of the ones I know in English match the sound qualities of the best examples of the Gaelic puirt. Though I think 'Old Dan Tucker' might fit in this category and it's quite catchy.
By the way, as a Gaelic learner, I have sometimes been quite excited to realise what tune a lyric goes to simply by reading the words out loud and catching the rhythm.


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Subject: puirt-a-beul
From: Philippa
Date: 16 Feb 99 - 05:46 PM

There are some more examples of puirt, with translations, (one goes to the tune of "The High Road to Linton") at George Seto's site and C. Cockburn offers an article about puirt-a-beul
I haven't (yet)tried a mudcat foram search to try to find any previous discussion of the topic


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: GUEST,Patrick Sheehan
Date: 27 Oct 03 - 02:40 AM

Anybody know why the song is called "Whiskey in the Jar"? More specifically, why do they say, "There's whiskey in the jar" in the chorus when not one of the versions of the song has anything to do with Whiskey or Jars?
   The last stanza in a lot of the versions has the bit about "the juice of the barley" but all of the songs are about this outlaw guy getting betrayed by some girl, so why is the chorus a bunch of nonsense and a random bit about booze?


Some of my thoughts:
   I keep looking but everywhere I look tells me the same thing: the words in the chorus are just nonsense. But I find that hard to believe. It sounds very much like the little Irish I know:

"Musha ring um a do um a da" is very very similar sounding to these Irish words:
Musha => M'uishe (my whiskey)
ring um a => rinne me/ (rinne = past tense of "de/an" which is "do, make, perform, carry out, commit, turn out, reach, establish"; me/ = "I, me")
do => don (from "do" + "an" = "to the, for the")
um a da => amada/n (fool)

which translates to "I made my whiskey for the fool." Which, as a translation, has the nice qualities that it follows correct Irish grammar and also follows stress rules for both sentences and individual words. It also has to do with whiskey, which is nice.

my whiskey made a fool of me would translate to, I think:
Rinne se/ m'uishe me/ amada/n. Which doesn't work as a translation because the subject has to follow the verb.

"Whack for the daddy-o" is sometimes said to be a mistranscription of "work of the devil-o" which makes some sense as far as my first translation goes in an "alcohol is the devil's brew" sort of sense. It is also in keeping with the story line revolving around a highwayman.

A possible anternative Irish translation is as follows:
uacht failte ta/ diobh,
which sounds like "whack fol cha ta jiov" which is pretty close. Unfortunately, I don't think it makes any sense since it translates to "It is a testament of welcome for them".

My last thought is that maybe it has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with whiskey at all. Maybe the line "there's whiskey in the jar" is actually the mistranscribed line. Maybe the chorus never had anything to do with whiskey.

The Irish word for whiskey, "uisce" (pronounced "ish-keh"), is also the Irish word for water. And many of the versions of the song have his girl filling up his cartridges with water as a main plot point. "Whiskey in the jar" might have been a mishearing of some Gaelic like "uisce ina dearadh" punning on dearadh, drawing his pistols and jenny or molly etc drawing water into his charges, or something.

My Irish is definitely not good enough to do the translation but I do think there's something there.

-----
Those are some ideas. Does anybody else have any helpful suggestions? (Aside from the suggestion that it is just nonsense...)
Does anyone know where this chorus originates? (There is a very similar sounding chorus in "Whiskey, you're the divil" which the Clancys cover, I think, and that song has a bit more to do with whiskey but still not much as it's mainly a war song.)
Any leads on what's goin' on here?

- Very confused,
   Patrick Sheehan

sheehan@brown.edu


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Oct 03 - 03:46 AM

Re why "there's whiskey in the jar":
I think it simply is the part of the story where the narrator expresses his desire to kiss the jar/glass/bottle before continuing; compare "but I'll sing no more now 'till I get a drink" (in Carrickfergus) ;-)

AKS


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: GUEST,weerover
Date: 27 Oct 03 - 08:33 AM

Another term for nonsense words/syllables in songs is "rumbelows"

wr


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: radriano
Date: 27 Oct 03 - 11:30 AM

In the song "Siul a Run"(sp?) you can see some justification for the theory that nonsense words were not always nonsense. In later American versions of the song nonsense words replace the Irish words as a chorus.


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 27 Oct 03 - 12:08 PM

When we were kids in Tottenham (you can guess how long ago)we used to sing "We won the cup /we won the cup ee i addio we won the cup" .The iaddio bit i thought was nonsense until I went to Ireland about ten years ago and heard my friend's young daughter sing to the same tune   " ta mamas isteach ta mamas isteach duirt daddio ta mamas isteach " In the Irish (which I'm sure I haven't reproduced properly here) it sounds very similar.The words mean something like Mummy's at home tell daddy that mummy's at home.
The Clancy Bros used to sing a song THe Juice of the Barley with a chorus that I always assumed was nonsense "Bunya na bo is na Gowny and the Juice of the Barley for me" which isn't nonsense atall.It translates as The milk of cows is for calves and the juice of the barley's for me.
Brendan Behan wrote that the words of Lillibulero which was sang by the apprentice boys at the siege of Derry and which wqs widely perceived as being nonsense meant The Lilly (the emblem of the boys who were all Gaelic speakers) won the day.
There are a load of other examples but I can't think of any at the moment


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: GUEST,Patrick Sheehan
Date: 14 Nov 03 - 07:53 PM

Along a similar line, does anyone know what the earliest song is that this chorus appears in? It appears in this one and in "Whiskey, you're the Divil" (which is on this site). Does anyone know how far back it goes, with or with out the rest of the song?

- Patrick Sheehan


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: GUEST,Patrick Sheehan
Date: 14 Nov 03 - 10:09 PM

As far as translations of the rumbelows goes, I have another one:

m'uisce rinneadh me/ di/obh amada/n (sounds a lot like: musha ringa ma doo um a da, when said quickly) means literally

my whiskey made me, for them, a fool. (or, more conversationally, my whiskey made me stupid and then they got me in my drunken state)

There is a song called "Sporting Hero - or, Whiskey in the Bar" from an early 1850s broadside on Bodleian that is very very similar to Whiskey in the Jar and has the additional verses

1. I am a sporting hero, I never yet was daunted
In treating pretty girls in places where I haunted
In gin and rum and brandy I would spend all my store
I when that is done I would boldly rob for more

4. I being wet and weary and for to take a slumber
I laid my self down all in my Molly's chamber
She unloaded my pistols and loaded them with water
I was taken like a lamb going to the slaughter

8. Some take great delight in their fishing and their fowling
and others take delight in their carriage rolling
but I take great delight in being brisk and jolly
Filling up strong liquors for you deceitful Molly.

Taken in the context of these additional verses, it now makes some sense to me why the song is even CALLED whiskey in the jar. It seems to be based on a story where this drunk highwayman robs this Captain but is so sloshed that when he gets back to his girlfriend's place, she's finally had enough of him coming home trashed and so she decides to hand him over to the authorities. He passes out in her room ("I being wet and weary" possibly a reference to being drunk) and she disarms him so that he wont kill anyone when the police come for him in the morning. Then he escapes and in the end, in this version at least, is still in love with Molly, but seems to wish that he wasn't.

I think my attempt at an Irish-English translation of this fits in nicely with the broader story of the "Sporting Hero" and iknowitall's comment about "whacking the bar to get the bartender's attention" and give an understandable, consistent possible reading of the chorus which is commonly just brushed aside as nonsense. The story of the chorus is that the highway man is in a pub telling this story to the other people in the bar, saying "what I fool I was when drunk, now get me another drink." This is both a more intersting chorus in this light, it is lightly ironic and humorous too.

What do you all think?

- Patrick Sheehan


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: GUEST,Patrick Sheehan
Date: 14 Nov 03 - 10:23 PM

hehehe, I really should collect all my thoughts before I post. I keep getting ideas and finding stuff.

Anyway, the last post was slightly unclear in it's last paragraph: Sporting Hero is at the beginning talking to some audience and then ends with him talking directly to Molly (here's the link for those interested: http://bodley24.bodley.ox.ac.uk/cgi-bin/acwwweng/ballads/image.pl?ref=Harding+B+11(980)&id=01871.gif&seq=1&size=1 ). My comment on possible chorus interpretation is in regards to the more popular modern versions now where he is talking to an audience the whole time. Sorry if that was unclear.

- Patrick Sheehan


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: Peace
Date: 15 Nov 03 - 09:24 PM

I knew a fellow named Les in the sixties (1960s) who played a seven-string guitar (he doubled up the treble e string--separate tuning heads). He sang the chorus

Mush a ringum a durum a dah, hah!
Wack fol the daddyo,
Wack fol the daddyo,
There's whiskey in the jar.

That was the first I'd ever heard of the song. Never knew what it meant. Great song, though.


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Subject: RE: meaning - musha ring dumma do dumma da
From: GUEST,Philippa
Date: 16 Nov 03 - 04:19 PM

Maise = well, indeed seems a lot more likely than "m'uisce"! (I'd also query the syntax of Patrick's proposal, but there are such things as poetic license and garbled transliterations)


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