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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW (OT) 10/24/14: Hob Y Diri

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stigandr5 - Posted - 10/24/2014:  06:40:48

Good morning all,

Towards the beginning of September I had the good fortune to attend a Celtic festival in Monroe, LA. It was held in a beautiful park with tall pines, the weather was pristine, and the music was lively. But in spite of its name and logo, which led one to believe that all six Celtic nations (Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Brittany, Cornwall, & Isle of Man) would in some way be represented, it was Irish-heavy, Scottish-lite, and the other four were visible only as flags on magnets and other trinkets.

So, once again, I feel it incumbent upon me to raise awareness of the humble, Brythonic Celts. Hence this week's tune, "Hob Y Diri."

This tune comes from the work "Alawon John Thomas," a modern transcription of an 18th-century Welsh fiddler's fakebook. The editor of this book is Cass Meurig. There are a lot of cool tunes in here, and it's especially interesting to see how much musical cross-pollination was going on even in the 1700s.

According to Meurig, this tune probably takes its name from the popular nonsense refrain, "Hob y deri dando," itself the title of a Welsh sea shanty.

Another Welsh fiddler in a different collection gives the tune the English name, "The Debating Song," adding that it was used to accompany satirical and humorous verses. Writers from the time period seem to agree that it was a well-known tune in its day and of pretty old stock.

The attached sound file is of me performing the tune on a cigar-box-tuna-can-resonator banjo (photos to come). See the attached tablature to follow along.


I wish I had more versions of this tune to share, but it's a revitalization effort in progress--please add your own version to the mix! Thanks, and enjoy!


Hob Y Diri TAB

Hob Y Diri

vrteach - Posted - 10/24/2014:  13:24:03

I like it. Looks as though it's really hard to find a copy of that book.

stigandr5 - Posted - 10/24/2014:  13:29:39

Yeah, it's not a common one to find. I bought my copy a year or so ago on Amazon UK. Hopefully it gets printed again or some used copies turn up.

JanetB - Posted - 10/25/2014:  11:52:13

An interesting contribution to TOTW, Nathan.  Your canjo version is nicely old-timey.  Knowing more of Celtic roots is a learning goal for me.

The acappella singing and harmony inspired my folksy clawhammer arrangement.  There are other lyrics, somewhat gentler.  For the men at sea, singing about what they miss was heartening and relieved the boredom and hard work.!

Hob Y Diri (TOTW)

Hob Y Diri tab

stigandr5 - Posted - 10/26/2014:  07:41:03

Lovely version, Janet!

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