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Uncommonly Strong Clawhammer Tunes #6: Mr. Isaac's Maggot

Posted by tfaux on Monday, January 6, 2014

like this



I posted a version of Mr. Isaac's in the Clawhammer tune-of-the-week forum several years ago. It's a good weird "melodic clawhammer" tune, a challenge to play, and it's good to have an excuse to record it again.

It's old-time in the extreme. I found the tune in the "new" (1701) edition of "John Playford's English Dancing Master," the first ever compilation of English dance tunes, originally published in 1651. Playford's is a great source for uncommon public-domain tunes, and most are readily adaptable to banjo and string band.

In 17th century English, a "maggot" was something small and fanciful. It was commonly believed that sudden flights of creativity were caused by tiny worms in the brain, hence the many older English dance tunes labeled as "maggots." Maggots are usually short tunes dedicated to particular individuals, as in "George's Maggot," "The Carpenter's Maggot," "My Lord Byron's Maggot," etc.

I picked up this particular maggot from Chris Parkinson at the annual World Accordion Festival in Montmagny, Québec in about 2005. Chris's button-box version of the tune, accompanied by a fantastic contraption called a bass button accordion is on his solo accordion recording called "Chris Parkinson: Out of His Tree."

The underlying meter is a slow three-beat (3/2) but the 8th note melody is snappy and the tune can have some drive. The original Playford transcription was in the key of C but to my ear D makes it a little snappier. As usual, I have left out indications for hammer-ons, pull-offs, adjacent string slurs, etc.  If you've gotten this far you can probably figure that stuff out.

.PDF tab is HERE>

My recording is HERE>




7 comments on “Uncommonly Strong Clawhammer Tunes #6: Mr. Isaac's Maggot”

Gordy Ohliger Says:
Monday, February 3, 2014 @12:59:43 PM

Golly, that was beautiful.
Wonderful playing, sir.

tfaux Says:
Monday, February 3, 2014 @2:07:32 PM

Thank you Gordy!

Laurence Diehl Says:
Monday, February 3, 2014 @3:29:16 PM

Great playing indeed.

tfaux Says:
Tuesday, February 4, 2014 @8:33:50 AM

Thanks kindly Laurence.

Zischkale Says:
Thursday, February 6, 2014 @4:39:42 PM

Excellent arrangement of the tune, and well played!! I'm very impressed with the arrangement, I'm learning it now and it's a blast to play. It's hard to feel as 3/2, but I can play along with your recording real well (until that barrage of notes in the B-part that I'm taking time to work out).

Thanks for sharing this tune (errr maggot?!)!

Jacobite Says:
Thursday, February 6, 2014 @4:54:41 PM

Yup, well done!

Where can a fella pick up that English old timey book? Since it's public domain, mightn't it be available online for free somewheres?

Thank you much.

tfaux Says:
Tuesday, February 18, 2014 @8:40:50 AM

Yes, public domain. It's online at various sites including here:

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