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May 23, 2024 - 2:57:42 AM
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273 posts since 4/10/2010

I’ve chosen Lucy Farr’s Barn Dance for this installment of TOTW.

The tune is attributed to Lucy Farr (1911-2003), an Irish fiddler from Galway who lived in England for most of her adult life.  She began playing dances at age 12 and recorded an album in 1992 to celebrate her 80th birthday.   A visitor introduced the tune to our weekly jam group a while back and it has become popular with our fiddlers who play it in the Key of G. 

The tune appears to be a staple in Celtic/Irish circles and many video performances can be found featuring instruments common to that tradition including flute, harp, and tin whistle.   I’ve linked some of my favorites below.

Here’s Farr playing the tune:

Here’s a nice concertina solo:

Here’s a viola and harmonica version:

Here’s a mandolin version:

Here’s a session featuring fiddle:

Here’s a session featuring Irish Tenor Banjo:

With the exception of Ken Perlman, Old Time musicians seem to have ignored the tune.   Perlman has a clawhammer recording and tab here: . You can listen to the recording for free, but you’ll need a subscription to view the tab.  Not to worry as most folks should be able to pick out a basic arrangement after listening to the tune for a few minutes.

A transcription of the tune in standard notation is here:

Here’s a video snippet taken from a BBC interview with Ms. Farr 

And here’s a longer biography from a 1994 article in Musical Traditions magazine:,local%20fife%20and%20drum%20band.

Readers are encouraged to post observations, opinions, performances, and tabs contributing to this thread.

May 23, 2024 - 12:36:56 PM
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11371 posts since 4/23/2004

It's one of the tunes we play in our Irish jam every month. I'm the ITB player. It is usually played slow enough that I can actually ornament it on the fly.

I haven't thought to try it as a clawhammer piece. Might give that a try!

May 24, 2024 - 9:28:49 AM
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42824 posts since 3/7/2006

It seems to be a nice and not too complicated tune, and I will give it a try. The most difficult challenge is to not play it too fast.

May 25, 2024 - 11:46:21 AM
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4691 posts since 3/11/2004

Here's some clawhammer tab for this tune. It's in the key of G based on what I see in several versions, though Alice Farr appears to play the tune in D. I expect Janolov and a few others will post their arrangements as well.

Lucy Farr's Barn Dance Tab - Details and Ratings - Banjo Hangout


May 25, 2024 - 2:17:10 PM
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7138 posts since 6/27/2009

It's nice to hear what is being passed around in jams these days.  As David observed, Lucy's recording is in the key of D.  I adjusted it on a slow-downer to arrange it in the key of G and came up with a tab similar to David's.  As Janolov said, it would be hard not to speed it up compared to Lucy, and indeed I did that just a bit.

May 28, 2024 - 9:35:06 AM
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273 posts since 4/10/2010

Hello respondents. I apologize for the late reply. I have been away and disconnected for the long Holiday weekend.

Marc, I would be very interested to hear both of your renditions on ITB and clawhammer.

Jan, post a recording and tab if you get a chance.

David, thanks for the tab. It is pretty much the way I play it although I don't do the triplets or the syncopation.

Janet, the same goes for your tab. I usually play things pretty simple just because I can't get my fingers to do all things others seem to do naturally. I very much like your recording. I would say our jam group plays it somewhere between your tempo and Ms Farr's source recording. But that's an average and it varies faster or slower during the performance based on the loudest fiddler at the time.

Thanks to all for posting.

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