Monday, January 19, 2015

The Irish Washerwoman

What a great old tune this is indeed. Without question it is the most widely distributed 6/8 tune and one of the most commonly known and recognized of all fiddle tunes.  Back when I was actively recording old-timers I can't recall ever finding anyone who couldn't render some version even if they played no other tunes in 6/8.  I've played this tune for audiences all over the place and seldom fails to evoke a response.

I.W. appears in many old tune collections from the 1800s, so it is at least dates back to the 19th century. It also can be found in tutorials for the violin up into the 20th century, such as the Bower book or Smith's Tutor, distributed by Sears and Montgomery Ward by way of inclusion in the zillions of cheap violin outfits they sold through their respective catalogs.

Below is a version I've transcribed, pretty much what I play and similar to that which appears in Cole's 1000 Fiddle Tunes.  You can download a copy here.