Bonnie Irish Girl

by Mike Wilson

Let the mysterious sound of uilleann pipes sweep you away to the Emerald Isle of yesteryear and tell, in song, this story of a bonnie Irish girl. When her father, a baron, learns of her desire to marry a man of low station, he banishes him. She, of course runs away to find him, but instead finds herself and her companions in peril. Since the story needs a happy ending, the girl's true love happens upon them and rescues them. Returning her to the baron, he softens her father's heart and wins him over. And they all live relatively happily ever after.

This 2-part Celtic ballad incorporates traditional Irish instrumentation including uilleann pipes, bodhrán, accordion, and guitar with a DADGAD tuning. A string orchestra, acoustic bass, and piano make up the remainder of the accompaniment.

The optional second vocal part uses divisis to fill out the underlying "oohs" in the second and third verses. We have created a separate rehearsal track for part 2 that you can use to teach it. You'll find it free on our web site.

It's okay if you want to imitate an Irish dialect in your vocal approach as long as it doesn't come off too corny or offensive. Simply giving a little accent to the sixteenth note figures might be all it needs. If you follow the dynamics of the orchestra, you'll be right in the pocket presentation-wise. Especially make sure to grow into the coda and lighten up right afterward in the first couple lines of the last verse.

About those uilleann pipes - YouTube is a great place to learn about these Irish bagpipes. They differ from traditional Scottish Highland bagpipes. The drones, if there are any, point downward instead of upward. And the bag which supplies air to the chanter, is filled with a bellows that is constantly squeezed under the arm, rather than blown in by mouth as on the Scottish bagpipes. It's also common, at least from this pipe enthusiast's experience, to hear the uilleann pipes used without the drones and regulators when used as an accompaniment instrument, as in this song.

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.