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  The Pinch of Snuff

This Irish reel is especially associated with Donegal. It is supposed to have origins in faerie folklore. The fairies were trying to abduct a bride at a wedding by trying to trick her into uttering magic words which would bind her to them. In the rafters was her ex-suitor, who shook down some snuff upon her. The bride breathed it in, sneezed, and was greeted with a polite chorus of "God bless you" from the wedding party. The fairies took flight. The tune the fiddlers were playing at the time was dubbed The Pinch of Snuff.

I learned the tune from Ulsterman Johnny Cradden, and I‘ve always regarded as a fun or novelty tune, always guaranteed to raise at least a smile. The tune is actually fairly simple - a lot simpler than it sounds), and all that happens is that the tune is repeatedly played in different keys, each one higher than the previous one (we move from D to G to A to D again). The ninth part is significantly different from all the others, and takes us back down to a point where the whole thing can start again. If you‘re not careful, you could be playing all night!

The first four parts are below, the following five parts here.

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Pinch of Snuff continued...