Continuing on from the previous article where I added bowing to The Glen Cottage Polka, here I’ll add some possible ornaments and variations.

1          Looking now at variations, the first bar contains no slurs giving it a totally different sound to the previous version.

2          Here the previous dotted quaver B to semiquaver A has been replaced by semiquavers – BCBA.   This can be done in polkas with a dotted quaver/semiquaver combination if the notes are adjacent (B to A, E to D for example)

3          The reverse has happened here, compared to point 1 in this version.

4          A pause here is effective at the end of the A part.  The bowing has reversed because of the slur in the previous bar and now the bar starts with an up-bow.  The usual down-bow returns at the start of the next bar, because of the pause.  This can be done by stopping the bow on the string, or by taking it off the string altogether.

5          Here we have the reverse of what happened at point 2.  The run of semiquavers is replaced by a dotted quaver/semiquaver combination.  Another way of looking at it is that the middle two notes of the semiquaver run have been removed, the first note made longer to replace them.

6          Here the notes B and D have had a C# added in between them.  This is like adding a triplet in a reel or jig.  But with the polka it’s not a triplet (although it is often written that way).  Triplets and rolls don’t fit comfortably in polkas, which come across very well without too much ornamentation – just a few cuts or slides here and there.

7          Finally, the G and F# crotchets have been made a bit more interesting with the addition of a couple of other notes.  As mentioned in the last point, with a reel or jig, these notes would normally be ornamented with triplets.

Some of the simplest tunes in Irish music are polkas.  They are popular with beginners as they are far easier to grasp in the early stages than jigs or reels.  For those accompanying, a long set of polkas can be exhausting though, because the beat is fast.  They should sound bright and breezy, full of bounce.