Comb Your Hair and Curl It

Hop jig (or slip jig), E Dorian, traditional Irish

Comb Your Hair and Curl It. Traditional Irish Hop Jig. TrailJams Tune of the Week. Play it together June 18, 2023. Illustration copyright 2023 Jonathan Lay.

“Comb Your Hair and Curl It”: the spoken rhythm of the tune’s title matches the musical rhythm of the tune. It’s the signature rhythm of the hop jig variety of slip jigs. The rhythm can also be spoken as the friendly suggestion: “buy the band a beer.”

As a variety of slip jig, a hop jig is in 9/8 time, with three pulses per measure. But hop jigs feature a long-short note pattern, where each of the three pulses consists of a quarter note followed by an eighth note.


Sheet Music

As always for traditional tunes, the musical notation and chords do not indicate the “right” way to play the tune, but are a useful reference. The version of the tune here comes from the playing of the bands Altan and Banna De Dhá (links to their recordings listed above).

Sheet music and chords for Comb Your Hair and Curl It, traditional Irish hop jig in E Dorian. Arrangement by Jonathan Lay.

About the Chords: This arrangement uses chords E5 and D5. These are “open” or “omit 3” chords, which are neither major nor minor. The E5 chord consists of the notes E and B; the D5 chord consists of D and A.

Play from the Dots
Slow tempo 70bpm
Moderate tempo 100bpm


Examples of sets that include this tune.

References and Resources

For those who want to dig deeper, here are some other resources.