Hop jig (or slip jig), E Dorian, traditional Irish
“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.
- Video – Altan: Comb Your Hair and Curl It / Gweebarra Bridge – from the album 25th Anniversary Celebration
- Video – Banna De Dhá: Comb Your Hair & Curl It / The White Petticoat / The Black Rogue from the album Band of Two. Banna De Dhá is comprised of Tom Morley & Hazel Ketchum
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).
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
Examples of sets that include this tune.
- Hair B&B Hop Jig Set: Comb Your Hair and Curl It / The Boys of Ballisodare / The Butterfly
- The Rocky Road to Dublin / Comb Your Hair and Curl it
- Comb Your Hair and Curl it / The Butterfly
- Foxhunter’s Jig (slip jig) / Comb Your Hair and Curl It
References and Resources
For those who want to dig deeper, here are some other resources.
- More Recordings
- Video – John L Sullivan: Comb Your Hair and Curl It, The Butterfly – played on concertina
- Video – Aidan Crossey (The Irish Mandolin): Comb Your Hair And Curl It (Revisited) – played first on mandolin and then on tenor guitar. Sheet music and tablature displayed in video.
- Video – The Chieftains: Comb Your Hair and Curl It / The Boys of Ballisodare (Slip or Hop Jig) from the album The Chieftains (1964)
- Book – Francis O’Neill and James O’Neill: The Dance Music of Ireland.
- Other Resources
- Webpage – The Irish Traditional Music Tune Index: Comb Your Hair and Curl It – archival information about the tune, curated by Alan Ng.
- Webpage – The Session: Comb Your Hair And Curl It – crowdsourced sheet music, comments, and other information about the tune
- Article – Jonathan Lay (TrailJams) Dorian, Mixolydian, Oh My: Modes in a Nutshell