The Hag at the Churn

Jig, D Mixolydian, Traditional Irish
TrailJams Tune of the Week September 11, 2002; December 17, 2023

TrailJams Tune of the Week. The Hag at the Churn. Traditional Irish Jig. Play it together December 17, 2023. Illustration copyright 2022, 2023 Jonathan Lay.

Wild, fierce and exuberant, this tune invites repetition, variation, and growing intensity. It is a traditional Irish jig that brings a legacy in folklore with it, concerning the dangers of churning butter.

The photograph in the illustration above was taken around 1897 by J.W. Dunn. It shows a woman churning butter, with a kitten to help manage any leaks, and with a book in hand to help pass the time.


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.

Sheet music for The Hag at the Churn. Jig, D Mixolydian. Traditional Irish. Arranged by Jonathan Lay 8//31/2022. Revised 9/2/2022. Chords for The Hag at the Churn.
Play-along Tracks
Slow tempo 70bpm
Moderate tempo 90bpm

About the chords: In this arrangement, most of the chords are open chords, omitting the “third” that would be in a standard major or minor chord. The D5 chord consists of D and A notes, with no F. The Csus2 chord consists of the notes C, D, and G — in other words, a C5 chord with an added D (C5addD) to give tension that pulls toward D. These stark cords support the tune’s edgy sound and leave plenty of room for melodic variations.


Examples of sets that include this tune.

References and Resources

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