The Moving Cloud Tune Notes

This reel was composed by Donegal fiddle maestro Neilie O'Baoil, from the Rosses, who died in the early sixties. However, Joe Burke's Gael Linn 78-inch recording, which was produced in the late fifties, was largely responsible for propagating the tune among accordeon players, despite the fact that the tune appears to have been structured originally to suit the fiddle. I first heard Paddy Murphy's version of The Moving Cloud (which he plays together with The Dawn) from a tape recording made by Jack Lyons at Willie McNamara's pub in Inagh during the winter of 1977.


The double-stop introduction to the tune is included simply as an alternative to the single note introduction. It is usually played as an introduction the second time round. However, the important point to note is that the stop (which should perhaps be called a treble-stop in this context) contains three notes of the G major chord, namely G, D and low G. Both Gs are got on the press with the small and index fingers pressing together. The bottom D is got simply by flattening the small finger, so that it covers the alternative bottom D (inside row, on the press) while at the same time covering the low G key. This exercise may prove awkward initially, but it certainly improves the mobility of the little finger both for chording and melody playing.

The triplets in bar two are got by simply drawing on the A key (middle row l/h/s) after playing B (middle row r/h/s) and then pressing the same A key to play G. Therefore, the movement is B draw (r/h/s), A draw (l/h/s) and G press (l/h/s). This is a standard fiddle and flute triplet also.

The A cut in bar three is got by tipping the B key (r/h/s) before playing A (l/h/s) without changing the direction of the bellows.

The playing of the C natural in bar three is important in that it concerns the use of the alternative C in the draw, on the inside row. The triplet is made by drawing on the C natural (inside row l/h/s) and drawing also on the E middle row (r/h/s) and back to C (inside row l/h/s). The movement therefore is C natural (l/h/s), E (r/h/s) and C natural.

The last two notes (E and D) of the first four quavers in bar four may be played on the inside row, as indeed may the B and A in the next of four quavers and then onto G and E on the middle rows. This allows for even phrasing, as well as an even balance in the use of alternatives. There is also an even flow between the inward and outward movement of the bellows, which is essential for good concertina playing.

The ornamentation and fingering of bars five and six corresponds exactly to those in bars one and two. The first C natural in bar seven is on the draw (inside row l/h/s) while the C natural in the run immediately afterwards is on the press (middle row r/h/s). Therefore the A, B, and C movement is played, A draw (l/h/s), B draw (r/h/s) and C natural press (r/h/s). The ornamentation in the next group of quavers is interesting in that it is an extension of a gracing that occurred already in Kit O'Mahony's Jig. The movement involved is neither a standard roll nor a double cut. It is unique to the concertina in that it is both governed and curtailed by the nature of the instrument itself.

Henceforth, it will be referred to simply as a grace note run, because it can neither be categorized as a roll or a double-cut. Because of the relationship between the notes and the bellows, what is happening is that Paddy plays the B (the first note of the four quavers), gives it slightly more emphasis and before playing the A (the second note of the four quavers, he drops a D, B double gracing in between them.

This is made by a very quick tipping of the second and index fingers on the middle row (r/h/s) D and B. As I pointed out this is neither a double cut nor a roll, but the nearest equivalent on the concertina.

Paddy often plays a variation on the second last bar (as shown), Part 1 of The Moving Cloud. This appears to be modeled on fiddle triplets, and all three sets are played along the middle row. Part I concludes with the normal G, D, low G double-stop.


With the exception of the introductory run, Part II of this tune is played almost completely along the inside row. The B of the A, B, C run in the introduction is played on the middle row (r/h/s) in order to facilitate the run. The C natural and final B of bar eight are also played along the middle row (r/h/s) and the part concludes with the usual double-stop.

In bars one, two, five and six, the D crotchet can either be graced with a D, E, D triplet (by playing E on the middle row r/h/s) or by playing a type of double cut on the open D, with the high B and G keys on the inside row (r/h/s). Thus, the grace note run will be D, B, G, D. The B, G cut must be tipped very quickly by the second and index fingers, in order not to distort the rhythm.

In bars three and four, the E crotchet may be graced by the F sharp, thus giving the triplet E, F sharp, E or like the D crotchet grace note run, the open E (which is on the draw l/h/s inside the row) may be graced with the high A and F keys on the inside row. This is the exact inverse of the D crotchet gracing, which was got on the press. The E crotchet gracing is got on the draw and gives the run E, A F, E.

The run onto the high C natural in bar eight is done on the inside row completely. One of the finer points of Paddy's rendering of Part II of The Moving Cloud is his ability to double-note the second last bar completely. Thus, he plays bar seven from the high C natural to the top D in bar eight on two octaves. This feature, which is not to be confused with double-stopping, was very popular among the older German two-row concertina players and demands very careful execution. All the equivalent notes on the bottom octave (with the exception of E and D) are to be found on the inside row and the bellows movement is the same for both octaves. Both the low E and D, corresponding with their opposite numbers an octave higher, are found on the middle row (l/h/s).


As I have pointed out already, in Part II, the D crotchet gracing can either include the triplet D (l/h/s), E (r/h/s) and D (l/h/s) or the grace note run D, B G, D—all on the inside rows. Either of these ornamentations may be played, or on the other hand, the open D can be played straight. Likewise, Paddy often plays a double-D on a top D crotchet, which gives a fine lift to the rhythm of a tune. The E crotchet gracing corresponds with that referred to already in Part II.

The E cuts in bars one, two and four are done simply by tipping the F sharp key on the drawn bellows before playing the E on the inside row (l/h/s). With the exception of bars seven and eight, all of Part III is played on the inside rows. The last two bars correspond with the last two bars of Part I, which have been already accounted for. Paddy also uses either of the two variations referred to at the end of Parts I and II.

Finally, it must be stressed that the grace note patterns are meant to be continually varied. This is primarily because they are, after all, grace notes. It becomes extremely monotonous if the same grace notes occur consistently at regular intervals throughout the tune.

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