Stack of Barley | Bowing Down Home

About this tune

Many Island fiddlers play this tune, but it is most favored east of Charlottetown. In most Island versions, Stack of Barley is played as a reel (up tempo with relatively even eighth notes). Most Irish versions, on the other hand, are performed in hornpipe style: at a moderate tempo with notes performed as “dotted pairs.” (assuming 2/2 time, a dotted pair is usually written as a dotted eighth note plus a sixteenth; in practice the first note of each pair is twice as long as the second).

Of special note: Johnny Morrissey’s version features some unusual twists and turns; Reg Banks offers an example of Island mouth music, known locally as tuning or jigging.

One of the first appearances of Stack of Barley in print was in O’Neill’s Music of Ireland (1903); it subsequently appeared in The Roche Collection of Irish Traditional Music (1912), and Allan’s Irish Fiddler (c. 1920; precise date of publication unknown). The first known recording (1916) was by a New York City accordionist named John J. Kimmel (1866-1942).

Notation for this tune as played by Louise Arsenault is in Fiddle Music of Prince Edward Island.

Tune Selections

Banks, Reg - Stack of Barley Accompanied by: Harry Buell, gtr
Central Kings
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Banks, Reg - Stack of Barley (vocal) Accompanied by: unacc
Central Kings
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Chaisson, Peter - 'Young' - Lassie with the Yellow Coatie / Donald Cameron's Reel / Farmer's Reel / Princess Reel / Flowers of Edingburgh / Turkey in the Straw / Stack of Barley Accompanied by: Kevin Chaisson, gtr
Northeast Kings
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Crane, Robert - Stack of Barley Accompanied by: unacc
Central Kings
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Morrissey, Johnny - Stack of Barley Accompanied by: Margaret Ross MacKinnon, pno
Eastern Queens
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Sigsworth, Cosmas - Turkey in the Straw / Stack of Barley / The White Cockade Accompanied by: Dot MacCauley, gtr
Central Kings
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