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Possible compound time signature in ITM

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The song is called Dilín Ó Damhsa, well known in Ireland, they teach this song to the children in the school. Even irish people that are not into traditional music may know this song.


I strongly believe this song could be in a compound time signature. I would love to confirm this with someone.


I have my own opinion as how it could be the time signature:


I think each part, that is played only once, has the following structure:


- Two bars at a 9/8 (slip jig)


- One bar at a 12/8 (slide)


- One bar at a 9/8 (slip jig)


But I'm not sure, I don't have much theory of music. But I'm pretty sure there is something funny with the ryhthm. And this is the first time I see something like this in Irish Traditional Music, a pure traditional tune with not a fixed time signature! If anyone could give me a hand on this would be vey much appreciated

Edited by fernando
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Guest Peter Laban

What are the words to this song?


Thanks - Tom


(Curfá) Dilín ó deamhas, ó deamhas,

Dilín ó deamhas ó dí;

Dilín ó deamhas, ó deamhas, ó,

Dilín ó deamhas ó dí.


Cuirfead mo rún chun suain,

Cuirfead mo rún 'na luí;

Cuirfead mo rún chun suain go ciúin,

Le dilín ó deamhas ó dí.




'S buachaill maith súiste, súist',

Is buachaill maih súist' é Páid;

Is buachaill maith súiste, súiste, súist',

'S is cailín deas tuirn' í Cáit.




Is buachaill aniar, aniar,

Is buachaill aniar an fear;

Is buachaill aniar, aniar, aniar,

'S is cailín ón sliabh an bhean.




Caithimis suas is suas é,

Caithimis suas an páiste;

Caithimis suas is suas is suas ,

'S tiocfaidh sé anuas amárach.




from 'Cas Amhrán', Mícheál Ó hEidhin (ed)


`Two recordings of this, beautifully sung by Sorcha Ni Ghuarim are on the CD 'Sorcha' (as Digeas Ó Deabhas Ó), using some verses different from the above:


Goirim i gcónai, i gcónai

Goirim i gcónai an bhean

Goirim i gcónai, i gcónai, i gcónai

Is m'anam Dé Luain an fear


A fragment of her singing the song is here

Edited by Peter Laban
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The version from Sorcha Ní Ghuairim seems to me to go 9/8 12/8 12/8 12/8 (one measure of 9/8 followed by three of 12/8). You can get an MP3 from Amazon:



They also have a version by Caera Aeslingeach under the name "Dilín ó Damhas", which goes 9/8 9/8 12/8 12/8 - 9/8 12/8 12/8 12/8:



You can find two other versions there under the name "Dilín ó Deamhas" which are strict 12/8.


Many traditional songs are "crooked" like this -- as you can hear, some singers like to hold notes an extra beat or two in certain places.

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Very good! Thank you very much Boney! I didn't know about this, first time I see. I never met this kind of songs in the irish trad, but from now on I will be ready. I recognise you from youtube! good videos, you play concertina very well.


I have the feeling that I'm going to learn a lot about concertina and music in general in this forums. Good!


All the best!



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