Paddywhack variations for clarinet quintet (lower version for E flat, B flat, Alto and C-Bass)



Paddywhack is based on an Irish jig in 6/8 time by that name which relates originally to St Patrick (Paddy), hence an Irishman from “Paddy” + “whack”: as in “get one’s Irish up”

This arrangement begins with a quotation of the original tune on the oboe with bassoon acompaniment, followed by a slower modal section for all 5 instruments – a sort of lament in 3 time, then a jollier waltz and the whole thing takes off into variations in which each instrument has a turn at the tune and some countermelodies. The piece then returns to the original 6/8 time including a cheeky atonal passage from the flute, followed by reprises of the tune from each instrument at different times and a final short reminder of the original jig from the bassoon on its own.

(BTW this has no musical connection with the English folksong “This old man” which mentions paddywhack in its meaning of a part of an animal that is sometimes fed to dogs or else the playing of “bones”)