O’Keeffe Accordion MS

Pádraig O’Keeffe ITMA-Collins Manuscripts. Book 3. Accordion

The 88 interactive scores on this page have been transcribed by ITMA staff from a copy-manuscript made of music written for an accordion pupil by the Kerry music master, musician and composer Pádraig O’Keeffe (1887–1963) in his own unique accordion notation. Although O’Keeffe was famous as a fiddle player and fiddle teacher, he also a teacher of other instruments, including the button accordion.

The manuscript has been donated to ITMA by Paud Collins from Knockacur, Knocknagoshel, Co Kerry, himself an accordion pupil of O’Keeffe’s as was his brother Dan. Three sets of fiddle manuscripts written for Paud’s brother Jer also form part of the donation, and have been made available in facsimile here and as interactive music scores here. The fiddle manuscripts were written by O’Keeffe himself, but the accordion manuscript was copied for her brothers from O’Keeffe’s originals by Paud Collins’s sister Tess Drudy (who did not herself read the tablature). A facsimile of the accordion copy-manuscript has been made available in facsimile here.

In this copy-manuscript O’Keeffe displays a relatively little-known facet of his talents – an impressive knowledge of the accordion system available in his day and of the appropriate repertory for it. The manuscript embodies a creative and graded approach to teaching the instrument. Though the approach required is much different from that required for the fiddle, O’Keeffe’s first instrument, he is adept at modifying tunes in order to suit both the accordion and the level of proficiency of his pupils, and in placing tunes correctly in the most appropriate places in the instrument’s range. His fingering patterns are generally accurate and pupil-friendly.

For the transcripts presented here it is assumed that the target instrument for the notations in the manuscript was a single-row 10-key accordion or melodeon. O’Keeffe’s tablature would have been valid for an instrument pitched in any key, and there might well have been variety in the pitch of instruments played by his pupils. For convenience, in the transcripts given here, the key of D is adopted as the home key of the instrument.

In making the transcripts for these interactive scores, pragmatic decisions were made regarding problems in the manuscript. Some content in the scores is conjectural due to missing content and/or legibility problems in the manuscript. Some of these problems might be due to copying errors, since the manuscript is not in O’Keeffe’s hand.

In some scores where the tonic note is G or A, the note C natural is given because it is standard for tunes in the key of the relevant tune (G major, A minor). This note was not available on the instrument for which the manuscript probably was written. In the manuscript it was probably C sharp that was intended in those cases. These instances are indicated by an editorial note in the relevant scores.

In the case of one tune in the manuscript there was not enough information to enable the tune to be deciphered – that tune therefore was omitted.

For further information see www.itma.ie/digitallibrary/print-collection/padraig-okeeffe-mss.

For 191 tunes in three sets of O'Keeffe manuscripts for fiddle pupils see Books 1, 2 & 4.

JS, TH & NC, 13 May 2014

Tunes in this collection