top of page

Folk Duet Arrangements

This is my duet arrangement of Zakynthos Jig, from the House Band album 'October Song' (1998). The liner note says 'The Zakynthos Jig was composed by Roger Wilson on the Greek island of the same name, where he had taken his mandolin on holiday. He came home with this tune and a completely unplayable mandolin'. On the album it's the second tune of a set. It was a childhood favourite of mine (my dad used to play the CD in the car), and I wrote this arrangement for a Jazz/Folk fusion project in my final year of college.

At the time I was studying counterpoint, and really into the sound of melodies harmonised in 6ths which is why this came out the way it did. It was fun to put the F# in bar 2 of my harmonisation despite the F natural in the melody in bar 6. Similarly the only bit I consciously cheated on with regards counterpoint was the B in bar 2 of the bridge, I just really wanted it even though it clashes with the melody. What can I say? I'm a sucker for a major 6 in the minor key. I also liked being able to imply A7 and E7 going back to their tonics in bars 16 and 32 respectively. I'm proud of bar 32 in particular as you get the G# in the accompaniment followed by F# and G natural in the melody. This is the advantage of writing duets, as you can imply things melodically which don't work vertically. I tried to follow counterpoint rules then adjust it to what my ears wanted whilst writing this, and my harmonic analysis is entirely based on revisiting it.

This arrangement isn't for any specific instrumentation, and the second part was simply written as accompaniment to a preexisting melody. I'm now tempted to rewrite it as a fun clarinet duet with the melody shared between the parts. I've got a whole folder of these things! I've also slightly rearranged the form (the original has the last four bars repeated as a tag). The original is really loose and jazzy, for example they really make the most of the simple vs. compound time feel on the bridge.

If you like this arrangement or found my description informative, please feel free to get in contact. I'd be delighted to teach composition and arrangement, play more folk music, write music for commissions or arrange my duets for different combinations of instruments.

bottom of page