Dylan Winter on gaffers and smacks

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The gifted Dylan Winter has excelled himself this time with his latest short YouTube video series Keep Turning Left. In this one he drools over a series of gaff-rigged yachts and smacks, and praises the English for their amazing reasonableness.

Hopefully someone, somewhere will one day have the vision to commission him to do a series of properly budgeted videos – if nothing else this hugely enjoyable series must be a great advert for his skills and screen persona. Maybe the lucky man will even be offered the rich prize of a book contract!

It seems churlish to say it but one thing I slightly regret is that chooses a lot of Irish music for these videos. Maybe he knows and has rejected the wealth of great English traditional music that might seem a more approriate accompaniment to videos that are at least for the moment centred on the English coast, but my feeling is that the Scots, Irish and Welsh will no doubt get their turns later…

PS – I was delighted to find this exchange in the comments to this video on YouTube:

‘What are you watching,’ my wife asked. ‘You’ve got that look on your face.’

‘What look?’ I replied.

‘That look that says I want to be doing what they are doing – you’re not watching porn on that thing are you?’

5 thoughts on “Dylan Winter on gaffers and smacks”

  1. Now look, I really apreciate the fact you like Dylan's work cos i'm a big fan, but but but…..the music…..in fact the opening to the series is Scottish and the Gaffers music is English. So there, nyah nyah nyah….

    ps – nice site, most enjoyable.

  2. I don't know exactly what it is – but from my traditional music enthusiast's perspective the flute hasn't played been used much in the idiom of English music for a long time. Flutes are big in Ireland however, and the scale of the tune doesn't sound very English to me either. Those pipes could be be border or Northumbrian pipes, I guess…

    Of course, I don't know everything and may be hugely, crashingly wrong. If so, I'd be quite happy to be put right, and to put the matter right. So tell me please – what is this stuff?

  3. Gavin,

    I need to go back and find the exact names but the opening episode is a Scottish band and the Gaffers English. I'd say that we are talking generic Celtic folk rather than specifically Irish. That's a guess on my part.



  4. This stuff is very much misunderstood. What's often been called 'celtic' in the past is music from Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Brittany, but increasingly I'm seeing the word also used in emails to describe English music. The picture is futher complicated by the fact that Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England also have large numbers of tunes in common that can't be said to have an identifiable home of their own or to be either celtic or otherwise. You may also be surprised to learn that musicians across the UK play a surprising number of tunes composed for and during the negro minstrel craze back in the late 19th century. So while people like to impose clear definitions the true picture is subtle – however, it's true that each country and the areas within them often have their own styles of music and sometimes their own distinctive instruments.

    Yet another issue is the near-invisibility of English traditional music as a genre of its own. It's hardly recognised at home and barely known at all beyond our borders. I get a big welcome when I take my fiddle to Ireland or Scotland, but the people I meet are almost always amazed to discover that England has music of its own. It has, and it's surprisingly varied!

    On the other hand, back in the late 70s I remember being assaulted in London by an Irish music enthusiast who felt that my being a fiddle player who didn't play Irish music was some kind of deliberate political insult. It wasn't – I've just never been able to play the stuff with a convincing lilt, so I simply don't do it very much. Oaf that he was, the guy concerned didn't hang around long enough to learn what my actual politics might have been, or anything else. They were politically charged times, but if you lack the curiosity to understand others, there's little chance of communication.


  5. My rather flippant response to your original post ref DW has resulted in a most interesting discussion. This is good.

    If it should be carried on somewhere else let me know. It's not exactly nautical is it ?

    My knowledge of English folk music is extremely limited so forgive my lack of knowledge. Indeed its fair to say that most of what I have thought to be English folk (is traditional a better term ?) comes from the likes of popular groups from the 60's and 70's such as Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span.

    I'd like to know more so by all means point me in the right direction.


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