I’ve been mentioning to Lori for a few years now how I’d like to facilitate a four week May course teaching some O’Carolan tunes, but the timing just hadn’t worked out due to traveling conflicts. Since we’re all stuck at home for the moment, this seems like an excellent opportunity to give it a try, except for the online part. But we’ll give it a whirl and each Tuesday in May my intention is to post a new tune added to this post. Might need to go into the first week in June, but we’ll see. Each week, I’ll provide at least a video of me playing it on mandolin and the sheet music of the version I play (which may or may not match what you’ll find online. The tunes weren’t written down by O’Carolan, so like most traditional tunes, what we have is what has come down through time, in this case, from about 300 years ago. Pretty cool!
I’ve always wanted to learn a few more O’Carolan tunes, so a selfish reason for facilitating this learning is for me to learn some new ones myself. So, I won’t be teaching Fanny Power or Sheebeg Sheemore (though if you don’t know them, I’d encourage you to learn them), but instead doing a few lesser known ones.
Please let me know if you’re following along at home by adding a comment or emailing me. Thanks!
Week 1 – Planxty Hewlett
The first one we’ll do is Planxty Hewlett. Probably the best known recording of this is by the group Planxty (appropriately). Let’s have a listen to the great Liam Flynn playing it. I love the backing that comes in after the first time through – just brilliant!
Now from that gorgeous rendition, I’ll have to subject you to the version I learned (and that is provided in the sheet music) just so we’re all on the same page. I’ll break it down into the A part and the B part going slowly.
This week’s tune is Planxty Charles O’Connor. I think I first heard this one by Arty McGlynn on his CD McGlynn’s Fancy which is provided below (hopefully available everywhere). One of the things I particularly like about this tune is that while it can be played in a more traditional O’Carolan style, it also can fit well in a normal jig set and people won’t necessarily even know it is an O’Carolan tune!
I was also quite taken with a version on Good Morning to Your Nightcap (still not sure if that is the name of the group or the CD… probably yes). I was surprised last night to see Ruadhrai O’Kane who plays fiddle on that CD watching the same “We Are Roommates” live session from Boston. So let me recommend both the session (Saturdays at 5pm EST) and the CD. See if this link will do it for you if you are on Facebook. Really nice players and tasty tunes.
Anyway, back to Planxty Chuck. So here are the A and B parts slowed down for you. As usual, the version I learned is slightly different than both Arty McGlynn’s and the Nightcap crew.
By the way, if you are finding this online tutorial of value, please consider donating to BRIMS. We’d really appreciate your help and every donation makes a difference and will be used wisely. The expected line up of concerts in Charlottesville for March – May was amazing and all had to be cancelled because of Covid-19. So please help out if you can. Thanks!
Week 3 – O’Carolan’s Welcome
This week’s tune is O’Carolan’s Welcome which is a new tune for me this month and I was not familiar with it at all until recently. Very pretty and haunting melody. A couple of challenges to note are that it is in the key of Am / C. While Am is a typical key, the range gets to the high C and it includes some F naturals, so it also has a C feel to it. Note that some may play it in Em or Bm, but I believe the original is Am, so let’s give it a try if you can. Here’s a version of it by the Chieftains.
Here are the A and B parts slowed down for you along with the notation and both parts played together at normalish speed. I’ve heard and seen it written with repeats and without, so be prepared for either. I think this version is pretty true to the Chieftain’s (for a change!). On the notation, I wasn’t able to render the high C using standard abc synatax, so it shows an octave lower than it should be, but it is quite obvious (the first line of the b part), so you’ll recognize the issue.
Our final week’s tune is O’Carolan’s Draught because we should end the course with a celebratory beer! It’s also a challenging tune and may require a few beers get us through practice 🙂 Oddly enough, it was one of the first tunes I learned and I think the first O’Carolan. I found it to be an excellent fingering exercise as well as a beautiful tune. A 2fer! Here’s a lovely version of it by the De Danann.
I think it makes sense to tackle this one in 3 parts even though it is technically just an AB tune. So I will break the B part in two for learning purposes (it is also twice the length of the A part). Here are the A and B parts slowed down for you along with the notation and both parts played together at normalish speed.
So, keeping with the theme of syncopated reels, our tune for next week is Spootiskerry and the syncopation is right out of the gates, so it is easy to be ready for it.
Spootiskerry Reel (Key of G)
Also, no class on April 4th, so our last class will be on April 11th and Alex will be covering that one as I’ll be out of town yet again. However!!!! We will have a all-encompassing, practice for the recital, last blast of tunes on April 18th… so if you’ve missed a class or two, here’s your chance to catch up!!
Bonus for this week!!! In case you missed the BRIMS show last weekend, here’s your chance to see your teachers playing a tune together – a special tune for me as my daughter, Katherine, wrote it and played it for me when I visited in California. She calls it Harbinger of Spring. Hope you enjoy!
It was great to have our fiddles back in force, though we missed our fearless fiddle leader. The tunes and transitions all sounded really good and I’m especially glad that Art has come around on the slip jigs (pretty quickly too!). Next week’s tune will be the Wedding Reel (aka Macleod’s Farewell reel). Below you’ll find a slow version of me playing it for learning as well as Lunasa’s version (the group that made it famous). Great tune and thanks to Holly for suggesting it!
Wedding Reel (Key of D)
And here’s Lunasa playing it a few years back.
And here’s ummm… well, you’ll just have to watch it (Thanks Augie!!!)
Week 8 (or 9?)
More slip jigs – this is a great connector tune and fairly easy to learn once you get over the F#min aspect of it (fingers may find this to be a weird pattern at first).
The Cock and the Hen Slip Jig
As I mentioned in class, I know this from the Dervish (thanks Holly) version as played below:
Cock and the Hen Slip Jig
Greetings from rainy Oregon. Yes, I’m still alive and very thankful for Alex covering yet another week solo. When Lori asked about teaching again this Spring, I looked at my schedule and probably would have said that it didn’t make sense, but Alex was up for co-teaching, so have been leaning heavily on him this term. Also, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work with you all again – such a fun and motivated group. Could not ask for a better set of students.
Well, thanks to Holly for forwarding this recording of Alex for posterity.
Black Haired Lass (Ryan’s) Slip Jig
It seems like giving an extra week for practice and catching up was a good call. You all sounded very good tonight. Keep working on those transitions, and when you’re practicing on your own, mix in other jigs and hornpipes, not just ones from class. The more the merrier! Think about what makes certain tunes go better together and what makes for difficult (or easy) transitions. It takes awhile to get good at it. Just a matter of time and practice.
Stack of Barley – Hornpipe in G (from version I learned from Theresa in November in Ireland)
Alex Caton (from a fiddle class, back when I was trying to transition to Irish fiddle from old time). It’s nice to hear the variation from the version I learned in Ireland. Both work, but some subtle differences. Also, fiddle players – Alex is a FANTASTIC teacher. If you’re interested in some private lessons, I would higher recommend her. She lives up in Gordonsville.
Yay for Laura for starting her first tune!!!
A little pre-class reading if you happen to stop by today. Thanks to Holly for the link!
You all brought a huge smile to my face this week – fantastic job on a really tough tune. Plus, Kayla’s back and we have another newcomer, Laura! Such a fun group! Thank you all for participating. Truly a joy.
So, on to Hornpipes. Alex will be teaching Flaherty’s – a really sweet little tune. I’m looking forward to learning it along with you.
Flaherty’s (D Hornpipe)
Sunday morning update: Here’s the recording where Alex learned Flaherty’s (and the The Wily old Bachelor – is it just me, or does the name of that tune scare you too?)
This week’s bonus track are a couple of hornpipes from Colm Gannon, Jesse Smith, and John Blake. Saw them our final night in Ennis and they played a ton of hornpipes. At most shows you’re likely to get one hornpipe set, but these three must love them, because I’m sure they played at least 6 sets and some absolutely fabulous ones with great swing. Hope you enjoy!
Here’s next week’s on the way back and just before heading out the door to go to Tune Junkie Weekend in Knoxville / Oak Ridge. Hopefully I will have a few new tunes on my mind after this weekend (not to mention a story or two!)
Christy Barry’s #2 (G jig)
Hmmm… I wonder who is playing this version of it…
Just popping up next week’s tune before hitting the road – it’s a great tune with lots of variation in modes / keys going on behind the scenes, which makes it more interesting that most.
Cook in the Kitchen (jig) (in, well, a bunch of different keys / modes – I think I’d play it out of G position)
Great to see everyone again and so glad Art can join in the fun as well. Hopefully, Kayla will brave the mountain and come as well. In the meantime, here are the two tunes for the week. The Dirty Tettle Slide (some places Dirty Trettles) is what we learned in class and Christy Barry’s #1 will be what we cover next week.
I learned Dirty Trettle from Theresa O’Grady in banjo class when I was in Ennis in November. Slides are great fun and it’s always worth having a couple up your Sliabh to play for dances. Alex sent me a link for the notation, but it is a little different from what Theresa provided, so I’ll try to put together the notation myself this week and bring to class for those who like to have the notation for reference (the version on thesession.org is somewhat different from what Theresa taught as well). I know, I’m always causing problems, but as I often mention, tunes are somewhat malleable, so we’ll be flexible in our insistence on the particulars.
Dirty Trettle Slide (in G)
And here’s a nice little youtube version of it with a couple of other slides.
Next week we’ll start in on the Christy Barry’s set of jigs which I’ve wanted to teach for many years. It’s a bit of an homage to my first trip to Ireland with Katherine as we learned them from Christy in Lisdoonvarna and we’ve always enjoyed playing them together with Katherine (with me backing). But it is long past time for me to learn the tune, and so, I will inflict it upon you as well 🙂 They are both really sweet G jigs that would be great to add to the Charlottesville session scene.
Christy Barry’s #1 (Jig in G)
I attempted to play the two variations in the B part that I’ve heard. One where the E note is played at the beginning of the run (which is how Christy plays it I believe) and one where it just repeats the G note instead.
Also here’s Sonny Brogan’s Mazurka that we played in class. If you’re in a session with John Pluta (accordion), ask him to play/lead it. Mazurkas originated in Poland, but apparently came to Ireland in the 1840s and were primarily played in Donegal. Another piece of trivia – Chopin composed 59 Mazurkas and, it seems that at least part of his motivation was creating a sense of Polish nationalism in opposition to the Russian Tsar.
This week’s bonus track – Theresa O’Grady (and Dáithí Gormley) playing a couple of hornpipes – first one is Cronin’s Hornpipe – which I’ve always loved.
Class Description and Potential Tunes
Welcome to the BRIMS Spring 2017 Session class webpage that Alex Davis and I will be teaching this Spring. Each week we’ll post a synopsis of what we cover in class, provide some resources for the tunes we’re learning, and other miscellaneous musings to amuse you. So, if you miss a week, this webpage will be a good place to start so you don’t miss too much.
Our first class is Tuesday, January 17th at 6pm at the Waldorf School in Charlottesville. We’ll start working on our first tune on Tuesday, so be ready to jump right in. Bring your instrument and anything you might find helpful in a music class (tuner, phone/recorder, something to take notes, etc.). We’d also like to you bring a tune list if you have one. If you don’t have one, now is a good time to start!
Everyone has a different idea of what a tune list should be. At a minimum, it should be the names of tunes you know or are learning. Some people also have some notation to help them remember how a tune goes. I also note the rhythm (reel, jig, hornpipe, etc.) and the key and I store mine in Excel for easy sorting (by name, rhythm, key, etc.). In addition, I have mine broken down in 3 columns – tunes I know, tunes I want to learn, and tunes I used to know, but have forgotten. I’m also thinking about adding a fourth column – tunes I can lead (in other words, tunes I play well). It’s really easy to get a tune list together when you’re first starting, and 10 years later, it is a really helpful practice tune to keep your repertoire up to date.
Below are some videos of tunes that we’re considering teaching. Listen to them over the next week. See which ones you find yourself humming later. Note which ones you’d like to learn. Maybe look up other versions on youtube. We are so lucky to be learning tunes at this point in our history. So many more resources – almost overwhelming!
Cook in the Kitchen Jig
Christy Barry’s 1 & 2 Jigs
Boys of the Town Jig
The Battering Ram Jig
Liz Carroll playing Battering Ram (Jaysus!)
Tell Her I Am (Jig)
Jackie Coleman’s Reel
The Ivy Leaf Reel
Sporting Paddy / Crooked Road / Old Bush Reels
Plains of Boyle Hornpipe
Colm Gannon Playing PofB
Stack of Barley Hornpipe
Stack of Barley with Dance Steps
Cock and the Hen Slip Jig
Ryan’s Slip Jig
Langstrom’s Pony (Jig)
Jig of Slurs / Atholl Highlanders (this video is too much fun not to include)
When I first joined King Golden Banshee, the guys in the band were kind enough to give me a copy of an out of print book they used as a source of many of their tunes called, Trip to Sligo. Just learned that it has been reissued and is available from Custy’s in Ennis.
Really nice resource (though quite a few tunes are marked “unknown” – then again, tune names don’t seem to be as important in Ireland as in the States). However, found a link to a list of all the corrections / additions thanks to the hard work of Philippe Varlet back in 1999.
I thought that as we enter the home stretch (2 classes left), I’d teach one of my favorite jigs, and one that we learned from Breda and Claire Keville on one of the BRIMS trips to Ireland. Here’s me taking a stab at it on mandolin with a very even rhythm… remember to make it more jig-like when you play it!!
And since I’m so late posting the recording, it only seems right that I should also post a bonus recording. So here are Claire and Breda playing a couple of tunes to help you get a sense of their relaxed style.
Okay, I’m back from Ennis, and Thanksgiving is behind us now, so I guess it is time to get back to the task at hand. Feels like a long time since I’ve met with you, so I’m looking forward to a really solid evening of tune practice on Tuesday evening.
First of all, here’s a recording of Alex playing our tune for this week, Joe Bane’s Barndance, which will go very nicely with Gypsy Princess! Wow, 3 barndances in one semester. That’s more barndances than I knew going into this Fall! I think most of you recorded it last class from Alex, but in case you didn’t (or for those following along at home), here it is!
See you Tuesday! I’m leaning toward teaching Tommy Mulhair’s Jig next, but if you have a hankering for a 4 part jig or reel instead, just let me know 😉
While I’m over in Ennis, Alex will be teaching you Gypsy Princess, a beautiful barndance. Here’s Alex playing it:
I also found this recording of my friend Connor playing it at Swannanoa in 2014. Slightly different version, but on accordion (for you Holly!)
And Alex asked me to pass on these two YouTube videos which I’m pretty sure have the same source.
Jack Talty and Cormac Begley – will be seeing Jack at his CD release show this weekend in Ennis!
Listening to these recordings cheered me up some and I was glad to be playing tunes with dear friends as the returns came in on Tuesday. Music, art and poetry share our spirits and heal our souls. Make time for them.
This coming week we’ll be learning a 3 part jig that I first learned from Pio Ryan, but it is a classic piping tune often played at breakneck speed. We won’t do that in class 🙂 The first and 3rd parts are really just variations on a simple theme, so the B part is where you’ll likely spend most of your practice time.
Here’s me playing Paddy O’Rafferty’s at learning speed.
We’ll stick with the Paddy Taylor theme for this week before adding in the 3rd Paddy. Seems to be the right theme with Paddy Keenan coming to C’ville Coffee this weekend. As I mentioned in class, these will be the two most challenging tunes we’ll do this semester – they are fairly notey, and have some rhythmic variation and a couple of tricky little bits that keep tripping me up. But both are really fabulous tunes and I’d love to see them pop up in future Charlottesville sessions.
Here’s me playing Paddy Taylor #2 at learning speed.
Week 6 Bonus Track… some classic Bothy Band featuring frequent Charlottesville performers Paddy Keenan and Kevin Burke.
Time to switch over to jigs for a few weeks. As I mentioned in class, Kayla and I learned the Paddy Taylor jig set this summer from Marla and they are really a lovely set of jigs. But, I don’t want to just repeat that without adding a little something different, so I’d like to suggest throwing Paddy O’Rafferty’s Jig in between the two. I’ve wanted to teach that tune for a few years, so I think this will be the time to do it. It is also a 3 part tune, and we haven’t yet crossed that chasm. Plus, way we can have the Paddy Set 🙂
Here’s me playing Paddy Taylor #1 at learning speed.
Here’s a recording from a session (in Japan?) of Paddy Taylor’s 1 & 2 together.
It is usually about this time that it can start getting a little harder to pick up the new tune and practice all the old ones. At first, it seemed like a tune a week would be a piece of cake but now maybe that B part of Morning Star isn’t getting the same attention that it would have if it had been the first tune we learned. This is when I think we have to be more intentional about practice. Don’t divide up your time evenly among the tunes and the parts, but instead spend additional time on those parts where you stumble. Maybe one day, you play all the tunes as a set, but the next day you really focus in on those odd little passages in Thadelo’s until you feel like you have it. Main thing is to be intentional about practice… however that translates to your situation!
Week 5 Bonus!
Was working on a tune I used to know, Andy deJarlis, and came upon this lovely set by Altan that starts with it. Enjoy!
Quick turnaround for week 4’s tune – Thadelo’s – that Alex learned from Rose Flanagan and Laura Byrne’s excellent CD, Forget Me Not. Here’s a version played by Matt Cranitch, who came through Charlottesville about a year ago with Jackie Daly. When it comes a couple of great trad tune shows, the Laura / Rose and Matt / Jackie shows were both fantastic. Catch them if you ever have the chance! And without further ado, here’s the tune.
And here’s Alex playing it a bit slower for learning:
Keep practicing the 3 reels and note the difference in rhythms / feel of the tunes. Try the two variations in Morning Star in the A part. Don’t forget trying a few ornaments from time to time to add interest. Have a great week and hope to see you on Tuesday if my flights get in on time!
Super impressed with everyone’s playing this week in class. Great job on Lafferty’s and High Reel. Hope you like the tunes so far!
This coming week we’ll be working on Morning Star which will provide an excellent example of variations in versions. I recorded Alex playing it on Tuesday and realized his version was different from what I learned (and what will be passed out as notation). But I really like his variation on it. I then spent some time listening to various versions on the web and it is pretty clear there isn’t a standard version. I was talking with Lindsay a little after class about how we both “struggle” with the mindset that a tune is a single, standard version (a la classical music). Whereas, in Irish music (and folk music in general), a tune is a recognizable frame of reference based on some ordered notes and rhythm, but that much can be left to the musician as to how best to interpret it. Triplets and ornamentation are one example, but one can go beyond that. So, we might try to work a little this week on variations and I found this excellent example of two masters of variation playing Morning Star on fiddle!
Also came across this group from Sweden playing several different sets. The recording below has Morning Star as the 2nd reel in the set. Listen and watch how the energy lifts when they start the 2nd tune. Also a great reminder that a) Irish music is played around the world, b) that it is really fun to play with a group of friends, and c) Ian – rock on that guitar!
Here’s Alex and and I playing our respective versions at a learning pace.
Morning Star Reel in G
Bonus for week 3 – check out this amazing mandolin playing by David Benedict. While it isn’t an Irish tune, per se, I’m sharing it as a reminder to us string players the importance of keeping those fingers planted when possible. It is one of the many techniques David uses to make his playing smooth (and fast). So many great examples in this particular piece. Btw, David is one of the nicest folks you’ll ever meet. Hope he meanders through Charlottesville one of these days!
Nice playing in class this week! It was interesting to get some of the tune lists (John and Sandy, hint hint) and realize that, especially with people coming from different experiences (e.g. not the Charlottesville crowd), it will be more challenging to find overlap with tunes. But, we’ll alternate our way around the group which will be good ear practice for those who don’t know the tunes, or know a somewhat different version. And, as we learn more tunes in common, there will be plenty to play / practice as the class moves forward.
For this week, practice Lafferty’s at least to the point where you can play it through on your own with only minor oopes (oopsies?) and listen to the High Reel. Also, try playing Lafferty’s with another reel you know and get comfortable starting it from memory as either a first or 2nd tune in a set.
I wasn’t able to find an ideal version of the High Reel to share, but the version below is pretty clean and also has the Ivy Leaf, another tune for us to consider learning. As I mentioned in class, mainly focus on listening and getting the High Reel in your head. Maybe learn the first few notes and see if others fall out of your fingers without trying too hard. We’ll cover it in class using a similar approach to what we did with Lafferty’s.
Here’s me playing it more at a learning pace, and I believe this version matches the sheet music I handed out. I learned it slightly differently, but tried to modify it so it would match. Will do my best to stick with this approach in class.
High Reel in Amix
Alex and I are really excited about the group. Really nice balance of instruments and interests and I believe, everyone is in a similar range of playing ability – all of which will be great for class chemistry. Again, from here on out, it will be primarily playing tunes and sets rather than listening to me drone on, but I hope you’ll think about listening and practicing actively and with purpose. Remember about Jackie Coleman’s and the repeats / difficulty issues – how does that apply to the tune we’re working on this week? What parts of Lafferty’s sound tricky and will require more practice? What tunes do I know that would work well with Lafferty’s in a set? (hint, hint)
So here’s that lovely version of Lafferty’s (aka Crane’s Leg) that Alex and I were referencing in class. Hope the link works – a mutual friend of ours posted it and I’m never quite sure how accessible videos and pictures are via Facebook. Regardless, Yvonne plays it with such a light touch and with such feeling – totally different from the way I often hear it played in sessions and by local bands. Almost a completely different tune, even though it is the same notes. It can also be a really hard driving reel which is also a blast to play (and how I normally hear it). Another good practice technique is playing tunes at different speeds and with different beat emphasis.
This week’s bonus: Here’s a link to a blog that I’ve followed on and off since my trip to Ennis last year. Some great entries. I found it searching a bit more about Yvonne because I was so taken by her playing and stumbled upon this lovely quote from the blog author and Yvonne, “Of great value to me were the words of Yvonne Casey, “Love every note; feel every note”. And that has become my mantra.” Might be a good mantra for our class too! Anyway, please check out the post – some great pictures from this year’s Fleadh as well as another person’s attempt at the stages of learning and playing tunes. Timely after my droning 🙂
Welcome to the BRIMS Fall Session class webpage. Each week we’ll post a synopsis of what we cover in class, provide some resources for the tunes we’re learning, and other miscellaneous musings to amuse you. So, if you miss a week, this webpage will be a good place to start so you don’t miss too much.
Before further ado – a couple of important announcements! First, is that Alex Davis will be co-teaching the class with me. If you don’t already know Alex, he’s a fabulous fiddle and concertina player and was one of the original members of BRIMS back at the turn of the century. Alex will also be leading Trad this term, so he’ll be a very familiar face soon enough. Second, we’re starting class one week late. So first class will be Tues, Sept 20th at 6pm. But fear not, we have three homework assignments for you. Don’t worry, they are kind of fun, although, if you know me, I do have a strange idea of fun sometimes.
First, please bring your tune list to class. Everyone has a different idea of what a tune list should be. At a minimum, it should be the names of tunes you know or are learning. Some people also have some notation to help them remember how a tune goes. I also note the rhythm (reel, jig, hornpipe, etc.) and the key and I store mine in Excel for easy sorting (by name, rhythm, key, etc.). In addition, I have mine broken down in 3 columns – tunes I know, tunes I want to learn, and tunes I used to know, but have forgotten. I’m also thinking about adding a fourth column – tunes I can lead (in other words, tunes I play well). It’s really easy to get a tune list together when you’re first starting, and 10 years later, it is a really helpful practice tune to keep your repertoire up to date.
Second, think of two tunes you’d really like to learn and bring those to class or email me. We have twelve weeks of class, so I’m aiming to learn / teach about 8-10 tunes, so if there are some that you’d like us to focus on, please let me know.
Third (and this is the fun part), here are some videos of tunes that I’m considering teaching. Listen to them over the next week. See which ones you find yourself humming later. Note which ones you’d like to learn. Maybe look up other versions on youtube. We are so lucky to be learning tunes at this point in our history. So many more resources – almost overwhelming!
Jackie Coleman’s Reel
The Morning Star Reel
The Ivy Leaf Reel
The High Reel
Paddy O’Rafferty’s Jig
Paddy Taylor’s 1 and 2 (Jigs)
Boys of the Town
Tommy Mulhaire’s Jig
Cock and the Hen Slip Jig
Ryan’s Slip Jig
Langstrom’s Pony (Jig)
Jig of Slurs / Atholl Highlanders (this video is too much fun not to include)
Greetings from the left coast. In my mad rush to get projects finished before leaving the house, I forgot that I hadn’t recorded Doyle’s Castle, but remembered literally 20 minutes before walking out the door to catch my plane. So here is me playing it (I believe) pretty much as written with the music I passed out last class.
For those of you on whistle and/or flute, here are two alternatives for the A part where it goes below D. The first one is fairly simple, just play it an octave higher in the first phrase and then switch for the second phrase. The second alternative is to harmonize on several notes in the first phrase (basically playing the 3rd above the melody note). Try out both and see which you prefer.
Remember to also practice the G scale exercises! A little trickier than the first set, but also a little more interesting to play!
I’m not sure we’ll have time to do the next tune, but here’s the one I’m considering – Have a Drink with Me. Another G jig. I think it is also known as the first of the Harry Potter Jigs from one of the movies. The version below is part of a set with several other common jigs that would make sense to learn if you don’t yet know them as they are played locally fairly often.
Extra credit – if you search the youtube videos, you may find Joe Basconi who used to live in Charlottesville playing the full “Harry Potter Set”. You’ll note his version is slightly different from what I posted. Actually, if you listen to several of the videos of the tune, you’ll find quite a few variations on how to play it. The way I’ve heard it is more similar to the first set, but good to listen to all the versions! Folk music, not set in stone!
We seem to have a revolving student list – which keeps things interesting! So, over this weekend work on the following:
Practice Cup of Tea – Play it before and after some of your favorite reels and work on smooth transitions.
Learn Virginia Reel – We’ll focus on this one next week and perhaps I won’t get it confused with the tune that shall not be named!
Work on the D scale exercise I passed out in class. Keep it smooth and when you feel confident, increase the speed by 10% or so. Repeat, but always make sure you are confident in your playing. When it starts to break down, take note of where and perhaps practice that part a bit more. Try playing the same exercise in a D mixolydian scale if you are feeling really confident!
As I mentioned in class, next up will be a jig in G major (ionian). I was lucky enough to see Sheila and Elaine in Ennis last November at their CD release of Shores of Lough Breda. Loved their playing as well. As it turned out, almost all the tunes were written by Paddy O’Donoghue from Tulla in East Clare and Sheila and Elaine have made it their mission to spread these tunes “all over the world”. I promised to do my part and teach one of the tunes in my next session class. So here it is – Doyle’s Castle. Flutes and whistles will need to play one of the phrases in the A part high (or, perhaps create a nice 3rd note harmony with the melody). Anyway, for now, just listen and get the tune in your head (stage 1 of learning a tune!!).
Hope to see some of you at tonight’s Dervish / Kevin Burke concert. How lucky can we be??
P.S. For extra credit, see if you can figure out the root / tonic and the mode / modes for the 2nd tune in the set.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Great to play with everyone this week. Fun to have some new faces and thanks to Augie for sitting in and offering some flutish hints (like how to play Bb on the flute!)
So, our tune for next week will be the Virginia Reel. Here’s a group playing it – how can one resist a group named “Ferrets of the Mall”. Anyway, some very nice guitar chords and a little old timey, especially with the clawhammer banjo, but a nice rendition and enjoyable to listen to in order to get the tune in your head.
Here’s me playing the Virginia Reel more slowly. It’s not quite the same as the notation in the session.org, but closer to how I’ve heard it played in our group over the years.
Speaking of modes, here is a recording of the D Scale in the 4 modes used in Irish music (Ionian, Mixolydian, Dorian, and Aeolian). For now, practice the two major scales – Ionian and Mixolydian, but understand how the 4 scales are created for a key (major scale, then drop the 7th for Mixolydian, then drop the 3rd for Dorian, then drop the 6th for Aeolian). We’ll keep building on this theory stuff each week so you’ll be confused at a higher level by the end of 6 weeks!
We had a small, but dedicated, group last night and I look forward to working with all of you for these 6 weeks. We’ll continue to learn new tunes in Session II, but we’ll also explore some additional topics each week.
New tune for next week – Cup of Tea (not to be confused with Ladies Cup of Tea which is a completely different tune). Here are a few recordings to listen to. First one is me. Second one (youtube video) is quite a bit zippier. I’ve added in a few triplets that you may use or ignore as you wish.
I’m giving you several tunes to listen to this week, a second slip jig that we can put with Elizabeth Kelly’s called Hardiman the Fiddler (Julie begged for it), a lovely O’Carolan Tune called Madame Maxwell, and a Barndance called Gypsy Princess. Though I didn’t think about it when I was considering these three tunes, the common denominator is John Whelan… or at least could be as you’ll soon see 🙂
Here’s John playing 3 slip jigs. Hardiman’s is the last one, but this is a kick-ss set, so I’m leaving it as is. Hardiman’s begins at 2:18. Note how John is always smiling. He yelled at us alot in session class for not smiling. So, in his honor remember to smile at the session tonight 🙂
Here’s John Wynne & John McEvoy starting off with Madame Maxwell at the beginning of a wonderful set. We won’t play it at this clip, no worries. I will also try to dig up John Whelan playing it this summer at a reasonable pace. For now, we’re just trying to get the tune in our heads!
Slower: and John Whelan playing it for us this past summer with a flute and harmony the second time through Madame Maxwell’s
Last is a two barndance set Joe Bane’s and Gypsy Princess played by Cormac Begley and Jack Talty recorded at Custy’s in Ennis. I also feel compelled to share the same set by Colin Botts below which he learned from the Begley and Talty recording, but for you mandolin and banjo players, you might appreciate this one. I really love Colin’s playing – check out some of his other sets. Based on the variations he throws into Gypsy Princess, I’m guessing he has some country roots 🙂 Both John Blandin and I have really gotten hooked on his stuff!
No new tunes for this week. Coppers and Brass sounded much improved and so glad to see several of you at the C’ville Coffee session this week! So, work on Elizabeth Kelly’s for Tues and remember that there will be an open session at Tin Whistle after class for anyone who is interested.
We had a small, but lively group last night. Actually was good to be able to hear those that were there more clearly. Missed those of you who were out of town, but heard you had a good group for the optional session last week. Lonesome Jig sounded great, but we’ve got a ways to go yet on Coppers and Brass 🙂
This week’s tune is Elizabeth Kelly’s Delight – a beautiful little slip jig that I first heard I think by Billy and Gráinne at SwannyG. I’ve also heard it called Catherine Kelly’s (in fact, that is what my daughter calls it and I think she learned it from a version by Martin Hayes – just be aware of alternate names). Here is a recording by Billy and Gráinne. Not the best quality recording, but it gives you an idea of some of the amazing variations and accompaniment they’ve put together. Slower version by me follows and I think I played it the same as the printed music for a change. Pretty close to how I play it normally.
And just for fun (and especially for Erin, who labors away on these tunes… maybe she needs a little more of a challenge, what do you think?), some flat out incredible fiddling from Liz Dorherty. Enjoy!
We’ve reached the halfway point. Time for a well earned break to work on the more challenging tunes (certainly Coppers and Brass would qualify!). In two weeks, we’ll cover Lonesome Jig, that our own John B. plays beautifully on guitar. Here’s a slow version and I’ll post a couple of youtube links as soon as I have the chance to search through them (probably not until the weekend).
Here are three versions of Humours of EnnistymonCoppers and Brass aka Humors of Ennistymon for you. Good timing for this tune so you’ll have two weeks to work on it as it is a challenge! First one is by Randal Bays, and one of the best renditions of it I’ve heard with lovely variations and very tasty backup too! Second one is in a set with a couple other tunes we know in a session-like setting featuring banjo for Julie and John 🙂 Pretty straight up. See if you like the set – maybe we’ll do it! Finally, a slower version for learning.
Great job on Farrel O’Gara, everyone. I may have to rethink my opinion that to get that tune down solid it will take awhile. Well, it took me awhile when I was learning it, so I’m especially impressed with you all. Remember to practice that last phrase of the B part extra or you will quickly find yourself being able to play the other parts well and falling apart on that last phrase. It’s more difficult and only played one time. A bad combination. Often the case with slip jigs too.
For next week, we’ll be working on the first Ballydesmond Polka. This one is new to me, but heard it first from Joe Basconi at one of the Thursday night sessions and it fits beautifully in front of the two more common Ballydesmonds. So, once you learn this one, you will now always have to ask if they play all three Ballydesmond Polkas at a session! Note that on the version below, I removed most of the triplets to keep it simple, but by all means if you’re up for it, add them in from the sheet music I handed out in class.
Wow… very impressed with everyone’s playing this week. Keep working on the 3 reels and learning by ear. I will post links to Farrel O’Gara’s as soon as I can record it and we’ll work on that for the 3rd class. Heads up to whistle players, we’re going below the D. This one is a fiddle tune!
Link to a pdf of the class tune list at the top of the post with “L”s for tunes that we’ll learn (and how many people selected those) and “X”s for tunes to review from past classes. Thanks for all the feedback – really helps me design a class more in tune with your needs (pun intended). More soon.
Easy enough to find lots of recordings of Farrel O’Gara’s on YouTube. Here’s one by a couple of young fiddle players (since it is a fiddle tune!). Just listen for now. I’ll record a slow version for you over the weekend once I get home. Farrel O’Gara’s (first tune in set).
Came across this video of one of the cuts of my all time favorite flute CD by Steph Gerermia. I think the first tune in this set would go wonderfully with Chattering Magpie. See what you think 🙂
2nd reel is the Concertina Reel, that I learned from Marla Fibish, who came through C’ville last Fall. Here’s another version which is in the wrong key (thanks Wes!) but is too good not to share. This version is played by Micho Russell (from Doolin) on tin whistle.
3rd reel is Dan Breen’s played by Catherine and John McEvoy at Custy’s Music Shop in Ennis. Check out Custy’s links to some of their video recordings of local musicians. Some really nice recordings on there!
Just for fun, I’m adding this recording of Dan Breen’s just because of context. I actually learned the tune from Eamon O’Leary who was here last week as part of the ALT. Here are Eamon, Patrick Ourceau (who teaches at Alex’s camp), and Paddy O’Brien playing it (2nd tune in the set). This recording was made at the Plough and Stars pub in San Francisco. If you’re out there, stop by – fabulous session and pub!
Hey Folks! The next installment of BRIMS Session I class is coming to Tuesday nights at the Waldorf School – First class is September 16th at 6pm (note changed time from the download). Here’s the class description.
Session I: 10 weeks – Led by Stu James and Erin Neeley. The focus of this 10 week class will be tune learning and getting practice playing with a group of people. We’ll aim for learning a new tune each week but also spend part of class reviewing tunes learned previously.
If you enjoy fiddle and banjo, you missed a fabulous display of it last night with Kevin Burke and John Carty. Here are a couple of sets from Patrick Street (Kevin, John, Andy Irvine and Arty McGlynn). A set of reels:
and Loftus Jones, a lovely composition by Turlough O’Carolan (and if you don’t know who that is, start the video at the beginning for an explanation by Kevin).
The last set of their performance (before encore) were tunes woven around the reel, Mountain Road. So, I decided that was sign to add that one for next week. A very well known (single) reel, lots of fun, and if you already know it, I’m going to try to dig up the 3rd part to learn (and if I can’t I’ll have an alternative tune for you all). Though it is (almost) always played as a two-part reel, so no worries about the 3rd part 🙂 Definitely a tune to have in your repertoire.
Have a listen here. Generally not a fan of these dubbed recordings, but hey, it is nice and clear with several variations, and has accordion on Banshee, so how could I resist? Here’s another version that starts with Castle Kelly’s – maybe you remember it from earlier?
Don’t forget Swinging on a Gate though!!
Week 4 – Winter Storm Edition
Great day to stay inside and play tunes. Again, everyone was sounding great this week. Transitions between tunes were stronger. One thing I do sometimes if I’m struggling with transitions is to play the tunes in various orders one time through each. Also a good way to explore which tunes work better with each other. I find people’s preferences all over the place when it comes to putting tunes together. My only advice (beyond trial and error) is that the transitions provide a “lift” of energy in a session. There are different ways of accomplishing this. One way is by changing keys. Another is by moving from less well known tunes to more common ones so that more people join in – leaving everyone at the session somewhat satisfied by the end of the set and helping to build a sense of inclusion within the group. Often sessions will have particular sets of tunes that are usually played together. Be sensitive to that when you are a visitor to a session.
Here’s another version of Castle Kelly’s coming at the end of a set. Thanks to John and Wes for telling me about how to start a Youtube video at a particular point in time, but feel free to start this one from the beginning as it is a nice set of tunes.
Next up is Swinging on a Gate in Holly’s honor. Usually played in G (we’ll learn the G version), but watch for different keys. If you find yourself in a jam with old time players, this one has some cross-over, so it also has that going for it.
And here’s another version played at a good clip:
Running behind this week – fortunately, you’ve got the recording of Brian O’Lynn’s from last week along with the music handout. Thought that sounded quite good for the first time through it on Tues. Here’s an interesting version of it (2nd tune in set starting around 2:40), for those of you who might be looking for variations.
Next week, we’ll be working on Castle Kelly’s. Yes, I know, bait and switch strikes again, but we’ll get to Julia Delaney’s yet. Anyway, here’s a sweet set that starts with Castle Kelly’s along with Mountain Road and Pigeon on a Gate. Kind of nice as it has fiddle, banjo, and whistle, so you can a sense of how the various instruments “swing” around the beat. And no worries John and Kaleb, we won’t ask you to do that kind of intro… at least next week!
Gee that was fun last night! Nothing like some jigs to make you smile on a cold winter night. And seriously, you all sounded really good on the new tunes – picking them up far faster than I do! Our primary tune for this week will be The Banks of Lough Gowna and if you’re looking for the challenge of a two tune week, you’ve got Larry O’Gaff’s to add to the mix. Next week, I’m leaning toward Brian O’Lynn’s.
Listen to Banks of Lough Gowna (jig in Bm/D)
Here’s a really lovely version of Banks of Lough Gowna (last tune in the set starting around 4:07) played by Marla Fibish who came through C’ville in November and taught a couple of workshops for BRIMS and gave a concert with husband, Bruce later in the day. If you play Irish mandolin (I’m talking to you, John M.), she is definitely someone to emulate!
John B. sent me a link to this version of Banks of Lough Gowna (second tune in the set). The fiddle player plays a bunch variations on all the tunes, but a fun set and the guitarist is clearly having such a good time! The last tune is another of my favorite jigs – Christy Barry’s. We learned that tune in Lisdoonvarna from Christy Barry himself on our BRIMS trip in 2005. After that workshop, there was no turning back.
So, it turns out that Larry O’Gaff’s is a favorite of the Uke players. Who knew? This can come in handy if you find yourself in a session surrounded by ukuleles. You never know – always good to be prepared! Listen to Larry O’Gaff’s (jig in D)
Here’s a nice Youtube video that starts with Larry O’Gaff’s and then adds a bit of lilting and dancing. The set builds beautifully into the 3rd tune. And I kind of like what they do with B part of Larry O’Gaff’s which is definitely a variation to what I handed out in class. A fun set of tunes and well presented. Have a listen!
Thank you all for coming to Session Class last night – really wonderful to be with all of you and play some tunes. I was thinking on the way over to class how one could find an Irish session anywhere in the world, and though you might not be able to understand each other’s words at all, you could communicate with your instruments and share the joy of music and a common experience. But, enough with the philosophizing, and on to this week’s tunes.
The first tune is Brendan Tonra’s, a catchy two part jig in D. I believe it used to be a “BRIMS tune” in the early days, likely taught to us by Tes or Sara. It’s always been one of our daughter, Katherine’s, favorite tunes, so I thought it would be a nice one to start with and one that might be new to folks in the class. It does, however, present a little bit of a challenge to the flutes and whistles, so I appreciate Augie’s guidance there. Interestingly enough, the two best examples of our tunes for today I found were played by flutes, so we’ll celebrate our strong flute section today!
Listen to Brendan Tonra’s (paired with Maid on the Green, from Brock’s class)
Notation for Brendan Tonra’s
And here’s some background on Brendan Tonra, who is one of the more prolific Irish tune composers and, I believe, is still playing fiddle in Boston. Kind of fun to be able to come across some recent youtube videos of him. Here he is playing one of his compositions.
The second tune is a popular session tune, the Killavel Jig. This is one we’ve been playing in KGB for years paired with Cliffs of Moher, so we might try that combination next week for old time’s sake. It was interesting that none of us had learned it yet. I had put it in for this week’s alternative tune mainly b/c of the flute challenge on Brendan Tonra’s, but am glad to be introducing it to many of you.
Oddly enough, when looking for examples, I found both together in a set. Not the best quality recording of either, but thought it might be helpful to have them both together.
Last thing which I probably didn’t say enough last night. While I may provide 2 tunes in a week, one will be our focus (Brendan Tonra’s this week) and the 2nd one is one is an alternative option (for whatever reason you may have – you like it better, you already knew the first one, etc). I’ll especially do this for the first few weeks as it is helpful to get our common repertoire count up quickly. However, I’ve always felt learning a tune a week is a great accomplishment. If you think about it, if you did that every week, you’d learn 50 tunes a year, which is a very solid tune list. So, my point is, we all pick up tunes at different paces and have different reasons for being in class. I will be very happy if, in 7 weeks, you’ve on your way to knowing 7 tunes that you enjoy playing.
I’ve noticed that people have various reactions to what constitutes the “right” way to play a tune and I always struggle with handing out a piece of written music to my session class (or particular chords to my guitar class for that matter) for fear the tune becomes “fixed” in someone’s mind. Traditional tunes are malleable and we should be open to (or dare I say welcome?) interesting variations on how a tune is played. Here’s a quick take on the subject from Martin Hayes.
Also, here is a link to a somewhat related article and video from the Irish Times about The Gloaming, an on-going experiment in music, whose new CD will soon be released (featuring Martin among others).
Good to have Jim back in class this week. So in his honor, Lark in the Morning is the tune of the week. This recording of Cillian Vallely was wonderful to come across as he’s one of the best out there on pipes. As always, this version is not the same as the printed version, which won’t be exactly the same as how we play it in class. But it’s definitely one to have in your repertoire. As I think I mentioned in class, at the C’ville session the other night, I think every person was playing on it, so it is a popular tune both in Charlottesville and elsewhere. Enjoy and see you next week for our last class (oh no). Bring your favorite tune and we’ll try to plug a few extras in our usual sets!
It was great to have Mimi join us for a few tunes this week. A wonderful reminder of the enduring nature of the BRIMS community and the larger community of Irish music. What a cool thing to be able to travel to a town, look up on the internet to see if they have a session, join in, and instantly be connected to a new community of people through a common joy in trad music. In fact, at our monthly session at C’ville Coffee, we had a visitor who did just that! Love it!
So this week, our tune was Devaney’s Goat. This is a nice straight forward rendition of it (with an appropriate backdrop). Here’s another version by a trio of fabulous musicians (2nd tune in set, but enjoy the entire set). As I mentioned in class, I originally learned it from David Surrette as part of a set with Mountain Road (also in D). I looked up David’s site and found that he had posted tab notation for all the tunes from his CD, so here’s a link to a pdf of the version I originally learned.
We’re trying a bit of Cape Breton this week with Brenda Stubbert’s written by Jerry Holland. Fortunately, we do have a recording of him playing the tune (with steel drum accompaniment!) which you can listen to here: Brenda Stubbert’s Reel (Am). The first phrase in the B part is the distinctive part of the tune. Here’s a bit clearer (and slower) version on solo fiddle. Also, you might enjoy hearing a set played by Brenda Stubbert herself. She really tears it up and you just can’t beat that Cape Breton piano accompaniment in my opinion! The first tune is Foxhunter’s which you probably have heard before. A bit different feel in Cape Breton style.
Will try to record and post the waltz tonight. Thanks everyone for another great class!
Well, apparently my password for the BRIMS site is out of date, so I can’t upload my recording. In the meantime, here’s Faraway Waltz on flute for Sandy and Sherry. (and thanks to Guy, who mentioned that the previous recording was in Em rather than the Bm that we’ll play)
Week 3 + 4
Sounding pretty darn good and folks seem to be up for learning more tunes, so I’ll oblige. However, I will always designate 1 tune the primary tune for the week in case you would prefer to focus on one tune. So this week’s tune is Rolling Wave(s) a beautiful jig in D (also known as Humours of Trim). John B. also found this incredibly cool version of it as well. Some folks from C’ville learned this in Doolin during our last trip to Ireland, so it is a good one to keep going!
If you’re feeling frisky, give Maire Rua a whirl. A pretty easy slip jig to pick up in the key of G. This version played on mando just for Jim. As I mentioned during class, John Doyle used the melody on his version of Wheels of the World. Lyrics shared below (may not be exactly the same). Good opportunity for a quick history lesson 🙂
The Wheels of the World
Come all of you true sons of Erin; attend to these few nimble lines:
I’ll sing you a song about spinning. It was a good trade in our time.
Now some they spun worsted and yarn, and others they spun flaxen and tow.
By experience, my friends, you may learn how the wheels of the world how they go.
William Pitt he was a good spinner, and so was Lord Castlereagh.
They spun out the Union from Ireland. To England they shipped it away.
Poor Pitt spun out his existence, then took a long trip on a boat.
Lord Castlereagh saved him the distance, by cutting the rim of his throat.
Napoleon he was a great spinner, for freedom did always advance.
Through deserts and high lofty mountains, he marched with the brave sons of France.
Wellington he went a-spinning. His wheels they were at Waterloo;
But if Grouchy had never been bribed, the French would have split him in two.
John Mitchel a true son of Erin, declared that a spinner he’d be.
He set all wheels in motion, his dear native land to set free.
But John Bull that crafty old tyrant, at spinning he was fully bent,
And straight to Van Diemen’s Land the son of old Erin was sent.
The factory owners are spinning. Their wheels are a turning away,
And now they are expecting their hands for to work thirteen hours a day.
They don’t care a damn for the poor and they hate all their sighs and their moans.
They don’t care a pin if you work till you cut all the flesh from your bones.
And the rich they are all famous spinners, and that we’re are very sure
They are always contriving a scheme to drive down the rights of the poor.
So if you’re compelled to go spinning, be sure that your spindles are steel.
Let “Liberty” then be your motto, and glory will turn your big wheel.
Great job this week, everyone. Great to have two more melody players – thanks for joining us Sandy and Julie. So, our main tune to work on for the week is Geese in the Bog. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try out Merry Blacksmith (D reel) – here are two versions by Planxty (starts around 0:40) and Solas (from a workshop).
Next week, Sherry offered to bring in a printed version of Eel in the Sink (singular, Stu) and I will be out of town (sadly), but Erin will do a fabulous job leading you all in my absence. Thanks to both Sherry and Erin!
The following week, I’m thinking we might tackle Rolling Wave (another D major jig). Have a listen to it in the meantime if you don’t already know it (Note that they modulate to G for the performance but almost always played in D). Paired with The Legacy here – really nice set with Flute and Harp. Anyway, Rolling Wave is one of my favorite tunes… started learning it in Doolin two years ago, but never really got it down. So I’m pulling it out again for all of us to master together. Guitars, B part (to me) calls for a nice descending run down from D.
So, we’re working on two tunes for next week – a single reel – Rolling in the Ryegrass (Key of D) and a jig – Pipe on the Hob #1 (Key of D mix). Here are two recordings of the tunes and you all have the music from class.
Hey folks – here’s what I’ll be teaching at BRIMS this Fall. First half of semester will be Session I, 2nd half will be DADGAD Guitar. Not finalized yet is the timing, but probably in the 6pm time slot. I expect all the classes and times to be published on the BRIMS homepage soon. Hope you’ll be able to join us for one more classes!
If you are considering taking either of these classes and have any specific requests or questions, please let me know through a comment to this post – thanks!
Session Workshop Class I (8 Week Class)
This 8 week class will focus on playing well-known session tunes as a group. We will learn tunes from three sources – most popular tunes from thesession.org, tunes that are played locally, and tunes that people in the class want to learn. To take this class you should have some experience with a melody instrument (e.g. can play at least a few Irish tunes), be eager to work on playing better, and be able to learn a tune on your own from a recording with perhaps a little help from music notation if you’re new to learning by ear. We will also have room for 1 or 2 guitars / bouzoukis / bodhráns for accompaniment. Ages 12 and up are welcome. We will cover a new tune each week so that by the end of class, we’ll have 3 sets of tunes that you can play. Our goal will be to play those tunes well and in a consistent rhythm.
Introduction to Irish Accompaniment on Guitar (DADGAD tuning)
In this five week class, students will learn the fundamentals of accompanying Irish traditional tunes on guitar. We’ll cover two of the basic rhythms (reels and jigs), chord shapes, and some common major and minor progressions. We’ll also be using DADGAD tuning; an open style guitar tuning that is very popular for backing Irish musicians. Ages 12 and up are welcome. Some experience on guitar is helpful (simple chords and strumming in standard tuning). You will need a guitar, capo, and pick.
Traditional Irish Music Musings and Tune Learning Resource