Skip to toolbar

Scottish Fiddle

Hey, I just want to put a plug in for Bill Kittrell’s fiddle class offered by BRIMS starting on Thursday at 7pm at our current home at the Renaissance School. Bill’s been an instructor of Scottish fiddle for years, and a heck of a great guy, so I know you’ll enjoy this class. So, if you’re an Irish fiddler, consider crossing the sea for 6 weeks and see what those Burns reading, haggis eating bagpipers are up to!

P.S. If anyone from the beginning fiddle class is interested, I’m looking for a couple of volunteers to stick around after class tonight and play some tunes that my DADGAD guitarists can accompany. Good opportunity to have some fun and practice (if you can stay out that late!)

DADGAD Guitar – Week 5

So today we reviewed the minor progressions using the key of Emin and also recalled the new chord progression moving up the scale (Em, Bm, C, D).

After that we worked on two hornpipes. The first was “The Boys of Blue Hill” – a hornpipe in D major. You may remember the nice little scale up (D, A, D, G) at the end of the 2nd phrase. The second hornpipe we covered was “Off to California” in G major (capo 5th fret). You may recall the nice little Em / D / C walkdown followed by the Am, Bm, C, D walk up in the B part before returning to the dominant G.

Practice playing along with The Boys of Blue Hill

Finally, we talked about how to quickly find the root key of the tune and then we practiced picking out the root chord on some tunes.

Next week, we’ll hopefully be able to have a little session so you can practice in a more “live” environment. If I can’t round up some vict… er… volunteers, we’ll learn to pick out a tune on the guitar.

DADGAD Guitar – Week 4

Just to review what we covered on Thursday, I had two main goals for you. First was to think about how you might accompany tunes that had two parts in different keys where you can’t move the capo up and down. We used Out on the Ocean to explore that (noting a change from G major in the B part of the tune). We then followed that up with trying to play an E minor tune, “Sheep in the Boat” with the Capo still on the 5th fret (G position).

The second goal was to learn play out of the E minor position (2nd fret) and show you a third alternative run that could be used in minor tunes. As you may recall, it started with the same E min chord that we’d use to move down the fretboard (Open/Open/5/7/7/Open/Open), but instead of shifting our shape down two frets, we kept it on the same fret, but “switched around” the position to the shape we would use moving up the fretboard (Open/7/7/5/Open/Open) and moved up from there with the appropriate major and minor shapes.

So that gives us two alternatives for playing Emin tunes – out of the usual Capo 2 (same shapes as Amin / Capo 7) and out of G (Capo 5). During this week, see if you can come up with a way to play Emin tunes with no capo (D).

Here is Sheep in the Boat to practice an Emin tune. Note that I found out that it is better to play mandolin with a plastic paperclip than a credit card while recording this one at work.

Listen to Sheep in the Boat

Mountain Road

Here’s the reel that Alex taught on Tuesday. Maybe we can surprise her and have the B part down by next week 🙂 I’m not sure if the notation below is consistent with the version she taught, so make sure you learn by listening to the recording!

Listen to Mountain Road
Listen to Mountain Road (slow version)

Also, you may not have heard Alex’s passing comment that the name of this tune is the same as the name of her fiddle camp. In case you’re interested or curious, here’s the link to her Mountain Road Fiddle Camp. Katherine, Karen and I have been going for quite awhile and always have a great time. Be sure to check it out!

DADGAD Guitar – Week 3

You all sounded great this week on the jigs. Keep practicing a little each day! The difference from the beginning of the hour until the end was really significant this week. You both really started to get a good feel for the jig rhythm and chord changes on those last few times through Cliffs of Moher!

In the last 5 minutes of class, I introduced a new tune, “Out on the Ocean” which is a “G” tune. But as you recognized in class, something a little different is happening in the B part. During this week, work on two alternative chord approaches for the B part and we’ll go over it next week along with some potential variations on jig strum patterns.

Also don’t be afraid to try playing along to other tunes on this site or on the BRIMS site ( The more you practice and experiment, the quicker you’ll pick up the accompaniment. Also, this week I’m posting the notes to the tune, so if you can read music a little, potentially use the notes to help you determine some chord options. Have fun!

Listen to Out on the Ocean

Added Sunday: And for a little inspiration, I came across this YouTube video today – two of the best playing together. Watch what Paul does to emphasize different parts of the tune by changing up the strumming patterns.

Listen to Arty McGlynn & Paul Brady

DADGAD Guitar – In between weeks 2 and 3

Once again, class was canceled due to weather. What a winter here in Virginia. Work got away from me today, so I wasn’t able to post a new practice tune and I’m now on my way to Michigan for two days. Hopefully I’ll get a new tune posted on Sunday after I return. In the meantime, try accompanying the tune “Cliffs of Moher” which is listed under the fiddle class. It is also a A minor jig (like Lilting Banshee), so similar chord progressions will work for it (but not exactly the same). When we get together next week, we’ll give that one a try at the beginning of class, so practice up!

Sunday update: I snagged Katherine to record it one time with me as our ships passed today… we apologize for a few of the mistakes, but listen for the F position in the b part (two options). A min Jig.

Listen to Cliffs of Moher with guitar accom.

Traditional Irish Music Musings and Tune Learning Resource