In preparation for this Fall’s session class(es) at BRIMS, I’ve been giving some thought to the question, “to be a good session player, what tunes should I learn?”. The short, and perhaps best answer is to go to your local session and find out what tunes they play and learn those. But this avoids the broader question of what constitutes good session tunes. I’ve been intrigued by moments where within one group someone might say “oh I’m so sick of that tune – it is so overplayed” and when you go to a session an hour away and play the same tune they say “what a great tune, I’ve never heard it before”. A relatively obscure tune can all of a sudden become quite popular in sessions thanks to a new recording by a gifted player. Ultimately, I think we want to learn and play tunes that personally appeal to us, but it is important to remember that we don’t want to be playing a tune by ourselves at a session (unless requested), as a big part of what makes a session fun is playing tunes together.
So here, without further ado, are some links to discussions and tune lists that may be helpful to you. I plan on making use of these in Session I class on Tuesday nights at BRIMS this Fall. Hope to see you there!
From Comhaltas: Foinn Seisiún CD Set – Volume 1. 116 tunes with links to audio.
From Comhaltas: Foinn Seisiún CD Set – Volume 2. 104 tunes with links to audio.
Tune lists from O’Flaherty’s Retreat in Texas. John and Holly turned me on to this terrific resource. Along with notation, chords are also provided
O’Flaherty’s Retreat Tune List #1
O’Flaherty’s Retreat Tune List #2
From thesession.org: Dow’s 50 List. Fun discussion about what tunes to learn when you’re getting started. The key post is about the 4th one down by Dr. Dow. If you want a longer list that includes lesser known tunes Will’s Much Longer Tune List should keep you busy for awhile. Dow’s list was filtered down from this one.
A good resource for local tunes in the Charlottesville area is this practice list from King Golden Banshee. The recordings are from many years back now, so things have evolved.