Tag Archives: Hornpipe

Session I Class – Spring 2017

Week 11

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!

Week 10

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

Week 7

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

Week 6

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!!!

Week 5

A little pre-class reading if you happen to stop by today. Thanks to Holly for the link!

Week 4

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!

Week 3

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…

Week 2

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)

Week 1

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

Murieanne’s Jig

Langstrom’s Pony (Jig)

Jig of Slurs / Atholl Highlanders (this video is too much fun not to include)

Fiddle Tunes from Prince Edward Island

We all hear about Cape Breton, and thanks to Great Big Sea, Newfoundland. But what about Prince Edward Island? They have quite a fiddle tradition as well. Here’s a link to a wonderful resource for tunes that are played there. Interesting mix of styles. For those of us who enjoy some cross over, maybe we should consider a summer trip there! Plus, there’s always Anne of Green Gables 🙂

Prince Edward Island Fiddle Traditions

Session I Class – Spring 2013


Cliffs of Moher (jig in Am)
Tobin’s Favorite (jig in D)
Wise Maid (reel in D)
Wise Maid (slower version from Alex – note that she only plays 1 A part and 1 B part even though they do repeat)
Maid Behind the Bar (reel in D)
Maid Behind the Bar (slower version from Alex – note that she only plays 1 A part and 1 B part even though they do repeat)
Kid on the Mountain (5 part slip jig in Em/G/Em/Em/G – pretty close to notation)
Kid on the Mountain (Erin’s version – missing 4th part, but lovely variation!)
Musical Priest (3 part reel in Bm/D/Bm)
Lilting Banshee for Emily (2 part jig in Am)
Galway Hornpipe (2 part hornpipe in D)
Kitty’s Wedding (2 part hornpipe in D)
Kitty’s Wedding played by Pio Ryan (banjo – some nice variations)
Spootiskerry fiddle version on Youtube (Reel in G)
Spootiskerry in a set with Flowers of Edinburgh (2nd tune)


How to Talk Like an Irish Musician
Playing in Sessions
The Session.org a great way to lose 3 or 4 hours.

Here are the two tune compilations from O’Flaherty’s Retreat in Texas.
O’Flaherty’s Retreat Tune List #1
O’Flaherty’s Retreat Tune List #2

9th Class

Heard lots compliments on our group’s playing after the recital – great job everyone. Thank you for being there! So on to our last tune for this Spring – Spootiskerry which is a Scottish tune and a rollicking reel. Here’s the sheet music and I’ve linked to a couple of youtube videos that should give you a good sense of the tune.


Did you all wonder where the name came from? Me too… here’s what I found (gotta love google).

From the Introduction to “Spootiskerry. Music from Shetland” by Ian Burns
“Spootiskerry – the croft belonging to my late great aunts Bella and Joan Nicholson, situated between the village of Sullom and the new town of Brae. Originally spelt Spootskerry, but as the years have passed, an “i” or an “a”, and sometimes an “o” have been added. The croft took its name from the skerry that lies offshore. Usually the house on a croft has the same name, but in this case the house is named Southness.” He adds that it was his first composition. and, it dates from 1980, and is a reel.

8th Class

What happened to the 7th class? Must have been really good (thanks again for covering, Erin!). Everyone sounded lovely on Tuesday. You may not realize it, but the progress you’ve made this semester has been fabulous. And it isn’t like we’re playing easy tunes – really impressive, everyone! In particular, we’re doing a much better job playing together and steadily. Way to go guitars for keeping a solid rhythm section going, but guitars can’t do it without melody players listening well to each other too.

Remember that Sunday, April 28th at 2pm will be the recital. Please let me know if you will NOT be able to come. We decided that the two sets to consider will be the jigs (Tobin’s and Cliffs) and the Maids (Wise and Behind the Bar). We’ll make the final call on Tuesday, but I thought both sounded good this week. I’ve requested to Lori that we play right before Brock’s class, so that we can get a circle set-up for the two classes.

Here’s the notation for Kitty’s Wedding for Emily and others! Julie and Jim, take a listen to Pio’s version of Kitty’s from our class last summer – some excellent examples of triplets and variations, especially the F natural lead-in to the 2nd phrase in the A part.


6th Class

Remember, BRIMS isn’t having classes this week b/c of Spring break.

Here’s the notation for Galway Hornpipe – our tune for next class.


5th Class

Thanks to Alex and Joe for sitting in on Kid on the Mountain, especially since we were missing Erin and Scott. That’s a really fabulous slip jig – and sounded pretty darn good that last time through. So, those of you who know a couple of slip jigs, be thinking about what you might want to pair with the Kid. Too bad there’s not a slip jig called Cassidy’s.

This week’s tune is a 3 part reel called Musical Priest. Seems like an appropriate tune to learn the week of St. Paddy’s, yes? It’s also in Bm (two parts anyway), so it is good to get the patterns for a Bm tune in your fingers if you haven’t learned any before. They are somewhat rare, but very nice to put with D tunes – such as, haha, the Maids! As I mentioned in class, this was the most popular tune in the Claire sessions I listened to a few years back – played at 6 of the 7 sessions. The most difficult part of Musical Priest, especially for banjo players, is the reach on the 3rd part from the high B coming down. That will take a bit of practice to master. Note that I played it on mandolin – perhaps for Jim – or perhaps because the stretch is just so darn difficult on octave mandolin. Anyway, my apologies for the dishes clanking in the background. Sounds almost like we’re at a pub… we’re not, really… I swear. Speaking of recordings in pubs, a really fine CD that captures the feel of a session is “Live at Mona’s” featuring Patrick Ourceau on Fiddle and Eamon O’Leary on guitar. Lots of great tunes as well. Speaking of Patrick, he’s been the Irish fiddle teacher at Alex’s summer fiddle camp. For you fiddle players in class, that is an amazing opportunity to take some classes (and be treated to some fabulous playing) over a weekend in August. Yes, a blatant plug.


4th Class

Okay, enough of the dark, rainy evenings. Hope everyone made it back from the concert without any incidents. Started snowing quite a bit earlier here than expected. Just a couple of quick comments for this week as we lost power yesterday and I’m behind something awful. First, the Maids sounded quite good – you all are to be commended on your practice. 2nd, as I mentioned in class, I won’t be here this coming week, but the classroom is available, so I’m encouraging you to meet and play this week as well (I mean, come on, it is St. Paddy’s week). 3rd, our tune for the following week will be Kid on the Mountain, a 5 part slip jig. Though I knew the tune well, I hadn’t learned it. But was able to get it down reasonably well in a couple of days. So, even though it is a 5 part tune which sounds rather daunting, it isn’t as technically difficult as say, The Maids! Anyway, best to get the tough ones out of the way first so we’ll have the opportunity to practice them more in class. Here’s the notation:

Kid on the Mountain (the) 2

3rd Class

It was a dark, rainy evening – perfect for Irish tunes – but we were missing a few folks. I’m counting on the fact that it was the weather (or other commitments) and not the difficulty of the tune that kept people away. Those who were there all agreed that Wise Maid was a challenging tune, but we decided to work on Maid Behind the Bar this week and we reassured ourselves that we’d have 8 weeks to work on the Maid Set. As I mentioned in class – I first “learned” these tunes a year or more ago, and I still don’t have them down solidly. I can play them at home 50/50 on my own, but in a group setting I rarely make it through without an error. My point being not to be hard on yourself with the Maids. They are very popular tunes, but also of a higher order of challenge. Those who kind of know them will benefit from working more on them, and those who are new to them will begin the process. No worries. Tobin’s sounded solid, but I think we could all stand a bit more work on the Cliffs, especially as part of a set.

One last thing that I don’t want to forget. We will have class this coming week (March 5th), but March 12th I will be out of town, so that will give all of us a solid 2 weeks of practice time before we meet again after St. Paddy’s Day. Hopefully, I shall be fully recovered by Tuesday 🙂

Here’s the notation for Maid Behind the Bar:

2nd Class

So we’re taking on the Maid Set – or at least Wise Maid. Both of the Maids are challenging tunes, so we’ll see how you all feel about it next week. But Wise Maid was at top of the “want to learn” list. For those of us who kind of know the tune, we’ll no doubt benefit from working on it some more. Guitars, Wise Maid can either be done very simply or you can have a blast with backing variations. We’ll start simply (single finger) but then will show you a few fun variations. Here’s the notation (and chords) from O’Flaherty’s. But again, I encourage you to learn primarily by ear and refer to the notation only for guidance or when you are stuck on a part. There are two recordings of the tune provided, one by Erin that moves along at a pretty good clip and slow version from Alex that I had recorded back when I learned the tune. Melody instruments may find Alex’s easier to learn from at first while guitars may find it easier to play along with Erin.


You all sounded very solid on the two jigs. Frankly, I was planning on working on Tobin’s for this week, but you eager beavers all were ready to move on. We will play the two jigs again next week, so keep practicing them, especially as a set.

Generally, we will follow a similar format for the coming weeks. First thing we’ll do is play the “tune of the week” (Wise Maid for this week) together at a measured pace. Then we’ll review any tricky parts or variations of interest and play it as part of a set. After that, we’ll do other tunes and we’ll mix in tunes that a majority of the class knows, or tunes that some people know and others have mentioned they’d like to learn. That way, even if one of those tunes isn’t chosen as “tune of the week”, you’ll still have a chance to hear it and possibly pick up a few bars (and notice who does know it, so you can accost them later!) At the end of class, presuming there is time, we’ll play the tune of the week once more as part of a set, but this time as the 2nd tune, which is generally more difficult for a new tune. Hopefully, this sounds like a good approach and will help you get mentally prepared for the format of the class! I do reserve the right to throw in a surprise or two along the way 🙂

First Class
Welcome everyone! Great to be starting up our class and to have both familiar and new faces. Based on the first class, I think everyone is in the right place, but if you have any concerns about that or anything else, please let me know. Our goal will be to learn one tune each week. I will pass out sheet music for the tune each week and we’ll have a recording on this site for reference. We won’t be learning the tune in a note by note, phrase by phrase way in class, but we will play the tune slowly in class together multiple times. If you can learn it that way, great, but I expect most of us to spend some time during the week to learn the tune on our own either from the sheet music or the recording. Also, if you have one of those weeks, and you can’t find the time to learn the tune, no worries. We’ll be playing most of the tunes we learn every week (yes, that means 10 weeks of Cliffs of Moher!), so there will be ample opportunity to catch up if you’d like.

This weeks’ tune is Cliffs of Moher, but I’ve also given you Tobin’s Favorite (next week’s tune) to work on if you already knew the Cliffs. The tune recordings will always be at the top of this post and each week I’ll post a few notes / thoughts about what we covered in class.

We will spend most of our time in class playing tunes rather than chatting and I promise not to have quite so much coffee next class 🙂 Thanks for being willing to introduce yourselves and try out a few tunes. I hope to have a better sense of people’s repertoire as time goes on, and we’ll try to find some common tunes that people already know to try out each class, but if not, we’ll work on the tunes that we cover in class in more detail.

A couple of things about playing in Sessions that we were kind of covering:
New folks If you’re part of an open session and someone new comes to join in, it is nice to ask them for what tunes they’d like to play or to ask them start a set of tunes. You may have noticed that I was asking 3 or 4 people in particular what tunes they knew or what they’d like to play – this was because they were new to the class / group.
Starting tunes If you are asked (or want) to lead a set – meaning 2-4 tunes played in succession – it is helpful to play a few bars of each tune that you’re planning on playing. It’s also helpful to the guitarists if you happen to know the key of the tunes. Last, it is important to let folks in the group know when your planning on switching from one tune to the next by either sticking your leg out or saying “hup” or “here we go” or doing that Irish thing where you look around at everybody with that knowing glance that says, “we’re about to change to the next tune”. You can also say “one more time” to indicate that you’d really like another go at it. Personally, I’m a stick my leg out person, probably left over from old time playing days. I believe the tradition of sticking one’s leg out was actually due to one’s leg cramping uncontrollably after playing an old-time tune 15 times in a row, though I could be wrong.
Tunes and Songs Not the same! Silly, I know, but a tune is a tune and a song has words and is sung.
Craic Pronounced crack. Irish for having a really great time as in, “ah, the craic was mighty last night”. Not to be confused with any of the other ones.

Session Class I – Fall 2012

On to Hornpipes. Like reels, in 4/4 time, but have a different feel to them despite the same time signature. And I must say, I do have a fondness for them on banjo! Okay, first one we’ll do is Rights of Man, but since we missed a week due to Sandy, I’ve tagged on Boys of Blue Hill as well! One reason I chose Rights of Man first is that there is a very good opportunity in the A part to substitute triplets, eighth notes and quarter notes as variations (notation has the quarter note and eighth note approaches). You can hear some of it (quickly) in the recording, but we’ll go over it in class as well. The recording of Boys of Blue Hill actually has 3 hornpipes (comes back around to BOBH at the end). But since it was fiddle and guitar it seemed like a good choice, plus the kids playing it were just so cute and happy.

Listen to Boys of Blue Hill
Notation for Boys of Blue Hill Hornpipe in Key of D

Listen to Rights of Man by De Danann
Notation for Rights of Man Hornpipe in Key of Em
[Sorry, neither tune turned out to be in O’Flaherty’s]

Also, to follow-up with Scott’s question about how to make the tunes a little less monotonous, a couple of thoughts. First, especially for you fiddles and whistles (probably accordions too), playing it with a bit of a lilt (e.g. every eight note is not the same, some are longer than others – PINE-apple rather than pine-ap-ple) can make a difference. Also, you can add in (or take out) notes to vary rhythmic patterns. As an example, below I’ve changed the rhythmic pattern in the first measure of Merrily Kissed the Quaker (and the note as well) to show how you can create a variation to make the tune more interesting without really changing the basic tune. On the next measure (also 3 8th notes), you could leave out the B as well and mimic the same change in the rhythm. Give it a try and see what you think!

Our 3rd (and final) jig is Stan Chapman’s by Jerry Holland. I’ve also heard it called Willie’s Trip to Toronto. It is named after a well-known Cape Breton fiddle player. If you haven’t heard Cape Breton fiddling, here is a sample played by, why, Stan Chapman! I think from the example, you can see why Jerry named the tune Stan Chapman’s. Lively, fun stuff! I like this one following Blarney Pilgrim because the A parts are similar, but Stan Chapman’s is up a key (G->A) and very major, so it provides some real “lift” at the end of the set. See if you agree!

Listen to Stan Chapman’s Key of A, by Ed Pearlman and Tony Cuffe (followed by a nice Scottish tune for Erin)
Listen to Stan Chapman’s by Matching Orange (lovin’ the piano!)

Here’s the notation (remember, you can leave out the first or second pick up notes in the B part – the high A and F# – or use them as variations).

So, our second “jig” is called Merrily Kissed the Quaker, and I’ve seen it listed as a slide as well. Slides and jigs are certainly related, and many rhythm players will play a slide using a very rapid jig strumming pattern. But there’s definitely a different feel to where the rhythmic emphasis is between a jig and a slide. Anyway, we’ll play Merrily with a jig feel to it and it fits very nicely with Blarney Pilgrim. It’s also a 3 part tune (AABBCC) with a very recognizable 3rd part. To me, both these tunes set up the C part beautifully. Maybe that is one reason they seem to go together so well!

Listen to Merrily Kissed the Quaker by Planxty (a classic Celtic band)
Notation for Merrily Kissed the Quaker Key of G

Our first jig is a delightful tune with a very recognizable 3rd part called Blarney Pilgrim. Yes, so this one is a 3 part tune (AABBCC) in the key of G (though the 3rd part begins on the D, or 5th, chord). Oddly enough, I couldn’t find a recording that I was thrilled with for various reasons, but here are two that will do. The 1st one kind of cracked me up.

Listen to Blarney Pilgrim on whistles.
Listen to Blarney Pilgrim with a new age kind of groove.
Here’s the notation (with suggested chords).

Here’s a link to a very full discussion on various Irish rhythms (perhaps more than you want right now) found on irishtune.info, a terrific source for information. Also of interest is a survey of people on the site who play various tunes, so you can see which tunes of each type are most popular. Again, another source for answering the question, “which tunes should I learn first?”.

Here are the two tune compilations from O’Flaherty’s Retreat in Texas.
O’Flaherty’s Retreat Tune List #1
O’Flaherty’s Retreat Tune List #2

Though these tune compilations are wonderful resources, it is more important to listen than to read. Know the tune first before you refer to the notation and try not to continue to read the music after you’ve learned the tune. It will take a bit of practice to learn that skill if you’re used to reading music, but it will help improve your ability to learn by ear and pick up tunes at sessions. Remember, we’re in this for the long haul! I offer you these tips from Alan Ng to underscore that point. [Thanks to Brock for the link from his class]

So our tune for week 3 is (Joe) Cooley’s, a two part reel in the key of E minor. This is a good choice as last year’s session class also learned it, it has been in the BRIMS repertoire for a long time (I believe it is even on the first BRIMS learning CD by Tes and Sara), and is also a KGB tune. Point being, it is played in Charlottesville regularly. Also, played at most slow jams at Swannanoa. Yes, this is one that should be in your tune list!

Listen to Joe Cooley’s Reel by the Dubliners (can’t beat this banjo playing by Barney McKenna, Julie). Great set of tunes too!
Listen to Cooley’s on tin whistle (for Debbie)

Here’s the notation (with suggested chords). Like last week, try playing the 3 reels together in different orders. What order do you prefer? If it were up to you, how would you arrange the set?

Merry Blacksmith is a 2 part reel in the key of D (again, reels are in 4/4 time – 4 quarter note beats to the measure). And, when I say a two part reel, I mean that it generally follows the pattern of AABB, meaning play the A part twice, then the B part twice. Sometimes there are some variations to the parts, but most of the time a two part reel will follow that pattern. So, one thing you might listen for when you hear a new tune is whether it is a 2 part tune (AABB) or 3 part (AABBCC) or something else. Below are two recordings of Merry Blacksmith by very famous Irish bands. One by Planxty and the other from, oddly enough, the same Solas workshop that provided Father Kelly’s.

Listen to Merry Blacksmith (Planxty Live) Note that the tune begins at .35 in.
Listen to Merry Blacksmith (Solas Workshop)

Here’s the notation (with suggested chords). One suggestion for practice is to practice both tunes together but mix it up. One time Father Kelly’s first, next time Merry Blacksmith first.

For week one, let’s all learn the reel, Father Kelly’s. It’s a 2 part reel in the key of G. Three of us had it marked to learn, and it is new to the other two, so we’ll all be learning it together (including me!). Below are links to listen to the tune and notation as well. The video is played by members of the group Solas, but at a good learning pace. For those of you who like to learn tunes from notation, please listen to the tune multiple times so that you know the tune before diving into the notation… maybe even see if you can pick out the A or B part by ear! The notation is from the resources on O’Flaherty’s Retreat and yes, it even has suggested chords (Stacy and John!)

Listen to Father Kelly’s (video begins part way through the tune. The A part of tune begins at .28)

Here’s the notation:

BRIMS Classes: Session Workshop Spring 2012

Hi Sessioneers,

Welcome to the Spring 2012 link for our Session Workshop tunes! We’ll be meeting every other week for 7 weeks starting January 17. I’ve asked everyone to provide 3 tunes they’d like to learn and we’ll try to choose the new tunes from that list as our new tunes and then put those in a set with tunes we’ve covered previously. No worries if you only have time to learn one of the two new tunes. I’m just putting two out there for those who either already know one of them, or who just want to learn two tunes.

For April 17th Class:

Note that due to Spring break, class is 3 weeks from our last one. For next class, continue to work on Lark in the Morning and Drops of Brandy. We’ll decide on what to play for the recital and practice that as well. And remember to come to the session at C’ville Coffee on April 7th (Saturday before Easter – moved from Thursday).

New Tune for March 27th Class:

Lark in the Morning (4 part jig)   Watch   View Notation   Key of D

[Notes: Guy suggested this tune and although it is a 4 part jig, thanks to some fairly repetitive phrases, it isn’t as overwhelming as you might think. For those of you going to Swannanoa, it’s a good tune to pick up as it has been played nightly there in years past. The youtube video has it along with Jig of Slurs, another cooking 4 part jig with a great lift from the key change for parts 3 and 4.]

New Tunes for March 13th Class:

Humors Of Kiltyclogher (jig)   Watch   View Notation   Key of Am (needs the C)
Drops of Brandy (slip jig)   Watch  Listen   View Notation in G   View Notation in D   Key of G

[Notes: Humors Humours of Kilclougher Kill Clougher Kiltyclougher… yep, one of those. Nice tune and a little different feel from most jigs, almost slide-like at times. Drops of Brandy is a slip jig that we learned during our last trip to Ireland, so it is great to revisit it. I’ve included the notation in G and D. The notation in G leaves out the high variation in the B part that I’m familiar with and it is a different version than the D version which illustrates some of the potential variations. And just for Catherine, let’s make it a set with a regular jig thrown in at the end. That should help demonstrate the difference between a jig and slip jig beyond 6/8 and 9/8 time signature. Guy’s piping today drew me to this recording which also provides some very nice variations on a tune that really favors them.]

New Tunes for February 28th Class:

Connie Walsh’s Slide   Watch   View Notation   Key of D
Banshee Reel   View   View Notation   Key of G

[Notes: The YouTube poster called both tunes in the Connie Walsh’s set jigs, but Connie Walsh’s is a slide and Old Favorite is a jig – remember that one, Julie? See if you can hear the difference in the rhythm. Slides and jigs are definitely related due to the groups of 3 eighth notes together, but there is a different feel to them. On Banshee Reel, I believe the recording starts partway through the B part, so you’ll have to wait for it to come around. And, at the end of the recording, you’ll hear the king of the Celtic Instruments – or at least the one that is hardest to argue with.]

New Tunes for February 14th Class:

Ballydesmond Polkas (1 & 2)   Watch Listen to #1 #2  View Notation #1 #2   Key of Am
Ballyvourney Polka   Listen   View Notation   

[Notes: On the Ballydesmonds, there is some discussion on which is #1, #2 and #3. For what it is worth, these are the two I’ve heard played most in our area and are almost always played in this order and known as #1 and #2. Joe also played the Ballyvourney which is a great polka to end a set, and I mistakenly called it the New Roundabout (which is another good polka, so I owe Guy a beer!). Since a few of you already knew the Ballydesmonds, figured I’d give you a bonus tune. Maybe this could become the Bally Set.]

New Tunes for January 31st Class:

(Jig) Mist on the Mountain   Watch   View Notation   Key of Am
(Hornpipe) Home Ruler   Watch   View Notation   Key of D

[Note: Found these tunes on a YouTube channel where both the melody and guitar accompaniment are nice and clear. Their channel has quite a few good session tunes (including some on our list). Thanks to Holly and Sue for the tune suggestions! Keep ’em coming! Also Mist on the Mountain is also known as Mist Covered Mountain and on the Home Ruler link, Kitty’s Wedding, another hornpipe, is also played. This is one of the most popular hornpipe sets and the two tunes are often played together.]

Jig Set (3x each)
Timmy Cliffords’s   Listen   View Notation   Key of G
Garrett Barry’s   Watch   View Notation   Key of Dm
Jimmy Ward’s   Listen   View Notation   Key of G

Also, for reference, here are some helpful links to past tunes and lists:
Fall 2011 Session Class Tune Sets
Spring 2011 Session Class Tune Sets
pdf of Fall 2011 Session Class Tune List

Bobby Casey’s

Here’s this week’s tune. I believe this is tune is also on Kevin Burke’s CD, “If the Cap Fits”, another great tune source CD. Actually, just a great CD, period. If you’re an Irish fiddler, it should be in your collection.

But in going with a recent theme, Bobby Casey’s is also apparently known as the Humours of Tellycrine, and perhaps Caisleán An Óir (Golden Castle?) as well. But, around these parts, I guess it will be known as Bobby Casey’s!

Bobby Casey’s (hornpipe)  Listen   View Notation  (key of Am)

Session Workshop Tunes – Fall 2011

Hi Gang,

Welcome to the Fall 2011 link for our Session Workshop tunes!

First thing, this Fall there is a new twist on the class tune list. I’ve taken what everyone sent me and grouped them by rhythm and provided you (and me) with a list of who knows the tune, who is working on the tune, and who wants to learn the tune. This will help us choose set lists, and also help you choose a set list to play balancing your own playing skills with tunes that the group knows. The list is comprised only of tunes that were listed by at least two people. Please click here to view the pdf. Also feel free to update the list you sent me, now that you have a better idea of why I requested a list from you!

Below you’ll find links to where you can listen to / watch the tunes as well as a link to view a version of the notation from thesession.org. This Fall, I’m going to try to find links where the tunes are played in a session setting, to give you a different flavor for the tune. Also, you’ll be able to hear some additional tunes that might go with the tune we’re learning. When you listen to the set, what makes for a good set of tunes? Also, pay attention to the transitions. What makes transitions interesting / difficult / easy / smooth, etc.?

Most Recent Class Notes
We were missing a bunch of folks on Tuesday, and those that were there weren’t quite ready for the new jig set, so I quickly changed gears and taught the Breton set I had learned this summer. For next class, we’ll work on the new jig set in earnest and, of course, practice the original jig set for the recital (note: for the recital, we’ll just play each tune 2x instead of the usual 3x).

For those who would like to review the Breton Andros set, you can listen to it here.

Jig Set #1 (3x each) Note that the recording may not start at the beginning of the tune.
Lilting Banshee   Watch   View Notation   Key of Am
Tripping Up The Stairs   Watch   View Notation   Key of D (A part) Bm (B part)
Banish Misfortune   Watch   View Notation   Key of D mix

Jig Set #2 (3x each)
Timmy Cliffords’s   Listen   View Notation   Key of G
Garrett Barry’s   Watch   View Notation   Key of Dm
Jimmy Ward’s   Listen   View Notation   Key of G

Slip Jig set (3x each)
The Butterfly   Listen  View Notation   Key of Em
Rocky Road to Dublin   Listen   View Notation   Key of Am   Dubliners singing it!
(Optional) Foxhunter’s Slip Jig   Listen   View Notation   Key of D

Hornpipe Set (2x each)
Chief O’Neill’s Favorite   Watch  Listen (KAJ version)  View Notation   Key of D
Rights of Man   Watch   View Notation   Key of Em
Harvest Home   Watch   View Notation   Key of D

Reel Set (3x each)
Cooley’s   Listen  View Notation   Key of Em
My Love is in America   Watch (note cool variations!)   View Notation   Key of D
Star of Munster   Watch – maybe just a tad fast 😉   View Notation   Key of Am

(and, we added this one in last week)
The Earl’s Chair (reel)  Listen   View Notation

Polka Set (3x each)
John Walsh’s   Listen  View Notation   Key of G
John Brosnan’s (aka John Walsh’s locally)   Listen  View Notation   We play it in key of G, notation here is key of D – so if you learn from notation, start on the G rather than D

It was a real treat to come across this video featuring Connie O’Connell playing this particular set of polkas that we worked on (plus one more). Let’s use his order for the set. One of the highlights of our recent trip to Ireland was learning tunes from Connie. Also, fiddlers, note his bowing style – he was quite insistent about the proper bowing on polkas!

I also have to add that there is likely to be some confusion over the John Walsh set. I spent a bit of time this week trying to sort that out and decided upon the above naming for the tunes, which is different than how Alex taught them in our intro fiddle class a couple of years ago, so I know I’m going against the local grain here! The session.org and several other sites listed John Walsh’s as what Alex taught as John Walsh’s #2 and I’ve listed as John Walsh’s above (and Tes taught years ago in BRIMS as John Walsh’s #1) but there was less agreement on the 2nd tune, so additional comments to raise our level of confusion are much appreciated. Ultimately, I think names are less important when it comes to polkas. Often they’ll just be listed as “Kerry Polkas” on a CD. But I did want to make sure that our students were aware of some of the alternatives here so as not to be caught flatfooted (so to speak) at sessions!

Class Tune List (pdf)

Home Ruler

A classic hornpipe for our last class of this 12 week session. Hopefully we’ll follow this up in the future with Kitty’s Wedding, which I’m still working on! Definitely one of my favorite hornpipe sets. Alex’s version is a little different from the way I learned it, but it is good for me to get “variations” into my little brain, so that I don’t have to play something the same way every time through it.

Home Ruler  Listen   View Notation  Key of D

And come on out to the BRIMS’ recital at 2pm on Sunday (April 17th) at the Haven. See what we’ve been up to for the past 3 months!

Session Workshop Tunes

Slip sliding away…

We’ve added two well-known slides to work on for the next two weeks. I’ve really grown quite fond of slides since our trip to Ireland. Who knows, maybe it was all the dancing with “Timmy the Brit”. Regardless, slides and polkas are fun tunes to add to your repertoire. Hope you enjoy them!

Remember for Spring break week, there will be no BRIMS classes on April 5th or 7th. So we’ll all have a chance to practice our tunes an extra week (I personally will need that!). Work on getting those reels up to speed and those transitions. Don’t put your instrument down for too long over the break. As soon as we know what the plan will be for the recital, we’ll let you know so you can focus your practice more. In the meantime, safe travels to those of you who are hitting the road!

Jig Set (3x each)
Out on the Ocean   Listen   View Notation   Key of G (A part) Em (B part)
Swallowtail Jig   Watch   View Notation   Key of Em
Connaughtman’s Rambles   Listen   View Notation   Key of D (A part) Bm (B part)
Kesh Jig   Listen   View Notation   Key of G

Reel Set (3x each)
O’Connell’s Trip to Parliament   Listen   View Notation   Key of D
Drowsy Maggie   Listen   View Notation   Key of Em (A part) D (B part)
Torn Jacket   Listen   View Notation   Key of D
Silver Spear   Listen   View Notation   Key of D

Hornpipe Set (2x each)
Boys of Blue Hill   Listen   View Notation   Key of D
Off to California   Listen   View Notation   Key of G
Napoleon Crossing the Rhine   Listen   Couldn’t find notation, sorry!   Key of Em

Slip Jig Set (3x each)
Rocky Road to Dublin   Listen   View Notation   Key of Am
Dever the Dancer   Listen   View Notation   Key of Em (A part) D (B part)
Humours of Whiskey   Listen   View Notation   Key of Bm (A part) D (B part)

Waltz Set (2x each)
Si Bheag Si Mhor   Watch   View Notation   Key of D
Fanny Poer   Watch   View Notation   Key of G
Empty Wallet Waltz   Listen (to Virginia!)   View Notation   Key of G
Planxty Irwin   Watch   View Notation   Key of G

Slide Set (3x each)
Road to Lisdoonvarna   Listen  View Notation   Key of Em
O’Keefe’s Slide   Listen  Couldn’t Find Notation   Key of Em
Here’s an up to speed version to play along with (reverse order)   Watch

This post is growing like a shamrock in springtime!

And even though this is not the key we play it in and the melody is a bit different, this is just too amazing to pass up! You really must hear (and see) this version of Napoleon Crossing the Rhine   Watch

And just for Adrienne and Julie, here’s a little tenor banjo (from a master) that I stumbled upon while trying to find a suitable recording of Swallowtail Jig. The first tune is also one some folks learned from Breda and Claire Keville in Ireland last summer. But no, it isn’t Swallowtail Jig 🙂   Watch