Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Introducing Tune blogging!!!!! 
As mentioned below, I've been working on tightening up some Irish session tunes in a duet format with another trad head. Normally, the fiddle is tuned GDAE, from low to high, and the normal set of Uilleann pipes is in the key of D.

But lately, we've been exploring a fuller, richer, and mellower sound you get when you tune things down a minor third. So Kynch uses a B chanter. Occasionally we'll drop even lower, to Bb.

Recently, he got a new toy: a B concertina, which sounds beautiful (and doesn't have the wierd intonation challenges the pipes have.)

Also, I've been brushing up my guitar skills lately: Most noteably working on my flatpicking, using Irish fiddle tunes.

So guitar pickers, if you're up for some fun, try these on for size!

Lord Gordon's Reel.

This is an uptempo fiddle tune, but I can't flatpick it at full speed. But I think it sounds better at full speed. Pay close attention to the triplets, and to the rolls in the third part. There's a lot of richness in this composition.

The Boy in the Gap

The A part seems like a filler to me, but the B part is beautiful. Here's my good friend Roisin Dillon playing it on fiddle! (Danu's version is very good, too, and contains another section.)

Lady Anne Montgomery

One of my favorites from way back. Try it with a dramatic pause as you head into the B part. If I'm fiddling, I'll take my bow well of the strings, and then attack it.

St. Anne's Reel

One of my early favorites. Very popular. Learn this one and you can play it anywhere. The rapid D and Em arpeggios make the tune, in my book (I usually play it with a D and G arppegio, which isn't quite proper, but makes it a touch more accessible to the ear I think. If I play it in a sesssion I take care to listen to which way everyone else is playing and adjust fire.)

Also, I prefer playing a G natural in the B part to the G sharp. Most guitar players won't go to the E major chord that implies. That's because most guitar players are idiots.

Sailing Through Walpole's Marsh

A modal, atmospheric tune I got from the playing of Zan McLeod, on James Kelly's wonderful recording, "The Ring Sessions." Some tunes just have imagery! Again, mind the triplets, and keep them tight. I love tunes with ambiguous tonality. I.e., tunes built on "gapped" scales, like 1, 2, 4, 5, 6 b7.

Like Zan, I play it with a very distinct dotted eighth note feel, and with some tight picked triplets as an ornamentation. I'm better at the triplet with a bow than with a pick, for some reason.

Rights of Man

This is a popular hornpipe, but I like to play it as a lively reel, with a straight 8ths feel. Use as much crosspicking as possible, so that the strings resonate over one another. When I play this one on guitar, I'm really trying to mimic a hammer dulcimer. Try alternating the quarter notes in the first measure with a "B" on the open 2nd string.

Cavan's Potholes.

Swing it. But not TOO much. Don't lose that gentle accent on beats 2 and 4. I love the B part. Learned it from the infectious playing of accordionist Sharon Shannon.

Lemme know if you like the tune-blogging, and if there's anyone out there who actually works through the tunes. If there's a following, I'll do more of it.

Have fun, and tune carefully.

Splash, out


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Have a look at this collection of all the best known Irish session tunes. Great collection of free YouTube videos to watch and learn from or just enjoy this cool music:
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