A good list of tunes for a session??

A good list of tunes for a session??

Hello, thank everybody for being helpful to a newcomer. I am a guitar/5 string banjo player who has played with a number of pub bands (whiskey in the jar, black and tans…). Recently I switched to tenor banjo, but end up playing bodhran during most of a seisiun because of my lack of repertoire. I know the music very well, and have learned a number of my favorite tunes, but I could use a list of tunes that are common to hear at a seisiun. could anyone post a list of stuff that I should really learn? I really appreciate it.

Re: A good list of tunes for a session??

Joshua,

I would start by asking the folks your playing with. Every session has its own unique repertoire. Irish music isn’t always broken down into beginner tunes. Common tunes at your session could end up being virtually unheard of at mine.

Of course I you are dead set on learning beginner "standards" best bet would be to look at the tune section on this website. There is a way you can actually list tues by popularity. I promise, everyone will know the first 40 most popular tunes. The question is really whether or not they’ll play them.

All the best,

Séamusín

Re: A good list of tunes for a session??

The list of popular tunes here at The Session (tunes that have been added to tunebooks the most) is a fairly representative example of tunes that would be played at plenty of sessions:

http://thesession.org/tunes/popular

Re: A good list of tunes for a session??

here’s a list of common session tunes if i think of some more i’ll let you know:
sport (jig)
kesh jig
connaght mans rambles (jig)
out on the ocean (jig)
jim ward’s (jig)
dusty window sills (jig)

sally gardens (reel)
dublin reel
within a mile of dublin (reel)
floggin reel
maid behind the bar (reel)
gravel walks (reel)
pigeon on the gate (reel)
the salamanca (reel)
miss McLeod’s (reel)
MacArthur road (reel)
maid of the mount cisco (reel)

Re: A good list of tunes for a session??

Jeremy,

I wonder if it might be worth your effort to add a beginner section on your help page that covers this. It seems like this post comes up every so often, and your popular tune database seems to have become a non biased and invaluble resource. You maybe could answer some other frequent questions that reoccur in the dicussions just as often as this one.

Re: A good list of tunes for a session??

"popular tune database seems to have become a non biased and invaluble resource"

Yup, because we all just LOVE Drowsy Maggie and The Butterfly! …

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Re: A good list of tunes for a session??

Joshua,

Did it ever occur to you that you don’t end up playing bodhran because of your lack of repertoire, but that you lack repertoire because you end up playing bodhran?

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Re: A good list of tunes for a session??

you know what, i could use a time or two playing through the drowsy maggie. i am going to do that right now. Thanks Smash!

Re: A good list of tunes for a session??

Micheal has a point. Take only your banjo to the session and sit there with it while you’re listening to the tunes, and try to learn some if you know them well enough in your head. You’ll pick up new tunes much faster that way.

Re: A good list of tunes for a session??

Which is to say, learn the ones they play at your session. Take a recording device with you and bring back some of the tunes you like so you can learn them at home. One tune a week is plenty. After a couple of months of that, you’ll know many of the tunes they play and you’ll be able to join in much more frequently. And by that point, you’ll also be familiar with the style they play them in, the other tunes they like to combine them with, who likes to play which tunes, etc. It takes a while to develop a feel for a session and work out your place within it.

Re: A good list of tunes for a session??

Most session tunes are made up of sections of connected notes, repeated or varied as the tune carries on. Often the first two bars are copied or varied to produce the second two and these four bars are repeated with a slight variant to finish. This "A" music is then repeated and the same process starts again with the second part or "B". You generally only have 16 bars to learn, so if you can pick up the first four on the fly, you’re laughing. At least that’s the way I work. It’s much easier than it sounds, honestly! :-)

Re: A good list of tunes for a session??

Also, if they have regular sets (medleys) of tunes - they play some of the same tunes in the same order every week - take note of that and try to learn them that way. You are not limiting your creativity by doing this - you are learning to function well in a session environment as well as playing tunes. Sometimes old arrangements are played for good reasons - perhaps they come from a prominent local musician who has passed but that person’s memory is kept alive by old friends. Or perhaps it is a set of tunes that the regulars remember from childhood. Sometimes, people play seemingly arbitrary combinations of tunes for deeply personal reasons.
Of course improvising a new set out of your own catalog of tunes can be exhilirating, too, but, to be good at it you have to have some material to work with and a bit of taste. Neither can be acquired overnight.

Re: A good list of tunes for a session??

Super Trouper
I Will
Clouds
A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall
Daydream Believer
Between The Wars
To Everything There Is A Season
Other…

Offence to earnest enquirers not intended! But these can be a respite from the gruelling ascent of Mount Trad. Nor are trad techniques wasted on them. :-)

Re: A good list of tunes for a session??

Eulic Mac Aoidh, that’s a good post

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Re: A good list of tunes for a session??

I recently started attending a new session, instead of travelling ten miles north, I travel 10 miles east. And guess what? I am hearing new tunes left and right. While the ‘best of’ lists are helpful, this is a question that is best asked locally, not globally.
And I completely agree with those who suggest that you will learn tunes better if you leave the bodhran at home. I found that when I started leaving the guitar at home, it gave me a huge incentive to learn more tunes, and not just spend my time as an accompanist.

Tunes for a session?

Going to a session & recognizing only a handful of tunes may have you thinking you need to learn several new tunes as fast as you can. Pace yourself. With any list consider how you intend to use it. For instance, at the session you’re going to are the tunes mostly jigs & reels… are slides played… any slip jigs? If you’re having any difficulty distinguishing these different rhythms it’s either because each of them is not being played in the session or you’re not yet hearing the differences.
Whenever I begin to notice a tune I haven’t learnt yet it usually starts getting into my head or I find myself singing it soon after I’ve heard the tune. This is always how it begins with me, rather than straight off a list.
There was a suggestion above to look at the popular tunes from this site. But looking over the first forty tunes from that list I tend to think most of the tunes (reels & jigs) will help get you started, but don’t be surprised if some of them *never* get played in some sessions. I think that’s worth to consideration (with your potential list) if you want to learn tunes for a particular session. Get to know your mates & the tunes they play first. Maybe then look at other lists.

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Re: A good list of tunes for a session??

Theres no shortcuts. Just learn the tunes that they play at the session that you like. Don’t hassle everyone at the end of every set for tune names… unless you have a strong personal association with every tune they play. (unlikely for a beginner). Instead if they play a set, that you just love… and everytime they start it you are like DANG THERE IT IS! Perk up, smile, let the other musicians that know you dig that set… it works.. next thing you know someone will volunteer the information you need.. tune names, history etc. They might even play a slowish one for you next time to record.

Re: A good list of tunes for a session??

bout 12 years ago, the ONLY itm tune I knew was The Red Haired Boy and my 2 music friends and I wanted to play at the sessions. The BEST advice I ever got was, "Latch onto a half dozen tunes that everyone knows at the session and get them under your skin. After that, you’ll catch on." So we downloaded the tunes we got named by the experienced ones at the pub (from this website) and made them ours. Now we’re a band ("Ganonymous") and we play about 4 hours of tunes. Recently we looked at the "most popular" list here, and were amazed to discover that 38 out of The Session’s "top 80" are in our regular repertoire. So, I’d say go to the "most popular" list here and pick a couple of reels, jigs, and hornpipes close to the top which you like the sound of and learn ‘em well. The folks at your local session will know them … and if they don’t (some of them won’t), they’ll want to take them on because you brought them.

Re: A good list of tunes for a session??

Right oh, you’ve got two sets of conflicting advise there. One to learn the tunes you like that are played at the session you go to, the other to learn tunes off a list on the internet.

Read all the posts again and make up your own mind.

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Re: A good list of tunes for a session??

advice

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Re: A good list of tunes for a session??

Conflicting advice, maybe, but not mutually exclusive options. He could do both.

Re: A good list of tunes for a session??

Yes, there’s nothing to stop you taking a jar of Sharwood’s curry paste out to your favourite Indian restaurant.

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Re: A good list of tunes for a session??

You are going to be fine, as you already listened to the tunes. Just pick one at a time to learn and it soon builds into a repertoire, I find.

Also, it doesn’t matter how many you know, you won’t know half the tunes they play at the next session over.

Lovely to see dear old Gill again.

Re: A good list of tunes for a session??

Hey Joshua, like Seamusin said - tunes can vary widely from one session to another. The easiest and best thing to do if you want to make sure you’re learning the same tunes that are being played is to go to the session with a pen and paper and just ask the names of tunes people are playing. This will give you the best possible list if you want to specifically learn the tunes that your fellow musicians are playing.

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Re: A good list of tunes for a session??

Though what it won’t give you is the specific versions of the tunes tunes they are playing. And they might not know the names of some of them or they might have different names. And after you’ve asked for the third or fourth time you’ll start to get a bit annoying.

No, the best thing to do if you want to make sure you’re learning the same tunes that are being played is to learn them from them. It might not be the easiest way, but if it’s ease you’re after, you won’t get much respect.

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Re: A good list of tunes for a session??

Who goes to an Indian restaurant 7 nights a week?

Re: A good list of tunes for a session??

An Indian person, for one, I imagine.

Re: A good list of tunes for a session??

"An Indian person, for one, I imagine."

Do Indian people not eat at home?

Given me an idea for a tune title, though.

PM Sharwood’s welcome to the Ashoka West End.

Re: A good list of tunes for a session??

jollytradgiant seems to have most of the common session tunes covered.

I dunno if it’s just a Galway things, but here are more tunes that I find are always played at sessions:
- Ms Monaghan’s Reel
- Haste of the Wedding
- Going to the Well for Water (slip jig)
- The Foxhunter (slip jig)
- The Silver Spear
- The Red Haired Lass
- The Mountain Road
- The Mason’s Apron
- The Bucks of Oranmore

lists of tunes & other alternatives…

I appreciate being able to read all the responses on this topic. I just finished work for today & have about an hour before going to tonight’s session. So I thought I’d take the time to read everyone’s response, thinking it might give me insight into the full range of perspectives.

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Re: A good list of tunes for a session??

This is a great thread. Some advice I’ve heard before and taken; also see some new advice. I don’t ask the names of tunes anymore. I can usually figure them out by remembering the melody and hunting for them in my ridiculous iTunes collection, or even by using …. gasp … my iPhone and TunePal. I really like SandyBottoms’ suggestion.
Last time time I attended a session, a whistle player told me he could tell when a person had learned a tune from the dots or by ear. Wonder if that’s true for many other folks. I’m too green to be able to tell at this point.

Re: A good list of tunes for a session??

One thing is sure; if you go to a new ( to you ) session someone will play a "well-known" tune that you don’t know.
On the other hand, stick to the session you are familiar with and you’ll only get a few new tunes every time.