Catharsis reel

Also known as The Catharsis.

There are 19 recordings of a tune by this name.

Catharsis has been added to 637 tunebooks.

Download ABC

Six settings

X: 1
T: Catharsis
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmin
X: 2
T: Catharsis
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmin
dG Gc G G BG| GA G G G ABc| dF Fc F F BF| FA F F G ABc|
dE Ec E E BE |EA E E G ABc| dc Bc BA GF| DG GF G
X: 3
T: Catharsis
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amin
eAAd AAcA|ADBD ABcd|edcd cBAG|1 EAAG ABcd:|2 EAAG A4||
# Added by JACKB .
X: 4
T: Catharsis
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Emin
Beed Beed|Bdef gefd|Beed Beed|BAGA GFGF|
Beed Beed|Bdef gefa|baga gfed|1 Beed e2 e2:|2 Beed efga||
BeeA eege|efee efga|BddA ddgd|dfdd efga|
BccA ccGc|cfcc efga|baga gfed|1 Beed efga:|2 BAGA GFGF||
# Added by JACKB .
X: 5
T: Catharsis
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmin
dcBc BAGF |1 DGGF G2 G2: |2 DGGF GABc :|
M: 9/8
M: 7/8
M: 9/8
M: 7/8
M: 9/8
M: 7/8
M: 4/4
dcBc BAGF |1 DGGF GABc :|2 DCB,C B,A,B,A, ||
X: 6
T: Catharsis
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmin
|:[M:9/8]dGG cGG BGG |[M:7/8]AGG GABc |[M:9/8]dFF cFF BFF |[M:7/8]AFF GABc |
|[M: 9/8]dEE cEE BEE |[M: 7/8]AEE GABc |[M: 4/4]dcBc BAGF |1 DGGF GABc :|2 DCB,C B,A,B,A, ||

Thirty-eight comments

a grooovy new from new england composed by Amy Cann

Include composer in ABCs

I’m a little antsy about posting tunes by living artists—who owns the rights? Did they give permission to post it?

Anyway, there is a provision in ABC to name the composer right there in the code, which we should probably do, when we know who wrote it. I just have a vision of people downloading the ABC without knowing or caring who wrote it—resulting in the connection between the composer and the tune becoming more and more unhinged.

Just my 2/100 of a dollar’s worth.

I put a "C" for composer, which is Amy Cann, in the ABC thing…I don’t know if it will show up on the sheet music, though.


Thanks, Brent!

Great, Brent!

I use ABC2WIN and the C: (composer) field prints out just fine. You’re right, it’s not on the GIF above, but neither is the title or any other field that usually prints.

A friend of mine and I had a long discussion about posting and sharing copyrighted tunes and my head is still spinning.

Anyway, it’s a great tune, especially on fiddle. I plan to study it for a while to see if I can make it sound halfway decent on flute.


A live composer’s opinion

This is Amy Cann putting in my two cents on posting works by live composers: In my case, go ahead and do it — if it’s out there with my name attached, any band wanting to record it can find it and find me, and it actually makes the attribution/royalty process easier.
Regarding the name: my boyfriend at the time had asked me to save a certain Saturday for us to have some quality together time, and I had loyally turned down a lucrative wedding gig…come Friday night I find a phone message.."an old friend of mine is in town and we’re going hiking — I don’t remember if you and I had anything planned, but you can join us if you want"
I knew that if I called him right back I’d prob. kill’em, so I played the fiddle first. The tune pretty much wrote itself in about 2 minutes.

Posted by .


I love this tune and have been trying to learn it for a couple of days now. The A part’s pretty easy.

However, do any of you accomplished fiddlers have any tips for the B part where you’re alternating between an arpeggio (down) and a held note on the next lowest string?

I usually have the most trouble when the note-on-the-string-below is the same finger as a note-on-the-string-above (D-to-G or Bb-to-Eb) and I usually stop both strings with the same finger but it always feels awkward and doesn’t sound as clear.

Quite a few tunes have this sort of bouncing between two strings (Drowsy Maggie, Maid Behind the Bar, Gravel Walks…) if there’s a ‘trick’ to getting it to sound crisp that I can learn, it would improve my playing on more than just ‘Catharsis’!

Of course, that the tune is in Gm doesn’t help as that’s not a key I routinely play in … in fact, aside from some Christmas songs, I don’t think I have any other tunes in Gm….


Re: Catharsis

I’ve seen two basic approaches to this. One is to stay on your fingertip (with finger arched in the ‘standard’ position) and rock between the two strings, applying pressure where it’s neede most at each moment. The other is to allow your finger to collapse a little so that you hold the strings down with the wider, fleshier pad of your finger, rather than the very tip.

I suppose which one works for you depends on the shape and size of your fingers, and which position feels more natural. It’s also possible (though not as likely a problem on a fiddle as say a viola, banjo, or wide-necked mandolin) that your strings are set apart too wide for your fingers—an issue of where the notches are in the nut up at the scroll end of the fingerboard.

I prefer collapsing the arch a bit, myself, and using more of the pad of my finger, but that’s just me. The B part of Catharsis is not the easiest tune to get used to doing this, since you end up holding a doublestop with ring, then middle, and then index finger. You might make more progress focusing on Drowsy Maggie to get the index finger working, and then practice doublestop scales.

The bowing can also affect how clear the notes are, so be sure to experiment with different approaches there. For Catharsis, you’ll either do a single-bow shuffle pattern (similar to the one in the C part of Mouth of the Tobique, where there’s less lefthand stuff going on, so the shuffle is easier to learn), or some combination of single bows and slurs.

And then there’s just working at it for the rest of your life….

Good luck!

Posted .

Re: Catharsis

Disclaimer: the fact that I replied to Len’s request should in no way be taken as evidence that I am an "accomplished" fiddler, and certainly not that I think of myself that way. In 20 years of playing this stuff, my accomplishments amount to annoying the neighbors and giving my cats ulcers. :o)

Posted .

Thanks, Will.

I’m sure my fiddle setup is good, and I *can* cover both strings with one finger but unless I rock my hand a little, the notes tend to be a little muddier. I typically don’t play with the tips of my fingers but more down on the pad, anyway.

I’m getting pretty good at Drowsy Maggie (I can usually manage at or just below session speed) but the changes aren’t as complex in that tune as Catharsis.

I guess it’s just the combination of Gm (unusual for me) and more complex.

BTW, how does a single-bow shuffle, work? I originally started learning from the Mel Bay Complete Irish Fiddler book (by Pete Cooper) and he mentions a lot of bowing patterns but "shuffle"(-ing?) is something I’ve only heard on fiddle boards and websites; usually from bluegrass or Texas fiddlers.


This tune rocks, but spare a thought for the poor bouzouki player who has to make 5th-1st fret stretches for the part B. My hand is complaining something chronic.

Copyright, loyalties etc..

Firstly, i’ve got to say I love this tune, it’s my favourite.
Secondly- I love it so much that I want to put it on a CD, and thanks to this site that might be achieved more easily than otherwise. While searching the internet, I found an email address for Amy Cann, but my message just got returned ‘undeliverable’, so this is my next possible way of doing it- Amy, if you see this message, please contact me at:
Thanks! And I look forward to hearing and learning your new tunes as you write them, hopefully with more happy (but definitely with as effective) inspiration.

Angus Downing
(Melbourne Scottish Fiddle Club, and student at Ormond College, Melb. Uni)

Playing B part on the fiddle

This is a fab tune and is one of the mainstays at Folkworks events. With regards to the B part I would keep my fingers down on the d string throughout the bar and just rock back and forth to get the a string notes. Don’t take it too fast, at folkworks they play it incredibaly fast, but I think it sounds much nice played at a steady speed so you can actually hear the apeggio bits. When I play it with my friend, we start really slow and only hint at the overall shape of the tune for once through, then we gradually speed up adding more notes each time until you get to a sim version as the one here. Anyway, this tune’s great fun to play and that’s just my opinion. Enjoy!


Try this tune with a hornpipe (or near-hornpipe) rhythm.


Speeding up to catharsis?

Is it just me, or does this tune seem to cry out to be sped up over time in a cathartic sort of way when played solo? I just loved reading the motivation for the name, thanks for sharing it, Amy—will think of it everytime I play it! (Which is often, as I love it. It’s my partner’s favorite as well. Will have to share story with him as a little word-to-the-wise!) Any tunes it goes particularly well with?


A session I plan to start attending often plays The Reconciliation after this tune. After reading Amy’s explanation of the title, it now fits more than just musically!

Catharsis - sets and bowing

ZengaGirl - At my session we play Catharsis with Tamlin, and, as I told someone on the Tamlin thread, it’s the highlight of the evening. We often get applause from punters, but I think that Tamlin/Catharsis is the only set that’s ever gotten punters coming up to us and saying, "Wow, what was that one called?"

Anyway: six months ago, I asked my instructor to teach me this tune, and he refused outright, telling me that it was quite difficult and that I wasn’t ready. This week, though, without prompting, he sicced Catharsis on me and then immediately left town, not to return for a month. Sneaky! Do any fiddlers have any words of wisdom on bowing the B part? The beat is so wonky for most of the second half of the tune that I feel like nothing I’ve ever learned/discovered about bowing reels applies here.

Bowing B Part

Starting on a down bow and slurring the notes that are grouped together, try this for the B part:
dG Gc G G BG| GA G G G ABc| dF Fc F F BF| FA F F G ABc|
dE Ec E E BE |EA E E G ABc| dc Bc BA GF| DG GF G …
Perhaps you’ve discovered a better way since you posted a while ago, but that’s how I figured it when I learned it.

Thanks, I’ll have a look at the set suggestions. Since then I’ve paired it with The Wounded Hussar and the Bunch of Keys (although that starts the same so a bit dangerous in a session).

Taught Catharisis to several players in Perth, Australia over the last few weeks (and it looks like they’ll be playing it long after I’ve had my own catharsis and left the boy here) so it’s an official hit "down under" now!

For us wind players out there, I found that the tune fits perfectly on an F whistle. No octave substitutions needed, the whole tune fits.

E or E flat???

The ABC shows E naturals, the sheetmusic shows E flats.
If the tune is in G minor they would be E flats, if the tune was in G dorian they would be E naturals. Which is correct?

I noticed that on Alistair McCulloch’s cd "Wired Up" he says that Catharsis was composed by Amy Wood. Think this is just an error? I’ve always assumed it was Amy Cann.

i dont do ABC stuff, but i usually play the 1st bar (and other bars the same as that) like this:
D Fn G Fn’
just adds a twist to it! =]

oh, by the way, Fn is f natural =]

@Tall, Dark, and Mysterious - the B part rhythm is like a bluegrass shuffle rhythm - emphasize the descending d-c-b-a line and it’ll come out. Takes practice (still working on it meself) but it comes together in time.

@music chicken - Natalie MacMaster also plays it this way (DFGF) on her "No Boundaries" album ( so you’re in good company :-)

Posted by .

cool! just thought it sounded good
need to look out for that album =)
thanks xx

Guitar solo

hey guys, do you know of anyone who has written a guitar solo for this song? I want to give it to a guitarist in my group


how do all of you fiddlers slur the notes in this tune? I’m having trouble deciding where or if I should put them…thanks


i slur like this
d fn g (fn d fn(upbow slur)) g (fn g fn(upbow slur)) g a bf g a fn
d fn g (fn d fn(upbow slur)) g (fn g ef (upbow slur)) d c (bf c) (a bf)
d fn g (fn d fn(upbow slur)) g (fn g fn(upbow slur)) g a bf bf c (d c) bf a (bf a) g f (d g) g fn g. in the first half

bf = b flat ef = e flat fn = f natural
(i dont bother with the whole abc thingy!)

i keep the second part seperate but do each note of the descending d scale with an up for the d, down for the c, up for the bf…. oh yeah, i start the 2nd part with a bf cn all seperate as a wee lead in and i slur the (b a) after each scaley bit too

(b a) (d c) bf a (bf a) g f (d g) g fn g to end

hope it helps, ive probably just confused you more though!

Guitar chords for Catharsis Reel

Can anyone suggest guitar chords for the Catharsis Reel? I’m a fiddle player me-self, just trying to help a fellow musician! Great tune — thanks, Amy, for sharing your pain!


I’m in the same situation as Angus. I’m from Chile, and with my band we want to record a set including catharsis, a great tune!
So please Amy, if you see this post, write me at

Copyright - Amy where are you

Amy if you see this please also write to me at
Use the @ symbol. About recording a DVD of a band using Catharsis.

This was one of the first tunes I learned and lots of people love it when I play it.

Actually learned it on viola, which was great because this song is perfect for droning on the low C. Alternatively, as a violin try playing it up a string and doing this. Which can make the B part even brighter on the e string.

Also, the way I learned it didn’t have the 16th notes, just went BGAF. A bit clearer way to play it fast.

When playing the B part, I tend to emphasis the triple feel. Ba da du Ba da du Ba da du (thats three triples) then the next note is a pick up into the next set of four, ba Da du da du.

I’ve tried it with slurring the notes, but seemed to make things more difficult. This seems better if used as a variation after you got the song down pat.

Another thing is during the B part is to remember to anchor those lower notes. Practice single finger double stops like E/B, F/c, and G/d. Then other drills like dGGdGGdGG can help get used to the string crossing.

Really helps build some interesting left hand technique that can come in handy.


Love this tune.
I was wondering though, thus anyone combine it with something else? I play it on it’s own at the moment, but could use some suggestions on what to combine it with. (play it on harp btw)

A Minor

I’ve added some variations on this tune in A minor that sit nicely on the pipes.

Posted by .

Four years ago Banshee Misfortune referred to a "triplet feel" in the B-part. I have rewritten the B-part so as to make this clearer in emphasizing the triplets by writing the first 6 bars in alternate 9/8 and 7/8, reverting to 4/4 for the last 2 bars. It is important to realize that all the eighth notes (quavers) in the 9/8 and 7/8 bars are of the same length as in the rest of the tune, so the last 4 notes of each 7/8 bar will naturally take slightly longer to play than the first 3 notes (the "triplet"). When learning the B-part it may help to count the quaver sub-beats.

For me, playing this piece on the fiddle needs vigorous separate bows almost everywhere, the exceptions being the two bars in the A-part that have the sixteenth notes, where a bit of slurring is convenient. Separate bows in the B-part will mean that if you start a 9/8 bar with a strong down bow the next triplet will start with a strong up bow, and so on. This means that each 7/8 bar will start with a strong up bow; but the odd number of notes means that you always get back to a strong down bow start for the 9/8 bar, and also when you get to the final 4/4 bars. If you are unfamiliar with this "back-to-front" bowing for this very effective rhythmic structure the answer is always slow practice - as slow as it takes - and then things will start to come together after a couple of days. As I said above, it helps a lot to count the quavers during the slow practice.

In bar 4 of the A-part and the 2nd-time bar in the B-part, where you are playing on the G-string I think you should bow near the heel of the bow so as to get plenty of strength into the sound. Playing a little closer to the bridge helps.

I reposted your ABC with the meter changes integrated into the body of the tune to simplify the dots. Interesting seeing it written out this way…it does makes the note groupings more apparent.


Ben, thank you for doing that. It certainly looks neater. I hadn’t thought incorporating meter changes into the body of the tune was allowed - perhaps it wasn’t way back when!

Continuing my discussion of "back to front" bowing in this tune, if someone finds it difficult and counter-intuitive what can be done is to use the divide-and-conquer technique - which in this case is to slur the first two notes of each triple so that each triplet starts on a down bow. When the mix of 9/8 and 7/8 rhythms is thoroughly ingrained then that will be the time to go on to the second stage of non-slurred bowing if so wished.


On The Moving Violations’ album "Faster Than A Walk" this tune is coupled with "Oak Leaf". Moving Violations take the tune at a very brisk pace.