Tune sets part deux

Tune sets part deux

Further to PB’s thread re "pitfalls of tune sets".

Got me pondering about standard sets e.g. Tar Bolton/Longford Collector/Sailor’sBonnet. My query is……is it "criminal" to mess with this set ? What kind of reception would you receive if you dared ? Are there certain sets (in unwritten rules) not to be trifled with ? If so, feel free to add to Tar Bolton set, I wouldn’t dare mess with that set, sacriligious to do so in my book.

What yawl think ?

P.S. who’s , if ever been credited with this wondeful set ? Paddy O’Brian, Tipp. ?

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Normally credited to Michael Coleman, since it was his, magnificent, recording of the 3 tunes in that order that established it firmly in the tradition as a set.

… bit older than Paddy O’Brien (sic) if that’s who you mean …

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If you’re doing the snippet method people will know you aren’t doing the default set. If you just start playing a tune like Tarbolton without saying anything people are likely to play the next in the trilogy by route. When I want to play the Tarbolton set I’ll usually say something like, "Hey… let’s play the Tarbolton set." If I want to break it up the snippet method is key. But as to whether there’s a crime being committed if you break these sets up… that’s silly.

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Of course, there’s probably several musical Paddy O’Briens, and maybe several musical Paddy O’Brians as well …

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Have to agree that there probably are some sets that are sancrosanct! I’m fairly certain though that the Tarbolton set pre-date Nenagh’s Paddy O’Brien as they would have been played by the Sligo maestros (Michael Coleman, etc) back in the 1920s and 30s. Others that come to mind are:-

1) Cooley’s Reel and the Wise Maid;

2) Tulla Reel, Skylark and Roaring Mary;

3) Lord McDonalds and Ballinasloe Fair.

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Sorry Benhall, you beat me to it re Tarbolton - a cross post!

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Noel Hill and Tony Linnane recorded the Skylark with The Fox Hunter. Criminals!

I like playing The Reconciliation into Roaring Mary. But any time the Humours of Tulla starts you can be sure what tunes are going to follow. Even if they’ve already been played. At least around here anyway.

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I don’t think anyone would suggest PB that "a crime was being committed" in breaking up sets - it’s just that some combinations work better than others and where this is particularly the case, an unwritten consensus seems to develop down through the years with a limited number of sets.

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Bannerman… in the premise of this thread it says, "My query is……is it "criminal" to mess with this set ?"

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I agree, Bannerman, that some combinations work better than others. Interestingly, though, I don’t really think that applies to the Tarbolton set - to paraphrase Jim Carrey in Liar Liar "I’ve heard better". There, see, sacrilege! 😉

Sreiously, though, I think it’s just that ‘that’s the way it’s done’ now.

There are some other obvious examples - Martin Wynne’s 1 and 2; both Copperplates … or are they *so* obvious that they don’t count?

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In Bach’s day, "sets" were called "suites", and were/are a legitimate means of making a nice long thing to play ("performance" being a four letter word on this board) from short segments. Why not just have everyone agree on what the set is, and ask participants to refrain from screwing with thngs?
Naively,
Terry

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My own view is that it’s not "criminal" to mess with any set but it’s my personal preference to play sets such as the Tarbolton in the generally accepted way.

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It’s interesting benhall that you mentioned the two Martin Wynne’s which in theory shouldn’t work as they’re both in the same key, although I suppose No. 2 sounds a bit "minorish". Number 3 which is in the key of G makes for a good threesome.

I think Terry raises a good point about agreeing a set at the start and maybe PB’s snippet method would work well in this regard.

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Have to agree there; if someone starts the Tarbolton, everyone at the sesh will assume you’re playing that set unless you indicate otherwise from the outset.

The "snippet method", makes me laugh! Although it’s probably the best way to start sets, it also sounds like an extreme form of contraception.

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My 2 cents on the Tarbolton: on The Chieftains Live!, Sean Keane follows it with the Pinch of Snuff; very sweet indeed.
tw

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*cringe* 😲

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My cringe was for Conan’s post, not yours twildman.

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Bannerman, you’re concerned about the Martin Wynne tunes being in the same key, but you listed Tulla Reel, Skylark and Roaring Mary as a set. All those tunes are in the same key are they not?

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I *like* tune sets which are all in the same key. I also like ones which are all in different keys.

Some tunes fit … and others don’t …

And sometimes it’s fun to play tunes that just don’t fit! 🙂

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Each to their own. But personally, I find that hearing and playing the standard sets all the time can become tiresome. I have had the odd rant about this before. I think tunes can get tired easily if they are always kept in the same environment. We can discover new things about a tune when it is played in a different set - sometimes it can appear so different in a different context that we don’t even recognise it.

The ‘Tarbolton Set’ is case in point. I think The Tarbolton is a great tune (I have nothing against the other two, they just don’t do anything in partiicular for me - perhaps they would if played in different sets), and it is a shame that it is not more often heard in other sets - or on its own (The problem is, start a set with that tune, and someone will inevitably - unintentionally - hijack it). I wouldn’t call to question Michael Coleman’s taste in tune juxtaposition (or whoever first played that set - perhaps it was already a standard set before Coleman recorded it) - if it didn’t have something, it wouldn’t have lasted this long. But there is a sense, as Strathfoyle suggests, of a Holy Grail that *must not* be tampered with. On the other hand, the same set, being known to everyone, becomes a ‘lowest common denominator’,
and therefore the tunes rarely get the respect they are due.

I hope people are able to glean some semblance of sense out of that.

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Tune sets being in the same key don’t concern me other than I’m puzzled why they can work so well, and I agree that the Humours of Tulla set is just another good example. In fact a great Clare jig set (the Old Kilfenora Jig, Club Céilí and Jim Ward’s) are all in the same key - as a side issue, I don’t think anyone has listed a jig set so far!

In case anyone isn’t familiar with the third Martin Wynne reel, it’s here at https://thesession.org/tunes/461 - there’s even a fourth that I wasn’t aware of but I’m not going to list it as I think that "sets of four" are pushing things a bit.

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Hornpipes, Home Ruler and Kitty’s Wedding are usually played together but where are the polka and slides sets? Maybe there aren’t any!

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Dennis Murphy’s and Ryan’s seem to be pretty much standard as a pairing … of course, you have to play about 15 other polkas once you start - that’s the rule. 😉

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Tunes in the same key are nicer together if they are in different modes e.g. The Silver Spear followed by Paddy Taylor’s.

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There was a time where I dreaded the polka marathon that would inevitably come every time someone started a polka. Now, ever since we’ve been playing for sets, polkas come in twos and threes just like all our other tunes.

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Good for you, Jack!

Meanwhile, we’ll just slog through every polka we ever heard. Ah well, I suppose it gets them all over with in one …

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🙂

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We even play slides and single jigs.

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Bwa ha ha ha…

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Don’t know how I forgot the two Ballydesmond polkas (EA AB, cd e2, and B, c2 B2, A2 G2). I also agree with Benhall about polka overload but I think this may be due to the fact they’re so infrequently played, everyone takes the opportunity to air their couple of favourites when they are.

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We have three Ballydesmond polkas… speaking of tune sets. I think the reason we no longer have polka marathons is because we play enough of them that it doesn’t become a dogpile every time someone starts one. Playing for sets has helped me appreciate slides and polkas.

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Never thought I’d agree with PB twice in the one thread but I think the concept of agreed sets is definitely the way to tame the marathon polka players and might possibly result in the rehabilitation of this much neglected tune type in many trad sessions.

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Sorry if I’m butting in where I’m not needed, but, Jack, you’re talking about playing for ‘sets’ as in dance sets, aren’t you? I.E. not necessarily just ‘agreed sets’ (in the other sense) of tunes in a session.

I could be wrong …

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Well, Danny Meehan and I played the Curlew followed by the Tarbolton recently…..hell, where TF *IS* Dow, right when I want to name drop?

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Dow missed your reference the other day to having played with PJ Hayes, too.

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People called Danny have an unwritten licence to break unwritten rules. Anyway, Danny (McKay), being a Scot, you can do what you like with The Tarbolton.

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Yes, Ben, I was talking about playing for set dances. But I think what Bannerman was saying is the same as what I said. If you have nice 2 or 3 tune sets (or medleys) of polkas then it isn’t as likely to go all dogpile when one comes up.

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I can’t believe the Dow is holding his tongue. He isn’t capable of it. Unless he’s just doing this to annoy me.

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Three reels in the same key (I think Planxty did this on one of their later albums) seem, all else considered, likely to work better than three jigs in the same key and be less boring, for whatever reason. And Planxty had those three polkas in D on "Cold Blow…"

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Yep, I agree, Jack. Both that playing for ‘sets’ (meaning 1) must be nice, and that having really good, short tune ‘sets’ (meaning 2) of polkas would be a good idea.

It’s just I always get confused myself when these two homonyms come up in close proximity. I wanted to check.

btw, KML, perhaps Dow is busy with someone famous right now … 😉

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I feel like a bleedin’ parrot around here. This is another thread about rules (I’m not saying it isn’t a good thread, mind - it is). Some bloke (heheh - some bloke!) in the 1920s put three tunes together (though Gawd knows why he included the middle one - anyone else agree? 😀) and now we worry if it’s a sin if we don’t play ‘em the same as him. Well, I’m not for any rules in ITM. It can look after itself quite well without all us Johnny-come-latelys sweating over things like that. I can’t play The Tarbolton on the harmonica but the other blokes just play it on its own. Heresy, huh! (They call it The Taliban actually!) The Bothy Band stuck Sailor’s Bonnet with The Salamanca and The Banshee and who’s to gainsay that! If anyone in our pub tells me that we must play certain tunes with certain other tunes I’ll pack up and go home (after my free six pints of course).. Let’s hear it for fun in ITM!

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Each to their own, I say. If someone for some reason unbeknown to me has a good enough reason for not wanting to change a set, then they’re welcome to keeping it.

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Rats! Steve got a fourth one in while I wasn’t looking …

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I believe the slide set of The Clog / Mick Duggan’s / Dennis Murphy’s is moderately standard.
Same goes for the two Brosnan’s polkas.
I play Dalaigh’s / Little Diamond / Magic Slipper, and I think the pairing of the last two is very common.

But I don’t feel at all comfortable with the idea that these or any other tunes "have" to played in these sets.

Posted by .

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And there is no integrity in the tunes themselves either. We play thye first part of drowsy maggie, then the humours of tulla (n G, not D) followed by the last part of drowsy maggie. It makes for a great 4 part reel in singles. Good changes; Em G D and repeated back to Em. Try it, it’s a hoot

Posted .

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I always go for a pee when the chaps are doing Drowsy Maggie. Funny how some tunes just don’t do it for you.

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I put together my own polka sets, but the Ballydesmond set is a default one that a lot of folks know if need be. The Glen Cottage polkas are also fairly well known as a set.

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My favorite set is:
The Butterfly/Egan’s Polka/The Kesh Jig/Harvest Home/Jig of Slurs/Dingle Regatta/Tam Lin (the reel, followed by at least 30 verses of the Child ballad of the same name), though I don’t really get into it until about the fourth time. By the way, it’s a criminal offense to play any of the tunes less than four times. And Egan’s has to be played in six different keys. If there are fewer than three bodhrans playing, the other requirements are tripled. I think this is a fairly standard set, but it’s played a whole step lower in Clare and De Danann recorded it in E flat. Anyone messing with this set will be made to play The Tar Road to Sligo/Toss the Feathers.

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(makes note) Be sure to avoid Gary’s session at all costs.

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I think messing around with sets is a good thing to practice. If I’m asked to begin a set, I will usually say which tunes I intend on playing so we don’t trip over ourselves. Likewise, if someone else begins a set and has not told us what tunes he/she will be following up the first tune with, it’s only fair if, after the tune, we listen to hear what tune they are playing and that they "lead" it.

Breaking up established sets isn’t anything in the form of a "crime" in my books. If you can construct a good set with the Tarbolton for example, then I don’t think people will stare at you just because you didn’t play the Longford Collector or Sailor’s Bonnet. A good set with Tarbolton was on Matt Molloy’s first album. Boys of the Lough first and then the Tarbolton.

On the other hand, if you make a bags of a set and it sounds crap then people will probably say "You should stick with Coleman’s set" etc…

It will be all down to personal taste at the end of the day though.

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Gary, I thought that particular set was banned when the Geneva Convention was first negotiated—sounds like torture to me! 😉

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Steve: Drowsy Maggie obviously does do it for you, diuretically speaking!

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I think Steve "I don’t believe in any rules for ITM" and Gary would get on well but I would hate to ever end up in one of their sessions. We’ve all more or less agreed that it’s not a crime to alter accepted session sets but no rules? What about people playing out of tune, noodling or just playing rubbish, tuning up while the session is in progress, talking loudly during tunes they don’t know or don’t like, hogging the session….. one could go on and on - c’mon Steve, tell me you’re only joking!

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Hey, we don’t get all that because we’re all mates and we’re after having fun! If someone’s out of tune we mention it gently. We respect other people’s stuff that we don’t play ourselves. No hogging. We don’t vary our sets too much but we have been doing that a bit more in recent weeks. Wanna noodle tastefully? Get a harmonica! You can noodle very quietly without upsetting anyone. We are a long way from being the veritable dog’s dangly bits but we have a blast almost every time. Music generally has to have some rules but I was specifically referring to rules for ITM, usually emanating from some self-appointed guru or other. "Rules" such as don’t play a reel after a hornpipe, never alter Coleman’s set, your ornamentation should be just so, you got your rolls wrong, swing/don’t swing, never play slow airs unless you know all the words in Irish, never learn tunes from dots but only ever in sessions, pure drop is the only way to go, no piano backing, such-and-such an instrument is not traditional…THEM rules! Anti-fun rules. Of course, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do a lot of things. It’s a bit of a bugger if someone plays a tune in a funny key. We occasionally have someone who plays all hornpipes on the bodhran as though they were marches. It’s quite sensible to not do that. At the end of the day we’ll all run things the way we want to in our own circumstances and that’s the way it should be. More or less!

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I hope everyone realizes that I was joking. Any resemblance to any session, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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I see where you’re coming from Steve - your "no rules" is really common-sense rather than anarchy as I incorrectly inferred from your post initially. As you say it can sometimes be difficult with rythymically challenged bodhran players or musicians who insist in playing in 3 flats but I suppose that this is the fun of the session and anyway the majority of the time it’s not like this. The last thing we need are self-appointed gurus or Ayatullahs to try and run things. However, I still contend that there are some unwritten session rules that most good sessioneers sub-consciously internalise like respect for fellow musicians and the ethos of the session they’re playing in - and of course never becoming self-appointed gurus!

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Too late, Gary, the news alert has already been sent. Sessioneers all around the world are sitting around tables in pubs reading it as I type.

😀 hahaha