Which sets/tunes to learn?

Which sets/tunes to learn?

Greetings!

I recently started studying Irish Mandolin/OM . I have been playing guitar for 24 years, so playing mando is not that difficult for me. I have learned a few sets of reels so far, but was wondering if anyone could recommend reel and jig sets that I should know if I wanted to start playing at local seisiuns.
Is there a top ten list of MUST KNOW sets and/or tunes?

Thanks!!

Vince / NJ

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

May I suggest you go to your local session and ask the people who play there You will find that every session plays different tunes .
The top ten in Newcastle will not be the top ten in New York or even old York. I am sure they will be glad to help.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Dave’s right, but one further bit of advice; take a pocket recorder and record the tunes. The chances of anyone being able to tell you the names of all the tunes they play are pretty well zero. And even if they do, the tunes might well be under different names in any books or reference sites you have.

Oh, and welcome to The Session, Vince!

Eno ;-)

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Learn these 50 tunes before you go. They are the bare minimum. Then take a recording device to your session and learn the tunes that way.

REELS

The Banshee [James McMahon]
The Bird In The Bush
The Bucks Of Oranmore
The Concertina Reel
The Congress
Cooley’s (Luttrell’s Pass)
The Cup Of Tea
Drowsy Maggie
Farewell To Ireland
Father Kelly’s (Rossmore Jetty)
The Foxhunter’s
The Gravel Walks
The Maid Behind The Bar
The Merry Blacksmith
Miss McLeod’s
The Mountain Road [Michael Gorman]
Rolling In The Ryegrass (The Shannon Breeze)
Saint Anne’s
The Sally Gardens
The Silver Spear
The Star Of Munster
The Wise Maid (All Around The World)

JIGS

The Blackthorn Stick
The Blarney Pilgrim
The Cliffs Of Moher
The Connaughtman’s Rambles
Donnybrook Fair (The Joy Of My Life)
The Irish Washerwoman
The Kesh
The Lark In The Morning
The Lilting Banshee
Morrison’s
My Darling Asleep
Out On The Ocean
The Rakes Of Kildare
Tripping Up The Stairs

HORNPIPES & SET DANCES

The Boys Of Bluehill
Harvest Home
King Of The Fairies
Off To California
The Rights Of Man

SLIP JIGS

The Foxhunter’s
The Kid On The Mountain

HOP JIGS

The Butterfly
The Rocky Road To Dublin

SLIDES

Merrily Kissed The Quaker’s Wife
The Road To Lisdoonvarna

POLKAS

Denis Murphy’s
Egan’s
John Ryan’s (The Keadue)

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

One more bit of advice. Don’t start any tunes or sets yet until you’re sure you’ve sussed things out (leave it a couple of years). Just sit back and let yourself absorb the tunes by ear. Let the others start tunes, and join in only if you know the tune. Otherwise put your instrument down and listen.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Dont be put off by Dow’s lists . The numbers of tunes will come, it takes time ,we are all learning new tunes all the time ………er well most of us anyway .
Remember to have fun..although some people need reminding sometimes ;-)

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Actually I’ve more often heard "Merrily Kissed…" as a jig rather than a slide.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

bazouki_Dave, what’s there to be put off by? If you can’t be bothered to put a bit of work in and learn some tunes so you can actually have a go at playing in a session then what’s the point in going at all?

No seriously…

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

mmmm, Well Dow if you come to my Dance Class in Whitby on the first May Bank Holiday Weekend I promise to show you how its danced , as a slide in Connamara ………WOW my first plug

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Dow I know people who have been put off by the idea of how many tunes there are .
So since this person lives across the pond from us lucky enough to live in fair Northumbria he should talk to the local folks in NJ ;-)

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

OK I’m going to stick my neck out here and say that the whole tune learning thing wouldn’t be quite so daunting for people if they had some sort of a guide when they’re starting out. If you have a solid base of tunes for a session you can then keep adding to it, instead of learning 5 tunes off your Lunasa CD and then expecting to be able to join in your session with those tunes for the next 10 years. You see, this is why people turn up and bang around on bodhrans and guitars and ruin sessions. It’s because they’re not aware that there are certain expectations of them to learn tunes to be in that session. There are expectations of *everybody* to learn the tunes. Really no, I’m not joking. This list I just gave is the bare minimum. I don’t think it’s much to ask to be honest.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

"Dow I know people who have been put off by the idea of how many tunes there are ."

Yeah so they decided not to bother, and instead to pick up a drum or guitar and ruin it for everyone else by not making any effort to understand the music their session mates are trying their best to master. Look, this is to people who are daunted by the idea of learning tunes: if you’re daunted by the idea of learning tunes, pick another hobby. Take up gardening or making model planes or go gliding or something. Just make sure it’s something where teamwork is required.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

is *not* required, I meant.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

What I meant was that this person should go and talk to his local people find out what tunes are popular there .Its not for you or me to say what is popular there .We as musicians should be encouraging others and I agree thats not by learning Luna’sas greatest hits however much we may like their music

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Yes, this person absolutely should talk to his local people and find out what tunes are popular there. However, I have a hard time believing that the people at his local session don’t know the tunes I gave above. Those tunes are the most done-to-death, hackneyed tunes ever. If you went to Ireland and sat down in a session there and you said you didn’t know "Out On The Ocean", I’m sure you’d get a look like "um, what are you doing here then?".

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

ha, yes. But then you could just say that you knew "out on the ocean" and people would believe you of coursde, because everybody knows it. But no body playes it, so it’s the perfect bluff.

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

The basic list from Dow is a good start. Can I also recommend gathering tunes from recordings of ceili bands like the Kilfenora, Glenside, Bridge etc. I found these really good for standard sets that traditional players know.
I would also recommend Bothy Band sets, despite being told recently that they were ‘out-of-date’! In fact most of their sets were based on older sets.
I have found that generally the more tunes you learn, the easier it is to learn new tunes.
Good luck!

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Come to think of it, If you are pushed for time, Dow’s list is the perfect list of tunes not to learn. You could sit in a session and every time one of these tunes turn up you could put your instrument down and sanctimoniously say, "this tune is beneath me."

(Execept every one is a cracker)

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Buy the 2 session cd’s from http://www.Comhaltas.ie
That will get you going I think.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Only 2 off of dow’s list are NOT regular tunes at our sesh. So it’s a good starter’s list.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

There’s also Matt Cunningham’s Dance Music of Ireland CDs (14 at the last count, I believe), in which he puts together many wonderful sets of tunes for set dancers to dance to - and this is, after all, the basis of virtually all the music played in sessions. There are probably no more than about 400 different tunes spread throughout the 14 or so hours of music on those CDs, but he uses tunes in different combinations with each other and often uses slightly different settings of the same tune for different dance sets. 400 did I say? That illustrates a useful number of tunes that will stand you in good stead throughout your playing career without any trouble, and is by no means unachievable.
If learning a few hundred tunes seems a daunting task then think of all the words you have to get under your belt if you want to learn a foreign language fluently, but millions of people do it successfully. You don’t even need to go as far as foreign language - I have it on good authority that a medical student will learn about 25,000 medical terms on the way to qualifying as a doctor. What are we worrying about? :-)

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Dow, I am curious why you cut your list of 60 (recently discussed) down to 50? I still have the Excel file where I analysed this the other day, so it’s only taken me a couple of minutes to see that you’ve knocked out The High Reel, Humours Of Tulla, The Man Of the House, Pigeon On the Gate, Banish Misfortune, Lannigan’s Ball, The Pipe On the Hob, The Choice Wife (An Phis Fhliuch), Drops Of Brandy and Rakes Of Mallow. Did you cut these out for a specific reason, or is it just a hunch thing?
It’s also only a couple of button-pushes to see that my personal list of 246 included 78% ot the longer list, but 86% of this shorter list, so that is consistent with thinking that the 10 you’ve taken out might not be quite so much played as some others.
I must say that although a beginner *might* make the mistake of getting too fixated on such a list, I think it is very helpful to get hold of this kind of thing at an early stage. Knowing only that experienced players know many hundreds of tunes *is* daunting. The prospect of learning 50 or 60 is still quite a task, but one that most learners can picture themselves achieving.
I remember one of the first sessions I went to when I was starting to get into this side of things. I asked the guy sat next to me, someone I happened to know, what tunes would be popular there, so as to get some clues on what to start learning. His reply? "Oh, there are so many of them." Well thank you very much! (Tongue-in-cheek-icon)

A Fine List

If you know the Dow’s list above, you would fit in just fine at the sessions we have around here. We certainly play a lot more than that, but would be content playing off of that list all night just to let you have maximum enjoyment while joining us. There is nothing wrong with those tunes and we would all play them with gusto.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

You’re a bit light on the polkas and hornpipes there Dow

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

I second the Comhaltas CD recommendation, and the Blue Book CD is pretty good too. Probably the other colours too but I’ve yet to hear ‘em. It ain’t much use going along to your local people/session and asking what’s popular. They won’t be ready to be asked the question and they might not even know the names of tunes. Dave Mallinson published three books of session tunes which have all the ones needed to get anyone going. Sully’s set of three books has been invaluable to me too. We get any permutation of nine or ten people at our session, and I’m the only one who knows "Out on the Ocean," just to refute what someone above said. Everyone has an opinion of what’s popular. Just listen to tons of ITM till it gets under your skin, and you won’t need to ask the question. I’ll bet that’s what most of the list-providing clever dicks did if they’d care to admit it!

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Vince,

Dow’s list is a good one; I printed it out when it first appeared on this site and keep it in my binder. There are thousands of tunes and it can be daunting. I recommend this:

1) Go to your local session. Set yourself up with a pint, a tape recorder, and paper and pencil.

2) Tape what you hear; ask those around you for the title (most won’t know!) and enjoy your pint as you listen and write the titles down.

3) at the end of the night, you will have a nice recording of tunes as they are done locally, and a list of ones you are likely to hear each week; choose 5 or 6.

4) print them in ABC or notation on this site and play them all week.

5) add a new one now and then; add them to your session.org tunebook; and keep taping what you hear.

6) when you feel ready, bring your mando to the session and wait for one of those tunes to come up. Every week of taping, listening, learning, will pay off big time. Good luck to you.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

To Alex re: list - I didn’t think it was possible to cut the list down anymore, but I’ve managed to take it down by 10. Tunes like Pigeon on the Gate are very hackneyed, but perhaps not so much as something like Drowsy Maggie. Now the list really does represent the absolute bare minimum and I’d have a very, very hard job cutting it down anymore. The difficulty with writing it was that I started with a long list of 1000+ and created this top 50 by cutting tunes out, rather than the other way round, to make sure that I didn’t miss out any that should be on there. And yet, I’ve cut out some really common, bog standard tunes. I mean, classics like Coleman’s Tarbolton set and tunes from the big Bothy Band sets aren’t even on either of the lists. Surely nobody (in any session!) can complain that any of the tunes are anything other than hackneyed.

To Bren: short on polkas? Weren’t those 2 horrible Planxty ones enough for ya. I almost spewed just writing their names |dd B/c/d/B/|AF AF|dd B/c/d/B/|AF ED|.d.d!~~~~.d.d!~~~~.d.d! eugh!| ;-)

If anyone else asks what tunes to start with I’m just going to give them a link to this thread.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

By the way, here again is a link to that early thread on "Common Session Tunes" in which Will posted a much longer list than mine https://thesession.org/discussions/110. That list was quite helpful to me and was probably what got me started on this website, before I even knew Will and his mates. I printed out that list and learnt all the tunes off it, and was glad that I did. Thanks for that list Will. Now I know how much work went into it, having challenged myself to come up with a shorter one, so that I could put back into thesession.org what I got out of it back in the day…

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

2 horrible Planxty polkas. Hackneyed tunes. Bog standard. Done-to-death. WHY would anyone want to learn tunes that people describe like this??

And yet that’s what you do as a beginner, you have to start somewhere. So I’ve almost got Drowsy Maggie under my belt. But apparently I’m never going to get to play it in a session because everyone is tired of it. I’m also learning St. Anne’s reel, which I happen to like a lot, but I’ll never get to play that one either because nobody like it. Luckily I’ve heard Out on the Ocean at several sessions, so I know I’ll get to play that one (and a good thing too, because it’s one of my favorites).

Too bad some one here can’t come up with a list of great tunes that are somewhat common but that people really love to play.

I’m exaggerating a bit, but it does seem that many people here really dread the very common tunes. How many posts have I read that describe the eye-rolls that go on when someone plays, oh I don’t know, the Kesh? I don’t know that one yet and I don’t want to bore anyone by playing it…

Anyway, just some thoughts. I’m working on the Sligo Maid now. Hopefully that’s not too hackneyed.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Someone asked me to play St Anne’s with them at a session yesterday, but I forgave him because he then played Sean Ryan’s Blockers :-)

You make a good point Kennedy. Why would you bother learning them if they’re so hackneyed you never get to play them?

Well, the whole point is - and I only really realised this when I started running a session of my own - is that these tunes have a particular function that can’t be fulfilled by less hackneyed tunes. If you’ve got a session of 15-20 people and only 3 or 4 of them are playing the tunes, then you have to be aware that at some point, the other people are going to want to have a tune. So every so often you play something like the Sligo Maid or St Anne’s Reel, and hope that they’ll know it and they’ll join in. If they do know it and join in, then it makes them want to learn more tunes so they get that same feeling of achievement that they got when they joined in with everyone else on the Sligo Maid. Then they’ll enjoy the session more and more each week, and hopefully they’ll keep coming and gain more experience.

Point is, if you start St Anne’s Reel in the hope that they know it, and everyone still just sits there, then you have a problem.

That’s why the whole thing works better if people learn this sort of tune. Even if you don’t like them, or you don’t want to play them, nobody can deny their special function vis-a-vis the wider repertoire.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

I’ll give you a concrete example of this. There was a young lady came to our session who’s just started learning Irish music on her fiddle. We encouraged her to play a tune and eventually she plucked up the courage and started the Maid Behind the Bar and we all joined in. When it became clear she wasn’t going to follow it with anything, my session partner Mary started into Sally Gardens. It turned out this young lady didn’t know it, but everyone else joined in, so it didn’t matter - now she knows that Sally Gardens would be a useful one for her to learn next. Point is, Mary has been playing for 20 years or so and would know thousands of tunes, but she didn’t go into her favourite obscure tune like the Abbeyleix Reel or something, expecting this young lady to know it. She went into Sally Gardens, hoping that she’d know it. That’s because Sally Gardens is one of those special tunes.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

I understand your point, Dow, and it’s a good one. I’ll learn them all eventually, no doubt. I would still like to learn a few that make the more experienced people smile, instead of groan inwardly and play them because they’re polite sociable people. Don’t you have a list for that?

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

I’ll work on it ;-)

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

You’re awesome, Dow. I promise to learn them just for you.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

I couldn’t resist a quick analysis. As I think I said the other day, I know 18 of the 26 reels on Dow’s first list, all of which are on the reduced list of 22 reels. Of Will’s big list of 160 reels, I only know 30. Comparing Will’s list with either of Dows (which I’d like to do) will take longer than I have time for today.
(At the last count my 245 tunes include 54 reels.)

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

LOL Alex you’re more of a geek than I! We can compare lists tomorrow night and freak everyone out :-D

I’m off to see if I can calculate exactly which tunes it is that you don’t know off my list…

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

We can go back and forth all day long about which tunes are hackneyed and done to death, but for a newcomer they are fresh, exciting, and a way to get started. We should never forget this. Thanks to Dow for a great list; everyone needs a place to start.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Dow sez: "OK I’m going to stick my neck out here and say that the whole tune learning thing wouldn’t be quite so daunting for people if they had some sort of a guide when they’re starting out. If you have a solid base of tunes for a session you can then keep adding to it, instead of learning 5 tunes off your Lunasa CD and then expecting to be able to join in your session with those tunes for the next 10 years. "


Well said, old chap.

When you don’t get out much (like me) and have to watch what you spend on CDs (like me), lists are very helpful in preparing for that day in the Promised Land when one can actually get to sessions.

What artists record on their CDs doesn’t always correlate to good session fodder, especially so when your listening library is limited, and having lists and critiques of them in discussion threads sure beasts trawling through the entire database reading the comments to work out which tunes to tackle first.

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Dow, it’s good to hear someone actually found my old list useful. I recall mostly getting laughed at because it was "too many" tunes. :o)

To create my list, I went through the same process as Dow, starting with about 1,500 tunes and winnowing down to whatever I ended up with. But my list is probably biased toward what gets played at many North American sessions—Dow has travelled more than I have, and also hears a more robust infusion of tunes from other travellers than I do. (That’s the downside of my life in bonnie Montana.)

I really like the example Dow gives above, of an experienced session player launching into Sally Gardens because it’s a tune that fosters participation. That’s precisely the point of knowing these tunes—whether you’re just beginning in this music, or a wheezy old veteran, these tunes are *common ground.* A starting point for further exploration of the repertoire, or rallying points to gather around after straying a while from the collective path.

The other benefit of knowing the tunes on Dow’s list or mine is that they are a fair cross section of the whole body of tunes in this tradition. Learn them well and you will know much of what you need to know—in terms of technique, phrasing, melodic building blocks—to play the other 12,000 tunes.

Also, bear in mind that these lists arise in large part out of trying to respond to the frequent plea here of "what tunes/sets should I learn first?" Obviously, learn what’s being played at your local session. *And* learn the common ground.

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Kennedy - here are two reels and two jigs that are not on Dow’s list that could fill the bill of tunes you want to learn to play that others probably know and would be glad to play at a session (if I understand what you mean).

Reels: The Earl’s Chair and Lucy Campbell

Jigs: Rose in the Heather and Father O’Flynns

I don’t have a long list to offer. Dow’s is really good. So is the one that Will posted (see link above).

IMO, what really matters is you like the tunes you are playing (you’re not just learning them in order to play them with other people) and you continue to expand your repetoire with tunes that you hear at your session that you want to learn PLUS tunes you hear otherwise (not just at you session) that you like and want to learn. Someday, you will be introducing new tunes to your session.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

That said, the "common ground" might be a little fuzzy with swampgrass. In Dow’s list of reels, for example, a fluter could be excused for dropping Farewell to Ireland, Foxhunters, and Gravel Walks, and perhaps substituting the Green Mountain, Jackie Coleman’s, Last Night’s Fun, Sligo Maid, and/or West Clare Reel.

Which raises an important point. Common ground tunes vary a bit depending on what instrument you play and what regional style you favor. Gravel Walks wouldn’t make most flute player’s lists of top "must-know" 22 reels. Wind that Shakes the Barley, Road to Rio (aka Reel of Rio), Dunmore Lasses, or Greenfields of Rossbeigh would each be a more likely candidate. Similarly, a fiddler might drop the Concertina Reel (which, let’s face it, you could learn on the fly on the second pass :o) ) in favor of the Mason’s Apron or the Musical Priest.

Just a thought.

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

A concertina player might drop the Concertina Reel in favour of something else too. In fact, wouldn’t anyone? :-)

I like the idea of replacing Gravel Walks with Wind That Shakes The Barley.

Foxhunter’s is played in A or G. Flute players can manage it in G ok can’t they?

Farewell to Ireland is definitely a fiddle tune, and I like the idea of replacing it with the Sligo Maid.

But, flute players should still learn these tunes! Just play the octave above for the low notes.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Talking about the Mason’s Apron, I never did get round to learning any more than 2 parts to that, and when I hear all the other parts I just sort of busk along. Maybe it’s time for me to learn it all properly.

Then again, nah. :-)

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Did I just say "busk". I think I meant "noodle". Whaja think Will?

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Dow, report just in… The last session i went to here in Melbourne we played a grand total of, er, one of the tunes on your 60 list (‘bird in the bush’ of course, always the bl*^dy ‘bird in the bush’). Maybe we should petition them to stop claiming it’s an ITM session? ;-)

and come to think of it, I probably don’t know over a third of those tunes - Do i HAVE to learn them?! Maybe i’m not cut out for this ITM b*llocks…

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

I wouldn’t expect any of the snobby Melbourne crowd to play any of those tunes ;-) I can only ever get away with the Bird In The Bush because Bridie isn’t sick of it.

Yet.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

I have to say, I’m really glad that Dow’s gone to all the substantial thought and trouble it no doubt took to put together "The Dow 60". I have a reasonable repertoire, but some tunes are much rustier than others, and I’m often at a loss to work which ones I should dust off and rake over on a more regular basis. One of the things I’ve been doing since checking out Dow’s original list has been to include in my regular clean-ups the ones I know that are also on the list. So thanxs for the trouble ole chum.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Here’s a question for you dow… IF we are trying to build up the general level of playing in the Australian scene, it leaves us in a bind:

When I was living over in *that* place next to england, you hardly EVER heard any of these tunes. Even the "standard" tunes were not these "ultra-standard" ones. BUT… you could be damn sure that everyone knew the ultra-standards, it’s just they’d all leaned them when they were, like, three or something and had all got over them by then, but there is no doubt that these tunes form a basis for the music in their distant past. If you were learning the music late in life, you still probably went off and leaned the Ultras, but you still almost-never played them.

The real question, in the interests of furthering the session scene here, is how do we build the local skill-tune base ensureing that all participants have the required Ultras, while at the same time grow the sessions into a Ultra-free zone, thus giving the new-comers something to aspire to!? Answer me you english-concertina-thrashing-list-monkey!!! ;-)

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Having made my comment above … I do seem to recall there being a bit of a cheer round about the time I first managed to get to a session or two that I didn’t actually know the Kesh or Drowsy Maggie and therefore would not be able to start them even had I wanted to … one can easily see both sides of the argument.

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Good question, SirNose, and it’s something I’ve had to think about because of the Kelly’s session.

Now the way it seems to work is this. Someone like Mary comes along who - like you said - learnt all of those tunes when she was like three or something. The problem is that she expects everyone else to just know them and is astonished when people don’t, *precisely because they’re the tunes you learn when you’re like three*. But here’s the thing: people naturally take away the tunes they want to learn from the session in their heads—-

—-whether they like it or not—-

because that’s what happens if you like a tune. It sticks in your head. So now the people who are building up a repertoire in Sydney are learning non-standard tunes as they go along, but they’re also aware that there’s a standard repertoire which Irish people learn when they’re like three. So it’s a bit of a balance between ultra standard and non-standard. The rest people will pick up by osmosis. In somewhere like Oz where people don’t learn tunes when they’re like three, that’s the way you *have* to do it.

Unless you’re someone who deliberately resists learning the ultra standards because they hate them. That’s fair enough. Obviously it’s possible to take Irish music to a very high level without them. And it’s not as though you’re missing out. There’s plenty of great tunes out there. But, people who resist those tunes and have never bothered learning them still know about them, enough to know that they’re ultra-standard ones they can’t be bothered to learn. That’s the point: just because you don’t learn them doesn’t mean they disappear and cease to exist in people’s heads.

Unfortunately? :-)

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

(TISH!! this website is *not* the place to be carefully considering your opinions! go and start three wind-up threads under an assumed logins for penance!)

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

"The real question, in the interests of furthering the session scene here, is how do we build the local skill-tune base ensureing that all participants have the required Ultras, while at the same time grow the sessions into a Ultra-free zone, thus giving the new-comers something to aspire to!?"

The answer is that you give them a list of "Ultras", and tell them to "make sure they know them" because everyone expects it. Then you play different tunes at the session and keep it Ultra-free :-)

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

That, my friend, is an excellent answer!

-hmm, this train of thought has made me sad to think of the late great Billy Moran. He’s interesting because he’d often play ALL the Ultras in his session, to which everyone would join in with much gusto (and in a session with 30+ players in a glass-and-tiles room that’s a LOT of gusto) but then there would be the ‘other’ tunes, not ultras but his favourites, that if you clued into you’d pick up at his sessions.

The interesting thing is that, like i said before, I pretty much never heard any of the Ultras when I was sessioning in Ireland, but a huge amount of the *actual* "standards" you’d hear from session to session, or use as a "go-on-then-give-us-a-tune" tune to get everyone playing, were the ‘other’ tunes that Billy would play at the Normandy, and more recently the Quiet man. *those* tunes he’d play were a huge gift, he had such an impact here, he’s a big loss to the scene. sigh.

(sorry for the minor hijack - back to the lists!)

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Agreed that flute players would be well advised to go and learn Foxhunters (in G *and* A, keyless flute or not) and the other tunes too. I was just picking on those as examples of how instrument-centric a list of core tunes can (and perhaps should) be.

I’d argue that its good (and damn near necessary) for fiddlers to learn which tunes are more likely to be in a fluter’s or piper’s core repertoire and vice versa. That’s part of being a session player—knowing what works for your mates on their utensil of choice.

A session’s bag of less common tunes comes from the inclinations, experience, abilities, and serendipities of it’s individual participants. One of us stumbles on Miss Shepherd’s, say, or Hughie’s Cap, and the rest of us pick it up and the tune becomes one of our local "standards." And I can count on almost no one at any other session I might travel to knowing either of those tunes.

"It is what it is."

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

It’s interesting that the same tunes are performing different functions depending on which country you’re in. I think what you’re saying is quite correct, SirNose. And think of what would have happened to the Oz scene if we hadn’t had people like Billy…

Now we’ve got to look to the younger generation. Look at someone like Cian. He’s been listening to trad CDs since the day he was born, and he’s surrounded by tunes players the *whole* time. Yeah, people like Bridie heard music from an early age too, but not *just* tunes, all day long. Cian’s probably going to have an upbringing much more like someone from a tune-playing family in Ireland. All the tunes will be in his head already whether he likes it or not.

You know, these trad musos of child bearing age… And in Sydney too, (or maybe thinking about being in Sydney!) :-D

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

If you yourself were to produce a ITM tutorial dvd/vhs; what tunes would you condiser using?? I’ve seen the majority of the tunes from Dow’s list on several MadforTrad tutorials and various other learning aids. Now lets argue if your dvd should come along with notation or some other equivalent. I mean really, some people just make it so hard.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

vindowness, I assume you are familiar with:
The Mandolin Cafe:
http://www.mandolincafe.com/

&

Mandolin.org.uk:
http://www.mandolin.org.uk/index.php

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

I’m very sorry, sir. (Nose)

I shall now go and learn the Concertina Reel and "offer it up" in reparation.

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Greg - you have a good idea there (providing the session players don’t object to being recorded and questioned about titles) - but why not change step 4 to "listen to the tape over and over and then start playing along"? That way he will actually know the tunes as played at the session he wants to attend.

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Well now, to be honest - who here would actually put out an instructional DVD?

Anyhow - me and Dow were at a session yesterday and we did not play *one* of the tunes on that list. Ive always been of the mind that you learn the tunes you like and dont learn the tunes you dont. Just because these are common tune is no reason to learn them unless you like them.

"I mean really, some people just make it so hard."

I agree - that would be the people who insist on playing the same ole boring tunes every week for forty years - you know, like the Kesh or the Irish washerwoman.

Just learn the tunes you like - easy.

Dow always has this thing that is if someone turns up to the session and can play a lunasa set but not the session classics then he’d feel like that was a bit silly. I’m the opposite - as long as they play good tunes….even if they dont know how to play the Kesh - then what harm?

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

The harm comes when you try and have a session with those people and you can’t suss out their repertoire enough to be able to have a tune with them, so you sit there like a bloody china doll and everyone feels embarrassed and awkward when you should just get on with it and break the ice and play some tunes.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

BTW in the Sunday session bb refers to, I clearly remember playing the Silver Spear and the Congress.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

"I mean really, some people just make it so hard." - that sounds like a quote from most of my e-mails these days!

Perhaps we just shouldn’t be so obsessed with this notion of trying to join in with *every* tune! BT says - "It’s Good to Talk" …. aye, but it’s also good to listen!

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

John Culhane, thank you, that’s exactly what I was hoping for.

I’m kind of with you and bb, I’m in favor of learning tunes that I like a lot.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

So am I. I like Irish tunes a lot.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

All 12,000 of em, huh?

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

I’m just joking, I do too. I probably should start using those emoticon things.

Discussions like these are good, they make me think about things I might not have considered otherwise. Like keeping in mind which tunes are fiddle tunes.

I like most Irish tunes, I just find that some stick in my head more insistently than others. If I wake up in the morning humming one that I heard the night before, that’s one that I know I’ll want to learn.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

"Too bad some one here can’t come up with a list of great tunes that are somewhat common but that people really love to play."

The problem with this is it’s merely personal opinion. But if a few of us hackneyed old cynics did it, there may be some consensus …

REELS
yes - The Banshee [James McMahon]
yes - The Bird In The Bush
oh yes - The Bucks Of Oranmore
no - The Concertina Reel
yes - The Congress
yes - Cooley’s (Luttrell’s Pass)
yes - The Cup Of Tea
yes (but only slowly) - Drowsy Maggie
yes - Farewell To Ireland
don’t know it, but looked it up and I won’t be learning it - Father Kelly’s (Rossmore Jetty)
yes, but prefer G - The Foxhunter’s
yes - The Gravel Walks
yes - The Maid Behind The Bar
yes - The Merry Blacksmith
no (it’s scottish) - Miss McLeod’s
yes - The Mountain Road [Michael Gorman]
no - Rolling In The Ryegrass (The Shannon Breeze)
yes - Saint Anne’s
yes - The Sally Gardens
yes - The Silver Spear
yes - The Star Of Munster
yes - The Wise Maid (All Around The World)

JIGS
yes - The Blackthorn Stick
yes - The Blarney Pilgrim
yes - The Cliffs Of Moher
yes - The Connaughtman’s Rambles
yes - Donnybrook Fair (The Joy Of My Life)
yes - The Irish Washerwoman
yes - The Kesh
yes - The Lark In The Morning
no - The Lilting Banshee
yes - Morrison’s
yes - My Darling Asleep
yes - Out On The Ocean
yes - The Rakes Of Kildare
yes - Tripping Up The Stairs

HORNPIPES & SET DANCES
no - The Boys Of Bluehill
no - Harvest Home
no - King Of The Fairies
no - Off To California
no - The Rights Of Man

SLIP JIGS
yes - The Foxhunter’s
yes - The Kid On The Mountain

HOP JIGS
yes - The Butterfly
yes - The Rocky Road To Dublin

SLIDES
yes - Merrily Kissed The Quaker’s Wife
yes - The Road To Lisdoonvarna

POLKAS
no - Denis Murphy’s
yes - Egan’s
no - John Ryan’s (The Keadue)

Well, overwhelmingly mostly yeses. Not that I’d start the majority, some but not most. But of all the yeses I’d more than happily play with. (It looks like I don’t like hornpipes, but that’s not true, I just hate these)

Posted .

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

"I just hate these" - that’s a bit strong isn’t it llig.

Are you saying you have always hated these tunes?
You mean you’ve never ever liked to play any of them?
You can honestly say there wasn’t a time, way back, when you first heard them, when you thought, hmmm that one sounds quite catchy, I must learn that it?

If you have always hated them, then fair enough, I guess they’re just not your kind of music, but if, as I suspect, you actually used to like them & now don’t, might I suggest that the problem with these tunes is then not with the tune but with you, & perhaps something dark & sinister is going on!

Look into your soul brother & seek out the evil demon who has taken control of your tune selection button. Grab that foul beast by the throat & cast him out, as you would discard a used tissue! You are surely worthy of being able to appreciate all the good tunes, are you not & deserve better than to be blinded by his demonic powers!

If you have any difficulties carrying out this exorcism, then you might like to consult this site:
http://www.christian-faith.com/forjesus/how-to-cast-out-demons
….. or perhaps this one holds the key to your problem:
http://legalminds.lp.findlaw.com/list/lawlibref-l/msg00600.html

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

I’d second Dow’s list.
Maybe one of the things worth stressing is that these tunes don’t exist in a vacuum. It seems to me that knowing most of the above tunes would form the basis of understanding the core of ‘session music’ as it has evolved over the last few decades, whether the tunes are considered ‘cool’ or not at the moment. A lot of them are also useful root tunes to help you understand the structure (and easily learn) a whole raft of other tunes e.g. Drowsy Maggie might lead to The Man of The House, The Morning Dew etc. etc. and The Congress to The Hunter’s Purse, Bag of Spuds and a whole slew of ‘Aminor’ tunes etc etc.
I’d take issue with Steve Shaw’s description of Will and Mark as ’ list-providing clever dicks’ - and if he’s the only one at his session who knows Out On the Ocean, I wonder what the other players’ experience of sessions or listening to recordings of Irish music actually is …?

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

No ptarmy, I do hate those horpipes, always have. Yes, I did learn them yonks and yonks ago, but never liked them. Infact, it took me quite a while to get into hornpipes because I mistakenly thought that these were what horpipes were like.

I think it’s interesting that only in the list of reels are there any really really good tunes. And it’s a shame that The Man of The House isn’t there instead of Drowsy Maggie and The Hunter’s Purse ins’t there instead of The Congress. But the list in itself is not cocerened with quality. The list stands for the reason Dow created it. And I’ll stand by it.

(and a good test of it’s merit is that I’d never heard of over half of them so I had to look them up, with the consistent reaction of, blimy, that old chestnut)

Posted .

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

I must confess llig, the only tune that makes me squirm there, is - "King Of The Fairies"! It just feels a bit gimmicky somehow, but I am prepared to accept it back into the fold, the day I hear someone do a really good job on it. Just like I used to balk at the very idea of playing "The Wise Maid", then I heard Joe Cooley’s version ……..

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

I think Dow’s list is a very good one.

For beginners, one or two tunes on it can be quite hard to play - thinking back to when I started playing ITM on the whistle, I could say that about The Wise Maid, St. Anne’s Reel, Harvest Home, Cooley’s Reel and Drowsy Maggie. But that doesn’t preclude them from being standards. I find Drowsy Maggie a dull tune, but being able to play it opens the way to being able to play more of the (rather) difficult ones.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Great thread guys, a lot of good comments and insights. I was wondering what tune to start learning next, and think I will start working my way through the ones I don’t know from the "Dow List."
You never know what ideas will take hold over time—I wonder if 100 years from now, those who start leaning ITM will be handed the "Dow List" by their mentors. In my imagination, I can hear a band on stage saying "We are following up that old Child ballad with a couple of old favorite Dow tunes."

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Thanks to all for your suggestions. Surprisingly enough, I have started many of the tunes mentioned. I am excited about my new venture into this music, and am very happy to be a part of this session! Thanks all!

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Oh my god, llig, your yes and no list came as a massive surprise to me. Mine "happy to play" list would be very very different. Mine would go like this:

REELS

yes - The Banshee [James McMahon]
no - The Bird In The Bush
yes - The Bucks Of Oranmore
no! - The Concertina Reel
yes, love it - The Congress
hmm - Cooley’s (Luttrell’s Pass)
hmm - The Cup Of Tea
yes, I secretly love it - Drowsy Maggie
no, it doesn’t sit well on my instrument - Farewell To Ireland
yes - Father Kelly’s (Rossmore Jetty)
yes, but in A - The Foxhunter’s
hmm - The Gravel Walks
yes - The Maid Behind The Bar
hmm - The Merry Blacksmith
yes - Miss McLeod’s
hmm - The Mountain Road [Michael Gorman]
yes, and as a fling - Rolling In The Ryegrass (The Shannon Breeze)
no - Saint Anne’s
hmm - The Sally Gardens
yes - The Silver Spear
yes - The Star Of Munster
yes - The Wise Maid (All Around The World)

JIGS

The Blackthorn Stick
yes - The Blarney Pilgrim
yes - The Cliffs Of Moher
yes - The Connaughtman’s Rambles
yes - Donnybrook Fair (The Joy Of My Life)
yes - The Irish Washerwoman
hmm - The Kesh
yes - The Lark In The Morning
yes, I love it - The Lilting Banshee
yes - Morrison’s
yes - My Darling Asleep
yes - Out On The Ocean
yes - The Rakes Of Kildare
yes - Tripping Up The Stairs

HORNPIPES & SET DANCES

yes - The Boys Of Bluehill
yes - Harvest Home
hmm - King Of The Fairies
god Irish hornpipes are so trite and crap - Off To California
no - The Rights Of Man

SLIP JIGS

yes - The Foxhunter’s
yes - The Kid On The Mountain

HOP JIGS

no, and Michael only likes it cos it’s on the 1st Bothy Band - The Butterfly
no - The Rocky Road To Dublin

SLIDES

no - Merrily Kissed The Quaker’s Wife
yes - The Road To Lisdoonvarna

POLKAS

nooooooo!!!!!!!! - Denis Murphy’s
nooooooo!!!!!!!!Egan’s
go screw yourself if you make me play this I’ll shove your instrument up your arse so far it’ll turn you inside out - John Ryan’s (The Keadue)

Now, some people I play with, namely bb, loathes all of these tunes. They’re so useful for torturing her with. Except for the Bird In The Bush.

Tomorrow my yeses and noes will be completely different.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Yes to the Blackthorn Stick - forgot that one. I really like that tune, and nobody plays it round here.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Another thing is that for some tunes on the list there’s a less common substitute with similar phrases in it that I’d prefer to play, e.g.:

The Bucks Of Oranmore - Leitrim Bucks
The Congress - The Sandmount or sth similar
Cooley’s (Luttrell’s Pass) - House Of Hamill
The Cup Of Tea - McDonagh’s #2
The Foxhunter’s - Union Reel
The Gravel Walks - Highlandman Kissed His Granny
The Merry Blacksmith - Devils Of Dublin
Miss McLeod’s - Tim Moloney’s
The Mountain Road [Michael Gorman] - High Rd To Glin
Rolling In The Ryegrass (The Shannon Breeze) - Donald Blue
Saint Anne’s - Skylark
The Silver Spear - New Mown Meadows

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

I think the Blackthorn Stick was the first tune I ever learned.
I still like it

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

So Dow, do we start calling the 10 tunes that dropped off your list the "Apocrypha?"

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Aargh I just had this awful flashback to when I was in the UK in January. I went to this session and they played that Planxty polka set, and I felt like I’d entered a living hell, and then, to top it off, they played the Dingle Regatta in another set, and they did that thing where you stand up and sit down again, and it was so embarrassing and painful. Oh god I’m cringing just thinking about it. Where did that custom come from?! If someone did that at my session in Sydney I swear to god I’d ban them :-D

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

If someone near me did that standing up in the dingle reggata thing, I’d just move their seat before they sat down.

But the usefulness of the excercise above is that if someone here is wanting to know which tunes off your list to learn first, looking at the ones we both ticked would be a good start.

Posted .

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

For that Dingle Regatta nonsense I’d plea an old rugby knee injury (I had one many years ago), but presumably the ladies would have to think of another excuse :-)

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

the Dingle Regatta thing—-is that like "the wave" at football games?

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Groan - thon Dingle Regatta carry on….is that a performance or is it abstract music?
Removing the chairs seems a good idea. Then again it could be argued if you get yourself into that kind of company at sessions, you only have yourself to blame.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

……… & by special request:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HjBh-L17Hdc


Oh, you want tune lists, I’ll give you a tune list. In the great tradition of Channel 4 TV - here are the "The Top 100 Tunes of the Century (i.e. Most-Recorded Tunes)"

1 - Miss McLeod
2 - Flogging Reel26 – Tune
3 - Bucks of Oranmore#2110)
4 - Steampacket
5 - The Blackbird (set dance)
6 - Silver Spear
7 - Pigeon on the Gate21 – Tune
8 - Sligo Maid20 – Tune
9 - Star of Munster
10 - Hand Me Down the Tackle
11 - Bonnie Kate
12 - Woman of the House
13 - The Abbey Reel
14 - Garret Barry’s Jig
15 - Colonel Fraser
16 - The Wise Maid
17 - The Stack of Barley
18 - The Boys of the Lough
19 - Rakish Paddy
20 - The Boys of Ballisodare
21 - Dunphy’s Hornpipe
22 - Farrell O’Gara
23 - George White’s Favourite
24 - Maid of Mount Kisco
25 - The Mountain Road
26 - The Bag of Spuds
27 - The Morning Dew
28 - The Duke of Leinster
29 - The Old Bush
30 - Toss the Feathers
31 - The Foxhunter’s Reel
32 - The Salamanca
33 - The Rights of Man (HP)
34 - Kiss the Maid behind the Barrel
35 - The Rambling Pitchfork
36 - The Limestone Rock
37 - The Galway Rambler
38 - The Heather Breeze
39 - Sporting Nell
40 - Craig’s Pipes
41 - The Morning Star
42 - The Mason’s Apron
43 - Scotch Mary
44 - Kitty’s Rambles
45 - Miss Monahan’s Reel
46 - The Frieze Breeches
47 - The Green Fields of Rossbeigh
48 - The Milliner’s Daughter
49 - The Ladies’ Pantalettes
50 - The Tap Room
51 - The Boys of Bluehill
52 - Lucy Campbell
53 - Rip the Calico
54 - The Trip to Athlone
55 - The Woman I Never Forgot
56 - The Spike Island Lassies
57 - John in the Fog
58 - Scatter the Mud
59 - The Killavil Jig
60 - The Harvest Home
61 - The Humours of Ennistymon
62 - The Green Groves of Erin
63 - The Lark’s March
64 - The Five-Mile Chase
65 - Doctor Gilbert
66 - Jenny’s Chickens
67 - The Derry Hornpipe
68 - The Copperplate
69 - The New-Mown Meadows
70 - Out on the Ocean
71 - The Battering Ram
72 - Jenny Picking Cockles
73 - Last Night’s Fun
74 - The Man of the House
75 - The Fermoy Lasses
76 - The Fisherman’s Lilt
77 - The Ship in Full Sail
78 - O’ Rourke’s Wild Irishman
79 - The Red-Haired Lass
80 - Lord McDonald’s
81 - The London Lasses
82 - College Groves
83 - The Mullingar Races
84 - The Carraroe Jig
85 - The Scotsman over the Border
86 - Maud Millar
87 - Dowd’s No. 9 [ N.B. - not Dow’s No 9 ]
88 - The Rose in the Heather
89 - My Love Is in America
90 - The Dublin Reel
91 - Jenny’s Wedding
92 - The Wind that Shakes the Barley
93 - The Dogs among the Bushes
94 - Jimmy Ward’s Jig
95 - The Liverpool Hornpipe
96 - Drowsy Maggie
97 - The Boyne Hunt
98 - Paddy Ryan’s Dream
99 - Farewell to Erin
100 - Byrne’s Hornpipe

For more details, check out:
http://www.irishtune.info/top-tunes/

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Top hundred recorded tunes… we seem to have an enormous number of versions of Sheebeg, Sheemor on the CD shelf (and we’ve probably missed a few from the varieties of spellings).

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Bloody tunespotters. Loosen up the lot of yer.

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Had my prunes & Porridge this morning, as usual .. thankyou! ;-)

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

bet you were whistling o’er the Lave o’t after that!

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

L O L :-D

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Okay, for those of us out in the nether regions, just what *is* the Dingle Regatta thing? It sounds kinky.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

ooh, it’s kinky all right ;-)

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

An interesting list Ptarmy. Although the tunes recorded are representative of what’s played at sessions I’d have to dispute the rankings. For example you’re much more likely to hear Drowsie Maggie listed at No. 96 than the Flogging reel shown at No. 2 although, in my opinion, the Flogging is a much better tune.

As for getting access to the tunes the Comhaltas session books/CDs have already been mentioned. Audio samples of all 220 tunes on these CDs are available on the new Comhaltas site at http://comhaltas.ie/blog/post/foinn_seisiun_online/ which may be helpful for newcomers to the tradition who just want to hear what a particular tune sounds like.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Aye Bannerman, I’m sure we would each of us change the list around to suit our own tastes. Anyway, that site did state that:

"This list ranks the top 100 most-recorded tunes on the indexed recordings. By carefully comparing the 10,779 individual tune recordings there, I identified a total of 4,240 distinct tunes, from which this list is drawn. The tunes below are ranked in descending order of number of recordings. When tunes have the same number of recordings, tunes having the oldest recordings appear first. Note that reuses of a particular cut in later anthologies are counted, which is fair, since the popularity of a recording is a good indicator both of the popularity of the tune and of the likelihood that musicians will learn the tune from that recording."

N.B. The site also has a page of "Recommended Books: Most-Cited Tune Books"
http://www.irishtune.info/books.htm

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

I like the Dingle Regatta thing … honest …

Ach, you could have been at my session, Dow. I like the ‘hackneyed’ tunes, like the Planxty polkas, as well. Tunes are normally ‘hackneyed’ - ie played a lot - because they’re good tunes.

I’m expecting to be shot down for daring to disagree with an evangelist, but stuff it, that’s what I think.

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Next time I’m in Ross-on-Wye, remind me I’m just passing through

Posted .

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

I agree with Benhall about Dingle Regatta. This is a great tune particularly when done the Liverpool Céilí Band way where all musicians stand up for the first beats in the first and second bars of the third part!

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

It took me a while to spot the way to filter and sort the lists without *too* much effort, but that is done. I was interested particularly in the overlap between the two carefully thought out lists: the Dow 60 and the Will 276. I may have made some mistakes (like not spotting all the cases of different names for the same tune), but I came to a figure of 45.
Interesting for me, is that this is marginally lower than the overlap with my personal list, collected in a fairly unsystematic way. Admittedly, if I was better at spotting multiple names it might turn out to be marginally higher, but in any event it’s in the same ball park.
If the general repertoires were very close and the lists well-chosen, nearly all the 60 should be in the 276. We would certainly expect the overlap to be significantly better than that with my personal list. Since it is not better, and as we can assume that the lists were well-chosen, we have to assume that the general repertoires diverge quite significantly.
For what it’s worth.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

I wouldn’t go so far to say that my list was "well chosen." I actually did it fairly quickly, from my own collection of transcribed tunes (at the time, disregarding Alan Ng’s site and the members tune list here).

Still, 75% of Dow’s tunes are in my list? That’s pretty good overlap, by my bog standards. I’ll bet no few of the misses are in the hornpipes and polkas. I wonder how high the correspondence is in reels?

Posted .

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

How about boiling it down to "Ten Core Reels" ?

The Banshee
Cooley’s (Luttrell’s Pass)
Dunmore Lasses
Maid Behind The Bar
The Mountain Road
The Sally Gardens
Silver Spear
Sligo Maid
Wind that Shakes the Barley
Wise Maid

Thinking in terms of responding to the initial post that started this thread (and all the others like it), these tunes are high on Alan Ng’s list of 100 most recorded tunes, high on thesession.org’s most requested list, and they have the advantages of being relatively simple, two-part reels with strong, catchy (perhaps iconic) melodies readily accessible on fiddles, boxes, flutes, and pipes. They also introduce a newbie to tunes in our "standard" keys/modes of D, G, Em/dorian and A dorian. And they’re not complete cliches (like Drowsy Maggie).

Seems to me a fair place to start.

Posted .

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

I love it. That list is going in my fiddle case. If I can handle those ten by mid-summer I’ll be a very happy camper.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

CPT wondered: "I wonder how high the correspondence is in reels?"
Well now that it’s all in the database (it seems to be 474 tunes under discussion), that’s just a button-click: 19 of his 26, and 17 on the 22 of his reduced list, 73 and 77 % respectively, still the same ball-park.
What surprised me was not the 75% result (though I would have expected higher), but that this result was very similar to the score on my haphazard beginner-ish personal list, which I would have expected to get a relatively low "score".
But I’m not sure there is much more meaning to be squeezed out of this now!

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

I just checked Dow’s list of 22 and my lst of reels on thread 110 and get 20 out of his 22 (‘m missing Brd in the Bush and Merry Blacksmth). My Farewell to Erin s his Farewell to Ireland. My Gravel Walks to Granie is his Gravel Walks, etc.

Out of the thousands and thousands of reels, from an Yank in Montana and a Northumbran in Oz, I’d say that’s a pretty good correlaton.

And the point of my original list was to spark discussion about what other tunes other people might highlight, so we could eventually narrow it down to the core tunes. I think we’ve done that, at least with reels.

Jigs might be harder, but I’ll take a stab at a start on 10 core jigs. (These will vary from Dow’s list):

Banish Misfortune
Connaughtman’s Rambles
Garrett Barry’s
Geese in the Bog
Joy of My Life
Lilting Banshee
Morrison’s
Out on the Ocean
Scatter the Mud
Tripping Up Stairs

Looking forward to Dow’s (and anyone else’s) additions and deletions to this.

Posted .

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

The Bird In The Bush and the Merry Blacksmith should have been on Will’s list for sure. I’d have put them in and taken out ones like the Glen Reel and Boil The Kettle Early.

I’d agree with Will’s top 10 jigs too, except for Scatter The Mud. All the Kevin Burke fans will know it, but I wouldn’t particularly expect a rank beginner to know it, whereas I would expect them to know something like the Kesh or My Darling Asleep.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Actually there are quite a lot of gaps on your list, Will! What about Man Of The House? And yet you have more obscure tunes on there like the Rose Of Antrim. That’s a great tune, but I’d never expect a beginner to know it. Then there’s the Pipe On The Hob. I’d say both Pipe On The Hob are standards with the A minor one probably being slightly more common. I don’t see that in the list but there are obscure O’Neill’s tunes like Child Of My Heart - ok it’s on a Liz Carroll album, but where else? Definitely an American bias there, I reckon :-)

Mind you, I suppose the session.org people were supposed to chime in with comments like this at the time, only it didn’t happen because people were too busy sniping as usual. I love the way some of them were going "the list’s far too big - nobody could possibly know that many tunes". LOL, you just want to say to them, please go to Ireland and see for yourself.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

You don’t even have to go to Ireland—several of us here in lil’ ol’ Montanny know that many tunes and more, easy (though not necessarily the listed tunes—we play plenty of obscure gems).

I agree on Scatter the Mud—either Kesh or My Darling Asleep would be good replacements, except they’re more likely to get the eye-rolling treatment.

Also agreed that my list has huge gaps. Lots of tunes come to mind that should be on there—I was hoping others would fill them in, more of a cooperative project. Oh well.

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Your top 10 reels are pretty good, Will. Ok my "iconic" top 10 would have to have the Star Of Munster instead of the Sligo Maid. I prefer the Sligo Maid, but it hasn’t got that iconic thing going on…

REELS

The Banshee
Cooley’s
The Maid Behind The Bar
The Merry Blacksmith
Miss McLeod’s
The Mountain Road
The Sally Gardens
The Silver Spear
The Star Of Munster
The Wise Maid

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Actually maybe the Merry Blacksmith would have to go.

Aargh this is silly. I’m off to Bridie’s house for dinner and then it’s session time tonight. I’ll make sure not to think about lists :-)

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

This is my happy to play list - and very different from both llig and Dow


REELS
No - The Banshee [James McMahon]
Yes - The Bird In The Bush
No - The Bucks Of Oranmore
no! - The Concertina Reel
No- The Congress
No - Cooley’s (Luttrell’s Pass)
hmm - The Cup Of Tea
No, No. No- Drowsy Maggie
hmmm- Farewell To Ireland
No- Father Kelly’s (Rossmore Jetty)
in either key no- The Foxhunter’s
Nonono - The Gravel Walks
no- The Maid Behind The Bar
no - The Merry Blacksmith
no- Miss McLeod’s
No- The Mountain Road [Michael Gorman]
No - Rolling In The Ryegrass (The Shannon Breeze)
no - Saint Anne’s
No- The Sally Gardens
hmmm - The Silver Spear
No - The Star Of Munster
No - The Wise Maid (All Around The World)
JIGS
No - The Blackthorn Stick
No - The Blarney Pilgrim
No- The Cliffs Of Moher
No- The Connaughtman’s Rambles
No- Donnybrook Fair (The Joy Of My Life)
No- The Irish Washerwoman
Nooooooooooooooo - The Kesh
eh -either way- The Lark In The Morning
No- The Lilting Banshee
No - Morrison’s
No - My Darling Asleep
No- Out On The Ocean
Nononono - The Rakes Of Kildare
God no - Tripping Up The Stairs
HORNPIPES & SET DANCES
No - The Boys Of Bluehill
No - Harvest Home
Frig no- King Of The Fairies
No - Off To California
no - The Rights Of Man
SLIP JIGS
No- The Foxhunter’s
No- The Kid On The Mountain
HOP JIGS
No-The Butterfly
aiiieeeeee, no- The Rocky Road To Dublin
SLIDES
no - Merrily Kissed The Quaker’s Wife
No - The Road To Lisdoonvarna
POLKAS
nooooooo!!!!!!!! - Denis Murphy’s
nooooooo!!!!!!!!Egan’s
It gets worse and worse nooooooo! - John Ryan’s (The Keadue)

Having said that I would deffo play the following from the top 100 recorded tunes list



4 - Steampacket
6 - Silver Spear
10 - Hand Me Down the Tackle
13 - The Abbey Reel
18 - The Boys of the Lough
19 - Rakish Paddy
20 - The Boys of Ballisodare
22 - Farrell O’Gara
23 - George White’s Favourite
27 - The Morning Dew
28 - The Duke of Leinster
29 - The Old Bush
32 - The Salamanca
36 - The Limestone Rock
37 - The Galway Rambler
38 - The Heather Breeze
39 - Sporting Nell
40 - Craig’s Pipes
41 - The Morning Star
43 - Scotch Mary
44 - Kitty’s Rambles
47 - The Green Fields of Rossbeigh
48 - The Milliner’s Daughter
49 - The Ladies’ Pantalettes
50 - The Tap Room
53 - Rip the Calico
54 - The Trip to Athlone
55 - The Woman I Never Forgot
56 - The Spike Island Lassies
57 - John in the Fog
59 - The Killavil Jig
62 - The Green Groves of Erin
64 - The Five-Mile Chase
65 - Doctor Gilbert
69 - The New-Mown Meadows
71 - The Battering Ram
75 - The Fermoy Lasses
76 - The Fisherman’s Lilt
78 - O’ Rourke’s Wild Irishman
79 - The Red-Haired Lass
80 - Lord McDonald’s
81 - The London Lasses
82 - College Groves
83 - The Mullingar Races
84 - The Carraroe Jig
85 - The Scotsman over the Border
86 - Maud Millar
87 - Dowd’s No. 9 [ N.B. - not Dow’s No 9 ]
89 - My Love Is in America
90 - The Dublin Reel
91 - Jenny’s Wedding
93 - The Dogs among the Bushes
94 - Jimmy Ward’s Jig


See - I like tonnes of tunes….just none of the really really overplayed hackneyed tunes….

fisarmonicha - when you do make your eargerly awaited instructional dvd - be sure to include some of these top tunes on there.

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

This is great. A bit more work on the database and I’ll *really* be able to annoy both bb and Dow. At the same time! Their most disliked tunes played at my standard!

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Damn - I knew I shoudlnt have posted the tunes I dont like! :) Have fun at the session tonight alex.

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Oops - I put the silver spear in as a now and a yes…..maybe an ‘eh - either way’ is better.

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

go, listen, tape, ask questions, write down, learn. then repeat. i’ve been learnign irish trad since July and I have about 60 tunes now.

My faves and we play these all the time:

Garret Barry’s + Gander inthe Pratie Hole + Frieze Breeches (+ The Gold Ring if somebody feels like soloing at the end)

Sliabh Russell + Scatter the Mud

Congress + Farewell to Erin + Mason’s + Red haired Boy (audience LOVES this set)

Drunken Landlady + Cooleys’

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Sorry to rain on your parade guys:

But if I may be brutally honest here, if I made out a list of my ten favourite Reels, Jigs etc etc I’d already be so bored with them that I wouldn’t even bother putting the list in my case. What’s more, I’d probably do my level best not to play any of them at a session!

For me the JOY of ITM is the complete & utter spontaneity, that wondererous feeling you have when you launch into the first tune that comes into your head, having absolutely no clue what you, never mind what anyone else, might follow it with - now that’s exciting, …….. for me that’s what a Session is all about!

For me - lists are just boring!

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Well thats exactly right - just learn the tunes you like, just like mentioned before. I was just trying to prove a point to dow:)

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Worse than that, the real danger is, I think, that lists only encourage you to think inside the box ….. you need to free your minds guys & step outside! Don’t be scared!

They do have a place I suupose, for the beginner, I’ll grant you that, but once you get a handle on this music, I’d say … throw your lists away!

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Oh prove away bb, prove away, after all, somebody needs to keep an eye on what he’s up to! :-P

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

heh - I do beleive my spider senses are telling me right now that dow is……getting p*ssed at the kellys session…..:)
I agree - I dont keep lists, just play whatever tunes I happen to like that week.

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

… &, may I say bb, if you play them all, even half as well as you played Palmers Gate on that video, you are doing them all justice! One day, in my next life, I’ll be able to play the Fiddle like that! Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Har Har Ptarmi, youre a way better fiddle player than me. And dont bother lying because Ive seen your clip on Youtube. Anyhow - the whole point of posting that clip is because I thought Ado was covering me up…is that not the case?

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Not a, not a, not a chance bb. I only got away with that clip because the Fiddle is so, so low in the mix!

If you don’t believe me, you can ask John Hughes, the next time you see him. ;-)

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Yeah, c’mon - wanna fight about it do ya;)

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

grrr - cant do winking smiley…..

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

hey bb, you mean to say that if you come across an enthusiastic and promising beginner who started a tune off dow’s list you’d put your fiddle down? You miserable sod.

and ptarmy, the whole point is that it’s not a list of your faves, of course that’s a stupid thing to do, it’s just about a wee helping hand to a beginner.

(christ, I really am not feeling myself this morning)

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Lucky old you llig, if you can get someone else to do that for you! :-)

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Well, if the rest of the session were going at the tune happily then I may take a wee break, gets to the point where you know most tunes in your local and you have to choose which one you are going to take a break in cause usually you dont just sit there doing nothing while people go up the bar etc. But if no one else was playing of course I’d play along. Jesus Llig - you’d think you’d know by now (internet wise of course) that I’m not *that* big a b*tch.

If on the other hand I ran across a session that played all the tunes on the list above and thats all they played - I’d sit in on that night, but doubtful I’d go back.

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Oh & llig, I felt it was a point worth making, e.g. just in case anyone was developing a guilt complex because they didn’t actually have a *List* in their case!

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

good. And I think the perspective is, it only happens rarely. The tunes on dow’s list are, thankfully, hardly ever played.

(usually though, when they do turn up, and so long as there’s a few people playing the tune, I’d play the most outragous variations/harmonies, on the fly)

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Firstly, you tell us you don’t even have to feel yourself this morning & then you explain how you - "play the most outragous variations/harmonies" ….. on your fly!

My my, what an exciting life you have llig! :-P

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Don’t worry … I’m leaving! ……. Must be something in the Coffee!

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Ha! I’m laughing in a big way at that comment Ptarmi.

So llig - Ptarmi - guess what. I just got a call from Dow’s session (lateintheevening on this site) and you see, I decided not to go to Kelly’s tonight in order to get a few tunes in and practise a bit. And guess what - Paddy Keenan just bleeding rocked up. The one night I decide not to go cause I’m to lazy….aiieee. Its not very often that trad musicians head down under -its a big trip for not much money - your lucky if you even break even…

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Yeah? I’ve heard him do a great version of The Bucks. But no matter, you’d have been at the bar

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

He didn’t play

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Paddy Keenan plays Harvest Home as well. None of that hoppity skippety stuff for bb! Time to head for the bar again!

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Ptarmy, go back and read the premise of this thread—these aren’t "our favorites"—just suggetions for newbies on tunes they could learn, so’s to fit in at most any session.

I don’t keep lists of tunes, but I do post them here for bb and Dow to argue over. ;-)

And there’s no way I could list my "favorites"—they tend to be whatever tune I’m playing at the time….

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Will, go back and read just 11 posts up (tee he)

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Like I said cheesy cat, about ten posts up, (;-)) I’m quite sure none of the old hands wish or need to bother with lists, I just didn’t like the idea of us perhaps accidentally encouraging newbies to think that they are the norm. So if we can now all just accept that they can be a useful crutch for a beginner ………… & move on! Ta 8-)

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Oh I saw your post Michael, I just get a rash whenever someone splits hairs or willfully misinterprets what’s posted (even if it’s done to head off the misinterpretation of others). :o)

If Ptarmy doesn’t like threads about lists, he can always skip on over to something else. "Move along now, Richard, the show’s over. Go ‘wan home." ;-)

That’s "Chessy cat" to you, Ptarmy, my fine feathered friend. Meow.

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Yez bunch of eejits ye!

Your so caught up with demonstrating your own wee lists, so much so that you would have to call each list display a flamin’ performance!

If you’d actually the time & trouble to read the blasted thread in the first place yourselves, you’d have seen what poor old vindownes was actually looking for was not *lists of tunes* but he was in fact - ".. wondering if anyone could recommend reel and jig sets that I should know" - YES, now you get it eh? OK he did mention a list at the end, but only in passing, whereas he mentions the word sets at least three times, so he’s clearly looking for SETS OF TUNES …. not your top ten or top twenty!

So get cracking you lot, & you at the back stop slouching, let’s get this *show* on the road …. & cough him up yer top ten SETS OF TUNES …… & look sharp about it!

By the left …

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

haha yes make me laugh bb "oo I’m going to annoy dow with such and such a tune". Oh well blahdibloodiblah, because you know what, I went to the session and you chose not to.

Hey Beebs you know what I just did? I got a taxi to your place thinking you might be up with the lights on feeding Cian or whatever but you weren’t you were in bed so I came home and it’s only 4.30am! It’s a record for this year! I’m in bed before it gets light again. Whoopee-doo!

I just got an e-mail from my dad in the uk saying "I hear Paddy Keenan came to your session". I mean god, I only just got home!!!! What is it with this internet thing and you bloody gossip merchants?!

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

My 10 core reels are set-ready. Just pick any two or three, mix and match modes/keys, and off you go.

E.g., Dunmore Lasses, Silver Spear, Banshee

See?

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

"and/or tunes?" (saith vinnie)

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Ah, the good old, traditional *Pick & Mix* method … almost as old, tried & tested as the *Rhythm Method*! ;-)

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

I try to learn tunes that

a) I like and
b) other people play
As a beginner, I find that is useful.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Dow’s dad is on here? That’s scary.

I’m very happy to go to sessions in far away lands and find them playing some bog standard tunes I can join in with as well as the odd new-to-me one that tickles my fancy. The balance needs to be in favour of widely-known tunes, unless it’s Sandy Bells which has a guaranteed turnout and a knowledgeable crowd of regulars

If I go and find it’s wall-to-wall sets of new tunes off recent CDs then I can almost guarantee that the session will be in its death throes by the time I come round again.

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Ive always stuck by my theory that anyone can write a tune, the talented and untalented as well. Not all tunes are good, loads are awful. But because they are old or the people who made them famous are no longer with us it seems to mean that anyone who doesnt like those tunes dont know what they are talking about - or doesnt understand trad of something like that. I find that really bizarre. Right - of to give the Rights of Man another go. I’m sure I mustve missed something in it - it is obviously a real gem.

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Dow’s dad is on here? Aiiiee - thats it dow, no more talking about your drinking habits and trying to blame them on me. Your dad will think I’m a bad influence on you or something!

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

We’ll indulge you for now beebs, since you are still in your teenage rebellious phase.

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Beebs, the reason many old tunes are revered is because they were the best ones, good enough to pass along, player to player, generation to generation, and so stood the test of time and the collective sense of taste.

Just because a tune becomes predictable through overuse doesn’t make it poorly constructed.

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

bb, the Rights of Man is a crap tune

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

But Will - just because a Picasso is worth $20million does not mean that I like it….I dont like picasso……even if it is well put together and constructed well. Some tunes are just sh*te.

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Yes, some tunes are sh*te.

That’s partly how I chose the reels and jigs for my lists of 10 core tunes. I went for Scatter the Mud because it’s a better tune than My Darling Asleep. I passed over Drowsy Maggie and Rolling in the Ryegrass cuz they lack stick-to-your-ribs substance.

And I didn’t touch hornpipes cuz there are just too many hackneyed hornpipes out there (and so many great ones that are underplayed).

My point is that most of the old tunes aren’t worth $20 million, but they are, by definition, well liked by a lot of trad players. That’s why they’re still with us. Not because some expert or collector thinks they’re "valuable," but because they’re fun (at some level) to play, and they fill a purpose in the repertoire.

Look at it this way: if *all* tunes were as interesting as Jospehine Keegan’s "Curlew" or "Splendid Isolation," we’d get bored with those. You have to have some strong but simple "plain" tunes to fill the gaps or it all starts to blur.

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

They had a top 500 tunes of the 90’s on the radio the other day. It’ll come as no suprise I’m sure that MC Hammer ‘you cant touch this’ won. It has stayed with us for a long long time…..and its still crap. There are so many wonderful wonderful trad pure drop tunes out there…I just think maybe spending time learning those tunes that you actually like makes more sense than learning a bunch of tunes that supposedly everyone is suppose to know.

Maybe they have stayed with us because those tunes are good. Or maybe they have stayed with us because they are just plain and easy. Who knows. All I know is that if I ate salad every night of the week I’d get so sick of it…and thats how I feel about the kesh.

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Yes, but no one is suggesting that we should play these tunes a bunch—just that they come in handy for newbies hoping to join in at a session.

We’ve said time and again: "learn the tunes they play at your session."

At most cranking sessions, my 10 core reels would never see the light of day. But at most relaxed sessions, a newbie wouldn’t be out of line starting one of them if asked to play a tune, and someone (if not *everyone*) could join in—because these are commonly known tunes.

C’mon Beebs, you know you’re just itching to soar into "You Can’t Touch This" and "I Think I’m Turning Japanese" at your next sesh….
:-)

(So I’ll forgive you the cheap shot of comparing what radio listeners choose as a top tune to what trad musicians understand as core (not "the best" or "top"—just widely known) tunes.) :-P

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Ok Will, hands raised - I give up.

I’d agree with this statement 100% tho

"We’ve said time and again: "learn the tunes they play at your session.""

:)

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

We played the Blackthorn Stick last night at the session. I really like that tune. And we also played the Pigeon on the Gate. I play 3 different versions of that tune in different keys, but the one we played was the standard E minor one that Beebs hates. It was me who started it. I hadn’t played it for ages. I really really genuinely enjoyed playing it. Then we played the Mountain Road and I wasn’t in the mood for it, and I was bored sh1tless by it :-)

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Which one is the one I like? Is it off dervish or something?

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

You like the A minor one, recorded by Blake/Gillespie/Leahy amongst others.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

https://thesession.org/tunes/4312 remember we tried to play it at your place yesterday but we couldn’t remember the B-part.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Yup - thats a great one.

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

If it’s STM then Jack Campin’s top 40 is a great place to start. As he says,
" 40 Scottish Session Tunes Everybody Knows

Intended as a basic list that could be used by musicians visiting Scotland who would like to take part in the session scene there. Start up any of these tunes and you can be virtually certain that somebody else will join in."

Click here
http://www.purr.demon.co.uk/jack/
and find the "40 Scottish session tunes" link half-way down.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

There is more, from our illustrious Dow / Mark, here in the ‘Comments’ for the now sadly defunct "Kelly’s Bar Session" ~

https://thesession.org/sessions/1311/Comments

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

"Kelly’s Bar Session" ~ Good news! ~ I have been informed by a reliable source, Dow/ Mark himself, is back up and in full swing ~

https://thesession.org/sessions/1311

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Great. Now - DON’T ask the publican for free drinks all the time, and you might survive this time. Publicise your session somehow and get the listening, drinking punters in…help your publican, and he/she will help you. Otherwise you will get kicked out again, in the time-honoured tradition of ITM sessions in grand Sydney Australia.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

The drinks work better now since a drinks ticket system was introduced like we have at Durty Nelly’s. It’s simpler for everyone. I don’t think the sesh is going to be publicised anywhere other than here. As for the publican - he loves us and always has. We were just unlucky to have clueless barstaff for a while. The publican knows fine well that the music brings punters in. That was brought to his attention particularly when we suspended the session for a few months. The pub was dead every Tuesday night, and business suffered. Now it’s back on he has a pub full of people on a Tuesday night.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Great. Yes, clueless barstaff are the perenial problem…it happens time after time. They go reporting back to the publican and convince them you aren’t needed. Please get it right this time…many people before you have tried this and been kicked out in spectacular fashion. You have a chance at Kelly’s because it is ostensibly Irish, but…
My advice is…as I said…DONT ask for drinks…they think you are there for DRINKS if you do that…buy your own and built the respect of the publican…as ironic as that proposition sounds…publicans like people who buy drinks…they drink a fair bit themselves, and would like you to pay for yours. DO not ask for free drinks, you do yourself NO respect. Respect your music, buy your own drinks.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

and help the music scene in Sydney…

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Nah, if I’m gonna go out for tunes on a Tuesday night then sorry, I expect at least one free drink. If Jimmy loses respect for me because of that, he can eff off. (Not that he’d be like that anyway - he’s very reasonable).

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

and speak to Roisin Rua on this site who will have great ideas, and is asking for others…globally. Go for it.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Yeah, but the bar staff aren’t…as you found out. The Carly suffered the same fate.
The publican’s world is far bigger than being concerned about whether you get a beer for coming out to play a few tunes on a Tuesday night…that makes no difference whatsoever to his bottom line. Buy your own drink for chrissakes.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

and stop being so left wing. Now…start getting real.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

My world is far bigger than worrying about whether the publican gets his session on a Tuesday night. What you don’t know is that the people who are now running the session gave the publican an ultimatum: give us a dance floor and assurance that our free drinks are going to materialise, and he gets his session. Otherwise we eff off and never come back. That seems to have worked. That is, the tactic of showing them who’s boss, not showing them we’re a pushover and something to be exploited.

As for me "getting real", I’ve been partly responsible for getting the thing going and keeping it going. I don’t owe the session - or indeed the music scene in Sydney - *anything*. Do you?

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Yeah, I knew the leftie thing would get you going…and thinking. And now for your education…the publican is a businessman or company as much as you might not like that concept. He is there to make money, yes that’s right.
Contrary to what you say, I do know full well that ultimatums to publicans are a tried and tested method…they usually don’t work. You may well get kicked out again. The publican is not centrelink…he is not there to to look after you. If you can play the music…good…play it…for your own enjoyment and to help the scene…and yes, help the publican…JUST like happened in Ireland in times gone by….Buy your own drink for godsake and make the publican think you’re a hero because you can play the music well too. Don’t ask for alcohol…it is not a good look to a publican. Got it? (Stop being so left wing…)

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

ITM is not just for left wingers.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

I’m safe. Jimmy knows fine well that if he gives me a free drink I’ll buy at least 10 more to wash it down.

And by the way, I don’t need to be told how to run a session. The only reason the session was suspended for a while last year was because I called a halt to it, not because we got kicked out. The publican was horrified to see us go, actually.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Well, that’s not what you said before…you said the bar staff sank you…and they will again…think about the psychology of bar staff viz a viz their boss and you.

May be you do need to be told how to run a session if you were in suspension for a year…are you SURE you called it quits or shown the door.

Dow, I am sure, knowing what I know of you, that you are one of the few in recent years who will have the diplomatic skills to listen and learn. I am not meaning to be offensive or anything…you are doing a great job in trying to get this scene to survive in Sydney…and you are a good musician…but don’t ask for free drinks from a publican…and don’t make free drinks the basis for the session, is my recommendation. It DOES NOT work in the long term.

You keep the music going, guy, and get the publican to think you’re the best thing since sliced bread…no free drinks, mate. (At least to start with…wait until he starts offering…he will)

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

I’m sorry, you’ve got the wrong end of the stick. I’ve never changed my story on this. What happened was, we got a bad run of bar staff, and we got p*ssed off with them and so I called a halt to it. There were other personal reasons for wanting to relinquish the responsibility of running the session to someone else, such as academic commitments in my case. They did *not* show us the door. We left of our own accord, saying that we would pick it back up again at some point. There was never any bad words said or trouble with the publican, or bar staff for that matter. Like I said, Jimmy was sorry to see us go.

All I’d ask of Sydney musicians (and this includes you, Duijera Dubh), is to do their bit for the Sydney music scene by turning up regularly to support the sessions and be part of it. Don’t just sit there in the sidelines and criticise the ones who are putting the work in. All sessions work differently, and this one’s still going, unlike the Thurles and the Carly. Kelly’s is being run by some good musicians who are doing a great job keeping it going. And they get us free drinks. Long may it continue.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

You will always get "a bad run of bar staff". You know what happened at the Thurles? Now the Thurless is shut. Never mind, I know who the owners are, and have planned to contact them with a view to leasing the place on behalf of the scene. That’s very much a business proposition, so please don’t think I don’t think about the scene. I’ve been on this scene for a lot longer than you have, and attended weekly or more sessions through the 90s before you were on the scene - you were probably still at school, unless I’m mistaken.
(Ah, publicans will probably always say they are sorry to see you go, most business people and "politicians" say that, when you’re on the way out the door.)
BTW, I always bought my own drinks at the session, unless it was offered me - and recall quite a few nice conversations with the publican at 2am next to the music. He didn’t think I was a drink monster, I’m sure, unlike others. And he liked my music. Watch the Thurles if I have the time to put into it again…but would you support it? I wonder.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

G’day Mr Dubh,

My name’s Ben Stephenson and I’m one of the fella’s that run the Kelly’s session, after Dow decided he needed a brake from it last year (and fair enough to, running a session can drain you after a while). I have to say that I’ve been paid AND recieved drinks at sessions here, in melbourne and in Ireland for about 12 years and only once has that ever ended because the publican has pulled the pin (and that was the old wednesday sessions at the harp in Tempe which - seeing as the sesh started at 10:30 afer the set dancing finished - was a fairly understandable business decision).

I hear what you are saying about the pub being a business, and that is exactly why musicians should be paid and receive drinks: They supply the pub with live entertainment, and a steady stream of tune-appreciating heavy drinkers, and there labours should be rewarded. it IS quite literally a business transaction. If the pub requires more musicians regularly, free drinks are an easy (and, more importantly, CHEAP) way to ensure a few extra crew.

If the pub decides after a while that it is no longer worth it to continue this arangement, they pull the plug - as they would for any other musical act or employee - and fair play to them, they’ve got a business to run. There are always other pubs!

If you need any sydney-based examples, just look at Durty Nelly’s - nearly 10 years of a session where 3 people get paid and the pubs throws more free drink tickets on the table than 30 people could get through in the three hours. I’ve never seen a session there where the Tune-inator hasn’t handed back tickets to the pub…

What’s your name Mr Dubh? I be interested to have a rave to you about this stuff - but it’s hard to know your perspective from on such an anonimous forum such as this. I’m aware of some of the issues relating to the end of the thurles and the carly, but there were such a large amount of people involved, and of such varying levels of ability and cop-on, that it’d be good to get a better idea of who you are and were you come from.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Hi Ben. Fair enough post.
I think of of the main points you make is about the "steady stream of tune-appreciating heavy drinkers, and there labours should be rewarded".
If that is generated by having a session at the pub, then predictably the pub (and the bar staff, they are important factors in this equation) will be happy. Durty’s, in my understanding, being a Sunday afternoon, has a big crowd of people in there anyway, probably whether the session would be there or not, being the central location that it is. That looks like a good omen for keeping a session going - there is no overt reason to say that the session is not bringing in punters there.
Other pubs at other locations might be fairly different e.g. your example of the late session at the Harp - no punters being brought in + free drinks for the players + wages of bar staff = no session pretty soon. Right?
Carly - something similar - too many free drinks, not enough paying patrons. Some - some - bar staff get p*sed off, start blaming the low sales on the sessioneers. No punters + free drinks for players + wages of bar staff = no session. Now there’s pokies in that space apparently. No further session ever.
Kellys on a Tuesday night? Sounds slow without a session, but if the pub had been making a motza out of it, I doubt whether the session would have stopped.
Bar staff would no doubt like to keep their jobs - if the place is empty - or worse - there are only free drinks going over the bar to sessioneers, you can bet the bar staff will start bad-mouthing the session to the boss.
Perspectives from sessioneers like "we’ll show the publican who’s boss" I don’t think help, and if that is the philosophy behind a session, you can probably predict that it will fold sooner or later. The publican is the boss in these situations - if he doesn’t like you, he can always bring in pokies.
Just like the Thurles - in that case, you had actively hostile bar staff and some very ugly scenes. What the pub overlooked was their location - not great for passing trade - and that the ITM scene made the place quite profitable for many years. Once they ditched it, it went under, and the license sold off.
If you’re interested in talking about what might/can be done now with that venue I’d be very happy. Let me know here, and I’ll email you.
Otherwise, you know lots of the same people that I know, and the anonymity that my pseudo provides, I think makes information interchange a whole lot better for not having other people’s perceptions - in the way, if you know what I mean.
At this stage anyway, but if you want to have a talk about it, great, email me.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

I told you, the session stopped because I said so, not the publican or anyone else. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

And PS, any good sessions in Bundanoon?

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Yes, you told me that, Dow, I just don’t think it’s the whole story, even though you might think it is.
There are actually sessions in the area I understand…there’s also a really great pub for sessions. They get about 30000 people on one day of the year for a Scotish day. The pub does quite well. But I can assure you…there is a publican there who would make it very clear to you who is "the boss", and I’m sure wouldn’t hesitate in ‘showing the door’ to people using his facilities that had an attitude like "we’ll show the publican who’s boss", especially if he’d be giving them free drinks! You know, the attitude of sessioneers comes across to patrons and other sessioneers in case you didn’t know. Maybe that has a bit to do with how many patrons it attracts…that mightn’t be your take on it, but it might be true anyway.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

What the feck do you know about the whole story? You don’t even go to Kelly’s and you don’t know the publican.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Well, this is what I know - this is what you are quoted as saying were the reasons the Kelly’s session closed before:

“In a way, this whole issue is why our Sydney session closed recently. It was because of my absolute stubborn refusal to compromise on what the session was to be. It was clear from the way the bar staff acted that they expected us to perform: they’d complain when we didn’t attract enough customers to the pub, and if you went to the toilet for a 2 or 3 minute break between sets, they’d switch the jukebox on while you were away to "fill in the silences". This is because they didn’t understand what our session was intended to be. I had meetings with them and explained that we were not there to be performing monkeys. We were there to foster a sense of musical community by playing tunes together as a group, in a place where we could also benefit from an ambient atmosphere and the availability of alcoholic drinks. The manager understood this but didn’t communicate it effectively enough to his bar staff. They treated us more and more as performing monkeys, as though we were obliged to entertain, with no gaps between sets, and no conversation. That wasn’t good enough for me, so I arranged for the session to be closed. That’s how strongly I feel about this topic. I won’t budge on it, because I care about the music and I care about my enjoyment of it and my friends’ enjoyment of it. I’m happier to have the odd house session where nobody expects us to perform for them.
So anyone who was curious to know why it closed - now you know.”
https://thesession.org/sessions/1311

"…they’d complain when we didn’t attract enough customers to the pub"…Really! All of the reasons - including this one - are the exact same litany of events which lead to sessions closing, the ones that do. It is about - money! (for the business)

So - what’s changed at Kelly’s now that this won’t happen again? (And thanks to you for all your effort in keeping it going for so long, sincerely. It is a tough call alright.)

Dow, I did copious sessioneering in my time, but have to be a bit selective now for time and work issues. Actually, to tell you the truth - I hate sitting in pubs, I know that might be anathema to ITM circles - but I have only ever gone to pubs for ITM! Never ever any other time, if I can help it. (Sorry.)

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

I’m slightly confused here, If the publican was unhappy with the sessions performance under Dow, why didn’t he just pull the plug? When I was called up to do the session it was basically sold to me (by a third party involved with the publcan) as a case of the pub being more than a little bit keen to keep the session going after Dow & Mary pulled the plug. (I will admit full lack of on-the-spot experience as I was living in Melbourne at the time Dow ran the session, and was offered it while still in the process of moving, but it seems nonsensicle for the pub to put the session back on, with no diminution of the terms, if they were unhappy with the way the session had panned out previously.)

Why so hostile to free drinks? As stated in all my dozens of sessions experiences, this has NEVER been an issue with the pub (as stated before, it’s a bloody cheap option for them really). Just because you might have had a bad time with one management doesn’t right off the inherent value of the free drinks system to get extra musos.

Put simply, the pub owes us nothing, and we owe the pub nothing. Anything further to that is a negotiated arrangment. No trad-head NEEDS to play in the pub, there are enough house parties flying around this town to keeps the music flowing without them, but for middling musician’s like myself trying to scrape a poor living out of music, those gigs provide a social, regular (and minor) addition to our income. Though, again, only for as long as it is mutually benificial to both muso’s and publicans. While i agree that the publican is the ‘boss’, I’ve never had a boss that hasn’t fulfilled there obligation with payment for services rendered in cash or kind, and i doubt you would turn up to work if the ‘boss’ refused to pay you!

(sorry for these long-winded replies, but whether or not you get free drinks REALLY seems an odd way to judge the success of a session.)

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

My advice is - based on my humble observations over about eighteen years now, and listening to others importantly - is that once you start to see the drift of events happening at your session that Dow summarises above - you are already on think ice with your session…and you see — bar staff again! They are the litmus test of how your relationship with the business owners behind, imho.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

except that the end result of the events dow descibes was not the end of the session, but the moving of the bar staff to other nights, the reinstatement of the session, the (publican initiated) increase in the number of free drinks to cover some of the large number of set dancers that turn up, and the increase in the payment…

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Sorry to give the wrong impression - I am not hostile to free drinks per se - but very wary of the impression this gives bar staff and the latitude they then seem to want to take with running the session - ALL, of course in the context, that the premise of free drinks (or payment alternatively) is *probably* that it is an investment in trying to get lots of patrons through the door.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

I think Dubh is getting confused between the concepts of "bar staff" and "publican". The "publican" has never had a problem with us. He loves the music. He’s jealous that we all play instruments. He’s said more than once that when he hears us play it brings a tear to his eye. I know, it’s a bit over the top, but that’s what he said! The thing with Kelly’s is that it’s in Newtown. There’s different bar staff there every month, and they’re all backpackers. At the start it was great. Mid last year they had a bad bunch. They didn’t like the music and couldn’t be bothered to look after us and keep us happy. Then it got good again recently.

SirNose, I don’t even know why I’m bothering to reply to this, but I’m gonna have to stop right now or I’m going to end up saying something mean :-/ See you Tues for our awful, dying session…

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Well, Ben, that might be the full package now. Let’s hope it is, and that the session continues. You can see how many sessions are in Sydney now - not many.
By the way, I actually approached Kelly’s around three years before you guys actually started it off - but they simply weren’t interested in running one at the time.
It looked like a tough one - an Irish pub with staff who had little or no understanding - or liking - of the music. That’s always going to be tough - the only remaining card you have with them is that they will make money out of it.
At the risk of making comments that seem to be uncomfortable to some people, what I am trying to actually do is flag some aspects of these session closures - which I have observed a number of times now - so that it doesn’t happen again. That’s about all I can do - put in my two cents worth, or don’t. I chose to be helpful.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Dow, I won’t bother you with this again - bar staff talk to publicans and publicans lisen to them.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

And Dow, it’s fairly easy to say something "mean" - most people can do that some easier than others. It’s harder to say something ‘meaningFUL’.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Well, I was talking to someone tonight who used to go to the Thurles with you. They said that the standard of music is 20 times better in Kelly’s now than it ever was at the Thurles. I never went to those particular sessions at the Thurles (although we did start another session there a few years ago before the pub got sold again) so I can’t really judge myself, but that’s the general consensus I get from people who have been to both. Feel free to talk it up, but from what I gather, Kelly’s and Durty’s, the two main Irish trad sessions that exist in Sydney now, are better than anything that has gone before them. And that’s great, I’m happy to be a part of it. So we’ll see you down there, Dubh, on Tuesday night, yeah? Or do you live too far away now? ;-)

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Anyway, look, no hard feelings. I see what you’re saying about publican and bar staff communicating with each other and what it has to do with the changing dynamics. I know what that’s all about though. I’ve lived it myself. I’ve run the session, and found that it mostly depended on your luck with the bar staff. We had a good bunch for a while, and after the session finished we’d go out with the bar staff afterwards to the pub down the road after Kelly’s closed. So I’ve talked about all this with them. I appreciate your concerns, and I do know that you’re saying what you’re saying because you’d like to think that there’s going to be long-running sessions in Sydney in future years. Good on ya. But y’know what, the best thing you can do is not be an armchair musician. Turn up one day and have a drink with us and some tunes. And seeing as you’re into paying for your drinks, you can buy the round, hahaha…

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

In a free beer situation, passing the hat around amongst the musicians so that the barstaff get a generous tip at the end of the evening can often ensure good service and avoid potential problems.
On one occasion we had a muso that asked for whiskey chasers with his pints. He got away with it for a couple of weeks until the bar staff mentioned it to the guvnor and then a ticket system was introduced - pints only !
My experience at sessions in pubs in France and Spain is that I´ve always had free drinks.
At sessions in England and Ireland, I´ve always had to pay for drinks (and have been happy to do so) although you sometimes get a free drink at the end of the evening.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

That’s quite a good idea. It’s a bit problematic though if you’ve got a different (backpacker) face behind the bar every week, who’s like: "who are you and why are you bringing musical instruments into the pub?"

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Geez, it’s never gone that far that I’m into buying the drinks for the musicians - not very often anyway.
Yes, I live a bit far away now to go to the Tuesday night session, but when I did live in Sydney, I couldn’t get there anyway. Bad night for me. Weekends was always my go.
But hey, I was foreseeing the day when I could stay in my unit in Newtown overnight and go to Kelly’s Tuesday nights, listen to great music - and maybe play a few tunes too - and drink myself silly. And then it closed! Bugga!

You’re right, the Thurles wasn’t uniform quality all the way through, but there was a high point there in, I think ‘95, ‘96 when the music fairly sailed. It was great - you simply could not go home, even at 2am on a Monday morning. It was just not the right thing to do. Durty’s was very early days then, and not the group of players there now - Fiona and Ollie et ors.
Kelly’s and Durty’s would be very good sessions, no doubt whatsoever - and a must for any ITM travellers coming to Sydney these days, from interstate or overseas.
Good on you, mate, I really hope this keeps up and the bar-barriers don’t have the wrong affect.

We all live and learn. I did not know any of this stuff, let alone how to play a tune at one time, but thanks to people like yourself and the other dedicated ITM’ers in Sydney over the years, I do now.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

By the way, Ben, I sent on Troubles contacts to Liadan last year, as they had been thinking of touring Oz, and I was thinking that you guys and them would be a great billing for a tour.

If you haven’t heard from them, suggesting contact them, because they want to come out here…they toured Japan recently at a fest there and had an audience of 15000 screaming, cheering fans.
Bit different to Goulburn eh.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Whew, what happens behind old threads, eh?

Best of luck to all of you…an interesting read… :-/

Murfbox, I’ve been at a few sessions in England and Wales where they did give free drinks. It was a pleasant addition, one I don’t take for granted but appreciated. At some we even got free food too. One down the road was free drinks and free bacon or chip butties, the latter brought around by the wife of the publican. Sadly, tragedy struck and they had to give up the pub. The new landlord had no interest in live music at all. It wasn’t the free drinks and food that brought that session to an end. There were great people behind it all and we all shared a mutual respsect. We didn’t take each other for granted and we talked… A change in management brought it to a close. The new publican preferred tele and the jukebox…and didn’t like "diddly music"…

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

I’m with Sirnose and Dow on this one, a couple of free drinks is the cheapest of the cheap to get a bunch of musicians to play all night on a school night even! We all like house sessions too and I’ve a feeling that if our publican wasn’t nice about the drinks etc we’d have just as nice a time and someone’s house. I’m getting to old to beg for a drink, I don’t ask for much and I really feel that a couple of drinks are more like a token of appreciation more than anything else. Anyhow Dubh -most every tues night we have a couple of free drinks and then literally all stay back drinking copious amounts, trust me - they are definitely making lots of money out of all of us!

Posted by .

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Hey Paul, I just checked through the Trouble inbox (not my area, I stick to the graphics-side!) and found your email re: liadan.

Not sure why this was left unresponded, but I’ll be having firm words to our communications department!

(and to be fair, we’ve had our fair share of 15000+ cheering crowd experiences…. well, about 3 of them really, but bloody memorable none the less!)

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Yeah, Ben, I don’t know why it wasn’t responded to either, I just hoped someone had responded to Liadan. I guess not.
Anyway they went to Japan I think in November or something (the time they said they wanted to come here), but I notice they didn’t make it. Never mind, next time perhaps.
Yep, get as many 15000 cheering crowds as you can - while you can I might add - you guys are great, but I get the feeling you could do a lot more value-add on your music, imho.
And let’s hope the pub makes their money out of extra punters coming to the sessions - not just out of the musos.
Anyway, you could get all our friends here on the session.org to email the nice publican and tell him how his pub is known around the world by ITM players, and how much they are looking forward to dropping into the session when they come to Australia. They will make him real happy, and you’ll probably see the dollar signs going round in his eyes, just like a pokie!
Then, he’ll never get rid of you!

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

"value-add"… intreguing, but i should stop this vicious hijacking of public threads to discuss my band. Flick me an email through my profile, i’d be interested to hear what you mean.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

yes- I’m intreguied too - do tell.

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Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Ok, I’ll drop you both an email…just my thoughts, and imo only, don’t forget. Can’t do it right away, flat out.

And by the way, Dow, if you’d like to know a bit more about Bundanoon, I can flick you a little summary of 101 things which are really nice about the place, which took me about 10 minutes to put together about a year ago. But I warn you - unless you think Sydney is the best thing since sliced bread - you better not read it. It’s a well kept secret here, and I don’t want word to get out willy-nilly, if you know what I mean. ;-)

And one of the best uilleann pipers I have heard in this country turns out to live right in town! And, he’s a barman at that real nice, spacious, olde worlde pub here I was telling you about.
Not a bad combination I would have thought - having a piper as the barman.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

So, let’s get this right, your way of drumming up support for your Thurles project is to tell Sydney musicians how they’re not running sessions properly, and to give advice to Trouble in the Kitchen (of all the bands you could have chosen) as to how they can get better? That’s so strange!

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Yeah, whatever you say mate.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

No, I’m being serious. I’m worried if you’re seriously thinking of going ahead with this project, because here’s the thing… this may shock you: the people you’re talking to online right now *are* the Sydney musicians. We are it. Us and our partners/close friends. So what do you hope to gain from trying to give us "advice" when you clearly don’t have a clue what you’re talking about?

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Yes, I know who you are, Dow.
What I hope to gain is not seeing sessions closed down for all the reasons that you outlined about Kelly’s previously. But if you think you don’t need any comment or views from anyone else, and you have all the answers, that’s great news.
Go for it.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Comments and advice from others are welcome, but not when they’re given on the basis of "I know what I’m talking about and you don’t because I was on the session scene when you were still at school", and "stop being so left wing and get real". It’s condescending, and it was always bound to start us off on the wrong foot.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

"What I hope to gain is not seeing sessions closed down"

Why would that bother you? You don’t even go to any of the sessions! You don’t participate in the community except to critcise those doing their best to get involved and keep things going from an anonymous position on the impersonal medium of the internet. Like I said, the best thing you can do is vote with your feet. Get yourself to the session sometime and get your hands dirty and muck in with everyone else. Bundanoon’s not that far away. We do get people driving long distances to get here, e.g. from places like Katoomba on a regular basis. If you had any suggestions, they might have been best expressed in person at the actual session, I think..

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Like "what the feck would I know" , as you put it, Dow?
Yes, Bundanoon’s not that far away, quicker to get to Sydney than actually quite a lot of journeys within Sydney itself. So, if I want to go to the session, it is feasible, yes I know, thanks for that.
When I go to a session, Dow, I go to listen to the music actually, there’s no way I’d go there to engage in the sorts of things referred to in this thread. Actually, I think a forum like this is just the ticket for sharing around views about ITM, players, sessions, etc - I actually thought that’s what it’s about. I mean, there are plenty of views, your’s and others in the thread about Kelly’s session in the session section.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

And why would it bother me? Because, Dow, I went to sessions for many many years and that’s where I learned ITM, and I think it is very worthwhile and a fun thing to do, but trying to learn it without sessions, I would think it would be very difficult without other players around you who were at various stages of expertise - learners as well as more accomplished players. So, I guess, I have not wanted to be one who just went to sessions for all those years and got a lot out of it, and then just dump it from my own awareness and to hell with what becomes of it. There’s hundreds if not thousands of people in Sydney, Dow, who don’t go to any sessions ever, but care a lot about the music tradition. Just have a look at what happens what Altan turn up at the Opera House for example as part of the Sydney Festival - packed out! And when you go to something like that, you see the same people year after year who turn out for those things in droves.
I’ll get to sessions if I can - but like I said, I have never been able to get to the Kelly session on a Tuesday night when I was in Sydney.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

So you think that this website is an opportunity to say stuff that you wouldn’t say to us over a pint at the actual session? Ok that’s what I figured.

Well, since for some reason you seem to be so concerned about the Kelly’s session (even though you don’t go to it???), I can assure you that it is alive and kicking, and it’s much better than either the Thurles or Carly ever was, so you needn’t worry anymore, you can sleep at night now.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

And if I said "What the feck would you know?", I really meant it. What the feck would you know about Kelly’s if you’ve never been there? You claim to know "the whole story" about the session, but all you know is what’s been written on this website. Hardly the whole story. You may well know a lot about sessions from your own experience, and you may well be an expert on the Thurles and the Carly, but every session is different. Musicians are different. Bar staff personalities are different. Publicans are different. Locations are different. You can’t tell me what’s good for Kelly’s on the basis that it would have been good for the Thurles. That’s what I mean when I say "what the feck would you know?"

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Yes, I clearly saw you meant it when you said ‘what the feck would I know", that’s what concerns me. You also said, I think, that you’re about showing the publican who’s boss. Unless you were joking. Mate, I don’t particularly want to be in a pub session that has that sort of attitude. Imho, that’s been a recipe for disaster in the past, and I don’t want to be identified with it.

And mate, the session.org isn’t the only window I’ve got opened at any one time on my computer, so don’t worry, I’m not losing sleep over it. What I don’t have time to do is to go over the same stuff all the time. Like I said, if you have all the solutions, great. Good luck to you.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Sorry, but we really are our own boss when it comes to the music. I’m afraid that if we decided we didn’t like doing the session anymore, we could walk out tomorrow and never come back, and content ourselves with house sessions. We’re not under a formal contract, so yes, we do show him that we’re not a resource for him to expoit; we tell him what we can offer the pub and make it clear what we want in return. If those returns don’t come, we p*ss off somewhere else. Plain and simple.

We’re also our own boss when it comes to the tradition. I go to Kelly’s because I like playing tunes with my mates over a few pints, not because I feel some sort of duty to keep the tradition going. It just so happens that by having a few tunes and drinks we have managed to help keep Sydney’s tradition going in a manner of speaking. I certainly don’t feel any obligation to act on behalf of people who want to be associated with the Sydney tradition but who never ever bother coming to the sessions. So if you’re concerned about that, well, I’m sorry, but I just don’t care. I’m off for some tunes tomorrow night at Kelly’s with my mates, and I know I’m going to have a great time. That’s enough for me. I’m easily pleased, me.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

You’re easily pleased….right.
Have a great night.

Re: Which sets/tunes to learn?

Will do, thanks.