silver spear reel

silver spear reel

Can anyone post the dots for the above reel please? Midi as well would be even better.

Also as a relative novice would appreciate hints and tips on playing reels- they’re sooooo fast yet they don’t sound right played slow. Taa.

On playing reels ……

Reels can sound good played slowly. Some are more suited to it than others, but a reel played slowly can bring out aspects of the tune which go unnoticed when it is played at the usual speed.

As for playing fast, the best advice is *practice*. Whether this entails repeating each phrase until your sick of it or just playing the tune through for your own enjoyment is down to the individual - I’ve always opted for the latter method.

The more tunes you learn, the more you realise than a large proportion of jigs and reels are made up of the same basic motives or note groupings, arranged in different sequences to form different tunes. The fingers become accustomed to these patterns and learning a tune is then largely a case of piecing them together.

Of course, this is a way to learn the basic melody, but when it comes to adding your own embellishment and variations, you must become familiar with the tune as a whole and learn to appreciate its individual character.

Re: silver spear reel

The Silver Spear is a great reel for varying where the accent or emphasis falls…on the first and third beat of each measure, or second and fourth, or even shifting around depending on which notes catch your ear. I too had trouble finding the sound I wanted when playing reels, even after years of playing. So I took the Silver Spear, My Love is in America, and the Morning Star and played each of them slowed way down, moving the accents until I could place them wherever I wanted. As a fiddler, I also took out all the slurs and changed bow direction for each note. Gradually I put the slurs back in, but also worked on slurring different sets of notes, again with the aim of changing where the accents fell. It helped a lot to focus on just a handful of reels while working all this out, and then I found it much easier to apply my new control to other tunes. Finally, you’ll come out way ahead of the game if you strive for smoothness and efficiency rather than plain speed. The best players sound effortless, regardless of what tempo they’re keeping, and this is a combination of economy of motion and setting a mental target of fluidity, not hurry. It helps to play lightly (the drive and volume will come on their own when needed), mentally scanning for tense muscles and letting them relax as you play. See how little effort is needed to make a note sound…all this will result in smoother playing, and eventually, speed enough to keep up with most sessions.

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Submitting the tune

The Silver Spear is obviously a very popular tune and it’s great to see all this feedback. But isn’t it time somebody actually submitted the tune? :)

By the way, crumstock, just posting the ABC of the tune in a discussion thread isn’t quite the same as actually submitting it in the "Tunes" section.

Will, David, would one of you like to do the honours with this one? Once the tune is submitted, I can add the sheetmusic and midi file and Caraaz will be all set to go.

Re: silver spear reel

GREAT hints, David and Will! I’m working on those very things right now. It’s nice to see that the advice given to me by various musicians is widespread and valid.

Once you get the pulse right, virtually any reel sounds just fine slow. (Doubters may listen to any of Martin Hayes’ recordings.) In fact, I’m told that one of the hallmarks of an inexperienced player is rushing away through the tune without reference to the pulse and feel of the thing. A player who relies on the speed of the thing only is not really playing traditionally.

As always, the best thing is to listen to many many players — Custy’s Music ( is the best to get some of the less mainstream recordings — here’s some I’m listening to right now: Two Gentlemen of Clare is one of my favorites, off of Clachan Records. They’re two elderly gentlemen (Gerdie Commane and Joe Ryan, accompanied by Eoin O’Neill in Gerdie’s living room), and the tuning is of little use to anyone, but my god, the feeling of the tunes…and the setting of the Irish Washerwoman is priceless — it’ll make you rethink the tune that everyone loves to hate. I also recommend Pat O’Connor’s The Green Mountain, and Julie Langan and Verena Commins album Fonnchaoi for effortless, beautiful and polished tunes.


Re: silver spear reel

Okay, Silver Spear is officially posted now in the tune section, so we’ll have sheet music and midi file before you know it. Hope this helps. My version is a fiddly one, and it occurs to me that it would help for people to identify what instrument(s) they play when they ask for or offer help on technique or musicality, or even tune versions. Just a thought.

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Re: silver spear reel

Hi again

Thanks for the dots and midi for the silver spear. I’m off work on Friday so I can work on it without being tired after work. Thanks too for all the hints. I play the fiddle by the way- forgot to say as nearly everything I subscribe to is fiddle related.

The reminder about Martin Hayes was timely- I love the way he plays and am quite happy cos I can actually play along to a few of his tunes. I will definatley slow down and get to know the tunes first.