Slow Tune recordings

Slow Tune recordings

I’ve been teaching with the Irish Arts Academy of Indianapolis, and have an idea that I’d like to ask your help with.

Because we stress learning tunes by ear, we put together a set of recordings of tunes for students to play and learn with. We recorded each tune at slow, medium, and normal speeds. I want to expand this idea.

I have found several other sites that have done something similar, and have combined links to them with the Academy tunes. You can get an idea of what I’m attempting here:

It’s important to me that recordings are done by actual human beings and not just generated audio from ABC files.

What I’d like to know is first, do you know of any other sites that are doing something similar?

Also, would you be interested in sharing your expertise by submitting recordings of you playing a tune?

For each tune I’d like your name, a little blurbage about the tune or any comments you’d like to share, and then 3 versions of the tune, played twice through. Preferrably in mp3 format.
For speed for example reels could be played at 50, 80, and 113 bpm.
I really want these to be usable by real beginners, as well as more experienced players who just want to pick up a few more tunes.

What do you think?

Re: Slow Tune recordings

I organized and run a slow session for beginners in which we learn tunes. the standard is for our teacher of the day to play the tune they’re teaching at normal speed and at slow speed, both of which I record and put on our website:

very rarely I do need to slow down the fast version (with audacity) because there wasn’t time to do a slow version. That’s not as nice, but it works. all the students are software savvy too, so they can slow them down more if they need to.


Re: Slow Tune recordings

Thanks for the links , nicely done!

About slowdowner software- Many of us use those kinds of tools, but I find having to have a technical discussion about computers and software for beginners, some who are starting late in life, to be a distraction at times. Being able to just click a link is so much easier.

So maybe if there was a way to send the output of one of those slowdown programs a file, it would make it possible to just take a normal speed recording and make slower versions of it to share.

Re: Slow Tune recordings

Programs like Wavelab can slow down music files and save the slowed- down version

Re: Slow Tune recordings

You can easily record a tune being played at any speed you want, and save the recording as an MP3. My own pc does this internally using ‘What-U-Hear’ as input; but any recording device would do.

Posted by .

Re: Slow Tune recordings

David Oliver produced four books of tunes, with a CD. Each tune is played slowly for learning, and then up to speed in a set. Many years ago they were available through Folkworks (north east England), but I’m not sure where you can get them now. They certainly got many people started on the journey.

Re: Slow Tune recordings

There are many easy to use software programs that allow music to be slowed down without affecting the pitch, though that can also be changed. As mentioned, Roni Music’s Amazing Slow Downer is excellent for this but the simple and free QuickTime Player 7 is also good and accessible. I also use the free MPlayer X with videos to slow them down and see what a player is playing. Lots of choices out there.

Re: Slow Tune recordings

WaveLab & Sound Forge, and reduced versions of both, are able to do the software end of things.

Great idea, and best of luck with that. I imagine you are already aware of this recording:

“Seamus Creagh: Tunes for Practice”

Another nice attempt with this approach is for there to also be a build up in ornamentation and variation as the tempo rises. For example, with the slowest, for it to be bare bones, with the greater focus on melody and rhythm, and possibly moving to basic ornementation options in the second, and for the third to offer up ornamentation and variation as the player would do it without over egging it, naturally, as much as possibly in a relatively unnatural situation. Seamus did a lovely job with this recording. Others have not been so successful. Some have been OTT… I have used this approach in teaching, with the primary focus being on the face-to-face, but then offering up the recorded options to help them along when they’re out of sight, but I also provide ABCs and dots too, with the emphasis always on their ears. Sometimes, if it is felt to be necessary, I’ll hold back on the notation till later.

Best of luck with a good idea and a positive contribution to promoting this music with your own time and passion.

Re: Slow Tune recordings ~ following the link given ~ a few recommendation

One suggestion, as with “Seamus Creagh: Tunes for Practice”, and many others, a solo instrument is clearer and better than group, duet or larger. That’s one of the weaknesses with CCE’s “Foinn Seisiún” recordings.

Also, the ‘beat’ of one’s foot can be considerably off putting, distracting from the actual music. It dominates and overwhelms, as with your opening few recordings ~ “Thud, Thud, Thud, Thud ~”, and with varying degrees of volume throughout… That deeper sound, rather than the click of say a metronome, eats up sound, is more intrusive than a simple metronome. Foot tapping is one of the problems sound techs have to deal with, and there are many ways to limit or eliminate that, if needed.

It’s great that you use a variety of instruments in your examples.

It would also be wise to even the ‘balance’ between your different offerings, at present some are much louder than others.

Also, if possible, avoid recording in a high reverberant setting like a stairwell or loo, for the purposes of clear teaching. Keep it dry, clean, so that the ears can make the best of it.
ALSO, don’t record on top of the microphone, keep your distance to reduce ‘effect’, distortion… Again, for a cleaner and more ear friendly result.

These are just suggestions, but such things, like the poor use of microphones, are not uncommon ‘mistakes’.

That was following this link, posted by fearfeasog:

Lower Valley Beginner Irish Session
# Posted by fearfeasog - January 19th, 2014

Also, I loved the comment at the bottom of that webpage:

“That is damn useful, even if it is a bunch of grumpy musicians quibbling over tune settings and such most of the time.” ~ markbodah | March 21, 2013 at 5:53 pm

Following the first link ~

Much better, cleaner, except for the reverb… It would also be useful to list the instrument used, flute for most of tunes I’ve listened to ~ and also in the mix: concertina, whistle, group, etc. Also, be consistent in how you list things, such as the order of tempos ~ given at the start as ‘regular’ / ‘slower’ / ‘slowest’. There were also dead links, as with “A Fig for a Kiss”, which has the reverse order given.

Lovely idea, and it will not doubt bring success…

Re: Slow Tune recordings

“So maybe if there was a way to send the output of one of those slowdown programs a file, it would make it possible to just take a normal speed recording and make slower versions of it to share.”

Transcribe can do that:

Re: Slow Tune recordings

Ed–audacity spits out an mp3 or wav file that is slowed down permanently once you’re all done. some of the results of that program are on our website, which I thank ceolachan for sharing again!

ceolachan–i used oversimplification! but you have to admit it isn’t totally inaccurate! ;) also, are you talking about MY recordings when giving the advice above about the foot stomp, reverb, mic distortion, sound levels, etc? Because even if you’re not–It totally applies to the LVBIS recordings and I totally agree–all those things are issues. I do care about those things, but where it gets cumbersome to make the recordings I let them slide–the students just want to have the tune available–the recordings, as long as they can be learned from, are doing their job–we have to do it on the fly and I’ve been forced to make do with really echoey spaces and inferior tech. but I just got a Zoom H2 so I hope that I’ll be able to make things a little cleaner from here out.

by the way, Ed and everyone else, I learned through effing up that you CAN push Audacity’s effects too far and cause the end result to sound worse than the original, for example, in my attempts to make all the files louder i use the amplify and the compression effects. they make it louder allright, but they cause some distortion too, at lest when exporting to MP3 they do. So just be careful with that suff and be sure to listen carefully to your end results.

Re: Slow Tune recordings

Just an update that I’ve added some more tunes to the Indianapolis Irish Arts Academy slow tunes site, cleaned up some broken links, and removed some of the poorer quality recordings.

Remember, my goal is basically to collect links to other folks who have recorded tunes themselves, so there is a huge variety in quality that I don’t control. I hope that anyone contributing recordings will read this thread for all the great input on how to do it right.

For some reason, despite the fact that I make my living as a software developer, I’m really interested in recordings of people playing the tunes live. There are, as described in this thread, lots of tools for slowing tunes down, which really is invaluable, but I guess it just feels more real to me to learn from a recording of someone with just their instrument and their fingers playing a tune slow, medium, and normal speed. It reminds me of those precious moments when I can ask a fiddler to step over to a corner and help me with a lick or turn of tune that I can’t quite get in normal session pandemonium.

If you have links to other sites that I might link to, post them here, or if you have recordings you’ve made that you want me to host, send them to me at