Range of notes played in Irish Trad Tunes

Range of notes played in Irish Trad Tunes

A good friend has a set of Irish Bagpipes - known as Brian Boru Pipes, They differ from Scottish Bagpipes in that they have a wider note range, with more higher notes, to accommodate Irish Tunes.

My question - overall, do Traditional Irish Tunes tend to have a wider range of notes that those from Scotland, and GB?

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Re: Range of notes played in Irish Trad Tunes

" overall, do Traditional Irish Tunes tend to have a wider range of notes that those from Scotland, and GB?"

No.

Scottish Bagpipe (Great Highland Pipe) repertoire, of course, consists of tunes with a 9-note range, but this is not representative of Scottish music as a whole.

Perhaps it is a sweeping generalisation, but I would say that the majority of traditional dance tunes from Ireland and the UK fall within a 2 1/2 octave range.

Re: Range of notes played in Irish Trad Tunes

Most Irish dance tunes range from a low D to a high B, spanning an octave and a sixth. A very few tunes stray below that low D, but they leave behind the simple system flutes and whistles whose range doesn’t extend that low.

Re: Range of notes played in Irish Trad Tunes

Sorry - I meant a 1 1/2-octave range. But yes, an octave and a sixth is more accurate.

Perhaps a higher proportion of Scottish tunes drop below D (open D string on the fiddle). Since instruments such as flute and uillean (union) pipes have not historically featured prominently in Scotish music, the fiddle has played a greater part in shaping the repertoire than it has in Irish music.

Re: Range of notes played in Irish Trad Tunes

By way of an example: "The Green Fields Of Glentown" — https://thesession.org/tunes/671. Runs from a low G to a high B, so just a touch over 2 octaves.

Re: Range of notes played in Irish Trad Tunes

Counter-example from Scotland: "The Hurricane" — https://thesession.org/tunes/4377. Runs from a low B to a high C.

Now to decide if Tommy Peoples and James Scott Skinner were composers of traditional dance tunes…

Re: Range of notes played in Irish Trad Tunes

Just a passing thought. The keyed wooden flute is quite capable of reaching well into the third octave…at least to the high,third, G…(when played by someone better than me). Add that to the low C# and C and you have quite a range. The highest note I’ve ever found in a tune is a third D and that was an "octavation" of a short figure of a barn dance. Anybody know of a higher reach?

Re: Range of notes played in Irish Trad Tunes

How about Ostinelli’s: https://thesession.org/tunes/13639 ? I’ve been making progress with the first part but must then slam on the brakes for the second part so not quite ready to inflict it upon fellow sessioneers.

Re: Range of notes played in Irish Trad Tunes

"Just a passing thought. The keyed wooden flute is quite capable of reaching well into the third octave…at least to the high,third, G…(when played by someone better than me). Add that to the low C# and C and you have quite a range."

Indeed Ross, an Alto Flute, with footjoint keys giving low G and G# (fingered like C and C# on a normal flute) has the same range as the fiddle, easily capable of going from low G up to high B, the full range that most ITM falls within. (High B on an Alto Flute is the equivalent to high E on a D flute, the very start of the 3rd octave, and easy to play.)

Many years ago, back in the 1980s, I bought an Alto Flute and learned quite a few of the "full range" tunes that fiddlers, banjo, and box players favour. It was quite easy to play these tunes note for note with no "folding" required.

Though I’ve not had that flute in many years, I still play some of those "full range" tunes on A whistle, or G whistle, depending on whether you need to get down to A or G, and what key the tune is in. I prefer to play these tunes correctly rather than "fold" them on a D whistle or flute.

Anyhow there are, one might say, three ranges:

1) the nine-note G -A range of the warpipes/Highland pipes

2) the octave-and-a-sixth D-B range of the D whistle, D flute, and D uilleann pipes, the ITM "concert" woodwind range

3) the two-octave-and-a-third G-B range of the fiddle played in first position

Obviously banjos can have in theory practically any range whatever depending on how they’re strung and tuned, and accordions can be had in a variety of setups.

Re: Range of notes played in Irish Trad Tunes

I should point out that a review of O’Neill’s Music Of Ireland shows a large number of airs, reels, jigs, etc which fall within the 9-note range of the warpipes.