ID Tunes

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Hi Bass_Fiddle

I can’t find either for definite but the last one reminds me so much of The Blackberry Blossom. Not much help, sorry!

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2nd 1:46 is Master’s Return I think

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I’m 99% sure he has his fiddle tuned up a semitone, unless someone’s fiddled the vid.

Anyway, because he’s playing in C fingering I thought I’d post James Cullinan’s first run through his version of The Master’s Return here: https://thesession.org/tunes/1632#setting34332

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//I’m 99% sure he has his fiddle tuned up a semitone, unless someone’s fiddled the vid.//

I checked the video against my own fiddle, tuned to concert pitch.

I’m pretty sure he’s just playing it in A maj - because, after his first 2 notes (low E, then EA) he plays an open E, and you can clearly see him cross over to a C# on the 2nd string, followed by open A and low E.

It’s exactly as in this 1st setting here (except this one is in G) :

https://thesession.org/tunes/2227 [Coachman’s Whip]

@ Theirlandais - thanks for identifying that cracking wee tune 🙂

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The first tune seems to be in Ab/G# from what I hear.

I’ve checked it on my instrument too.

I can’t see his fingers properly and, therefore, can’t tell what he might have done(if anything) re tuning. However, tuning up a semi tone and playing with "G" fingering could well be a possibility especially as the tune seems to be in "G". Also, tuning down a semi tone and playing with "A" fingering would also work.

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I don’t play the fiddle but I’d say he’s in Eb, tuned up a semi-tone … and I think he plays the second tune a tone down from what is most common. from memory the first tune was in G second in C and third in G, coming out as G# C# G#

Mick has a capo on the first fret, so Eb

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>>I’m 99% sure he has his fiddle tuned up a semitone

I’m 99.99% sure you’re right.

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//However, tuning up a semi tone and playing with "G" fingering could well be a possibility especially as the tune seems to be in "G"//

@ Johhny Jay - how do you explain the open E at the beginning, if he is playing with G fingering?

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I can’t see him do anything to make that E note, Jim. I think it has to be coming from another instrument off camera.

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I can’t explain that. 😉

I’ve just listened again and the "E" of which you speak sounds flattened.
So, playing in "A" but a semi tone down might be what he’s doing.

I don’t know and wouldn’t want to bet my house on it.
🙂

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>>I’m pretty sure he’s just playing it in A maj - because, after his first 2 notes (low E, then EA) he plays an open E, and you can clearly see him cross over to a C# on the 2nd string, followed by open A and low E.<<

>>@ Johhny Jay - how do you explain the open E at the beginning, if he is playing with G fingering?<<

Jim, which tune are you talking about?

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My playback puts the whole performance in a semitone above concert. Whether it’s my machine or not I don’t know. I just downloaded the video and slowed it down in VLC:

The set starts with Coachman’s Whip with a G fingering - for confirmation, look how he starts the second part with an open D string.

The key goes up a fourth into the second tune. For confirmation, he finishes the first part of The Master’s Return with quite a definite low C fingering on the fourth string.

He finishes the second tune on the C on the second string, dropping a semitone to play the first B of The Edenderry.

This concurs with Theirlandais’ comment about the capo.

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DavidT, You’re right. There’s a clip of Claire Egan at the same gig somewhere. She’s in E flat. They’re all in E flat. It was an E flat gig.

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Well, that’s good to know but even better to know is the second tune, played in C. Whether it is in C on the clip or it isn’t, that’s how I’m learning it, it’s a cracker.

Ben Lennon once taught the tune in D at the Willie Clancy and I promptly forgot it. 8))

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@Johnny Jay I’m not shouting 🙂 , just pasting in previous comments for convenience :

>>I’m pretty sure he’s just playing it in A maj - because, after his first 2 notes (low E, then EA) he plays an open E, and you can clearly see him cross over to a C# on the 2nd string, followed by open A and low E.<<

>>@ Johhny Jay - how do you explain the open E at the beginning, if he is playing with G fingering?<<

Jim, which tune are you talking about?

Johnny - just the first tune only. When I said he’s playing in A maj, I should have said A maj fingering, because - the whole fiddle appears to be tuned down a semitone, and this would concur with what you also said :

//I’ve just listened again and the "E" of which you speak sounds flattened.
So, playing in "A" but a semi tone down might be what he’s doing.//

@DaveL335 //I can’t see him do anything to make that E note, Jim. I think it has to be coming from another instrument off camera.//

He is doing a downbow on the open E, and there is a distinct stop, before he continues on an up-bow. It’s there at 00’01 on the video counter.

I was getting more and more curious, as everyone’s perspective seemed to be different. It’s awkward for me at the moment, as I have to use headphones, but what I did was line up another window, and played an A440 tone while the video played from the start. It appears that the A440 tone is a semitone above the key in which he is playing, so effectively the key would be Eb. Remember, I’m just talking about the very first tune, and nothing else.

This is the 10 sec tone of A440 :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUvlamJN3nM

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That first long(ish) downbow, the first note of the tune, is not an open 1st string. It’s a D (actual pitch E flat because he’s tuned up) on the 2nd string.

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> That first long(ish) downbow, the first note of the tune, is not an open 1st string. It’s a D (actual pitch E flat because he’s tuned up) on the 2nd string.<<

That is correct, DaveL335.

If you watch and listen to the first couple of seconds, he plays a couple of odd notes which are not part of the tune - open D and open G. The first note of the actual tune is one octave above that open D.

Phew!

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@DaveL335

//That first long(ish) downbow, the first note of the tune, is not an open 1st string. It’s a D (actual pitch E flat because he’s tuned up) on the 2nd string.//

Well, let’s forget about actual pitch for the moment.

If your player is starting the video at the same point as mine, right at the start I’m seeing him play two notes (a 4th) together on the 2nd and 3rd strings, on a sharp up-bow. You can clearly see his bow angle change as he moves to the upper (1st) string, then plays that string with a long-ish down-bow. That is the only note he plays on that string, then the bowing angle changes again as he moves to the 2nd string, to play the next note. Do you agree?

If you want, you could play the 10-second A440 tone I linked above, just after the video starts, and that will tell you the actual key he is playing in (assuming the video is accurate).

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Your description does not match what I am seeing, Jim. Perhaps we should agree to differ.

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>>Your description does not match what I am seeing, Jim.<<

Me neither.

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Up a semitone? Down a semitone? G major? A major? C major? D major? Blue and black? White and gold? Yanny? Laurel?

For the record, he’s tuned a half-step sharp: G#D#A#E#. Taking this into account, the keys of the tunes are G, C, G. Simple enough. I’m happy with that.

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Is this a trick question? I hear a 440 Hz A and the first tune has a tonal centre of G#, and as the tune is normally played in G, this "semitone sharp" talk makes a lot of sense.

That means that tunes are played in pitch-G#, pitch-C# and pitch-G#, as people have already suggested. Which fingerings are you saying he’s using, Jim? (Not G, C and G?)

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I don’t know what key he’s playing in or if the violin has been tuned up or down (don’t have perfect pitch) but, as a violinist, that long note at the beginning is on his open E string. I can tell from the angle of the bow.

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As I commented earlier and, as others have mentioned, the tune is surely being played a semi tone higher than "G" and it would be the more likely practice to tune the strings *UP* accordingly especially as the tune is apparently usually played in "G" and with that particular fingering.

However, it is also possible to tune the fiddle strings *DOWN* a semi tone and play the tune as if in "A". This is less common in Irish Music, I believe, and would make more sense only if it was an "A" tune originally.

So, we’re debating as whether the tune is being played in G# or Ab which is almost but not quite the same thing.
🙂

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>>I don’t know what key he’s playing in or if the violin has been tuned up or down (don’t have perfect pitch) but, as a violinist, that long note at the beginning is on his open E string. I can tell from the angle of the bow.<<

Anne, what I see right at the very start of the video is James playing a couple of preparatory notes - the open third, then the open fourth, with an up bow.

Then, the first note of the tune proper is pitched one octave above that open third string.

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I hear the lowest string ring in G# during the first tune, and then it’s likely that the other strings are also tuned up.

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Jeff, it’s not a trick question. There’s a bit of dispute on the actual key and the fingering.

I’m only talking about the very first tune. I maintain that he is using A fingering, meaning as if he were playing in the key of A.

As you rightly say, the tune has a tonal centre of G#, confirmed by listening to the fixed A440 tone. That would mean the fiddle is tuned down a semitone, if he is using A fingering.

That first note on the long downbow…I can’t see how it can be anything else but the open the 1st string, looking at the bow angle, as Anne commented earlier.

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The actual keys the tunes sound in don’t matter.

But Jim, how do you explain the up bow which is prior to the start of the tune? He plays open third, then open fourth. The note you’re calling the open first string is exactly one octave above that open third.

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I had a similar debate with Alan Ng about fiddle tuning in an email exchange. The debate concerned whether Donegal fiddler Néillidh O’Boyle was playing in GDAE tuning a half-step sharp, or AEAE tuning a half-step flat, in a set of "The Pigeon on the Gate" / "Jenny Picking Cockles". Alan was convinced he was playing in flat AEAE, while I was convinced that he was using sharp GDAE. This was partly because Néillidh would often roll the A-flat note. Now, if you assume the fiddle is tuned in AbEbAbEb, you can’t roll the Ab in first position with your 4th finger, and you obviously can’t roll an open string the same way you would a fingered note. You could assume he’s going up the neck to do this. However, when it comes to fiddling, I tend to stick with Occam’s Raser. In this case, it is simpler if he tuned his fiddle in sharp GDAE and rolled his G# as you would a typical G note on the D-string, rather than expending extra effort in flat AEAE and going up the neck just to roll one note. His rolls on the D#/Eb are very similar and led me to draw the same conclusion. In the present video, Cullinan does roll his G# on the first tune, so Jim, how do you explain that? I’m blind and can’t see what he’s doing with his fingers, but I don’t think he would be playing the tune in another position in A fingering just to be able to roll the G#/Ab once in a while. Not to mention it’s a G tune, as was stated above.

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@Daniel
"In the present video, Cullinan does roll his G# on the first tune, so Jim, how do you explain that? I’m blind and can’t see what he’s doing with his fingers, but I don’t think he would be playing the tune in another position in A fingering just to be able to roll the G#/Ab once in a while. Not to mention it’s a G tune, as was stated above."

I agree. It sounds like a G tune, it’s (probably) played like a G tune.

@Jim
"As you rightly say, the tune has a tonal centre of G#, confirmed by listening to the fixed A440 tone. That would mean the fiddle is tuned down a semitone, if he is using A fingering."

Or up, since I (sometimes) hear the low G# string. Surely it would be easier to play the tune "as in G" and just let the any open string ring, instead of fingering the low A (→Ab) now and then.

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I’m pretty sure he’s using AEAE tuning but dropped a semitone to AbEbAbEb, which is why no one else is trying to join in. I’ pretty sure that his A and E strings are tuned down. They certainly aren’t tuned sharp, you can hear from the timbre without having to identify the pitch.

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@Mark I agree that the first note of the tune sounds an awful lot like an E-string timbre, but I also think that guessing he’s using AEAE tuning is a bit of a stretch. Not that it says anything about this video, but I played with Cullinan in a session in Ireland last summer (he was clearly leading), and it was straight GDAE all the way. Also, if it were AEAE, I’d expect more droning with the A string than I find here.

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It’s not really a stretch, listen carefully to that first tuning bow stroke, all four notes are there. He starts on D/A. crossing down to G/D, and at the end of the stroke plays A/e, all a semitone flat.

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David
//But Jim, how do you explain the up bow which is prior to the start of the tune? He plays open third, then open fourth. The note you’re calling the open first string is exactly one octave above that open third.
//
that up bow is playing notes E+A on strings 3+2, so that is a 4th, the upper note being open A.

The bow angle changes as he then moves to the 1st string to play an open E with the long down bow.

That E is an octave above the E on the 3rd string.

Youll notice he stops that E dead, to stop it ringing while he crosses to the 2nd string to continue with the tune.

All that would still hold true even if the tuning was AEAE, as Mark suggested.

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AEAE would also account for all the confusion in this thread - some people are listening to the low notes and hearing him tuned up, others are listening to the high notes and hearing him tuned down.

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@Mark, I disagree with you. The high D#/Eb does sound like the E-string, but the first note he plays before the two lower strings is a fingered note somewhere around C#, not an open note on any string.

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Haha … that’s 4 things now - the key, the fingering, the actual pitch and the tuning of the instrument!

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Jim, earlier you said:

>> right at the start I’m seeing him play two notes (a 4th)

>>that up bow is playing notes E+A on strings 3+2, so that is a 4th, the upper note being open A.

Jim, I don’t get the bit about strings 3+2 - you’re implying he goes from the third string back up to the second? That would be a fourth up, which what you’re saying.

However, the first bow (before the tune starts) sounds an Eb, then goes to the next string DOWN and plays Ab a FIFTH below it. I slowed the video down and checked it with a tuner.

Am I going mad?

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I’ve just had that first bow stroke through a spectrum analyser. Unfortunately my steam-powered PC won’t run the analyser and screen capture at the same time. There is no C#, all there are are Abs and Ebs, so unless he is checking his tuning with fingers on strings which would be unusual to say the least, he is using ADAD semitone flat.

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That should of course be AEAE semitone flat.

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I may be hearing-impaired, but I do not hear that first note as an Ab and I have perfect pitch. Somebody is going crazy here and it may very well be me.

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@DavidT, try flipping the order of the strings around and see if you understand what Jim’s saying.

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Daniel, Jim says a fourth apart, I say a fifth, whatever the key. This happens in the very first second of the vid., before he starts the tune. An Eb, then an Ab a fifth below.

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DavidT - to eliminate obfuscation and confusion, let’s assume that the fiddle is tuned to concert pitch - A string tuned to 440Hz (although I know it’s not), and standard tuning GDAE (we’ll get to that in a moment).

The first audible notes are low E, then [low E + the open A] above. That’s a 4th, not a 5th.

A 5th is any two adjacent open strings on a fiddle, in standard tuning, played together.

Anyway, he plays the 4th briefly on the middle 2 strings. I’ve stripped this out, and put it in a little loop so you can hear it better. It’s repeated 6 times :

https://www.dropbox.com/s/8qwzg2dnaalmk1k/a-fourth.mp3?dl=0

The bow then moves to the next string up, the E string (top string), and he sounds a long E note on a downbow.

Starting from the open E, the first 4 notes he plays, in descending order, are E, C#, A, E*. Now to the interesting bit!

I think Mark is right when he suggests AEAE tuning. Why? Because in standard tuning, that last E* above, would need to be fingered (1st finger on the 3rd string), but you can clearly see in the video that his fingers are *up* when playing that note. In other words, he is playing an open string (3rd string tuned up to E).

All of this is not immediately apparent from watching the clip a few times, but I’ve played the first 3 seconds repeatedly, constantly analysing, so I’ve satisfied myself.

As to the actual pitch, I think were all agreed that the fiddle (regardless of relative string tuning) is tuned down a semitone.

The A440 clip can verify that, if you play it during the video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUvlamJN3nM

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Sorry to re-open this thread but it turns out I was right all along…

I spoke to James Cullinan and yes, they were all tuned up a semitone and yes, he plays standard tuning (i.e. in fifths).

That’s cleared that up.

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As far as I’m concerned it was cleared up pretty much straight away.

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Yes, Theirlandais. It was the ‘all’ in:

"I think were all agreed that the fiddle (regardless of relative string tuning) is tuned down a semitone."

as much as anything the made me seek James out.

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That’s good that the man himself cleared things up! It was bugging me too, so I sent a message to James on Facebook, on the Cullinan’s Guest House page, but got no reply. That was based on old information, so I don’t even know if he’s still part of that.

If he is tuned up a semitone from concert pitch A440, and tuned in 5ths, he is therefore tuned G# D# A# F from low to high, so with that, plus the A440 reference tone, we should be able to clear up all the other elements that were in dispute in the first tune.

We should now be able to work out : which string he played the 1st long downbow note, and the note itself. Also , the actual key, and the key fingering too.

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He’s not involved in the guest house any more, Jim.

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‘Should be able to work it out’ does not enter into it. Several of us worked it out correctly a week ago, and posted to that effect. There is surely no need to continue to with any controversy.

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DaveL335

//There is surely no need to continue to with any controversy//

There need be no controversy.

I just made a statement to the effect that now that the fiddle’s tuning (in 5th) and the pitch (semitone above concert) was determined (because the player, James Cullihan told us), we could now work out the other elements that were discussed :

…on which string he played the 1st long downbow note, the note itself, the actual key, and the key fingering too.

The above puts all of these things discussed earlier, together in the one place, and might benefit someone new to the thread (rather than them having to scroll through 50+ replies).

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OK.
The 1st long downbow is on the second string. The note’s actual pitch is E flat, though it is fingered as D. The actual key of the tune (the key it sounds in) is G#. The key fingering (which arguably is therefore the real key of the tune) is G.

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Just a observation, but that long E (which is really E flat) at the beginning seems to me to be the open string E (which he must have tuned down) both from the angle of the bow and from the open string ringy sound.

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>Just a observation, but that long E (which is really E flat) at the beginning seems to me to be the open string E (which he must have tuned down) both from the angle of the bow and from the open string ringy sound.

Wrong.
James Cullinan (the fiddler in the video) has been consulted (as DavidT has posted above), and stated that he was tuned up a semitone in this performance.

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I give up.

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…. the Sesh community lets out a collective, thankful sigh….

(But it’s a nice tune played in G or A, for fiddlers anyway! ;)

Cheers! Slan! 15 days till St Patrick’s Day!!

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> I give up.

I beat you to it.

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"Well, regardless of who is right and who is wrong,"

what the hell is that sentence doing here, you are wrong Jim, just accept it, it happens.

now, please do you lines 50 times or go see a wrongologist

I’m Jim, and I’m wrong..
I’m Jim, and I’m wrong..
.
.
.

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To DavidL335, DavidT, Theirlandais :

Why don’t you pick up your fiddle, tune up to James’s pitch, and play along with the first tune?

That’s exactly what I did.