Good books of Celtic Tunes

Good books of Celtic Tunes

I’d recommend "The Celtic Fiddler" ed. and arranged by Edward Huws Jones (has accompanying cd which is useful. First tunes are Irish and it finishes up with Scot. tunes. One of my favorites is "Rocky road to Dublin".

O’Neills also excellent. Any other ideas?

Re: Good books of Celtic Tunes

Ho-ro-gheallaidh Session Tunes for Scottish Fiddlers.

I think there’s maybe 4 books? Not sure.

Re: Good books of Celtic Tunes

O’Neill is a nice thing to have, but you may find that the settings don’t mesh very well with the way the tunes it contains are played "on the ground" these days.

For "standard" (-ish) versions you might want to look at the "Mally presents…" series, or the Waltons "110 Ireland’s Best.." books. There is one of "Session Tunes" and one of "Polkas and Slides" (yay!). Then again there are the Ossian "Irish Session Tunes" books, in four colours! The red book is a good one.

No doubt there are many more. Some interesting tune collections are found in books (e.g. tutor books) aimed at specific instruments, though widely played on others.

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Here’s an idea— forget the books of dots and tadpoles and learn from the real stuff: https://www.cdworld.ie/irish-session-tunes-the-orange-cd-sheila-garry-bri.html Brid Crantich and Sheila Garry offer some great tunes, played at slow speeds, perfect for learning. Send me your email and I’ll send you some tracks.
Or get The Amazing Slow Downer and learn by slowing the tunes down and memorizing them. Or go to Youtube and slow down any tune you want to learn.
That said, I am older than the internet and I would be happy to sell you any number of my used music books. But odds are that you’ll never get anywhere with a tune by learning it from a book. (Has anybody else ever said this on this site?)

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Or spend a lifetime sat in the pub playing and learning the tunes.
No dots, no ‘ABC’. no YouTube, no recordings.

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I would not agree that "you’ll never get anywhere with a tune by learning it from a book". Agreed, it is indeed good to learn by listening. But…

I have found the most delightful tunes by looking through music library books. For instance I found Thora Linklater’s gorgeous "Golden Slipper" in an Orkney tunebook. It is not played too often in Orkney but I have posted it here, so anyone can try it and see. Gems are found in books, I wouldn’t just dispense with them to go online.

Thanks for suggestions!

Re: Good books of Celtic Tunes

There is no written information from the Celts, nor any specific history on what music they played, so I doubt you’ll find any books on Celtic music. Now if you’re actually interested in more recent history from the last 400 years or so, try Irish, Scottish, or Breton music searches.

Re: Good books of Celtic Tunes

Too often I’ve been in a session with someone who learned their tunes from books instead of by ear. Often if they started a tune, it would take a while before anyone could recognize what they were playing.

Sheet music in ITM is basically an outline of the structure of the tune. If a classical musician plays from it, there is little semblance to how the tune is actually played.

Listen to recordings. Listen to sessions. John Skelton likes to tell students "don’t try to learn a tune before you know it." In other words, don’t start practicing it until you have it in your hear aurally.

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Hobby horses aside, Alan Ng has a useful list of tune books https://www.irishtune.info/top-books-session.php
I own a few of these, they are great resources but I find they mostly stay in the shelf. I’m on the lookout for a copy of the Rubenzer book as it gets referenced from time to time at sessions locally.
Jon

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Re: Good books of Celtic Tunes

‘Hobby horses aside’!! Fab bloody hilarious phrase! Is it yours jond? Haha!!

Re: Good books of Celtic Tunes

Regarding O’Neill’s, I find it reflects the tunes played "on the ground" round here quite well.
Reading music is a good thing, it adds new tunes into a local repetoire. Reading music is educational.
While learning by ear is fine but you only learn tunes that local folk know: its a small world but I wouldn’t want to paint it, as a Scottish philosopher once said.

Not sure what your hear is, brotherhug?

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Allan21 said "Regarding O’Neill’s, I find it reflects the tunes played "on the ground" round here quite well."

I could not / would not claim to have sifted either through O’Neill or enough sessions to know the truth of this. It’s just what I was told by the one "proper" teacher of Irish music (and session stalwart) that I ever had lessons from. He was talking about SW Ireland, and these things do seem to vary from one region to another.

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Oh.
I thought you were expressing your opinion.
Sorry.

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No "Good book of CELTIC tunes" would be complete without "The Fields of Athenry"

😛

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@ Yhaal — isn’t this what it comes down to? "… spend a lifetime … in the pub playing and learning the tunes.
No dots, no ‘ABC’. no YouTube, no recordings."
It isn’t real to me until I am playing with my pals. It is helpful to be able to read music (my ITM journey began with a copy of the yellow spiral-bound O’Neill’s that someone gave me around 1970) and every good musician with whom I play can read the dots. But when I ask for the source of a tune it invariably comes back as a reference to a player or a performance, and seldom a book. I haven’t looked at O’Neill’s for years.
@ Allen21— "… learning by ear is fine but you only learn tunes that local folk know…" You could tell that to Micho Russell, Martin Hayes, and any number of wonderful musicians who mastered "the smaller world" before they moved out into larger musical circles. If indeed they ever did leave the smaller world. The old guys made wonderful music out of what we’d consider a limited repertoire. The great Jimmy Noonan, when asked how many tunes you needed to know to play ITM, said: "Three. But you need to know then really, really well." And you can’t do that from tune-books, no matter how many you have.
I play with great musicians in our small world, week after week, and many of the tunes we play are old and common (like us). I realize that not everybody has that luxury and I am grateful for my pals and for the comfort of their friendship and musical skills. Which they didn’t get from books.

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Aye David but we don’t all live in Ireland or have family members with rich and deep connections in the tradition.
In Scotland we have loads of great musicians living here or passing through. We can collect tunes, pass them round but it is useful to cast the net further: going to gigs, festivals, books and youtube gives variety.

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Some years ago I had to spend more time than desired in Dublin airport waiting for my flight. All alone and with nothing to do, I went to a bookshop and bought two Ossian Irish Tune Books, red and green. I waited while reading, whistling and singing the tunes in my head. You can tell me a thousand times that reading dots is not useful, but it gives me very good times.

Now I play many of those tunes, and many more learnt from different sources, and trust me or not, people can tell which tune I’m playing and can even play along with me!

I think that this discussion about reading music is always there because some people are jelous and will never admit that they would love to be able to sing or play a tune by just looking at it.

So, yes, listen to lots of music, and read as many tune books as you want, if you can.

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Just do it all: learn it your own way. It HAS been said before, ad nauseam ad infinitum ad totally boredum: learning from sheet music and learning by ear, are COMPLEMENTARY skills, not just one or the other. Please don’t start on this tired old chestnut again. End of!

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@yhall- I certainly didn’t invent the hobby horse but I know one when I see one ! 😉

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Re: Good books of Celtic Tunes

Try the Foinn Seisiun books, 1, 2, & 3 ( maybe a 4th one now ) which have recorded versions
on CD’s or maybe downloads as well. You can read the sheet music, or listen to the recordings,
or both at the same time.

Re: Good books of Celtic Tunes

Some of these you can purchase in print, download, and many are available free online.
Ceol Rince na hEireann by Breandan Breathnach, Vols 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5
Henrik Norbeck Collection
King Street Session
Bulmer & Sharpley
Irish Music - 400 Traditional Tunes by Stephen Ducke
Bernie Stocks Collection

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Oh, is there a Kingston Irish Tunebook? That’s my surname, must investigate (my forebears from Co. Cork). I think wherever you experience new tunes - reading them in books or listening to them live or on cds - it is all very good. I don’t regret unearthing tunes from books, the notes are not "set in stone" and you can always play them a bit differently as you find good - and introduce them to others of course.

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Although owning a good few tune books, I have to say that this site is still my biggest source of both material and inspiration!

Re: Good books of Celtic Tunes

Links for my own rather haphazard collection of on line Celtic song and tune books are below. I’ve tested them and they all should work for anyone — that is, without being logged in to my google account — and they all work from the preview version of this posting. Not all the materials in Google Books are accessible from all countries; I can only promise these should all work from the USA.

Breton:
https://books.google.com/books?uid=100454840071925516008&as_coll=1014&source=gbs_lp_bookshelf_list

Cornish:
https://books.google.com/books?uid=100454840071925516008&as_coll=1018&source=gbs_lp_bookshelf_list

Irish:
https://books.google.com/books?uid=100454840071925516008&as_coll=1016&source=gbs_lp_bookshelf_list

Manx:
https://books.google.com/books?uid=100454840071925516008&as_coll=1017&source=gbs_lp_bookshelf_list

Scottish:
https://books.google.com/books?uid=100454840071925516008&as_coll=1013&source=gbs_lp_bookshelf_list

Welsh:
https://books.google.com/books?uid=100454840071925516008&as_coll=1019&source=gbs_lp_bookshelf_list

A search on archive.org will retrieve more books like these. I don’t have a convenient collection of links to such materials in archive.org, but they should be easy enough to find.

And though many people reading this will know about it, I include a reminder of Peter Kennedy’s Folksongs Of Britain And Ireland, still available used and in many libraries. Though this is a vocal song book, many of the melodies will be playable as instrumentals, for those interested in Celtic songs, it has the advantage of being one of the fairly rare books that include lyrics in Celtic languages, many for tunes which I haven’t seen Celtic lyrics printed anywhere else.