Best 15 Irish Tunes to Learn?

Best 15 Irish Tunes to Learn?

Hi All,
Hope you are all safe and well.

What are the best 15 - 20 Irish Tunes to Learn as a Beginner Bordering on Intermediate.
I know Down by Sally Gardens, Foggy Dew, The Butterfly, Dawning of the Day and Immigrants Daughter.

There is so, so much to learn. Smiles.

Kindest regards to you all.

Re: Best 15 Irish Tunes to Learn?

Off to Califonia, King of the Fairies, A Fig For A Kiss, Cliff of Moher, Cooley’s Reel, Drowsy Maggie, Inisheer, The Kesh, Star of Munster, Swallowtail, The Silver Spear, Si Beag Si Mor, Morrison’s Jig. And any tunes that you know by heart or like.

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Re: Best 15 Irish Tunes to Learn?

Some of my favorites

Youtube: Celtic Hymn by Aural Axiom. You can type "Celtic Hymn tin whistle" and it will usually bring it up.
The Parting Glass by The High Kings
Red is the Rose by The High Kings
Scarborough Fair by Celtic women
Out on the Ocean jig

Alright, this little woman is all tuckered out. Good night!

Re: Best 15 Irish Tunes to Learn?

Hi DadsMusik,

Your question is by no means silly, but be very cautious about the answers. You can easily end up with a list of 50, or 100, or 200 tunes that someone or other thinks are "essential". At that point you can get frustrated, lost and start to feel inadequate. There are (perhaps not here, I hope not, but out there in the world) even people who will sneer at you for not knowing several hundred tunes. Don’t get caught on the barbs of *their* insecurity!

The next step on the downward spiral is to spend a lot of energy learning tune after tune in a grasping, loveless chase, believing, perhaps unconsciously, that you will in that way cover up not yet being a fast, strong player. Worse still, it’s possible to do that without paying attention at all to the quality of ones playing.

No! If you can play 15 or 20 tunes with charm and vivacity people will say, "Hey, DM, play us that set of jigs (or reels, hornpipes, slides, whatever it is) you played two weeks ago!" If your playing still lacks musicality, people will be at best indifferent, no matter how many tunes you can churn out.

That is why I’m not adding my own favourites to those above, though I’d say that Freya’s suggestions are a good start. If there is anyone that you play with, learn the tunes that *they* know and that you like. If you are on your own, just pick up a few tunes that are at least moderately well known (there are hundreds to choose from) and that *you* like. Don’t be put off if some people call them daggy, hackneyed, overplayed or boring. That depends largely on how you play them!

Though on second thoughts perhaps the Irish Washerwoman really is hackneyed! 🙂

Sorry if that’s not really an answer. No doubt more suggestions will flow on this thread…

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Re: Best 15 Irish Tunes to Learn?

15 that you like.

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Re: Best 15 Irish Tunes to Learn?

Hi All,
The link to Dow’s List does not exist anymore. Can someone please email it to dadsmusik@yahoo.com.

I am really grateful for all your input on my request.

Thank you so much.

Re: Best 15 Irish Tunes to Learn?

The link to Dow’s (https://thesession.org/members/4763) list given by Dutchie above works for me. It has this.

Dow’s 50 (Actually 60) Essential Tunes

Reels
1 − Banshee, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 7)
2 − Bird In The Bush, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 177)
3 − Bucks Of Oranmore, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 28)
4 − Concertina, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 94)
5 − Congress, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 35)
6 − Cooley’s (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 4)
7 − Cup Of Tea, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 36)
8 − Drowsy Maggie (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 1)
9 − Farewell To Erin (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 52)
10 − Father Kelly’s (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 221)
11 − Foxhunter, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 55)
12 − Gravel Walk, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 13)
13 − High, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 103)
14 − Humours Of Tulla, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 136)
15 − Maid Behind The Bar, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 9)
16 − Man Of The House, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 77)
17 − Merry Blacksmith, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 32)
18 − Miss McLeod’s (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 38)
19 − Mountain Road, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 25)
20 − Pigeon On The Gate, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 39)
21 − Rolling In The Ryegrass (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 71)
22 − Saint Anne’s (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 22)
23 − Sally Gardens, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 21)
24 − Silver Spear, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 6)
25 − Star Of Munster, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 24)
26 − Wise Maid, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 42)
Jigs
27 − Banish Misfortune (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 8)
28 − Blackthorn Stick, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 56)
29 − Blarney Pilgrim, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 20)
30 − Cliffs Of Moher, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 33)
31 − Connaughtman’s Rambles, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 11)
32 − Donnybrook Fair (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 84)
33 − Irish Washerwoman, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 40)
34 − Kesh, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 2)
35 − Lanigan’s Ball (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 264)
36 − Lark In The Morning, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 30)
37 − Lilting Banshee, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 43)
38 − Morrison’s (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 5)
39 − My Darling Asleep (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 47)
40 − Out On The Ocean (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 19)
41 − Pipe On The Hob, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 162)
42 − Rakes Of Kildare, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 130)
43 − Tripping Up The Stairs (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 48)
Hornpipes
44 − Boys Of Blue Hill, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 27)
45 − Harvest Home, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 18)
46 − King Of The Faeries (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 23)
47 − Off To California (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 37)
48 − Rights Of Man, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 12)
Slip Jig
49 − An Phis Fhliuch (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 166)
50 − Drops Of Brandy, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 123)
51 − Fox Hunter’s, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 91)
52 − Kid On The Mountain, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 17)
53 − Butterfly, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 3)
54 − Rocky Road To Dublin, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 64)
Slides
55 − Merrily Kissed The Quaker (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 46)
56 − Road To Lisdoonvarna, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 49)
Polkas
57 − Dennis Murphy’s (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 116)
58 − Egan’s (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 89)
59 − Ryan’s (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 50)
60 − Rakes Of Mallow, The (thesession.org Tunebook Rank: 167)

Re: Best 15 Irish Tunes to Learn?

Just sent it. Enjoy, Denis

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David50- Liked your reply. I’m curious to where the rank numbers came from and how they are established. Am I overlooking something on the Tune pages?

Re: Best 15 Irish Tunes to Learn?

@Michael The Whistler. I just copied and pasted the first page from the link above. The link also has the dots for each tune. I guess the ranks were from https://thesession.org/tunes/popular at the time the page was made up.

I think the original discussion with the list is this one https://thesession.org/discussions/13056 If you search the site for Dow’s List there are other discussions on the pros and cons of lists.

Re: Best 15 Irish Tunes to Learn?

I prefer to think in sets. I find a tune I like and then find 2 more tuned of the same type that fit with the first. We rarely play tunes by themselves,

Re: Best 15 Irish Tunes to Learn?

I’ll elaborate on what Kenny said.

Look for inspiration by searching for some good whistlers on Youtube, say. Mary Bergin is one.

When you find some tunes you like, try them out. But realize you won’t be able to play them as well as those you’re hearing. Leave out the ornaments and strip them down to the bare tunes - check them out on TheSession, for instance, once you hear some you like.

Also, don’t try to do too much too fast. Take your time learning and always listen to what the music is telling you.

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Re: Best 15 Irish Tunes to Learn?

Learn your tunes by ear and remember that the ornaments ARE the tune. Nothing is set in stone.

Re: Best 15 Irish Tunes to Learn?

And again - does anyone know whatever happened to Dr Dow?

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Re: Best 15 Irish Tunes to Learn?

By the same means, for a while there I had wondered, " does anyone know whatever happened to Steve Shaw"… good to hear from you again Steve.

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Re: Best 15 Irish Tunes to Learn?

Dow’s is a good basic list as long as you just want to play jigs and reels all night - but the polka and slide department is minimal and mazurkas, barn dances, highlands, marches, set dances and O ‘Carolan tunes apparently don’t exist at all. But I guess its still a handy intro to those new to Irish trad.

Re: Best 15 Irish Tunes to Learn?

I would add there’s nothing worse as a beginner/intermediate then slogging away at a tune it would be useful to know but you just don’t love.

Personally I would go through Dr Dow’s list above on e.g. youtube and simply pick the ones you instantly start humming/toe tapping (eg I’m always attracted to hornpipes, you could be different), and learn those only in the short term/ignore the rest.

You’re far more likely to stick with it that way and keep the joy of playing Irish music. Once you’ve learnt a few more, you’ll start noticing patterns in the music and find the others much easier to get a grip on.

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That’s a good post and the last sentence is very true.

Thanks, Gobby. I’m not as involved in playing music any more as my hearing has deteriorated in the last few years, but I still try to maintain my, er, chops at home…

Re: Best 15 Irish Tunes to Learn?

If you’re planning to play with others, choose the tunes you like and they play.

Re: Best 15 Irish Tunes to Learn?

Hi All,
Thank you so much for your kind input.
I really hope this post helps many other people who are new to Whistles and Irish Tunes.

Kindest regards to you all and stay safe.

Re: Best 15 Irish Tunes to Learn?

Listen to as much ITM as you can - youtube and irish radio (ceili house, rolling wave, clare fm etc)
Make a note of tunes you like and add them to your learning list.
If I hear a new tune and can remember some of it the next day, that is a definite for my learning list.

Re: Best 15 Irish Tunes to Learn?

"Best 15 Irish Tunes to Learn?"

Any tune that take you to the next one.

My personal list today will be based on the instrument I have in mind, and is likely to be different tomorrow, and the day after and so on.

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I am a (somewhat) beginner and am going through Matt Cranitch’s book to learn the tunes that he suggests as he chose them to be in an order to get to know the tune types easiest.

I care way less about learning 15 jigs if I can’t play the simple ones with the pulse and feeling of a jig.

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Hey Steve, I also was very pleased to hear from you - it’s been years since we played together at the Tree. (it’s Ben the button box player - son of Andrew, not t’other Ben the piano box player!)

Really glad you’re still playing, albeit at home. At least nobody there will comment on any bum notes.

Take care of yourself,

Ben