Tunes in G minor, D minor and the like

Tunes in G minor, D minor and the like

While waiting for my wooden Gabriel flute, I decided to get a 6-key polymer M&E - which I received a couple of days ago after a 10-day wait (!, simply the shipping time) and which fully met my expectations. Perfectly in line with what I could read here and there, it is a sort of tank (heavy, solid and robust) with great tone, intonation and ease of play - except for the operating of the keys, which (according to many) are higher and harder to play with respect to higher-priced flutes. Anyway, I am 100% satisfied with the flute, which will certainly do the job for which I mainly got it: practising with the keywork.

Here comes the point of my post. Does anybody have any suggestions on favourite tunes in G minor or D minor or any other good key/mode for practising with keys on the flute?

This is what I am working on at the moment:

Roslyn Castle, Slow Air (https://thesession.org/tunes/4150)
Crabs in the Skillet, Jig (https://thesession.org/tunes/1082)
Paddy Fahey’s, Jig (https://thesession.org/tunes/532)
Paddy Fahey’s, Reel (https://thesession.org/tunes/463)
Julia Delaney’s, Reel (https://thesession.org/tunes/589)

Suggestions on slow airs and easy tunes would be particularly welcome, though actually any tune would be interesting.

Thanks.

Re: Tunes in G minor, D minor and the like

The one that makes me wish I had a keyed flute (or was much better at playing my button accordion) is Ed Reavy’s Lane to the Glen: https://thesession.org/tunes/2805

Re: Tunes in G minor, D minor and the like

Sergio, just in case you don’t know: if you go to the Tunes tab on this site, select a particular key, and hit search, you will get a list of all the tunes on here in that key.

G minor is popular with fiddlers because you get to use the bottom G string for maximum darkness, so a lot of them will be a pest on the flute, but it’s worth a dig through.

The other thing that occurs to me is you might (if you are interested) look at Scottish fiddle collections, which (I would guess) tend to use flat keys more often than in the Irish tradition.

Posted by .

Re: Tunes in G minor, D minor and the like

The J.B. Reel — https://thesession.org/tunes/1972
This is a lovely tune in F# Dorian (I think?) that can be played slower or faster. Alastair Fraser has it both ways on his Skyedance album, and Altan has a fast one on the Runaway Sunday album. I like it slower, but that’s also the only way I can play it as I’m not that accomplished with keys on a flute.

The J.B. is a good workout on the G# and Eb flute keys. It has two low C# notes in the first part that you would need an 8-key flute for, but you can either "fold" those low C#’s up an octave or just work around them.

Re: Tunes in G minor, D minor and the like

There are some good G minor versions of tunes usually played in A - such as The Star of Munster. There’s a nice Gm hornpipe on If the Cap Fits which Martin Hayes also recorded

Re: Tunes in G minor, D minor and the like

Several that we have played recently:
Roddy’s Last Trip (Sandy Brechin) - G min
Mrs Ferguson of Raith - G dorian https://thesession.org/tunes/3057
Fubu Mazurka (Thierry Mirebeau) - G min
Leaving Brittany (Johnny Cunningham) - D min

Re: Tunes in G minor, D minor and the like

I just learned a nice version of "Hole in the Wall" from an English Country Dance group in B-Flat. Sounds lovely played slow and stately on the harp and I’m sure it would translate nicely to flute as well.
It’s outside the Irish tradition, of course, but I suspect you’ll have a lot better luck finding stuff in flat keys from the continent or that other island.
The Session has it in G, but here’s a link to B-flat sheet music https://tunearch.org/wiki/Annotation:Hole_in_the_Wall_(1)_(The)

Re: Tunes in G minor, D minor and the like

I have noted my thoughts on playing with flat keys at my profile page.

GDorian and DDorian tunes do tend to make use the low C note. You can fold it, which often works fine.

I’ve been working on "Lane to the Glen", but it is not easy to play at speed on keyed flute. JB Reel is a bit twisty in GMinor; it’s much easier in AMinor.

I really the tunes in the keys of F and G Dorian including:
Lad O’Beirne’s
Lad O’Beirne’s in FMajor
Eileen Curran (Easier in A-Dorian, if you can get the fiddle players to jump to second position.)
Factory Smoke/Brown Coffin (Hornpipe in G-Minor) Good entry to 2-Flats.
Seanamhac Tube Station
Neckbelly
Annika’s Butterfly

D Minor/Dorian:
Porthole of the Kelp
Raven’s Wing (A minor)
Hole in the Hedge

Re: Tunes in G minor, D minor and the like

What does folding a low c note mean?

Re: Tunes in G minor, D minor and the like

"Octave-jumping" is another term for "folding" Vechey. Play a C-note as a c-note.

Re: Tunes in G minor, D minor and the like

Well, lots of great suggestions - thank you so much. Tom, I went through the inspiring notes in your profile and I fully agree on your thoughts on playing keyed flutes, especially as for the benefits to the grip: thanks for sharing them.

Re: Tunes in G minor, D minor and the like

One thing to keep in mind: yes you can look at the sheet music to a reel in a flat key, as it would be played on fiddle, box, or banjo and diligently play that setting note-for-note.

Just realise that even some of the best Irish fluteplayers in the world (like Matt Molloy) can be heard NOT doing that, but making changes in the melody to facilitate playing it.

As you may well know, the Long F key was added later specifically to facilitate passages like going between D and F which on the older flute required the lower-hand ring finger to hop off its hole and strike the Short F key.

However I’ve heard some of the best players use the Short F even though their flute had both F keys, and restructure their tunes so that F is approached from E rather than D.

A perfect example is this tune. Here on the sheet music you can see going from D to F, but Matt Molloy plays D E F due to using the Short F key.

https://thesession.org/tunes/1554

You’ll hear some very good players pick their battles so to speak, wisely choosing when to use F natural and when to use F# (even though the key signature suggests that all the tune’s F’s should be natural).

Though I realise that practicing flat-key tunes as they would be played on other instruments has the value of forcing you to practice more F naturals and B flats than you would end up using than if you learned the tune from a fluteplayer.

Re: Tunes in G minor, D minor and the like

(Yes I know multiple versions of The Yellow Tinker are there, including ones with the D E F passage.)

Re: Tunes in G minor, D minor and the like

There’s a nice G-minor setting of The Wounded Hussar (aka Capt. O’Kane) in Peter Cooper’s book, Mel Bay’s Complete Irish Fiddle. Some where I stumbled across Charles Nicholson’s version of Roslin Castle, with variations, in C-minor (I’ll stick to E-minor, thanks).

Re: Tunes in G minor, D minor and the like

Hi Richard, thanks for the tips. Actually, I never look at the sheet music: what I am doing with the tune suggestions in this thread is search Youtube for a version I like (possibly not on the flute), learn it by ear and then adapt on the flute trying to stick as much as possible at the original setting. Thanks also for The Yellow Tinker suggestion! - I’ve found a great version by Cormac Begley.

Mackeagan, Roslin Castle in D minor is relatively easy on a keyed flute and a good exercise for the Fnat and Bb keys. Nicholson’s version (probably not the same that you refer to) is here: http://www.oldflutes.com/articles/roslincastle.htm (sheet music) and here: https://youtu.be/jGShrM9gGmM (played by Kate Steinbeck).

Re: Tunes in G minor, D minor and the like

Hello Sergio. Hope you like your M & E. Many wonderful tune suggestions here so I have nothing to add. I would like to add a bit to the notion of folding the C. Sometimes skipping to the c alone is a bit discordant while playing the whole figure in the higher octave makes a smoother statement. So too can playing a higher passage in the lower octave. I suspect you might already know that. On your new flute you will be able to reach, with practice, all the way up to the third register g or at least the f nat/f#. Note that whistles play up there all the time so extending the range can be quite useful. Or if you don’t want to interfere with that nice dark and reedy feel of the lower register you can most often substitute the E (the 3rd). I do that often enough even though I now have the C. The flute is a lovely instrument. Good for you for wanting to use it to its fullest.

Re: Tunes in G minor, D minor and the like

The version with Fnat and Cnat of Capt. Kelly and Loftus Jones, by O’Carolan using the G#

Posted by .

Re: Tunes in G minor, D minor and the like

Hi Ross, I’m definitely enjoying my M&E (thank you for your suggestions some months ago) and am absolutely convinced of the choice of switching to the full (keyed vs keyless) instrument at this stage. Thanks also for the tips on folding the C: that will be useful!

Hi Jayl, thanks for the tunes!

Re: Tunes in G minor, D minor and the like

About "folding" it’s interesting to hear the various ways fluteplayers approach such tunes.

Matt Molloy proves that if you have a strong and even tone and flawless fingering, folding can sound smooth and seamless, even though there are wide-interval leaps involved.

The player who struck me most with this is Paddy Carty. Even though his flute had low C and low C# keys, he can be heard, where a tune goes DCD (Bottom D > low C > Bottom D) playing DcD (Bottom D > middle c > Bottom D) which is an interval of a 7th. I would have used my low C key, or cranned Bottom D.

The other thing is to play notes a 3rd above the too-low notes, such as playing DCD as DED.

There’s a reel, what’s it called? I’m bad with names. I’ve heard fiddle box etc play one section

D Major | ~F3A ~G3B | AGFD CDEC |

and I’ve heard pipers and fluteplayers take that one section a 3rd up

D Major | ~F3A ~G3B | AGFD EFGE |

which melodically works very well.

Re: Tunes in G minor, D minor and the like

"Folding" a note on flute you can’t reach is an interesting topic, for sure. When I’m playing flute at home along with my fiddler S.O., I’ll often use the octave jump for a low C# or Cnat because it blends well with the fiddle playing the base note. I have those two keys on my flute, but it’s easier to fold the note.

When playing solo, I tend to use a harmonized note like a third interval, or just holding the preceding note longer. To my ears, that often does less damage to the tune than an octave jump. At least my octave jumps, not being another Matt Molloy in technique. 🙂

There are a few tunes that I just don’t try to play on flute and use mandolin instead, because there are too many low notes that are essential to the tune, and don’t sound right folded or harmonized. Some of the Cape Breton tunes for example, that go all the way down to the open G string on fiddle.

Re: Tunes in G minor, D minor and the like

Interesting discussion indeed. When I am playing alone I tend to shift up an octave a full phrase or a part of it that I want to preserve (e.g., the entire 4th bar |fded BdAB| in Home Ruler).

I’m having some issues with Fahey’s reel, though. In the setting that I am playing, the first phrase of the A part ends in FDCF|D, the second frase ends in FDDE|D. Of course, no problem with the second ending; but the first one, I would like to keep it in the bottom octave. Some possibilities are: FDEF|D (harmonizes well with the original) or FEDE|D, or of course FDcF|D. None of them fully satisfies me. I’d be curious to hear what would you play in this case.

Re: Tunes in G minor, D minor and the like

Hello Sergio, here my suggestion, at the moment I’m working on a set of Gdor/Gmin reels played by Paddy Carty & Conor Tully on the CD "Traditional Music Of Ireland" https://thesession.org/recordings/1547
Dowd’s Favourite https://thesession.org/tunes/229
In Memory Of Coleman (Ed Reavy) https://thesession.org/tunes/619

I’m also working on Catharsis reel in Gmin (Amy Cann) https://thesession.org/tunes/703. But even if it’s quite popular among the fiddlers of my area, I find it somewhat boring…

I used to play The Splendid Isolation reel in Gmin (Brendan McGlinchey) https://thesession.org/tunes/200 and A Tune For Frankie (Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh), a great slow tune in Gmix https://thesession.org/tunes/1885 (the first tune here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsd8nlPJSx8&feature=emb_logo)

Re: Tunes in G minor, D minor and the like

You can traspose tunes to the other usual keys in Irish Traditional Music.
There are many combinations of this, but for example you can take a very simple polka in G Major and traspose it to A Major. You can use mandolintab to traspose the music score. With that you will have to play the keys with your flute and you will still be playing in one of the session keys.

Re: Tunes in G minor, D minor and the like

Great suggestions Ceuranar, thanks!

Thanks Fernando and Will for your suggestion too!

Re: Tunes in G minor, D minor and the like

"FDCF|D…
Some possibilities are FDEF|D…"

Nice. Not only does that preserve most of the phrase intact, it’s also a typical flute motif.

I tend to roll my way out of tight spots, as it were, and I could hear myself doing

FD~F2|D

in other words FD then a short roll on F.

Or even further afield, but nicely flutey, putting in a long roll:

D~F3|D

Re: Tunes in G minor, D minor and the like

Interesting, thanks!

Re: Tunes in G minor, D minor and the like

Hey,
I really like Dragon’s teeth. It’s on the session in Gmin, Dmin, and Amin.
Hope it helps! 🙂
ETR

Re: Tunes in G minor, D minor and the like

Thanks Ewan