Session tunes

Session tunes

Hello, I am fairly new to violin, but can play pretty well ( full disclosure, had a jump start,already pianist and vocalist) and would like to sit in on some sessions some day. Is there a short list of some of the most popular tunes played in sessions?
Thanks a million!
Alys

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Re: Session tunes

If you go to the tunes tab, click on the drop down menu and choose a tune type (reel, jig, hornpipe etc), and then click search, the tunes will be sorted, I think, by the amount of tune books they appear in - which is for me equivalent to thesession communities’ version of popularity.
Just remember that some of the very most popular are considered by some seasoned sessioners as cringeworthy and overplayed.

Re: Session tunes

Find a copy of Mel Bay’s Complete Irish Fiddler, by Pete Cooper, and look at the index, with a few exceptions, most of the tunes are session standards. Come to think of it, for where you are developmentally, this would be a useful purchase. Tunes and techniques are graded easy to hard, and comes with CDs so you can hear how the tunes are supposed to sound. One caveat: while he does give some good bowing tips, do not assume that the bowings are writ in stone. Anyway, it’s a good starting point. Matt Cranitch’s book is also very good, and has lots of standards.

Re: Session tunes

As a classically trained musician who converted to ITM about 23 years ago, let me just say that if you call it a violin, and you play pretty well, you’re at least about five years out from actually contributing to whatever session you join. Spend those years not only playing tunes over and over again, but at least 4 to 5 times that much time listening to experienced players, and learning by ear instead of from notation, because the phrasing, dynamics, timing, emphasis, slurring, and ornamentation are what make it sound right, and that is the only way to learn it. You can do it, but it is a LOT of effort to make it sound effortlessly correct.

Also, the "short" list is hundreds of tunes long.

This is not meant to insult or discourage you, because it’s a wonderful journey you’ve started, but to pretend it’s going to be quick and easy is to demean those who have gone before.

Re: Session tunes

type ‘Dow’s List’ into Discussions and you will get 50, or is it 60 well known jigs, reels hornpipes etc from the legendary Dr Dow. I don’t necessarily agree with all the selections but its a good starting place for beginners. And if when sessions start again anyone sneers [or cringes] because you started ‘The Kesh’, ‘Drowsy Maggie’ or Cooley’s Reel ignore them !

Re: Session tunes

oops crossed with GW!

Re: Session tunes

Thanks everyone for the tips and info. Agree… Some popular tunes are truly over played and eye rollers!
My daughter ( Emma), grew up in the Irish Dance World, and subsequently toured with Michael Flatley in Lord of the Dance as well as did the Broadway show with him in 2015. So I I’m pretty familiar with Irish Tunes oh, well especially the set pieces and slip jigs, horn pipes, reels… But more of the song pieces I’m not as familiar with. I know it will take a while before I can play reels up to tempo, but the other stuff i am able to get through. I’ll keep working and listenimg!!! Thanks again for all of your great advice and sugfestions!!
Alys

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Re: Session tunes

I agree with justjim (although I would say call it a violin if you wish. After all it is! I have a violin but I play the fiddle;- i.e., the same instrument ……. A rose by any other name!).
I would also recommend Matt Cranich’s Irish Fiddle book, but I would add, not so much to find out what are the most popular session tunes. They will vary session-to-session anyway. The important thing to get yourself going is to focus first on playing those tunes that you like. because, as justjim said, " the phrasing, dynamics, timing, emphasis, slurring, and ornamentation are what make it sound right, and that is the only way to learn it". You will soon find that as you pick up these skills and patterns that they are easily transferable to other tunes, therefore, focus first on playing whatever tunes you like and WANT to play.

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Re: Session tunes

> Is there a short list

Many, and honestly they are all useless. Take the tunes one at a time as they come to you. You can buy books of a hundred tunes, or 300 tunes, or indeed 1001 tunes, and if they contain the tune you need, so much the better. But a better approach might be to build up your repertoire by taking them one at a time. Does a recording catch your ear? Make a note of the tune and work on it. Attend a workshop, and the same will happen. Go to a session, and you’ll soon notice a few tunes pop up week after week. That’s what creates a tapestry of knowledge (a tradition, even) in your mind, as opposed to a roaring wall of tunes learnt by rote from some waterfall of dots. One at a time.

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Re: Session tunes

Well said Calum and others. Dow’s knowledge was encyclopaedic and his tune memory astonishing. His list probably was a good snapshot for the places he knew and the time - the Irish music scene in New South Wales 15 years ago, for instance. No doubt at all that you’ll find a handful of those tunes played at almost any Irish-based session. But at the next session it will be a different handful.

The idea of 50, 100, 500 essential, approved or standard tunes seems like a great one, but experience shows (see above messages) that it doesn’t really work. It just approaches the problem - and it is a real problem - from the wrong angle. Your taste, your experience, your fellow players (as and when) are what matters, not some imagined canon of tunes you "must" know.

The suggestion that you "must" know certain tunes if you want to be approved of is like the suggestion (other thread) that you "must" play a certain setting of a tune in order not to look like a rank outsider.

Short version: it’s the way you play ‘em.

Re: Session tunes

Alex, why are you talking of Dr.Dow in the past tense? He’s still around and pokes his head in every now and then. Fair enough the last time was 9 months ago, but to look on the bright side that was *ONLY* 9 months ago, and his latest profile update he wrote:-

"UPDATE 2015: Last couple of years I’ve been hugely busy writing and publishing a book and trying to work and study at uni simultaneously, so my social life / tunes life / online life has been put on hold for a while and I’ve been inactive here for some time, very rarely even checking my messages. I’ll be back submitting tunes and commenting when things calm down a bit! Best wishes to all…"

I refuse to think he has gone away. (same thing as Zina Lee… another legend of this site that still pops in every now and again).

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Re: Session tunes

DM me with your e-mail address for a PDF of 100 popular tunes

Re: Session tunes

Gobby asked: "Alex, why are you talking of Dr.Dow in the past tense?"
Yep, sorry, should have made it clearer. It’s almost 11 years since I left Sydney where I moved to a certain extent in the same circles as Mark. So it looks like the past to me, though of course not to others. Plus the fact that his activity here has long been tiny compared to the large amounts of posting he used to do. But I assume he is around in some sense - I was notified only a couple of days ago about a paper he published.

Re: Session tunes

Jeremy said

"Here’s a list of the most popular tunes on The Session, going by what’s been added to tunebooks:
https://thesession.org/tunes/popular

And here’s a list of the most popular tunes on recordings:
https://thesession.org/tunes/recordings"

This site is a powerful tool in several ways, and getting a handle on the "real world" repertoire is one of them, as Jeremy demonstrates there.

Ask 10 people for lists and you’re likely to get 10 somewhat different opinions. For one thing each local session has its own favourites.

In contrast to session-specific local popularity, this is an international site and it’s hard to beat it for getting a gestalt of the worldwide popular session repertoire.