Your Favorite Tunes in the “Flat” Keys. FMaj, BbMaj, Gdor, Gmin

Your Favorite Tunes in the “Flat” Keys. FMaj, BbMaj, Gdor, Gmin

If I can say that the piano and I have been “renewing our vows” over the last 2 years, then it’s also safe to say that the violin and I have been “separated pending divorce” during the same period. After picking up the concertina, and going on what could be considered my 2nd “deep-dive” into The Music, I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue playing fiddle. With the piano not going anywhere, and the concertina being so much more at home and me being much more fond of it’s tone, I just didn’t see myself having the time or desire to continue with fiddle. But there was another issue.

I do like playing fiddle, a lot. And where there are plenty of tunes that enjoy immensely on concertina, there is still those tunes that I think I would rather play on fiddle. The other issue is that I didn’t want to continue playing fiddle because I never got comfortable with playing. No matter how good my peers tell me that I sounded, there was always creeping tension and eventually pain. To make a long story short, I’ve discovered that I have tight shoulders, as well as a tight backline that stretches all the way down to my hamstrings. I’m thoroughly confident that this is the true cause of my discomfort.

So I’ve had to make a choice. Give up playing fiddle, and run away from a glaring health issue that is only going to get worse; Or take up the gauntlet of focusing on my health and fitness for a few years, and claim the musical ability that is waiting for me. I’ve since decided on the later. The reason why i’m asking for tunes in flat keys is because this is pretty much where I left off when I stopped playing. I was learning Kevin Burke’s setting of “The Girl Who Broke My Heart” in Gmin, roughly #9 here…
https://thesession.org/tunes/669

At that point, I decided that I was done until further notice. The discomfort was just too much. And goodness, I know more tunes in EMaj than those three flat keys combined. So now i’m ready to face the challenge again, this time with a complete yoga regimen that i’m committing to as part of my instrument practice. Now I just need some material to practice. What are your favorite tunes in the flat keys?

Re: Your Favorite Tunes in the “Flat” Keys. FMaj, BbMaj, Gdor, Gmin

None of there following are Irish , but these are some of my favourites on site here.

“Loch of Lumgair” - https://thesession.org/tunes/12664 is a very happy jig in Bb.
“Lady Charlotte Campbell” - https://thesession.org/tunes/18437 is a great Bb strathspey.

Loads of reels including:
“Mitton’s Breakdown” - https://thesession.org/tunes/10410 in Bb
“The Bridge of Inver” - https://thesession.org/tunes/21239 in Bb
“The Isle of Skye” - https://thesession.org/tunes/18410 in Bb
“Archie Menzies” - https://thesession.org/tunes/10689 in F
Not everyone’s cup of tea but there’s “Catharsis” - https://thesession.org/tunes/703 in Gm

And, of course, there are loads of great flat key hornpipes including
“Fisher’s” - https://thesession.org/tunes/872 (F setting)
and
“The Beeswing” - https://thesession.org/tunes/945 (Bb setting)

Finally, a great slow tune in Bb:
“Leaving Lerwick Harbour” - https://thesession.org/tunes/1874

Re: Your Favorite Tunes in the “Flat” Keys. FMaj, BbMaj, Gdor, Gmin

Some flat tunes played around here:
Seanamhac Tubestation https://thesession.org/tunes/280
Road To Monalea https://thesession.org/tunes/2878
Humours of Westport: https://thesession.org/tunes/47
Splendid Isolation: https://thesession.org/tunes/200
Black Pat’s (we’ve played in G lately, but used to play it in F when fiddlers had the critical mass) https://thesession.org/tunes/966
Culfadda (same G/F situation) https://thesession.org/tunes/1523
Dave Collins (usually in Bb): https://thesession.org/tunes/354
The big Drunken Sailor: https://thesession.org/tunes/553

Honestly though, my favorite tunes in flat keys tend to be when we transpose a tune usually played in a “normal key,” like playing Musical Priest down in G minor. I love the way open strings surface in new places in the melody and in low drones, and can give a well-worn tune a whole new feel.

Re: Your Favorite Tunes in the “Flat” Keys. FMaj, BbMaj, Gdor, Gmin

On the broader note of the tension you’re feeling when you play fiddle, it sounds like you’re being smart in focusing on the source of discomfort and eventual pain. Have you worked with an experienced fiddler to address any issues in the way you’re holding the instrument and your body, in addition to focus on breathing and releasing tension?

Re: Your Favorite Tunes in the “Flat” Keys. FMaj, BbMaj, Gdor, Gmin

Don’t understand the question. Any tune can be in a “flat” key, any set can be in flat keys, and entire CDs and concerts occur in flat keys. Like the b-flat recordings of Mick O’Brien and Caoimhin O’R, like tons of East Clare recordings in the flat universe of C, F, d minor, g minor, etc. Or the Mulcahy family often playing in E-flat/A-flat, etc.

Do you mean, originally composed in a flat key? Well, Josephine Marsh’s “Phyllis’ Birthday” in F comes to mind.

Re: Your Favorite Tunes in the “Flat” Keys. FMaj, BbMaj, Gdor, Gmin

Some say Alexander Technique is very good. Might be useful if you have a local contact -
https://alexandertechnique.com/

Re: Your Favorite Tunes in the “Flat” Keys. FMaj, BbMaj, Gdor, Gmin

benhockenberry:

I’ve taken workshops and short-term private lessons for fiddle over the years, but never consistently enough to eradicate my issues with tension. I had first started suspecting that it was a uniquely personal issue when I learned what “open shoulders” look like. A healthy person with fully-open shoulders is able to clasp their hands behind their back, and raise their arms up from their back at a 90* angle. When I started my back and leg stretches, my hands could barely even touch each other. Raising my arms from my back wasn’t happening at all. I’ve had to learn 3 different stretches just to start working on improving that movement. But as that movement improves, so is the tension alleviated. Note: I went through a similar process with my neck, and my neck is open at this point; But that wasn’t enough to totally eliminate the issue with tension, not by a long shot.

Re: Your Favorite Tunes in the “Flat” Keys. FMaj, BbMaj, Gdor, Gmin

John Stephen of Chance Inn: originally in F, which is fine for me on piano, but I play it in D on my B/C box.
Josefin’s: also in F as played by Vasen, but mostly played in G in sessions.
And another vote for Leaving Lerwick Harbour in its original key of Bb: one of our session players does it in D, but it does sound a bit too high.

Re: Your Favorite Tunes in the “Flat” Keys. FMaj, BbMaj, Gdor, Gmin

Ceemonster:

You’ll have to excuse me, that’s just the theory talking. In piano we refer to keys GMaj, DMaj, AMaj, EMaj, etc… as “sharp” keys… and FMaj, BbMaj, EbMaj, AbMaj etc… as “flat” keys, because of the way they are notated on the Circle of Fifths/Fourths. So yes to your question, tunes originally composed in a flat key.

Re: Your Favorite Tunes in the “Flat” Keys. FMaj, BbMaj, Gdor, Gmin

Some that I enjoy playing: Galway Bay Hornpipe , Factory Smoke, The Night Before Larry Was Stretched, Golden Castle, Kathleen’s Fiddle, Lough Key, the Wonder Hornpipe.

Re: Your Favorite Tunes in the “Flat” Keys. FMaj, BbMaj, Gdor, Gmin

Darn you Fiddlers and your playing in all of the keys

Re: Your Favorite Tunes in the “Flat” Keys. FMaj, BbMaj, Gdor, Gmin

Note: keyed flutes are chromatic. It may not be easy but playing in flat keys can be done. It just takes some work, sometimes a lot of work. I wish I was better at it. Maybe using some time to learn a familiar tune in a flat key would be better than learning yet another new tune. It certainly won’t make one a poorer musician. If learning another tune makes you “deeper”, learning in new keys would make you “broader”. How can that be a bad thing?

Re: Your Favorite Tunes in the “Flat” Keys. FMaj, BbMaj, Gdor, Gmin

I’m really fond of how wonderful F & G-min sound on the flute. Different keys have very different feeling, and I don’t know if it is psychological or emotional. Possibly we are hearing the character (flaws?) of the different notes. The flat keys are not as easy as the keys of G or D, but with a bit of work you can get the little finger more agile, and train up the pesky Bb with your thumb.

As Boots suggested, Factory Smoke/Ebb Tide (D-harmonic-minor), Galway Bay.
As Benhockenberry suggested, Black Pat’s, which sounds much nicer in F.

It’s the harmonic minors that I really love.

I like Annika’s Butterfly, which is in D-harmonic-minor resolving to F in the second half.
Roslyn Castle D-minor (harmonic) into Miss Gordon of Gight
Jump at the Sun
Crabs in the Skillet
Eileen Curran is normally played in F, but I actually prefer it in G where I can actually play it at speed, which forces the fiddle players to the second position.

Re: Your Favorite Tunes in the “Flat” Keys. FMaj, BbMaj, Gdor, Gmin

That’s so funny. I’ve been glancing at this thread and not responding until I went back and read Jerone’s original post (because I didn’t land on the thread @ the beginning). My first thought when I saw the title was ‘Kevin Burke’ because I like how he plays with flat keys and such. Even the tune you mentioned, Jerone. I keep finding reasons to appreciate Kevin’s repertoire. That’s so funny.

Also I like lots of whistlers who play on Bb and F whistles. Always have, always will. The F whistles are probably a more recent thing; last 20-25 years. That’s when I called Goldie & bought my Overton.

edit:sorry, forgot to mention my tune. It’s Frailach as played by KB.

Posted by .

Re: Your Favorite Tunes in the “Flat” Keys. FMaj, BbMaj, Gdor, Gmin

Paddy Fahey’s Jig
Seanamhac Tube Station
Lord Rossmore’s Tally-Ho In The Morning

Re: Your Favorite Tunes in the “Flat” Keys. FMaj, BbMaj, Gdor, Gmin

I remember one night many years ago when I forget my Flat Keys and had to book into a hotel for the night… 🙂

Seriously though, there are a lot of nice tunes in “flat keys” for the clarsach and the instrument is actually tuned in Eb. Sometimes even in Ab “Here in Scotland” as this was the older “Traditional” tuning.

You can also accompany tunes on the GHPs quite easily too without having to change any levers. Also, when I’m at home, I’ll often just transpose many of my other tunes to the flat keys at times when I’m too lazy to change the levers. 🙂

Re: Your Favorite Tunes in the “Flat” Keys. FMaj, BbMaj, Gdor, Gmin

Just a few off the top off my head:
Paddy Fahy’s (reel) - https://thesession.org/tunes/2940
Factory Smoke/Brown Coffin - à la Martin Hayes
Rakes of Cashel - https://thesession.org/tunes/12766#setting21622 (I’ve never played it with anyone else - yet)
Terry Crehan’s - https://thesession.org/tunes/3973 (not played this one either)
Sheep in the Boat - https://thesession.org/tunes/2576 (you have to transpose it to Gdor)
Crabs in the Skillet - dark in Gdor, a killer in Cdor!

…plus a bunch of other tunes that I’ve forgotten to mention, and then some from my darkest sources.

Re: Your Favorite Tunes in the “Flat” Keys. FMaj, BbMaj, Gdor, Gmin

Forgot to mention the two very nice Lad O’Beirnes tunes, one in F, the other in G-minor. Among my favorite tunes are 3 out of 4 LO’B compositions.

Re: Your Favorite Tunes in the “Flat” Keys. FMaj, BbMaj, Gdor, Gmin

Thank you everyone for such generous sharings! I particularly liked that Dowd’s Favourite in Gdor video posted by DrSchlock. I’ve gotten to listen to a handful of these tunes so far and I’m liking what I’m hearing. I had music practice with a friend yesterday, and am now on my way to a long set of tunes busking; So I’ll have to come back to this later and get some sets ready for practice. Thanks again everyone, ya’ll always keep a guy covered!

Re: Your Favorite Tunes in the “Flat” Keys. FMaj, BbMaj, Gdor, Gmin

To become comfortable with flat keys, play English Country Dance music, Barnes books, Playford books, etc. Every key, Bflat, Gminor, Fmajor, Cminor (Mary K!). As bonus, you get to play the D-flat-major chord (yes!) on this tune: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJ9zqcqPxNk


Closer to home, take any major-key irish tune and minorize it. Just do it! This one is a classic:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqFKZYjSi0Q

Re: Your Favorite Tunes in the “Flat” Keys. FMaj, BbMaj, Gdor, Gmin

Mary’s Shoes, an F jig, is a favourite.
When I first started playing Irish music I came across a cassette by P.J Hernon. It was recorded specifically for set dancers. He was playing a C Melodeon so all the tunes were in C or F. I fell in love with his playing of ‘‘Maggie In The Woods’’ and learnt it in F, not realising the rest of the world plays it in G!

Re: Your Favorite Tunes in the “Flat” Keys. FMaj, BbMaj, Gdor, Gmin

Hey Jerone,

I applaud you for working around your physical defects. I have a “frozen” right shoulder myself, but fortunately that doesn’t affect the fiddling.

Here are two tunes that I think are very beautiful. I’ll mention this - I like to play these easily and relatively slowly rather than fast and jumpy. That way they are more meaningful to me, and I think to listeners, too. And don’t be intimidated by the high quality of playing in these clips. The tunes are beautiful even without the ornaments.

In Memory Of Coleman (Ed Reavy):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arRSE1ewUhw


Paddy Fahey’s Jig:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KIIFdneLL4


Good luck and good playing.

Posted by .

Re: Your Favorite Tunes in the “Flat” Keys. FMaj, BbMaj, Gdor, Gmin

A few from the Scottish tradition:

I play these two as a set:

Mrs Forbes, Leith
https://thesession.org/tunes/17960
Just Cook For Yourself
https://thesession.org/tunes/21795

The Bobers of Brechin:
https://thesession.org/tunes/7635
(ostensibly composed by William Marshal though I do wonder if it started life as a pipe tune)

And a couple of contemporary ones:

First Rule of Box Club
https://thesession.org/tunes/10711

Blackberry Festival Footrace
https://thesession.org/tunes/13910
(I haven’t heard many people play this but everyone I’ve heard tends to melodic rather than natural minor, FWIW)

Posted by .

Re: Your Favorite Tunes in the “Flat” Keys. FMaj, BbMaj, Gdor, Gmin

Mr. O’Connor, by Turlough O’Carolan
The tune is No. 113 in “Carolan: The life, times and music of an Irish harper” by Donal O’Sullivan, Ossian 2001. This was originally written in Gmin, but the Session has it transposed to Emin - https://thesession.org/tunes/400

Posted by .

Re: Your Favorite Tunes in the “Flat” Keys. FMaj, BbMaj, Gdor, Gmin

I’ve been fairly immersed in the musical tradition of Cape Breton lately. Some of my favourite “flat key” tunes include Miss Hutton’s, The Marquis of Huntley, Dowd’s Favourite, and Tommy’s Tarbukas:

Miss Hutton’s + Dowd’s (3:01 onwards): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzyevcuy288

The Marquis of Huntley + Dowd’s (1:50-3:31): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNILa7hllaA&;

Tommy’s Tarbukas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofajr_HJsBk