Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

Just wondering, as this appears to be one of the dangers to be wary of for participants in "slow sessions".

Re: Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

For me, the problem is not hackneyed tunes. Such tunes have stating power for a reason. The sin is playing the same tune every session.

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Re: Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

There is so much wrong in this question, I don’t know where to begin. 🙂

I suggest you take up knitting instead.

Re: Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

Learn them all - just don’t play them all.

https://thesession.org/tunes/popular

Re: Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

What?

No.

The tunes that can sound overplayed and tired are some of the best tunes. The next time you find yourself swearing at Morrison’s Jig, listen to the Bothy Band’s recording of it.

Re: Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

The Great British Bake Off theme

Re: Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

Definitely not!

"The "bog standard" tunes vary from session to session.

It’s best to learn a variety of tunes, preferably those you like. Also, try and get an idea of whatever gets played at your local session too.

Arguably, it’s just as problematic to have a stack of less common tunes which you have learned on a course/music class which seasoned session players might not even know!

Many tutors "Here in Scotland" tend to avoid the more common tunes when teaching as they expect students to learn these themselves. So, you’ll get the learners coming together and playing these less common in their own sessions. These will in turn become just as "tired" to them even although they are not that well known to musicians in general… They will also prove to be less "useful" on your travels too.

So, basically, learn as many tunes as you can whether they be old, new, popular, or obscure. The import thing is that you like them yourself.

Re: Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

> Many tutors "Here in Scotland" tend to avoid the more common tunes when teaching as they expect students to learn these themselves.

A less charitable interpretation is that it’s much easier to teach a class by turning up with an obscure tune and spending two hours sorting out the notes than actually teaching them anything about technique, theory, or idiom (an overgeneralisation, yes, but it’s not uncommon).

On the question itself, I would avoid "bog standard" lists not because they are boring - quite the opposite - but because they don’t represent the repertoire of any real session. Just turn up to wherever, don’t be an arse, and pick up the name of a tune or two to learn every week. It’s an organic, long term process, and attempting to prepare for it in advance doesn’t really make much sense, unless it’s one of those sessions that circulates a list of its own common repertoire.

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Re: Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

I can tell you this, as someone who learned Irish music while also learning their respective Irish music:

For fiddle: In the beginning, I had no direction of which tunes to learn, so I leaned the tunes that I heard at the session. Yes I attended a slow-session in those days. Most of those tunes, I now would consider to be intermediate and higher level. At the time, I didn’t realize how difficult those tunes were until I posted a discussion here about having issues with them, and several of the members refused to believe I was playing them and insisted that I posted videos of my playing to prove my integrity. I also did not develop the appropriate skills to play any of those tunes properly until I was eventually exposed to novice level tunes that allowed me to cultivate basic, essential skills.

For concertina: I immediately started taking online classes from the OAIM.ie. That way, I got to learn a bunch of novice levels tunes in all of the main keys. But I didn’t just learn novice level tunes. I also learned beginner, and low-intermediate tunes too; BEFORE learning the wild stuff. There are a dozen reasons why I will always feel more at home on the concertina than on the fiddle, and this is one of them. There’s just something about having a fluid and consistent learning progression that lends itself to developing a well-rounded skillset. Avoiding learning things means avoiding learning opportunities, avoiding developing skills, and avoiding building competency. I wouldn’t recommend avoiding ANY of those things.

Also, even "bog standard" tunes can be fun to play if you’ve developed the skills to know how to turn them out. The only music I avoid learning is music that I don’t like and music that is not to my taste.

Re: Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

*while also learning their respective instrument

Re: Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

Learn the tunes you like. Ignore the rest. Answer to the question is "no".

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Re: Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

No.

Re: Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

Why avoid ‘learning’ them? If you can play them, try playing them at sessions and you’ll see what happens… If they don’t go down well, then play them in different circumstances…

Re: Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

Ok who here loves the Irish Washerwoman

Re: Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

Me. As always, depends how it’s played. Listen to Dermot Byrne or Paddy Fahey’s settings. USA fiddler Jim Eagan recorded an excellent version. It’s listed here as being on over 100 recordings, including those by Aggie Whyte, Johnny Connolly, John Doonan and many prominent Donegal musicians[eg Glackin, Doherty, O’Shaughnessy ]. If it’s good enough for them…… But as I said above, if you don’t like it, leave it.

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Re: Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

I would just say to everybody: play tunes you like at a speed you can cope with. Nothing worse than apparently experienced players playing just a touch faster than they can cope with or missing out triplets etc to be able to play faster. It’s an infectious mindset that velocity is the most important quality

Tunes can be played well or badly, however well known. I would keep a list of what comes up at your local session and concentrate on learning a few that are likely to come up again and again. I suppose it depends on whether you want people to join in or you want to give a ‘performance’. If you want to play solo, pick something nobody has heard of in a key that many instruments can’t adapt to easily. But if you want to play with other people, work out what the common core of tunes is

If you are a genuine beginner, just trying to get started, most people will be supportive of you even if you do want to have at go at a couple of tunes that may not choose themselves. But don’t overplay your hand. It’s a session not a workshop

Re: Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

Somebody up top made the point that a lot of these tunes are standards for a reason: they’re good tunes. I cycle through my repertoire, as I’m sure everybody does. It’s fun to come back to tunes I learned 25 years ago. And since I’ve improved as a musician over time I find I can do more with them.

Re: Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

Agree with that: just because someone plays a tune one learned 25 years ago, and maybe people play it at nearly every session doesn’t make it a "no-no" or boring tune. To paraphrase an old quote: "When a man is tired of xyz tune, he is tired of life". (And that could apply to women too!)

Re: Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

I saw someone mention the Irish Washerwoman earlier. like many tunes, it can be played beautifully or badly. unfortunately it really got the Irish Spring Soap treatment a while ago and hasn’t necessarily recovered. If you can dig up a copy of "Two Gentlemen of Clare Music" it’ll shed whole new light on that tune.

so yeah, I love that tune.

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Re: Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

Like Yogi Berra used to say "Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded." 😉

My perspective on this is that the standard tunes became standard because they are great tunes. One of the problems that we have with them are that they are often the first tunes that people learn, and thus they’re often played fairly poorly. (Heck, I was playing probably almost 10 years before I really started to go back and figure out how to express the tunes I learned early on in a more eloquent way. After having played them so many times exactly like I learned them, they were pretty well ingrained in me that way, and learning to play them better was more difficult than I would have thought…)

I get very weary of playing the same tunes all the time, but when you’re starting out the standards might be the only tunes you know well enough to play in a session. And if you go to a session regularly, those tunes will get played regularly. There’s nothing wrong with that, unless you’re not being inspired to learn the other tunes that you’re hearing in between the standards… And if a particular session is primarily comprised of less experienced players, the session repertoire is often very heavy on the standards, and won’t have that much variety from week to week.

But the rub is that the standard tunes are where the more experienced players will start gravitating toward if they’re having trouble finding tunes in common with new or unfamiliar players. And it’s expected that you will know them.

So don’t avoid the standard tunes, embrace them!

But also, don’t feel like you need to learn those tunes first. Looking at the top 30 in the current list of most "popular" tunes here (meaning the tunes that have been added to the most tunebooks), I think I probably learned about half of them in my first year or two of playing, but by then, I was playing in sessions, and I learned the rest of those tunes just from repeated exposure over the next few years. But at the same time, I was also learning other, less common tunes, because that is what the players at the sessions were more apt to play.

So Kenny’s advice is a good one. Learn the tunes you like. That’s the most important thing. But be aware that you will find yourself in situations where it is expected that you’ll know the standards…

Re: Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

Life is too short to learn tunes you don’t like (unless you are paid to do it). Learn the tunes you like and enjoy playing. Learn the tunes your friends play so you can join in with them.

Re: Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

Don’t worry about that stuff. All the standards are welcome. And for beginners, those are exactly the tunes to focus on.

Just play with good time, and learn a new one for every time or two you come back, so you’re not always starting the same ones!

Re: Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

One of my older friends in Scotland used to say, "The auld sangs are the best. They should write mair o them."

I have played in sessions in several countries, and my experience is that while many people probably accept that there are bog standard tunes, not everyone will agree on what they are. I remember hearing an Irish fiddler in Leeds playing The Boys of Bluehill. I always thought this was one of the most boring tunes ever, but he made it vibrant and interesting, Sometimes it just needs a new take on an old tune to make it anything but boring.

Re: Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

I wouldn’t call ‘em "Bog Standard", I would call it "Common Repertoire"? If you want everybody to play together and participate (instead of a bunch of people sitting out), I think it’s nice and friendly to play a commonly known tune. But of course nobody wants to spend their time playing the same common tunes over and over every week…it’s interesting to hear / learn other people’s favorite tunes. The sessions I’ve been to, have been a mixture of common tunes and its regular members’ known tunes. I think it’s fine that way, and I have never seen anybody shun a beginner for playing a common tune!

( Stuff I did at my first sessions … Noodled along trying to learn tunes on the spot. When asked to play something, played fiddle theme from "Last of the Mohicans" (was informed that it’s Scottish). People were very polite, they were like, "Come back again!" but they were probably thinking "Please don’t come back again!" 🙂

Re: Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

"I remember hearing an Irish fiddler in Leeds playing The Boys of Bluehill. I always thought this was one of the most boring tunes ever, but he made it vibrant and interesting, Sometimes it just needs a new take on an old tune to make it anything but boring."

Or just hearing it played at a nice lively tempo! Sometimes it’s not over-familiarity that kills interest in beginner standards, but hearing them regularly played at too-slow tempos. I almost never hear "The Road to Lisdoonvarna" played at a lively tempo in local sessions, because it’s usually called by a beginner or suggested for a beginner, and then played at a deadly slow pace that sucks the life out of the tune.

Beginners do need time to develop skill on their instrument and increase tempos, so this can’t be avoided at "slow sessions" or sessions that will always accommodate beginners at their own pace. But if there’s a tune you’ve been avoiding because it’s considered a bog standard tune for beginners, and if you can play up to dance tempos, try exploring some of these old chestnuts at a lively tempo. You may discover what’s been missing.

Re: Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

@cancion -
"Stuff I did at my first sessions … Noodled along trying to learn tunes on the spot". Best not to do that.

"When asked to play something, played fiddle theme from "Last of the Mohicans" (was informed that it’s Scottish)". Was that a problem, or was it that no one else played it ? Certainly is Scottish, I assume you’re meaning the tune composed by my old school buddy Dougie MacLean, which has subsequently become known as "The Gael", post "Last Of The Mohicans". Not a common session tune, even here in Scotland. As I recall, Dougie originally composed this as a piece of music to accompany a slideshow when they opened the Loch Ness Monster exhibition in the Scottish Highlands. As it wasn’t a piece of dance music, it only originally had a single part. Somewhere along the line someone in Hollywood heard it and thought it would work for a sequence in "Last Of The Mohicans". Dougie got a gold disc for it, and it used to be on display in the "Taybank" bar in Dunkeld, Perthshire when Dougie owned it. He has followed it up adding a second part to make it more of a dance tune, but as I don’t think he has recorded it yet, that is not well known. There are dozens of recordings , of various quality, on Youtube, but in all honesty, it’s not a good tune to start up if what you were in was an Irish session.

"People were very polite, they were like, "Come back again!" but they were probably thinking "Please don’t come back again!" That’s a bit pessimistic, the positive spin on that would be "learn the tunes we’re playing, then come back again".
Hope this helps. Kenny.

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Re: Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

"The auld sangs are the best. They should write mair o them."

I LOVE that!

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Re: Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

Kenny, thanks for the backstory on The Gael. I like knowing that it was originally for a Nessie exhibit.

I’d heard somewhere that the movie makers initially stiffed Dougie on credit and payment for the tune, using it without first getting permission. But the version of the film I just pulled up on YouTube credits it as written by Dougie, arranged and adapted by Trevor Jones. So the rumor is perhaps false.

I agree that The Gael would be a bit of an odd choice for an Irish session but can vouch that here in the States it gets the punters’ attention. The look on their faces says, "Oh, that one’s familiar…wait, why do I know a Celtic tune?!" 😀

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Re: Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

> Or just hearing it played at a nice lively tempo! Sometimes it’s not over-familiarity that kills interest in beginner standards, but hearing them regularly played at too-slow tempos. I almost never hear "The Road to Lisdoonvarna" played at a lively tempo in local sessions, because it’s usually called by a beginner or suggested for a beginner, and then played at a deadly slow pace that sucks the life out of the tune.

This is very, very true of polkas. Done to death by beginners in a plodding, sludgey mess and then cast aside once they get a bit better because "reels and jigs are more difficult!" A good set of polkas beats just about anything else going.

Re: Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

Reminds me of when I was busking on fiddle and someone asked for "that song from Titanic" - I started bumbling around with what I could recall of that Celine Dion song, which wasn’t much … next day, I realized that he would have meant Denis Murphy’s/John Ryan’s Polkas ….

Re: Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

@Kenny,
Thanks!
Was listing my actions ironically as in, the "crazy things I did when I was a beginner - before I learned " 🙂
I don’t know why anybody didn’t just come right out and tell me, "shut up and don’t noodle!" or "Scottish/Celtic is not the same as Irish Trad!"

By the way, found a video of the Gael being played by your friend Dougie MacLean. (It’s all beautiful…but the jig starts at about 1:25):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ILartpx2b0

Re: Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

meself -they could also have meant Blarney Pilgrim or Rakish Paddy……………?

Re: Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

I can’t agree with this comment enough:

“ Life is too short to learn tunes you don’t like (unless you are paid to do it). Learn the tunes you like and enjoy playing.”

But to answer your question (are there lists of the most popular tunes), there’s a useful function on here to see the most popular ones:

https://thesession.org/tunes/popular

Or lots of “popular lists”, one of the often recommended ones being Dr Dows list here:

http://www.cheakamus.com/Ceilidh/Downloads/Dows_List.pdf

Re: Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

I found my first twenty tunes to be very difficult to learn. They were all my favourites but also intermediate/irregular/crooked/odd key tunes. I did have lists of the simple and more popular ones but I actually just couldn’t remember them. One of them was basically alternating bass with a couple of extra notes -but where did those extra notes go? Couldn’t remember! 🙂

The ‘easy-popular’ tunes seemed to have a wide variation in settings -maybe this would be a issue for experienced players?
Though I’d imagine the occasion simple tune where everyone can join in would be welcomed in most parts.

I agree with others that it’s great practice to find a couple of different easy tunes and just repeat over and over, with others or with the metronome. Really get a solid rhythm into muscle memory.

Re: Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

Another resource for "easy" tunes is Shannon’s first 50 collection. they aren’t all super standard tunes, but they are all lovely to hear, and without undue technical challenges.

https://shannonheatonmusic.com/product/first-50-bookrecordings-download/

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Re: Is there a list of Bog Standard tunes that beginners should avoid learning so as not to bore more experienced players at sessions?

"It’s much easier to teach a class by turning up with an obscure tune and spending two hours sorting out the notes than actually teaching them anything about technique, theory, or idiom."

I’ve found in teaching workshops and individuals that there’s a built-in hurdle using tunes that the students already play: they have the tunes deeply ingrained in their muscle-memory. Sometimes it’s impossible to teach them anything about technique or idiom because they play their muscle-memory version over and over no matter what the teacher tries.

It’s far easier and saves much time to give out a tune they’ve not heard; they’re learning a tune and new techniques and an idiom as a gestalt. (It’s not just me! It’s a well-established teaching method to teach a new tune as a vehicle for learning a new technique or other aspect of style.)

If somebody takes two hours to sort out the notes of a tune they don’t know how to play their instrument and/or have no musical ear. Workshops on technique and idiom assume basic proficiency, I should think.