tunebook 797 tunes.

I’ve come all the way from a place where the crack was scarce but all the more magic and valued.
Music and traditional musicians have given me much -and a taste for more. I try to give something back.
I play French and increasingly Irish and Highland pipes and the wooden flute. I busk a lot, for food and fun, in the now thinning shade of Eyjafjallajökull’s ash cloud and under the ever growing yet hopefully partly reversible menace of global ecologico-economico-psycho-political collapse (who fears to be grave).
I listen to all sorts, but my repertoire consists of mostly Irish, Scottish, French and Breton dance tunes with West-Mongolian and Mu Araean melodies thrown in for good measure. (Beauty knows no measure!)


Help needed and given;
I’m interested in mouth-music, lilting, canntaireachd, port-a-beul, turlutte, you name it. Songs for dancing (the ‘tongue in feet stuff’ as I call it) as well as nonsense lilts, mnemonic tune names & ‘wee rhymes’ (the ones used for teaching steps or drumming for instance). If you have any specific or general reference on the subject, please drop a line. I have a fully referenced list of such lilts and ditties in the making for anyone interested.

I’m presently working on ‘The Trad Trump Book’: A compilation of -mostly Irish- tunes which can be comfortably played in the ‘overtone modes’; using the scale natural to the jaw’s harp and similar instruments.

I give ‘hedge music’ workshops (website forthcoming) and diphonic singing workshops (sygyt, kargyraa, etc) in the Belfast-Dublin area and beyond. I’m also available for concerts; French & Acadian ballads, throat-singing with an Irish twist, basic Breton balls and early & contemporary pipering. -Give me a shout if you’re interested.

ABC grammar:

& offers ‘show score’ option but no ‘sound test’…

*X: eg; 1
*T(itle): eg; Bucks of Oranmore, The
*C(omposer): eg; Liz Carroll
A(uthor of lyrics): Anon.
*M(eter): 9/8 & Meter Change eg: | [M:4/4] dB…|
*L(ength -default unit): 1/8
Q: tempo (^/min.), eg;
*Z: transcriber,
N(otes -max. 6lines):,
*R(hythm): eg; Reel
*K(ey): eg; Amaj Bmin Dmix Edor & mid-tune change [K:] (see /tunes/65..)

nnnn & nn nn etc: grouping the notes together
| | | | : bars
:| & |1 nn: |2 nn :| & |: :| : repeats & endings & repeats within bars
| | & [|… |] : double & end bars

ABC vocabulary:
(the n’s here stand for the notes: DEFGABcd…)

a=A440 & C=middleC Note that octaves change on c’s: C,,C,Ccc’c” whatever the tonality
flat/natural/# (♯): _ /=/ ^ & ‘J’: ‘slide up’ (ABCMus2.0)
z: rest:
n/ & n>n & n<n: ‘semi’ & ‘pointy-semi’(rather than n3/2n) & Scotch ‘snap’
dotted {(2 in compound time}: n3/n3/ (cf4344)
(3nnn: triplets (3SnnnS (not needed?)
triplets? (cfNo10): *B3 <SP>:
Other Divisions: cf1113.,
Syncopated rolls, see:
!fermata!: fermata, birds eye, pause (see !Symbols! at:
‘bowing’*: (nN) + vA uA: !paradoxically to the tip and from the tip + ‘hold’: Hn
slur*: n-n (after the note regardless of what follows)
chord: [nN] + guitar chord: "before the note", see:
X: 2/K: part harmony:/V: 1/|…||/V: 2/|…||
"text above stave"
Lyrics: W (in block)
international characters: Irish: áÁ, éÉ, íÍ, óÓ, úÚ & Gàidhlig; àÀ, èÈ , ìÌ, òÒ, Ùù. &: ©çñâêîôûäëïöüdøå检$§°¿¡
Max lines: 13 (? cf; tune 404)
{n}: grace note(s), NB: avoid ~n (a gruppetto, not a roll)
staccato: .n
‘paragraph’: ‘!’ vs. ‘\’ (keeps two lines together) + mid-bar repeats: [ :|
" ’ ": breath

Teach yourself: & &

Tune-search: & &


I’m listening ‘in’ to the vacuum cleaner: its eery sound seems to coincide with the disappearance of my Ma: This warrants intervention. I can remember calling (i.e.; tentatively if instinctively edging my lungs and mouth muscles against the mysterious sound: I have no memory of hearing my own voice). By the time she is by my cot, the white noise has stopped.

Here is my second earliest ‘musical’ memory, at about the same tender age;
I’m watching snow flakes streaming through the sky, pouring down the heavens. While the endless, apparently source-less flow is a puzzle to me, I take its soft, high melodious jingle for granted. The flakes are dancing to their own music and I’m listening.
Well. It didn’t happen quite like that. It felt more like "I looked at a sound": And it couldn’t be heard. The fast flock of free-falling flakes’s tremendous silence together with the incomprehensible genesis of thick snow born out of that unfathomable sky flung bright open the doors of utter mystery.
And that’s not it either. For from that moment I knew. I knew I had eyes that couldn’t see, and ears that couldn’t hear. I reached out inside my mind and it felt empty: truth had vanished from this nest. And I knew from now on I would have to adopt, and compose with other people’s own adoptive answers, their yarns and guesses. My mind -its own thing still- saw the soul: unstick: turning willfully, and slowly, into an echo chamber for those other voices; the educators’ refrains, the epoch’s beliefs, the milieu’s mood… I didn’t feel cheated by this separation: Only baffled.
Y fue a esa edad… Llegó la música …
From then on, music -fully ‘heard’ for the first time around the time of this epiphany (in the form of a Baroque concerto played on the family gramophone)- only music, like love, food or the heat of sunshine, like Lance Hanson’s ‘long lost lute finally found’, would and could, could and would fill and fulfill me.


Does Dick at the desk knows he’s deaf?
I’ve always much preferred acoustic to electric, i.e.; amplified, gigs. This may be due to the fact that 90% of the sound-check ‘professionals’ who officiate unquestioned, have never actually had their ears checked…
If (bad) sex is a bit of a taboo subject, what qualifies the systematic public ear-rape that’s going on in our concert venues and the conformist, non-consensual denial that accompanies it?
We’re not talking mere substandard sound reproduction here, but criminal levels of decibels.

A few ‘classic’ tips to beginners:

My favourite instrument has got to be the voice, with the violin a close second (both have an incomparable potential for non-tempered scales). I’ve been happily practicing the fiddle for the last five years now, avoiding frustration, at last, by following the simple advice: "practice a little, often", focusing on only a few tunes or technical details at a time. I discovered, like many a one before, that the so called ‘learning curve’ in music more often than not resembles a featureless plateau which must be crossed until things mysteriously ‘click’ and you’re flying!
In other words: Relax, since practice and patience pay. Give up reasoning and you will know (-how).
Stay focused. Let it flow!

If you want to fast-forward to playing (very) fast, practice slowly; it’s the only real short cut (acquired mistakes and bad habits are notoriously hard to get rid of). Heed these words whether you’re a beginner or not, and remember that ‘the ear is the mother of the hand’ (or ‘the mother of the voice’, if you’re a singer), and that socialising, especially musical interaction, is to human beings what photosynthesis is to plants; the growing, blossoming factor!

‘Éist le fuaim na habhann agus gheobhfaidh tú breac’ ~ Listen to the river and you’ll catch a trout.


Useful Links: disambiguation Highland pipe repertoire ‘Fiddler’s Companion’ Cajun cousins, etc
Dots (Irl):
Notes (Fr):

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