Greg the Piano Tuner

tunebook 24 tunes.

-fiddle, flute, and whistle

-Boston area

-first joined this site in 2005, and still trying to learn the tunes

-public school music teacher, piano tuner, orchestral double bass player, choir singer

-my hobby is ham radio, and my callsign is WA2EHV.

-also enjoy music, art, literature, wine, baseball, lap swimming, home repairs, travel, backyard grilling, and trying to teach myself Latin
What follows is the famous “Dow’s List”, originally posted by Dow, one of the Yellow Board’s most influential members. I put it here so I can find it. It was very helpful to me when I first began to play trad.
Core session tunes

Some people have approached me at the session asking for a list of session standards, so I’m posting one here for anyone who wants to use it.

What follows is a list of 60 bog standard tunes which all session musicians at any level would be expected to know at any session anywhere in the world. There are certain tunes that get played in sessions for the purpose of involving everyone, whatever your level, and these tunes perform that function since it’s expected that everyone present will know them. These are the tunes that have been “done to death” at most sessions, so people will be surprised if you don’t know them, even if they don’t say it to your face 🙂 People will be even more surprised if the same tune gets played the following week and you still haven’t learnt it. I’m not trying to exclude anyone here - I’m simply explaining the reality of the situation; there are certain tunes you just *have* to know if you’re serious about playing Irish music, even if you end up hating these ones so much you never want to play them 😀

Of course that’s not to say you have to know a certain number of tunes before you can come to the session. But if you’re a beginner, just make sure you have these tunes down as soon as possible. Bring a recording device to the session if you like, and if you want to learn a particular tune, ask someone to play it slowly into the recorder so you can learn it at home. I’m sure any of the regulars would be happy to do that, provided that they know the tune of course 🙂

So please make sure you *at least* have these core tunes under your belt. These have been picked from a list of hundreds of session standards, and believe me it was very hard to cut it back even to 60. There are thousands of tunes in the session repertoire and this really is the bare minimum to get you started. Alternative titles are in brackets and composer names are in square brackets.


The Banshee [James McMahon]

The Bird In The Bush

The Bucks Of Oranmore

The Concertina Reel

The Congress

Cooley’s (Luttrell’s Pass)

The Cup Of Tea

Drowsy Maggie

Farewell To Ireland

Father Kelly’s (Rossmore Jetty)

The Foxhunter’s

The Gravel Walks

The High Reel

The Humours Of Tulla

The Maid Behind The Bar

The Man Of The House

The Merry Blacksmith

Miss McLeod’s

The Mountain Road [Michael Gorman]

The Pigeon On The Gate

Rolling In The Ryegrass (The Shannon Breeze)

Saint Anne’s

The Sally Gardens

The Silver Spear

The Star Of Munster

The Wise Maid (All Around The World)


Banish Misfortune

The Blackthorn Stick

The Blarney Pilgrim

The Cliffs Of Moher

The Connaughtman’s Rambles

Donnybrook Fair (The Joy Of My Life)

The Irish Washerwoman

The Kesh

Lannigan’s Ball

The Lark In The Morning

The Lilting Banshee


My Darling Asleep

Out On The Ocean

The Pipe On The Hob

The Rakes Of Kildare

Tripping Up The Stairs


The Boys Of Bluehill

Harvest Home

King Of The Fairies

Off To California

The Rights Of Man


The Choice Wife (An Phis Fhliuch)

Drops Of Brandy

The Foxhunter’s

The Kid On The Mountain


The Butterfly

The Rocky Road To Dublin


Merrily Kissed The Quaker’s Wife

The Road To Lisdoonvarna


Denis Murphy’s


John Ryan’s (The Keadue)

The Rakes Of Mallow

# Posted on November 30th 2006 by Dr. Dow