tunebook 285 tunes.
Irish born and raised. My weapon of choice is whistle.
I also play a bit on an Olwell flute and a Martin Preshaw practice set.
My preference definitely tends toward the pure drop, and I generally prefer my tunes to amble along, swing, bounce and bend, rather than trying to rip a hole in the space-time continuum.
If you can only go to one trad music festival in Ireland, it HAS to be Joe Mooney in Drumshanbo in July!
Here’s a couple of clips of my playing:
Reels - The Gooseberry Bush / The Limestone Rock
Reels - The Crooked Road to Dublin / The Ravelled Hank of Yarn
- ‘SessionBuddy’ Java Library -
I have built a Java ‘helper’ library called SessionBuddy for querying the API here at thesession.org and parsing the JSON response into an easily usable structure. I hope it might make life a bit easier for any Java developers looking to incorporate the API into their projects.
The SessionBuddy JAR and source code can be found on GitHub at https://github.com/ColmanOB/SessionBuddy
Please note that SessionBuddy is a hobby project and a work in progress, so it may contain bugs and is not intended to be used for any kind of commercial application.
If you are a Java developer and would like to contribute to the development / testing / maintenance of the project, please feel free to get in touch either here or via GitHub.
- Recommended Listening -
A recurring topic on the forum is new whistle players looking for advice on who to listen to, or where to pick up tunes. Here is my advice, for what it’s worth:
Don’t limit your listening to whistle players. Listen to flute players and uilleann pipers too - they tend to play "whistle-friendly" tunes and settings and many play whistle too. When I started learning whistle I listened to a lot of:
- Liam O’Flynn (solo and as part of Planxty)
- Paddy Keenan (solo and as part of the Bothy Band)
- Matt Molloy (solo, as part of the Bothy Band, and in a few duo/trio recordings too)
- The duo of Mick O’Brien & Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh (you’ll need whistles in B and Bb to play along with their recordings, but they’re essential listening)
- The duo of Ronan Browne & Peadar O’Loughlin (again you’ll need, I think, a B whistle to play along)
And that’s only a handful of the musicians I listened to. Listening to those guys though will help you build up a solid repertoire of traditional tunes.
In terms of musicians who specifically play whistle, any aspiring whistle player in my opinion should listen to all of the following to hear how they approach the tunes, and get a taste of many very different styles of whistle playing:
A very influential and highly regarded player who I have often heard credited with helping the humble tin whistle gain more credibility as a ‘serious’ instrument in its own right. She has a few tutorial books too.
Donncha Ó Briain
Probably my personal favourite - a seriously stylish player who was a master of melodic variation within tunes, and by all accounts a great character too.
Legendary Co. Clare player, sounds better the more you listen to him, so persevere if his music doesn’t quite grab you on first listen.
A Co. Sligo player with an unorthodox sound and a very smooth ‘rolling’ legato way of playing and some interesting takes on tunes. You’ll have to dig around online to find recordings of his playing. As I understand it, he was a major influence on flute player Seamus Tansey.
I’m not sure whether he was from Sligo, Roscommon or Leitrim, but it was somewhere up around that area of the country. He had a very rhythmic traditional style, and has composed some great tunes that have become firmly implanted in the tradition. He played flute among other instruments as well, but his whistle playing is well worth a listen.
A Roscommon man with a very playful, fun way of playing. He has an album out there that was apparently recorded while under the influence of alcohol if the stories are to be believed (I don’t know if that’s true!), and there are a couple of blogs/sites out there where you can find recordings of his playing.
A player with a great repertoire of tunes and a very unorthodox style of playing with lots and lots and lots of tonguing. I’m not sure I’d personally want to emulate his style with all that tonguing, but he’s a great and unique player who’s definitely worth a listen.
Best known as an uilleann piper, but a great whistle player too. He’s another one of those who you might not fully appreciate on a first listen, but the more I learn about this music the more I think he was a really huge influence on those who came after him.
- Some of my own compositions -
Here’s one of the first ‘trad-style’ tunes I wrote:
T: The Devil’s Delight
C: Colman O’B (Dec. 2012)
|: ded ~B3 | GAB ~D3 | ~D3 BAG | ABA AGA |
ded ~B3 | GAB ~D3 | EFG AGF | GBA ~G3 :|
|: dgg dgg | agf efg | edB edB | dBG ~A3 |
dgg agf | efg edB | GBd ~g3 | edB ~G3 :|
|: ded ~B3 | ded ~A3 | ded BAG | AGE ~D3 |
ded ~B3 | ded ~A3 | G (3Bc^d gfg | edB ~G3 :|
This one wasn’t inspired by anything or anyone in particular, but was named after a few epic weekends of craic and booze in Ranelagh on the south side of Dublin. It’s in the main tunes database here:
The member "Slainte" has also turned this jig into a reel:
T: The Humours of Ranelagh
C: Colman O’B (March 2013)
|: DGG BGG | Bdg edB | DFF AFF | fed cAF |
DGG BGG | Bdg ede | def gdB | cAF ~G3 :|
|: ~g3 Bdg | Bdg ~g3 | ~f3 ~a3 | fed cAF |
DGG DAA | (3Bcd g ~e3 | def gdB | cAF ~G3 :|
Here’s a slip jig I put together. I named it in memory of an incident when I lived in London a few years back. I was out walking with a friend around Portobello Road in Notting Hill, and stepped in the squishiest, most scuttery pile of dog sh!te I ever saw and actually slid along the footpath. My friend nearly convulsed with laughter at the sight, and to this day she laughs her head off whenever the incident is mentioned. I very recently had another gross encounter of the turd kind, and first thing I did was email that old friend and told her "I just stepped in a big pile of shite, and it reminded me of you!" I’m not sure whether it’s in Dmix or Gmaj or what…
T: The Portobello Slip
C: Colman O’B (March 2014)
R: slip jig
dge dBG ~B3|ded dBG AGA|dge dBG ~B3|cAc BGE ~D2B|
dge dBG BAB|ded dBG ~A3|dge dBG BAB|cAc BGE ~D2A|
Bdg edg edB|Bdg ~e3 aga|gab age dBG|cAc BGE ~D2A|
Bdg edg edB|Bdg ~e3 ~a3|gab age dBG|cAc BGE ~D2B|
Here is a reel I put together, named for the day my first nephew/Godson was born:
T: The First Day of Summer
C: Colman O’B (May 2013)
| DG (3GGG AGBd | gffg dBGB | ceee dBGA | BAAG AcBA|
| DG (3GGG AGBd | gffg dBGB | ceee dBGB | ABBA ~G (3Bcd ||
| gdBd edBd | gbaf gedB | ceee dBGA | BAAG G~A2 (3Bcd |
| gdBd edBd | gbaf gedB | c2ec dBGB | ABBA ~G3E ||
And a reel named for my favourite spot for a few Friday night tunes. Glasson is not far from Athlone, on the way towards Ballymahon/Longford
T: The High Road to Glasson
C: Colman O’B (Jun. 2013)
|: EAAB cABA | EGDG EGDG | EAAB cded | cABG EAAG :|
| eaag abag | eaag edBA | ~G3 B dGBd | gedB BA ~A2 |
eaag abag | edef g2fg | a2 ge dBGB | cedB ~A3 G |
This one popped into my head after a week of playing tunes and drinking at the Joe Mooney festival in Drumshanbo. This year the temperatures were through the roof, and town was absolutely infested with wasps during the week. On more than one occasion I had to fish a dead wasp out of my pint, so I thought it would be a nice title for a tune!
T: The Wasp in the Pint
C: Colman O’B (Aug. 2014)
| BdcA FDDE | ~F3G ABcA | BdcA ~G3e | fdcA dBcA |
(3Bcd cA F~D3 | FEFG ABcA | BdcA ~G3e | fdcA dABc |
| d~g3 fdcA | dgfg afge | d~3G dGeg | fdcA d2 Bc |
| d~g3 fdcA | dgfg afge | defg ~a3g | fdcA d2 cA |
A hornpipe that I think I wrote, but that has echoes of one or two tunes that are already out there. It is named for a particular mist that rises from the Shannon around Athlone early on those rare still, sunny summer mornings. I don’t make a habit of being up early when I’m down that neck of the woods, so this phenomenon would typically be observed by me on my way home after an extremely late night!
T: Morning Mist on the Shannon
C: Colman O’B
| AG | FEDF AFDF | GFGA BGED | GBdg ecAF | GBAG FAEA |
| FEDF AFDF | GFGA BGED | GBdg ecAF | G3F G2 :|
|: (3Bcd | g3e dBGB | cBAG FADA | g3e dBGB |cedB A2 (3Bcd|
| g3e dBGB | cBAG FADA | GBdg ecAF | G3F G2 :|
And in keeping with the theme of waterways around Athlone:
T: The Shores of Lough Ree
C: Colman O’B (March 2014)
|: GABG cABA | GBdB c2AG | FDAD BDcA | (3BcB (3ABA (3GAG (3DEF |
~G3B cABA | GBdB c2Bc | dged cAFD | [1 AG G2 DE :| [2 AG G2 (3 Bcd ||
|: ~e3d edBA | gfga bgaf | Add^c defg | ~a3f gedB|
~G3B cABA | GBdB c2Bc | dged cAFD | [1 AG G2 (3 Bcd :| [2 AG G2 DE ||