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Thread: Reliable source of tunes as played at sessions in the UK

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    Default Reliable source of tunes as played at sessions in the UK

    I'm a long time-bodhran player who played in sessions for many years in Glasgow but have been away from the scene for a while. I've recently become the happy owner of an OM and, while it was originally bought for accompanying songs, I have a hankering for learning some tunes and seeking out a session to play in again.

    Digging through my hard drive I've found a few collections of music for tunes but (and I'm aware this is to be expected with trad tunes) they all seem to be different:

    Dow's list: https://thesession.org/discussions/32793
    John Walsh's Collection: http://www.ceolas.org/pub/tunes/tune...ssionTunes.pdf
    Paddy O'Brien's Sets: http://www.ceolas.org/pub/tunes/tunes.pdf/POB.pdf

    I'm no great musician, so learning tunes by ear is beyond me at this stage. I'm going to have to combine the dots with recordings to learn them.

    So, I ask: are these documents a good place to learn the tunes as I'll hear them played in a session, or is there somewhere better?

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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reliable source of tunes as played at sessions in the UK

    I like Dow's list as a good introduction to the more popular tunes in general, but then you run into a problem if you're planning on joining a local session. People who have been playing together long enough, will usually move on from the popular tunes into a more localized and ever-changing repertoire. People don't want to be playing the same standards over and over, unless it's a designated slow/beginner session. If you've attended sessions in the past, you'll be familiar with how this works.

    A friendly session will usually welcome a newcomer to start a set of the "old standards," but their regular tunes may not be on that list. So yes, learn some tunes you like in something like Dow's list. There are recurring phrases and patterns that will help you learn how this music fits on an OM. Then when you find a local session, jot down the names of tunes, or make a recording (with permission) so you can learn what they're playing right now. Which may be a mix of more familiar and fairly obscure tunes, if the session has been running for a while.

    tl,dr: Every session is different, so you'll have to focus on individual session repertoire, not a general list. Although it's still good to have some of the old standards under your fingers. Good luck, and have fun!

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reliable source of tunes as played at sessions in the UK

    It has been my experience as well that local sessions have their own list, and often enough, their own way of playing each tune. Working on the tunes in any canonical list of session tunes is a great thing to do, no question, but there will be differences when you finally sit down with them. And really, the differences are the fun part. IMO.

    The most important thing:

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    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reliable source of tunes as played at sessions in the UK

    Probably the easiest thing is to visit the session you'd like to join and see what's being played. the only time I've ever heard of a session sticking to a specific list was at Catskills Irish Arts Week when they had beginner sessions specifically tailored to the Foinn Session books from comhaltas. Everything else has been a free-for-all, depending as it does on who's running the session, what they play and what instruments usually show up. One of the sessions I usually attend is a flute session, run by a flutist and with two or three or four flute players as regulars and their set list is heavy on fluty tunes that are an occasional bear on the mandolin. Another session is heavy on boxes and fiddles -- and entirely different repertoire. It's all good, but it's all situational.
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    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reliable source of tunes as played at sessions in the UK

    When getting back into things trad I bought the 3 Bear-Bones tune books covering the tunes played at the Bear Inn sessions in and around Faversham. I liked the way they were very basic and uncluttered & gave a good idea of the stuff cropping up in the southeast.

    They're now all available in various formats here http://banjolin.co.uk/tunes/tunelist.php
    Probably as localised as youíd get without actually going along with a pen & paper.

    A good way to fit in quickly once youíve been along & got to know people is to see if anyone is up for practicing a few tunes outside session nights, so you get to know what they play & how fast those tunes might be played. Itís often hard to pick things up or hear tune names in a session if itís down the pub, but around the kitchen table thatís not an issue.
    Eoin



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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reliable source of tunes as played at sessions in the UK

    Quote Originally Posted by Beanzy View Post
    A good way to fit in quickly once you’ve been along & got to know people is to see if anyone is up for practicing a few tunes outside session nights, so you get to know what they play & how fast those tunes might be played. It’s often hard to pick things up or hear tune names in a session if it’s down the pub, but around the kitchen table that’s not an issue.
    Good advice.

    a few other links

    https://www.larkcamp.com/LarkLibrary/Irish/Irish.html

    note particularly

    Aryeh Frankfurter Tunebook Of Carolan Irish Harp Tunes For Lark Camp 2015.

    Tunes from Danny Carnahan at Lark Camp 2014.
    2013 large collection of Irish tunes, songs and more from Dan Auerbach.
    Irish Tune Collection PDF Notation from Ian Law 2010

    Large Irish Tune Collection notated from Jeremy Kammerer's Classes over the years. Notation from Ian Law 2008

    all downloadable

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    Default Re: Reliable source of tunes as played at sessions in the UK

    Thanks to everyone for their feedback. Sessions seem pretty thin on the ground round here (Hampshire, UK) so I'm keen to be learning things while I look for somewhere to play.

    Ideally I'd like to be able to rock up with a bank of tunes ready to play (partly as my a way of learning and getting better at my instrument) and I want to make sure that I'm not learning those tunes in a way that will raise eyebrows.

    Once I've found a session, then I'll work on learning their usual tunes. I've found, over the years, that sessions are often lukewarm when welcoming a new bodhran player, but this should help.

    Now to learn more tunes.

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    Default Re: Reliable source of tunes as played at sessions in the UK

    Quote Originally Posted by Beanzy View Post
    When getting back into things trad I bought the 3 Bear-Bones tune books covering the tunes played at the Bear Inn sessions in and around Faversham. I liked the way they were very basic and uncluttered & gave a good idea of the stuff cropping up in the southeast.
    Thanks, I'll take a look at that. That's almost precisely what I'm after. Is Faversham an area you visit much?

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    Default Re: Reliable source of tunes as played at sessions in the UK

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    Good advice.

    a few other links
    Thanks David, I'll take a good look at that.

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    Default Re: Reliable source of tunes as played at sessions in the UK

    Quote Originally Posted by Shan Andy View Post
    Thanks to everyone for their feedback. Sessions seem pretty thin on the ground round here (Hampshire, UK) so I'm keen to be learning things while I look for somewhere to play.

    Ideally I'd like to be able to rock up with a bank of tunes ready to play (partly as my a way of learning and getting better at my instrument) and I want to make sure that I'm not learning those tunes in a way that will raise eyebrows.

    Once I've found a session, then I'll work on learning their usual tunes. I've found, over the years, that sessions are often lukewarm when welcoming a new bodhran player, but this should help.

    Now to learn more tunes.
    Don't know if this helps http://www.fash.org.uk/informal.htm It can be a problem finding where to go, our local ones are organised via an email list and lately a group on facebook and even then you hear about others by word of mouth.
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reliable source of tunes as played at sessions in the UK

    I am not expert on Celtic/ITM but I do like this free downloadable book of tunes made available from this site, Harp of Tara. I ended up printing it out in two volumes and had them coil bound at Kinko's. Scroll down from that link to Kingston Irish Tune Book. They have links for the whole book (I think close to 500 pages) or else split into two—much better for binding.
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    Default Re: Reliable source of tunes as played at sessions in the UK

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    I am not expert on Celtic/ITM but I do like this free downloadable book of tunes made available from this site, Harp of Tara. I ended up printing it out in two volumes and had them coil bound at Kinko's. Scroll down from that link to Kingston Irish Tune Book. They have links for the whole book (I think close to 500 pages) or else split into two—much better for binding.
    This is also a fine source, thanks!

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    Default Re: Reliable source of tunes as played at sessions in the UK

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    This is also a fine source, thanks!
    I know that's right. GRMA, Sťamus!

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    Registered User James Rankine's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reliable source of tunes as played at sessions in the UK

    English, Irish , Scottish or mixed session? Being in England the range of sessions is huge and complicates things somewhat. An English session is not a bad place to get back into trad - there tends to be a smaller defined repertoire than Irish sessions and the music isn’t as notey. Similar (and sometimes the same) tunes in an Irish session get called polkas whereas tunes in an English session are usually just labelled tunes and all get played rumpy pumpy if the morris musicians are around

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    Default Re: Reliable source of tunes as played at sessions in the UK

    Quote Originally Posted by derbex View Post
    Don't know if this helps http://www.fash.org.uk/informal.htm It can be a problem finding where to go, our local ones are organised via an email list and lately a group on facebook and even then you hear about others by word of mouth.
    That's brilliant. My google-fu is weak and turned up very little. I'll get in touch with some of these.

    Cheers

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    Default Re: Reliable source of tunes as played at sessions in the UK

    [QUOTE=James Rankine;1648521]English, Irish , Scottish or mixed session?/QUOTE]

    My old sessions were mostly scots/Irish so I'm more familiar with the tunes. I'm prepared to give most things a go but the English tunes will be more of a step into the dark.

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