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Attempt at Irish Trad, part V, and the ImPending St. Paddy's Performance- Perilous???

Posted by fiddlepogo on Wednesday, March 2, 2011

    When I started getting serious about Irish Trad tunes a few weeks ago, I did a lot of sight reading of tunes. Many seemed attractive, but I'll probably get to them AFTER March 17th, since you can only memorize so many new tunes in a period of a month.  Because for a performance, you have to have something that's confident- and means I have to have something that's memorized.  No reading of sheet music when nervous, no, not for me!!!  (Well, maybe a slow tune or two!) 

Then some tunes are disqualified by parts that are just plain too hard for me right now... yeah, I'll get to them later.


So, right now, the survivors include:


Blarney Pilgrim (new but familiar tune)

Tobin's Favorite (new)

Merrily Kiss the Quaker (new but familiar tune)

Garrett Barry's (new)

St. Patrick's Day in the Morning (new)

Cat in the Kitchen (new)


Road To Lisdoonvarna

(maybe Roaring Jelly)



Byrnes (new)

Cronin's (new but familiar tune)

Chief O'Neill's Favorite

Off To California



Rakish Paddy (new, but VERY familiar tune)

The Scholar (new)

Kitty's Wedding (new)

Musical Priest

Morning Star

(possibly Drowsy Maggie and Cooley's Reel)



Maid Milking Her Cow

Si Bheag Si Mhor


The Minstrel Boy

and whatever sentimental Irish tune comes to mind!

My philosophy in performing has long been to balance educating them with stuff that's more traditional that I like with sentimental favorites that THEY like.  And I don't see how St. Paddy's Day is any different. But of course,  I will try and make the sentimental favorites sound as traditional as I can!!! If something was written somewhere else besides, I'll make it educational and SAY SO.

Anyway, the above tunes I can pretty much get through without sheet music.  I'm also seeing that for me at this point, the order of doing jigs, reels and hornpipes makes sense.

Jigs have slower triple bowings

Hornpipes have faster triplet passages

Reels have even faster triplets.

So it makes sense to warm up in that order, and to even perform them in that order. If I were more confident at this, I'd mix up the dance types for variety, but for now, I'll get the variety by shifting keys or shifting from major to a minor mode tune.

The sticky wicket is that it still sounds pretty rough at the beginning- my warm-up time on Irish tunes is MUCH longer than for Old Time tunes.  With daily practice, hopefully that will decrease as we get closer to St. Paddy's Day!!!

Idea:  Maybe I should START OUT with some of the more traditional airs, THEN do the jigs, hornpipes and reels, and then the popular favorites. That might work especially well if the slow airs to start with are in 3/4 time, since the bowing for both those and jigs tends towards "anywhichway".

If I need more tunes, I can always do the Irish American ones like Irish Washerwoman, Garry Owen, and Haste to the Wedding. But I'll just do those as I've been doing them with no attempt to rework them into Irish Trad (well, QUASI-trad) versions... just introduce them as Irish tunes that became popular in the Old Time tradition, though mostly in the Northern states.

But of course I have songs to sing too, so I probably WON'T run out of material.

2 comments on “Attempt at Irish Trad, part V, and the ImPending St. Paddy's Performance- Perilous???”

Bart Says:
Thursday, March 3, 2011 @10:03:54 PM

You're gonna have a blast! BlueMandolinMan here on FHO just alerted me to a great you tube you might enjoy. I'm in a hurry and don't have the link handy, but search you tube for: Sheila Falls Irish Slurs. I mention it because she uses The Musical Priest (in your list) for a cool ITM lesson, and she's a fantastic player. Anyhow, have fun on the 17th!!

fiddlepogo Says:
Friday, March 4, 2011 @6:57:05 PM

Thanks for the tip.

I stopped by for a few minutes at the local weekly pub session. Ironically, it was a sobering moment!
They were playing ONLY reels while I was there, and VERY fast... and I only recognized ONE of them.

And it was a reminder that I DO NOT enjoy bars... I had to practically sit in the circle to hear them over the roar of the bar crowd.
I wanted to talk to the leader about whether their home jam is still an open one, but it was kind of hopeless.

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