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Oct 19, 2023 - 11:14:22 AM
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1111 posts since 7/30/2021

So these days I am trying to get my favorite tunes into sets of two or three.
But it's a very slow process...
for example, I'm trying to figure out something to go with Patsy Geary's (jig) in G.

The only way I can do this is to play Patsy Geary's from the beginning...
then, start another tune after it...
Play Patsy Geary's from the beginning again...
then, try a different jig -
nope, sounds weird.
Play Patsy Geary's from the beginning again...
How about this tune?
and, so on!

Because if I just start Patsy Geary's with its last few notes and connect up a tune, I can't truly feel/hear if that other tune actually "goes" well!

There has gotta be a better way than this...
Why am I so dumb LOL! Why do I have to play the tune from the beginning every time!

Anybody got a better method of making sets than this slow hit-or-miss method...?

Oct 19, 2023 - 12:38:17 PM
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2377 posts since 4/6/2014

is that the Bm jig? ....If so Another Bm (ish) jig?

i don't play many jigs but i think something like "Brit in the liffey" would do nicely,...(only one i can think of at the moment). As played by one of my local fiddle heroes. And it is different enough not to get them mixed up maybe?...just had a go at it and i need to work on this one some is a bit tricksy.

But any Bm  jig would/should work...Or maybe try an A Major jig! (parent key of Bm dorian), for something more stridentlaugh

Brit in the liffey  Sam Proctor.

Oct 19, 2023 - 1:21:09 PM
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2617 posts since 2/2/2008

I play whistle for Irish music. All the sets I've put together, I've always selected tunes that go easily from one to the other. You just have to find it yourself. I did have one occasion where nobody knew the last tune. I went home a tried the set in a different order; it didn't work at all.

Here are some sets I've put together.
HP: Delahunty's/Chief O'Neill's Favorite/Alexander's
Jigs: Hag at the Churn/Co:ok in the Kitchen/When Sick is it Tea You Want
Jigs: Top of Cork Road/Trip to Sligo/Connaught Man's Rambles
Reels: Temperance/Green Fields of America/Honeymoon (I dubbed this my Irish-American set as all the tunes are forerunners of old time tunes)
Reels: Cooley's/Trip to Durrow
Slip jigs: Fig for a Kiss/Comb Your Hair and Curl It/Hardiman the Fiddler
Jigs: Garett Barry’s / Banish Misfortune

Oct 19, 2023 - 6:08:53 PM
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1350 posts since 3/1/2020

It’s a little easier if you group by dance type (jigs, reels, polkas, bar dances, etc.) and/or keys.

Sometimes tunes are similar enough to others that it can be fun to put them together—so long as you can still remember which is which when you have to lead!

There are some sets that are established through tradition. It’s common for players at sessions to talk about sets that are known as the preferences of certain players. It can be interesting to learn sets this way to cement the progressions in the memory.

Edited by - The Violin Beautiful on 10/19/2023 18:09:34

Oct 19, 2023 - 10:18:35 PM

1111 posts since 7/30/2021

Yep there are the “traditional” sets where everybody always plays those same certain tunes together…

…or grouping tunes in one key…
or the theory of grouping tunes in keys going round by circle of fifths…

… but that still doesn’t help much in finding favorite tunes that go poetically and “pleasingly” together ( although it helps narrow down the possibilities)!

Like I have launched into two tunes that I thought theoretically should go well together, but the second tune really dragged when played at tempo of first tune…(then everybody had to play it with me at heavy draggy pace, sorry)

Carl says, “you just have to find it yourself”….

Hmm, so maybe there IS no way except copying other people’s sets that you like, and this slow trial and error process…

Not too alike,
Yet not too different,
with compatible tempo/rhythms…
(And yes, you can’t usually swap the order)
What a mystery!

( Ps Carl, will try out some of your sets! I play Garrett Barry’s/Whelans and Lilting Banshee/Hag at the Churn…
and I just learned ‘Green Fields of America’! I had the same thought of an American set, and tried it with “red haired boy” but thought it went a bit awkwardly…rhythm not compatible, maybe)

Oct 20, 2023 - 12:57:17 AM
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2377 posts since 4/6/2014

Narrow the choice with theory then get creative? i recently learned a few English tunes by their relationship to Oxford street in 18thC London. And had fun researching (making up), the stories to go with them.....Then there is always AI...wink

Maybe follow some Irish roads, places , stories etc ?

Edit: i just asked google which tune would go along with "Trip to Durrow" and it came up with "Ballinasloe Fair" Not a bad choice think i might try it.

Edited by - pete_fiddle on 10/20/2023 01:05:34

Oct 20, 2023 - 5:45:25 AM
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11717 posts since 12/2/2007
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I think some sets are still played just as they were recorded by Michael Coleman, because his style and records were so influential. I'm no expert on Irish music, but I wonder if tunes were played in "sets" before the advent of Irish music on records (there were earlier sets of Irish tunes on cylinders, but mostly recorded by non-Irish players).
Have you heard this CD - some ideas for sets there: There is a second volume too, but I only had the first one.
Even earlier were a couple 78s recorded on accordion by Patrick J Scanlon in 1917. One has "Green Fields of America" paired with "Swallowtail" (reversed on the label) and the other side is "Livepool" paired with "O'Neill's Favorite." They're all on YouTube.

Oct 20, 2023 - 6:05:40 AM
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11717 posts since 12/2/2007
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BTW, the Ward Irish Music archive contains a lot of interesting information, including the Dunn Family Collection, which includes 32 cylinders recorded by Chief O'Neill of leading players of the day.
They are played singly, not in sets, but that might reflect the Chief's purpose, or the limitations of the technology. I'm not sure they are all available for listening at the Archive, but they're all on YouTube if you dig around.

Oct 20, 2023 - 10:46:21 AM
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2377 posts since 4/6/2014

Ever been in a session and sat there thinking "i don'tknow this tune but it reminds me of (insert known tune here)" ?

As said tune finishes you start your tune and the session gets a lift, and someone exclaims "hup ya boya!" or similar, and all join in.

i reckon that is how "sets" come about , and players from a certain locality, or musical friends will repeat this next time they meet. i think that is also how the so called "Craic"  develops for want of a better word.

Oct 20, 2023 - 12:52:30 PM
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11717 posts since 12/2/2007
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I don't attend "sessions," and have certainly never heard anyone say "hup ya boya!" over here (although I remember a party with some Boston Irish musicians where that might have been possible - it ended with a bit of a contretemp).
I'm sure I've posted this before, but here's my idea of an American set. If you listen closely you can hear Walt calling the tunes. Same key and tempo for all:
We used to play a variant we called the "SMAL" medley - "Soldier's Joy," "Mississippi Sawyers," "Arkansas Traveler," and "Liberty." I think these were the last tunes we ever played together.

Edited by - DougD on 10/20/2023 12:59:18

Oct 20, 2023 - 1:37:22 PM

2377 posts since 4/6/2014

Just checked out some Boston Irish sessions on youtube etc. They seem a lot more like the sessions i have been to over here...But a bit more organized than the impromptu affairs i have attended. I usually had a great time... Probably "due to" the interjections ...etc

i have heard it said that the music was there "just to keep the pub open longer" wink

Oct 20, 2023 - 2:15:26 PM
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11717 posts since 12/2/2007
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Pete - This is veering a bit, but that was an odd situation. There was a big old house in Cambridge (Mass) owned by a somewhat eccentric fellow, that was a kind of boardinghouse for old time music enthusiasts - there were similar places in other cities at that time. We were playing somewhere or other in Boston, and were staying there, where we had friends. Somewhere along the line we also made friends with some musicians from the Boston Irish community - I mean guys that were from Ireland, or recent Irish-Americans, not just people that attended "sessions" (which may not have existed then anyway.)
So, partway through the evening, one of our Irish pals announced "The pahrty's over!" Turned out that one of them, with an Old World concept of hospitality, helped himself (being a guest of the house) to a piece of cheese or a slice of apple from the refrigerator. It also turned out that the icebox was partitioned off by the residents, and the owner of this cheese was very unhappy. We found ourselves between our hosts and our new Irish friends (fellow musicians whose concept of hospitaly could not be faulted). The dispute moved outside, but didn't quite come to blows. Everyone went on home with a cordial farewell.

Edited by - DougD on 10/20/2023 14:25:01

Oct 20, 2023 - 3:04:38 PM
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3554 posts since 9/13/2009

I most often find the issue is the transition, just last phrase/measure of how the tune ends... and then how other tune begins. Keeping in mind what space and anacrusis/pickup notes.

What can make tunes like Pasty Geary's (if the one I'm thinking) is it ends on descending line down to the fifth note below, on the second beat of measure. One trick is to stop on that last beat, give breathing pause, and the next tune starts square on One, no pickup. Can make a lot more tunes work.

A tune like My Darling Asleep is what popped into my mind, I find changing keys and register jump is sometimes very effective. But staying in same key works fine, good old Blarney Pilgrim, Kesh Jig.

Oct 21, 2023 - 1:16:24 PM
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152 posts since 2/12/2021

Hi Ncnotes did you try 'Goes well with' in, or 'Recordings ' in
The pitfall there I suppose is you can't make any assumptions about the key(s) used. And it's always more fun to build your own sets. Good luck!

Oct 21, 2023 - 5:25:13 PM

1111 posts since 7/30/2021

Thanks all, great ideas ( and stories) here!

There is such a great tradition to sets ( like, honoring Michael Coleman or bothy band by playing their sets…I actually play a few bothy band sets, they are the first Irish band I listened to). And there are sets ‘belonging’ to certain people at session who frequently lead them I.e. “Here goes A—- with George White’s Favorite/Sligo Maid again!”

But I do love the magic of creating one’s own original musical combo…I will try out some of the suggestions, thanks!

And I dunno why I did not think of asking Google or ChatGPT (hahaha)!

Edited by - NCnotes on 10/21/2023 17:25:45

Oct 21, 2023 - 5:31:06 PM
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1111 posts since 7/30/2021

And don’t quote me on this, but I think somebody said that tunes were not played in sets until the recording industry got going!

Before that, tunes got played like Old-Time style…over and over till people got tired of dancing to it, or musicians just felt like changing the tune. This current way - set of 3 tunes with each tune played 3x - somehow came about for commercial reasons? Or, so I hear…

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