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 Post subject: Tune list
PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 2:07 am 
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Hello All,

I have been searching through old posts trying to find a tune list because I am sure this topic has been covered before, if only I can find the appropriate thread. So far, no luck.

I am trying to learn tunes I am likely to find at sessions. I have gone to The Session and printed the top 30 or so most popular tunes, and I have found some of those are common for YouTube posts. But, some are not.

Is there a thread that will help me narrow down the tunes that I must have in my fingers to participate in sessions when I travel to one? I live in a rural area. Yes, I realize every session is different but there is surely a core group of songs everybody knows.

I have been to exactly two sessions and none of the songs in my flute and whistle tutors were played. The titles were not announced and I was not about to interupt anybody to ask the tune names.

I very much hope to participate next time so any guidance would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Scouter


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 Post subject: Re: Tune list
PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 2:29 am 
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You don't have to "interrupt" to ask tune names. Wait until the set is finished, and then discretely ask the person next to you.
Our Monday night session is not specifically Irish, but a few tunes which played there which might be common would be :

MacMahon's [ The Banshee ]
The Silver Spear
Cooley's
The Gravel Walk
The Mountain Road

The Lark In The Morning
Tripping Up The Stairs
Seamus's Jig [ Jimmy Ward's ]
Sliabh Russell
Willie Coleman's
Arthur Darley's [ The Swedish jig ]
Banish Misfortune
The Cook In The Kitchen

The Butterfly
The Humours Of Whiskey
The Kid On The Mountain

Off To California
The Harvest Home
The Boys Of Blue Hill

Lucy Farr's Barndance

These are all very basic tunes in the Irish repertoire, any half-decent session would know most of them, if not all, but be careful. Some sessions would turn their noses up at some of the above, - and please, don't refer to them as "songs". They are not.
Best of luck. Kenny

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 Post subject: Re: Tune list
PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 5:43 am 
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Location: Montreal
You'll also find some lists of common session tunes here:

http://www.norbeck.nu/abc/TopSessionTunes.asp

and

http://www.sixwatergrog.com/2012/12/the ... tunes.html

However, since each session has its own "culture" and set of tunes that the participants like to play, you'd do well to learn the tunes that are commonly played in your session; as Kenny noted above you can just ask someone next to you what tunes were just played so you can make a note of them and then look them up. The tunes that are commonly played in a Saturday afternoon session in my city (Montreal) are rarely played in the session that happens on Monday nights, and the Wednesday night session has a different repertoire as well. But there's a core set of tunes that most people who go to these sessions can play; some people even put together a tune book to help people learn tunes that are commonly played in Montreal: http://music.gordfisch.net/montrealsession/index.php

While it's true that there's a common set of session tunes that players at almost every session around the world would know, some sessions try to avoid those tunes because they're overplayed and they're tired of hearing them. If it's a welcoming and tolerant session, people won't mind if you start one of those tunes and they'll play along, but as Kenny said you should be careful and respectful of the session's culture. Listening is probably the most important skill you can develop for sessions or for playing music in general. I know some very experienced players who'll sit at the bar and listen for 30 minutes or more before asking if they can join a session.


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 Post subject: Re: Tune list
PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 5:55 am 
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some sessions try to avoid those tunes because they're overplayed and they're tired of hearing them


I am not so sure that is really the issue. It's hearing them played badly by plodding beginners and being forced to plod alongside.

I always strongly advocate playing the tunes you like rather than corralling a limited number of tunes( often ones that were popular during the seventies and eighties, ending up in tutor books of the day for that reason) into the beginners enclosure. It is very limiting to nominate a particular body of tunes as 'beginner tunes' when there are hundreds of tunes equally suited for learning players available to learn.

So, when you hear a tune that speaks to you, learn it, it's more motivating to play something you enjoy and at the end of the day, you'll find other people playing it, or willing to learn it.

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 Post subject: Re: Tune list
PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 6:02 am 
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Yet another top list (or two):
http://www.norbeck.nu/abc/TopSessionTunes.asp
EDIT: Someone has beat me, two messages before! Good advices also!

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 Post subject: Re: Tune list
PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 6:35 am 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
I am not so sure that is really the issue. It's hearing them played badly by plodding beginners and being forced to plod alongside.

I always strongly advocate playing the tunes you like rather than corralling a limited number of tunes( often ones that were popular during the seventies and eighties, ending up in tutor books of the day for that reason) into the beginners enclosure.


These are good points and I generally agree. Those "beginner tunes" are actually good tunes, just not often played well. But I do think people get tired of them; it's a bit like having people recite from a kindergarten primer at a literary gathering where everyone else is reciting Shakespeare: people in sessions may feel they've "graduated" past the beginner tunes and are more interested in playing and hearing something new.

I also agree with the advice to play the tunes you like (there are quite a few common session tunes that I've never learned because I don't really like them), but I can also understand the motivation to want to participate in a session, and the easiest way for a beginner to do that is to play a tune that everyone in the session is likely to know. The point of going to a session (apart from the social aspects) is to hear and play with other musicians; if you're going to play tunes you like but that nobody else knows, you might as well stay home.


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 Post subject: Re: Tune list
PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 7:28 am 
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Quote:
But I do think people get tired of them; it's a bit like having people recite from a kindergarten primer at a literary gathering where everyone else is reciting Shakespeare: people in sessions may feel they've "graduated" past the beginner tunes and are more interested in playing and hearing something new.


I don't think the Kindergarten/Shakespeare thing is a very good analogy. some of the tunes on Kenny's list are actually not very easy tunes, I wouldn't immediately recommend the Gravel walks or the Swedish to a beginning fluteplayer for example. On the other hand I remember nights when we were playing for the dancers and general entertainment in Coore when Jackie Daly came out with the Butterfly/Kid on the Mountain.

I get your point about people possibly feeling they've 'graduated' and running free in the sunny uplands where the tunes are fresh and the grass greener and there are some tunes on those 'session lists' that perhaps should be locked away a few decades before the yare let out again.

But my point is there are so many good,perhaps lesser known, tunes that are simple and satisfying and easy to learn and that any half decent session you visit a few times will pick up easily, if they don't have them already. The whole notion of certain tunes being 'beginner' tunes is an artificial construct, most of the mended up in tutor books because they were being played at the time the books were put together (notably during the seventies and eighties) and blindly replicated by tutors published since. In other words the tunes were picked because they were included in recordings popular at the time. It wouldn't be a bad thing to teach beginners tunes that are popular now, tunes that are being played and recorded now (which is pretty much standard practice in Ireland anyway) rather than get stuck in a repertoire popular a few decades ago and become stale and backward looking .

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 Post subject: Re: Tune list
PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 7:23 pm 
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Thank you for your answers everybody.

Kenny, thank you for listing out those songs. I am working on several of them already. I am not looking for beginner tunes, as Mr. Gumby mentioned, just tunes I might run into in a session. I have the gravel walks and it is challenging. Playing the tunes that have been mentioned is not as hard as memorizing them and not getting the names confused.

I am going to shorten my reply considerably as breaking news just came across the TV. Let me say for now that I will check out the web addresses given and I am grateful for all of your help.

Scouter


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 Post subject: Re: Tune list
PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 9:33 pm 
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It's very interesting. I just turned seventy-five, there are a zillion tunes
I don't know. So it seems prudent, as I don't have a few decades left,
to learn only the tunes that move me. John Skelton suggested at a workshop
once that session play is not the be all and end all of playing Irish music, not to diminish
its value.


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 Post subject: Re: Tune list
PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2017 7:55 am 
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Hi Jim,

I agree we should play those tunes that speak to us, no matter our age. Why waste time on learning that which we don't love?

I spend time at home playing through tunes and songs that I enjoy. I derive a great deal of pleasure in the process of learning and playing new tunes. Playing alone is not my sole aim, however. Which is why I asked about the tunes I would most likely encounter at a session.

When I went to my first session I asked this question of a lady there and she is the one that directed me to The Session's most popular list. Having stepped away from teaching and directing choir, I am looking for an opportunity to play in ensemble with others. Yes, I sing solos but singing tight harmonies is more fun, at least for me. Playing instruments is fun alone, but more rewarding when playing with others. But those present must have common ground.

The list on The Session is a jumping off place, but it is a moving target. It is always changing. Knowing those timeless tunes which are loved is also worth time and effort.

Now as an aside, I just went to my daughter's first concert with her a cappella group The Harmoniums. I was pleased to hear them sing one of the songs I have recently learned, The Parting Glass. That was most unexpected. And for the record, they did a lovely job of it.

Again, thank you for your kindness in answering my question and giving guidance to one new to this genre.

Scouter


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 Post subject: Re: Tune list
PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2017 10:06 pm 
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Scouter wrote:
The list on The Session is a jumping off place, but it is a moving target. It is always changing. Knowing those timeless tunes which are loved is also worth time and effort.

Huh? The top of the popular tune list on The Session (https://thesession.org/tunes/popular) virtually never changes in any significant way. I'd be shocked if more than one or two tunes in the top 40 weren't there a decade ago -- they're certainly almost all tunes that were extremely common when I started playing in 2000.

This is no way suggests they are appropriate tunes for beginners or in any real sense "timeless". But they're certainly very well known.

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 Post subject: Re: Tune list
PostPosted: Sat Apr 08, 2017 1:00 am 
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They are all tunes that were on recordings popular during the seventies. They made it into tutor books (notably the Armagh Pipers club one, Whistle and Sing and that sort of thing) because they were tunes learners at that time would be familiar with. Subsequent tutors just blindly copied and followed without making any effort and put those tunes in the 'beginners enclosure'. The internet only intensified the effect by parroting the same thing over and over. Beginners get told these are the tunes to learn and when they do, the algorithms list them as the most popular tunes. And there you are, stuck in a vicious circle. While in reality, I don't think I have been ever at a session where anyone tried to play the Gravel Walks or the Swedish jig.

Again, just sit down with you favourite recordings, learn the tunes you like best and play them. It's more than likely any session populated with half decent musicians will be able to play any tune a beginner will bring to it, if they choose to do so. Nobody on the other hand is going to think 'ah lovely another beginner playing Drowsy Maggy, the Harvest Home or The Butterfly' (unless in cynical/sarcastic mode).

And when learning tunes to join a session, it's probably better for all involved to scout out the session you're intend on joining and see what the popular local repertoire is.

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 Post subject: Re: Tune list
PostPosted: Sat Apr 08, 2017 6:52 pm 
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Oh dear. I fear I will forever be behind the times then. Here are the top few I enjoy playing. Are they groaners?

The Maid Behind the Bar
The Parting Glass
The Rights of Man
The Wind That Shakes the Barley
An Buachaillin Ban
The Connaughtman's Rambles
Eamonn An Chnoic
Inisheer
The Milltown Jig

Scouter


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 Post subject: Re: Tune list
PostPosted: Sun Apr 09, 2017 2:28 am 
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Scouter wrote:
Oh dear. I fear I will forever be behind the times then. Here are the top few I enjoy playing. Are they groaners?

The Maid Behind the Bar
The Parting Glass
The Rights of Man
The Wind That Shakes the Barley
An Buachaillin Ban
The Connaughtman's Rambles
Eamonn An Chnoic
Inisheer
The Milltown Jig

Scouter

Those are all good tunes. They're mostly reasonably common, it's true, but it doesn't make them any less good. Sometimes, I feel that, if one plays more common tunes, then one had better play them well. But I'd never call good tunes "groaners".

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 Post subject: Re: Tune list
PostPosted: Sun Apr 09, 2017 3:04 am 
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Sometimes, I feel that, if one plays more common tunes, then one had better play them well. But I'd never call good tunes "groaners".



I don't think I'd use the term either. However, as pointed out earlier in this thread, some tunes have become heavily associated with inexperienced players and have become to an extend tainted in the process. A good tune played well, nobody is going to fault that but as you say the onus is on the player to give these tunes a treatment that lifts them above the hackneyed renditions they have too often become associated with.

On the one hand I don't believe the argument 'nobody plays those anymore, they're too popular' is strong enough to make you abandon a tune you like. On the other hand though, there are so many good, simple and easily accessible tunes that one can learn. It baffles me why people seem to stick to the same tired ones over and over again without any good reason,other than perhaps 'everybody knows them'. It's a vicious circle that needs to be broken.

I think a beginner would gain easier acceptance by turning up with tunes that show a knowledge of and interest in the general repertoire that a willingness to make an effort to learn something other than the usual few tunes recommended on the interwebs. To blindly stick with the same body of ' recommended' tunes is indeed, to borrow Brad's Shakespeare analogy (see above) for a minute, like attending a Shakespeare convention but not being able to go anywhere beyond 'To be or not to be' or 'A horse, A horse..' while expecting the company to enthusiastically join in each time for the 'that's the question' and 'my kingdom for a horse'.

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