Resources for the Irish Flute Player

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Terry McGee
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Resources for the Irish Flute Player

Post by Terry McGee »

Recently a woman bought a flute from me. She explained that she used to play metal flute when young, but now intended to switch to Irish flute. And then she asked "and where do I buy sheet music?" Woah, I thought. It's been a while since I've bought any sheet music!

But of course we did once, didn't we. (OK, oldies, back me up here!) There, high on my shelves and rarely consulted, is my copy of O'Neill's 1001 Gems, the Dance Music of Ireland. Bought in 1974 from Waltons, in North Frederick St, Dublin. And Breandán Breathnach's "Ceol Rince na hÉireann", Vols 1 and 2. The first volume with Breandán's own handtyped translation of the preface stapled inside, kindly given to me after interviewing him. And the second volume bearing a pencilled note inside saying "Sample Only. Do Not Sell. $15.95". Very odd! If they didn't sell it, how come I have it?

But when's the last time you "bought" any Irish tunes in the form of sheet music? Time has moved on, hasn't it.....

It sure has. Her question prompted me to look up, on my own website, my page on Resources for the Irish Flute Player. Gasp! The properties metadata tell me I started it on 11 June 2001, and updated it last on 6 July 2006. Have a look, it's good for a giggle! http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/resources.html

This long-winded introduction just to let you know I'm about to start bringing that page up to date, or perhaps abandon it altogether if a great list of resources already exists. (Does it?) And I'm going to ask you for suggestions for what you find useful in your day-to-day life in Irish Music.....
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Re: Resources for the Irish Flute Player

Post by Terry McGee »

Just looking at the headings in my old Resources page, we find:

Where to find tunes (dots)
Slowing down tunes
Discussion groups and Mailing lists
About the Irish flute
About the music
Internet radio programs
Tuition guides
Tuners and metronomes
Flute swabs

I guess a good starting point (assuming for the moment that I do need to go ahead with this) would be to ask for thoughts on what an up-to-date Resources page should include...

But if you prefer the other way of doing things, starting with the content and worrying then about how to pull it together, do feel free to toss in ideas!
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Re: Resources for the Irish Flute Player

Post by Ben Shaffer »

I've got both of those Books Terry mentioned and like Terry's Books they are up in my Closet Shelf ! I'm not sure what Volume of Breandán Breathnach's "Ceol Rince na hÉireann" Ive got, my Wife had given it to me on a Birthday years ago. I like reading written Music and should get them down and play some Tunes out of the Books. If not Today maybe Tomorrow! :D Hold it I'll go check :poke:
I actually have Vol 2 of Ceol Rince and the Tune Titles are written in I guess Gaelic The Volume itself is close to 200 pages
The Oneil Book Ive got is fairly old and I notice the date of this edition is 1979 and its over 300 Pages. If you were looking for a couple of Reference books, these 2 would be a good choice I think I need to air out these Books, they could have dust Mites in them :o Between these 2 books there have to be well over a 1000 Tunes If you didn't have any thing to do and are retired like I am One could do a Marathon sight reading of all the Tunes in these 2 books :D :o

BTW: I just noticed on the Cover that O'Neils Book contains over 1800 Tunes, Also of interest someone once told me that years ago in Ireland the only book that most Musicians had would be O'neils. Its funny that Musicians in Ireland would own a book published in the US. that seems Ironic, although I assume most of the contributes to O'Neils were first generation Irish.
Also Ironic years ago I had a Bagpipe Student who moved here from Scotland and here he's learning the PIpes from an American... but I digress!
Last edited by Ben Shaffer on Mon Oct 11, 2021 10:10 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Resources for the Irish Flute Player

Post by david_h »

Do you have a current 'offical' link to Tatsuaki Kuroda's tuner Terry?

A web search finds a download file s8tuner_e307.zip (searching for that should find it but opening it may be taking a risk). I guess that's the version after 3.06 which I have and still use sometimes. Good for watching the harmonics change when trying for that hard dark tone.
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Re: Resources for the Irish Flute Player

Post by Mr.Gumby »

Ben Shaffer wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 8:47 am
I actually have Vol 2 of Ceol Rince and the Tune Titles are written in I guess Gaelic The Volume itself is close to 200 pages

The Oneil Book Ive got is fairly old and I notice the date of this edition is 1979 and its over 300 Pages. If you were looking for a couple of Reference books, these 2 would be a good choice I think I need to air out these Books, they could have dust Mites in them :o Between these 2 books there have to be well over a 1000 Tunes If you didn't have any thing to do and are retired like I am One could do a Marathon sight reading of all the Tunes in these 2 books :D :o
Paul de Grae's translations on the notes, titles etc in the Breathnach collection (all 5 volumes) are on Nigel Gatherer's site : here

It depemds on what you want/need when you decide on which collection is most useful. For the casual player O'Neill's 1850 and CRE 2 are perhaps less useful. CRE 3 would possibly suit better because it contains transcription from popular commercial recordings and CRE1 has been the source of so many tunes you will find a lot of wellknown tunes in it. CRE2 is also the only volumes that has instrument specific notations of ornamentation etc, which can confuse less experienced readers. O'Neill's is of its time and when you hope to find ready to go versions as they are played today, you may be disappointed with a large portion of it.

There is a lot of useful material around, I have well over a shelf of tune collections etc for reference or as a source for new repertoire.
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Re: Resources for the Irish Flute Player

Post by Ben Shaffer »

When I first got Oneils I found it a delightful Book of Tunes certainly worth Playing, that said though any number of the Tunes being played at local sessions were not in O'neils . Oneils might be considered a collection of Tunes or a snapshot of Tunes played years ago, but of recent have gone out of Fashion. Don't get me wrong, having just looking down the Index of Tunes I see Tunes I play or have played over the years. Its funny if you aren't using a big Tune book like this as a reference,and then pick it up you can go down the Index and see many Tunes you've played, but have forgotten about, and you are saying to yourself, man that was a good Tune , I need to start playing that again, and what was that other Tune played in the set with it :D
Maybe if I play the Tune, the other one will pop up in my 71 year old Mind:D :boggle:
That said though I would not recommend a Beginner to get O'Neils as it would be a bottomless Vortex of many random Tunes that may never be heard at Sessions these Days. Tunes certainly fun to learn, but not likely be known by anyone else at that Session :o :-? But there again that's one of the ways People at the session learn a new Tune, right?
I do notice on Amazon there are a lot of Tune Books saying Most Popular Session Tunes, or The essential Session Tunes
These could cetainly be a good source for New Players to get familiar with some Tunes that would likely be played at Sessions, if thats what they intend on doing. There are also many Internet Sources for Irish Tunes as well
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Re: Resources for the Irish Flute Player

Post by Terry McGee »

Yeah, my feeling is that books are now too passé, for all the reasons given. Unless you specifically want an old version, or a special version.

So what are people's go-to sources on the web for a tune you've heard the name of, and liked, and want to learn, but want to find a good version of?

"The Session" Tunes page? TunePal Keyword search? Other collections? (Eg which?)

Or just Google the name and see where it takes you?
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Re: Resources for the Irish Flute Player

Post by cac »

Terry: this is a personal take on where to find tunes. I hope it is helpful.
For written tune sources I always try:
thesession.org
Henrik Norbeck's collection: http://www.norbeck.nu/abc/

But I never learn a tune from the dots alone and always try to learn from a played version. These are the sources I use most often:
June McCormack's two flute tutorials (2 collections of great tunes)
The three Comhaltas collections (Foinn Seisiún 1, 2, 3) [but see below]
Sheila Garry and Brid Cranitch Orange and Blue Books
Seamus Creagh's Tunes for Practice

If the tune I want to learn is not in these collections, I look on youtube. First for a flute player playing the tune since I play the flute. Then for other solo instruments such as the concertina or the fiddle. I prefer to learn from a single instrument rather than 2 or more instruments. (A big problem with the Comhaltas collections is that there are so many instruments playing at once that the melody is often not a single melody but a mishmosh of different musicians' takes on the tune. This may be fine for listening to, but isn't good for learning from.)

Finally of course, but not least, from friends and musicians at sessions and workshops and from CDs.
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Re: Resources for the Irish Flute Player

Post by jim stone »

Shannon Heaton's podcasts are, IMO, a terrific source of tunes and arrangements. These happen once a week and I believe they are collected on Youtube. Also she has a Tune of the Month. She manages to be welcoming to anybody/everybody
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Re: Resources for the Irish Flute Player

Post by Terry McGee »

david_h wrote: Mon Oct 11, 2021 9:01 am Do you have a current 'offical' link to Tatsuaki Kuroda's tuner Terry?

A web search finds a download file s8tuner_e307.zip (searching for that should find it but opening it may be taking a risk). I guess that's the version after 3.06 which I have and still use sometimes. Good for watching the harmonics change when trying for that hard dark tone.
There's now a version 3.08, david_h

http://www.shaku6.com/soft/s8tuner_e308.zip

I just downloaded it again and reinstalled it, to make sure it's OK. Windows has a hissy fit and refuses to load it unless you choose run anyway. Looks good. I don't know what the differences are, probably just a minor bugfix.

I note that the release date for this version is St Paddy's Day 2019! Probably a coincidence?

And yes, I enjoy having the spectrum analyser running while tuning!

While on this subject, are there other tuners that people find particularly useful? If so, I'll add them to the Resources list too!
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Re: Resources for the Irish Flute Player

Post by david_h »

Thanks Terry. Other tuners - I assume a link to you own RTTA page will be there.

Many of the tunes resources are likely to involve ABC code, so I think a link to one or more of the online converters would make that less intimidating to those who are not used to ABC. http://www.mandolintab.net/abcconverter.php is often mentioned and seems to work well, but there may be others. Also an updated link to ABC resources. What's the current favourite ABC software and link to it ? (probably EasyABC but I am not sure of the best reliable link).

What's the latest in slow downers? I'm still using Audacity for slowing down (the 'high quality' option is slow but very good); also for looping sections. But people say the interface is old fashioned these days. Also there is something odd going on on Windows - seems to be an implementation 'fork' with a different name.
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Re: Resources for the Irish Flute Player

Post by Mr.Gumby »

I think it's a bit silly to declare books obsolete. It entirely depends on what way you treat your music. If you just want to memorise a simple setting to lash out at your local session, online may work. If you want a bit more, printed collections are an invaluable source of 'new' repertoire. Personally, I take my tunes wherever I find them.
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Re: Resources for the Irish Flute Player

Post by Terry McGee »

To be fair, I said passé, rather than obsolete. Why go out and buy a book when you can get it on line for free? I wonder if people are still publishing tune books?
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Re: Resources for the Irish Flute Player

Post by Ben Shaffer »

Mr.Gumby wrote: Tue Oct 12, 2021 3:45 am I think it's a bit silly to declare books obsolete. It entirely depends on what way you treat your music. If you just want to memorise a simple setting to lash out at your local session, online may work. If you want a bit more, printed collections are an invaluable source of 'new' repertoire. Personally, I take my tunes wherever I find them.

Up to date Tunebooks are never obsolete They are useful to play over and get familiar with any given Tune. At that point you've got the Melody in your head Then when you hear it at the Session, you can start to play along and really learn the Tune as its played at any given Session you go to, just my opinion, others may disagree
Also agree with Mr Gumby about taking the Tunes where you can get them. Ive learned Tunes out of Books, by Ear at Sessions after hearing a Tune several times and one Ive not heard mentioned here, out of Players personal Binder of Tunes they've loaned to me. Also have picked up Tunes off YouTube by playing along with the Musicians playing in the Video
I think the process of getting Tunes is somewhat different for most Players, but really its at the Session where everyone really LEARNS the Tune properly
There is a way or style of playing any given Tune that is not conveyed by the written Music, but that's a whole different topic
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Re: Resources for the Irish Flute Player

Post by Mr.Gumby »

Terry McGee wrote: Tue Oct 12, 2021 4:34 am To be fair, I said passé, rather than obsolete. Why go out and buy a book when you can get it on line for free? I wonder if people are still publishing tune books?
OK, I think it is rather silly to declare books passé. Happy now?

I think it's a matter of preference, among other things. I much prefer books over abc files. In fact a few years ago I bought the Liddy collections of tunes in print, after years of the abcs sitting on my hard drive, rarely used. I got a lot more mileage out of them. There are also a lot of collections that are not available online.

Recently I mentioned hereI have gone back to manuscript, writing all new tunes I pick up I a moleskin staff notation book. I find it much more suited to my use that adding to abc files, as I had been doing for the past twenty years. It's really about what suits a person best. And I can still find my new tunes when the power goes down.

These guys recording cds with tunes from, for example, the Goodman collection, they probably don't see these books as passé either.

As I said, I take my tunes where I find them, without too much prejudice.

Hmm autocorrect had each mention of abcs replaced with 'abuse'. Now that's prejudice :D
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