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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: figuring out Irish tunes on 5 string banjo


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/336385

Page: 1  2  

ChuckCharles - Posted - 11/06/2017:  08:44:06


Hello everybody,
a few years back I switched from playing the guitar to the five string banjo, mainly because the folkband I now play in needed a banjopicker.
And I absolutely fell in love with it. Of course it wasn't until later I that learned that most Irish traditional tunes are usually played on a 4 string irish banjo. It takes me a lot of time and effort to convert the triplets and fancy irish tradititional embellishments to my threefingerstyle picking. Does anyone else here in the hangout play Irish trad on a 5 string banjo in a band?

trapdoor2 - Posted - 11/06/2017:  09:30:52


Check out Tom Hanway's stuff. tomhanway.com/ He's BHO's resident Celtic 5-string expert...and has a book on the subject published via Mel Bay.

Fathand - Posted - 11/06/2017:  10:15:44


The type of banjo you use is primarily dependant on your skill with the instrument, the sound you desire and the expectations of your playing companions.



Irish tunes are regularly played on 5 string Banjo in Bluegrass and Folk performances. The Tenor banjo was popularized in Irish "sessions" about 1960. The 5 string banjo was introduced to Ireland about 1840 by Minstrel shows, about 60 years before the invention of the Tenor banjo in the early 1900s.



Some tunes regularly played on 5 string that come to mind are , Paddy on The Turnpike, Red Haired Boy, The Rakes of Mallow and Billy in the Lowground (American?).

StuartJohn - Posted - 11/06/2017:  11:06:37


Tom Hanway's book and supporting CD is very very good. Great audio examples with the book providing great informative introductions and well laid out tabs for the songs, of which there are lots.

ChuckCharles - Posted - 11/08/2017:  07:02:02


Thank you for the tips I will check out Tom Hanway's book, it sounds like it would be a big help. Does anyone of you know if its available in e-book form?

steve davis - Posted - 11/08/2017:  11:44:34


I have the book and it's one of my go-to fiddle tune "bibles".
Last week I was asked to have Garry Owen ready for this Saturday.

Not wanting to waste anytime I read Tom's version and it was just what I needed.
After I "got it" I went over to the fiddler's house and we had it down pretty quickly.

Neat to get this one ready for performance as I was in the 3/12 Cavalry.

Texican65 - Posted - 11/08/2017:  14:31:02


When I hear Irish banjo, I think back to Luke Kelly and the Dubliners. Is that accurate for style...or is there something different than that for Irish banjo.

ChuckCharles - Posted - 11/10/2017:  09:58:51


We play a lot of 'Dubliners' songs, and also irish traditional jigs and reels. I do my best to play those on the 5 string (three finger style).

steve davis - Posted - 11/10/2017:  11:24:35


I like to throw in thumb/index on the 1st string for a "flatpicking" melody simulation.

Laurence Diehl - Posted - 11/15/2017:  15:50:46


There are a few of us on here who like to play Irish music on the 5-string occasionally.


Tractor1 - Posted - 11/16/2017:  05:46:46


You will have to figure out the style you want to use.Single string,scruggs or melodic, or all of the above ,they all have their pros and cons.I personally like melodic.




Edited by - Tractor1 on 11/16/2017 05:53:17

Joel Hooks - Posted - 11/16/2017:  06:22:53


If you get books from Mel Bay I recommend you take them to a print/copy shop and have the binding replaced with a spiral bind.

Tom Hanway - Posted - 11/19/2017:  17:26:07


quote:

Originally posted by trapdoor2

Check out Tom Hanway's stuff. tomhanway.com/ He's BHO's resident Celtic 5-string expert...and has a book on the subject published via Mel Bay.






Thank you Marc Smith, I appreciate your thoughtfulness. The best link to find my Irish/Celtic collections (four books and companion recordings) is from the Mel Bay site.  Go here please for all my works, and this one: Complete Book of Irish & Celtic 5-String Banjo, which has a cross-referenced glossary. 



Irish and Celtic music libraries around the globe still have the Complete Book of Irish & Celtic 5-String Banjo (Perfect Binding)  on their shelves, as a reference book, and it has a cross-referenced glossary of terms. (I'm very happy and honored that librarians order my book for their shelves!)



I have lots of tune links here on BHO, as Media MP3s.  Here are a few Irish tunes, also some Carolan tunes.  The last is a hornpipe I wrote and recorded with producer Bil VornDick in Nashville. It had Mark Schatz on bass and doubling on banjo:



The Mason's Apron (Irish reel)



Liverpool Hornpipe/Cronin's/The Rights of Man (Irish hornpipes)



Carolan's Draught (Carolan)



Fanny Power (Carolan)

​​​​​​

Horizon Hornpipe (Hanway)



Enjoy!



Tom


Edited by - Tom Hanway on 11/19/2017 18:06:23

Tom Hanway - Posted - 11/21/2017:  05:18:54


quote:

Originally posted by ChuckCharles

Thank you for the tips I will check out Tom Hanway's book, it sounds like it would be a big help. Does anyone of you know if its available in e-book form?






Hey, Chuck, it sounds as if you're off to a great start with the tunes. In answer to your question about ebook form, the answer is YES:  All four Irish and Celtic collections are available as eBooks with free digital downloads of the tunes. For Complete Book of Irish & Celtic 5-String Banjo (1998), also 20 O'Carolan Irish Classics (2015), the tunes are up to speed but not insanely fast.  None of this is written in stone anyway, and one can play the tunes faster or slower to suit one's taste or comfort zone. Now, I play the tunes very slowly (mainly to help beginners) for Best-Loved Jigs and Reels, and Best-Loved Airs and Session Tunes



Please go to my author's page for the full list of books and eBooks:



All Titles by TOM HANWAY (Books and eBooks)



My advice, to anybody and everybody who's interested, is this: With thousands of tunes in circulation, and hundreds that are standards are standards, don't be overwhelmed: Work on melodies that you really like to play, and work them up to tempo, depending on the tune and playing context.  It's a steep learning curve to be able to play this stuff with mad fiddlers, pipers, whistle, flute, tenor banjo or box players at sessions. So, learn one tune at a time, master it, then put tunes together in medleys so you can remember them all.  "So many tunes ... so little time."  (I'm forever re-learning tunes to get them back under my fingers.  There are so many tunes to have at one's command and one cannot possibly remember them all.  A good idea is to work up particular tunes for the occasion, remembering what the session leaders (or best players) like to play at a particular session.)



There are some very old Irish and Scottish medleys that are still heard at sessions globally, for example, the Michael Coleman medley, each tune played once through here (from Complete Book of Irish & Celtic 5-String Banjo):



The Tarbolton (originally Scottish), Longford Collector, Sailor's Bonnet



To be honest, I don't bounce nearly as much as I used to back in 1997 when I recorded these.  Nowadays, I tend to use less ornamentation for a lot of tunes, though sometimes I use even more ornamentation (depending on the tune).  Sometimes at sessions, it's nice to play even notes, leaving out triplets and the like, locking in with other players, and driving the tune home.



Finally, none of these tunes are easy to play on a 5-string, but not to worry: They're even harder to play on the uilleann pipes, which is like wrestling an Octopus! 



Let me know, Chuck, if I can help you in your search for material, and the same goes to everybody who is interested in learning this stuff.  I do take tab requests, and will try transcribing almost anything that might work on a 5-string.  Have fun, and play tunes that appeal to you.  



All the best ~ Tom


Edited by - Tom Hanway on 11/21/2017 05:45:41

Tractor1 - Posted - 11/21/2017:  05:38:40


a march from the genre,worked out from the O'Neill collection



 


Edited by - Tractor1 on 11/21/2017 05:42:30

Tom Hanway - Posted - 11/21/2017:  07:34:36


quote:

Originally posted by Texican65

When I hear Irish banjo, I think back to Luke Kelly and the Dubliners. Is that accurate for style...or is there something different than that for Irish banjo. [emphasis added]






Luke Kelly (1940-1984), yes, that's "accurate for style" -- for accompaniment -- not for tune playing. Also remember the Irish Travellers, people like Pecker Dunne (1933-2012), Margaret Barry (1917-1989), who influenced a young Luke, and Finbar Furey (born on 28 September 1946), whose 5-string accompaniment owes a lot to the fact that he started off as an uilleann piper. (Notice his ornamentation in 'When You Were Sweet Sixteen'.)



Barney McKenna (tenor banjo) famously handled the playing of tunes for the Dubliners. Luke Kelly was an excellent accompanist, and his style is perfect for backing Dubliners' songs and the old airs, just as Margaret Barry did.  



Two of the better known examples of 5-string accompaniment to famous songs in Irish music are:





Enjoy,



Tom


Edited by - Tom Hanway on 11/21/2017 07:40:14

Cornflake - Posted - 11/21/2017:  10:29:22


I'm primarily a bluegrass player but for years I've been drawn to Irish tunes. Tom Hanway's book heavily influenced me--in fact it's right next me at this moment opened to Banish Misfortune. I often modify his fingering approaches, but it's a great reference. At this stage if I want to learn a new tune I will go to a fiddle version on YouTube and slow it down to learn it note for note. I've found that learning the Celtic tunes has significantly helped my bluegrass playing with both the right and left fingering.

Tom Hanway - Posted - 11/26/2017:  06:40:47


quote:

Originally posted by Cornflake

I'm primarily a bluegrass player but for years I've been drawn to Irish tunes. Tom Hanway's book heavily influenced me--in fact it's right next me at this moment opened to Banish Misfortune. I often modify his fingering approaches, but it's a great reference. At this stage if I want to learn a new tune I will go to a fiddle version on YouTube and slow it down to learn it note for note. I've found that learning the Celtic tunes has significantly helped my bluegrass playing with both the right and left fingering.






Thanks a million, Michael!  'Banish Misfortune' (Varnish Mef.reskin) is one of the classic jigs and easy to play. There's a reason for those fingerings, and they're not meant to be bluegrass fingerings (for either hand).



Okay, you have to make the tunes comfortable for you, but I would avoid squeezing Irish and Celtic tunes into a bluegrass picking style if you want to go further with them in a traditional context:  One needs to gain facility in mastering lots of tunes if one wants to hang with serious tune players. That's the purpose of my four books, though people may choose to use them differently to scratch their own musical itches.  That's fine, too.  Unsurprisingly, it's my experience that people tend to have blind spots when it comes to seeing what I'm actually offering in my Irish and Celtic tune collections.



I wrote this in my second Irish and Celtic collection, Best-Loved Jigs and Reels (2012), "I have tried to make the picking-hand fingerings as easy as possible based on my years of experience picking out jigs, reels, hornpipes and other Celtic tunes....  The picking-hand fingerings are my suggestions, what works best for me after many attempts.  Your hand might work differently.  Don't be afraid to change the fingerings.  It has to work for you."  (Hanway, Easy Irish & Celtic Tunes for 5-String Banjo: Best-Loved Jigs and Reels, p.15)



I can appreciate you modifying the fingering approaches because I modify them, too, practicing different ways of playing the same passage, especially if I'm adding variation or some form of ornamentation, but also because it's better to be loose in one's fingerings than to have a single inflexible approach.  In Best-Loved Jigs and reels (also eBook), Chapter Two: Celtic Fingerstyle Banjo is devoted to picking-hand and fretting-hand fingerings, I distinguish "between the traditional bluegrass 'right hand' and 'Celtic fingerstyle' playing, which departs from Scruggs, 'single-string' (Reno) and 'melodic' (Keith/Thompson) techniques, while being informed by all of them."  



Here are some bullet points: 



⦁    The classic Reno (TITI) pattern can become awkward for reels, so I smooth it out ... instead of playing alternating thumb-index (TITI) patterns mechanistically, I often find it easier and smoother sounding to play TITM, or TMTI, or TMTM, or even TIMI patterns.  It may depend on which string I'm coming from and which string I'm going to next. Change is the only constant here. (Hanway, Easy Irish & Celtic Tunes for 5-String Banjo: Best-Loved Jigs and Reels, p.15)



⦁    In Celtic fingerstyle, technique never dictates which string to play or which finger to use.  How one wants a pitch to sound (ITALICS) in relation to the pitches before and after it is key in determining which string to play a note on, then which finger to use for the picking-hand (ITALICS), unless of course, the fretting-hand hand (ITALICS) is used to play a particular pitch or ornament.  Like an Irish fiddler, one can 'cut' to a note from a grace note or use "double-cuts" (two grace notes) before a main melody note, flicking a finger, a quick hammer-on-pull-off combination.



⦁    So, the Celtic fingerstyle approach to picking-hand fingerings is to try out different ones -- slowed down, but also sped up, as fast as possible -- then decide which one works best.... If one cannot play a particular passage smoothly at tempo, owing to the picking hand, then it's time to consider a new fingering for that passage or drill in a particular fingering sequence until it becomes second nature.



⦁    In the final analysis, I don't think in terms of pattern-picking, because I'm more interested in the notes of a tune and which strings I want to play them on because of how I want the notes to sound (ITALICS) in the overall context of a particular tune.  If one begins with predictable picking patterns, then tries to squeeze all the notes into them, one is making something that can come quite naturally unnecessarily rigid and difficult. The "path of least resistance" is the way to go.



⦁    Once you can play tunes at sessions, you will be long past worrying about which finger to use on a particular string.  It will become automatic.  So, do your practicing and memorizing at home, and bring new batches of tunes to sessions. Learn one tune at a time, both fretting and picking-hand fingerings for each tune, just like a fiddler learns particular fingerings and bowing for each tune. I learned from traditional fiddlers so I have come to practice like them." (Hanway, Best-Loved Jigs and Reels, Chapter Two: Celtic Fingerstyle Banjo, p.13)



My old friend and mentor Bill Keith was among the first 5-string pickers to nail Scottish tunes in his smooth "melodic" style  -- different from "Celtic fingerstyle" --  which uses his and other picking-hand and fretting-hand techniques (e.g. hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides) to play melody or embellish it, borrowing ideas from all the instruments in the living tradition of Celtic music.



Here's 'De'il Amang the Tailors' played bluegrass style.



Bill Monroe & The Bluegrass Boys - Devil's Dream (the way "Brad" Keith played it)



Enjoy!



Tom 

 


Edited by - Tom Hanway on 11/26/2017 06:55:12

Tractor1 - Posted - 11/26/2017:  07:47:13


tradition changes and instrumentation are ongoing .There is no pope to accept or reject on a grand scale.

as far as personal preference ''squeezing them down'' has good reasons for  me ,I  lean towards  mutual acceptance and not playing the tradition card  or non tradition card

The jams one endeavors to join varies with thousands of locals imo



If you want to try to capture the double notes , trills  etc  going with Tom's books is the best ,especially if it fits in with your local jam



 


Edited by - Tractor1 on 11/26/2017 07:57:54

Tom Hanway - Posted - 11/26/2017:  08:33:28


Thanks a million, Michael!  'Banish Misfortune' (Varnish Mef.reskin) is one of the classic jigs and easy to play. There's a reason for those picking-hand fingerings, and they're not meant to be bluegrass fingerings.



Okay, you have to make the tunes comfortable for you, but I would avoid squeezing Irish and Celtic tunes into a bluegrass picking style if you want to go further with them in a traditional context: One needs to gain facility in mastering lots of tunes, combining them in sets, if one wants to hang with serious tune players. That's the purpose of my four Irish & Celtic collections, though people may choose to use any one of the books differently to scratch their own musical itches.  That's fine, too.  Unsurprisingly, it's my experience that people tend to have blind spots when it comes to seeing what I'm really offering in these Irish and Celtic collections. (This is not bluegrass or old-time music.)



I wrote this in my second tune book, Best-Loved Jigs and Reels (2012), "I have tried to make the picking-hand fingerings as easy as possible based on my years of experience picking out jigs, reels, hornpipes and other Celtic tunes....  The picking-hand fingerings are my suggestions, what works best for me after many attempts.  Your hand might work differently.  Don't be afraid to change the fingerings.  It has to work for you."  (from Easy Irish & Celtic Tunes for 5-String Banjo: Best-Loved Jigs and Reels, Chapter Two: Celtic Fingerstyle Banjo, p.13)



I can appreciate you modifying my fingering approaches because I modify them, too, practicing different ways of playing the same passage, especially if I'm adding variation or some form of ornamentation, but also because it's better to be loose in one's fingerings than have a single inflexible approach.  In Best-Loved Jigs and Reels (also eBook), Chapter Two is is devoted to picking-hand and fretting-hand fingerings, I distinguish "between the traditional bluegrass 'right hand' and 'Celtic fingerstyle' playing, which departs from Scruggs, 'single-string' (Reno) and 'melodic' (Keith/Thompson) techniques, while being informed by all of them."  



Here are some bullet points: 



⦁    The classic Reno (TITI) pattern can become awkward for reels, so I smooth it out ... instead of playing alternating thumb-index (TITI) patterns mechanistically, I often find it easier and smoother sounding to play TITM, or TMTI, or TMTM, or even TIMI patterns.  It may depend on which string I'm coming from and which string I'm going to next. Change is the only constant here. (from Best-Loved Jigs and Reels, p.13)



⦁    In Celtic fingerstyle, technique never dictates which string to play or which finger to use.  How one wants a pitch to sound in relation to the pitches before and after it is key in determining which string to play a note on, then which finger to use for the picking-hand, unless of course, the fretting-hand is used to play a particular pitch or ornament.  Like an Irish fiddler, one can "cut" to a note from a grace note or use "double-cuts" (two grace notes) before a main melody note, flicking a finger, a quick hammer-on-pull-off combination.



⦁    So, the Celtic fingerstyle approach to picking-hand fingerings is to try out different ones -- slowed down, but also sped up, as fast as possible -- then decide which one works best.... If one cannot play a particular passage smoothly at tempo, owing to the picking hand, then it's time to consider a new fingering for that passage or drill in a particular fingering sequence until it becomes second nature.



⦁    In the final analysis, I don't think in terms of pattern-picking, because I'm more interested in the notes of a tune and which strings I want to play them on because of how I want the notes to sound in the overall context of a particular tune.  If one begins with predictable picking patterns, then tries to squeeze all the notes into them, one is making something that can come quite naturally unnecessarily rigid and difficult. The "path of least resistance" is the way to go.



⦁    Once you can play tunes at sessions, you will be long past worrying about which finger to use on a particular string.  It will become automatic.  So, do your practicing and memorizing at home, and bring new batches (sets) of tunes to sessions. Learn one tune at a time, both fretting and picking-hand fingerings for each tune, just like a fiddler learns particular fingerings and bowing for each tune. I learned from traditional fiddlers so I have come to practice like them." (from Best-Loved Jigs and Reels, Chapter Two: Celtic Fingerstyle Banjo, p.13)



My old friend and mentor Bill Keith was among the first 5-string pickers to nail Scottish tunes in his smooth "melodic" style  -- different from "Celtic fingerstyle" --  which uses his and other picking-hand and fretting-hand techniques to play or embellish melodies, borrowing ideas from many of the instruments in the living tradition that is Celtic music.



Here's 'De'il Amang the Tailors' played bluegrass style:



Bill Monroe & The Bluegrass Boys - Devil's Dream (the way "Brad" Keith played it)



Enjoy!



Tom 

ChuckCharles - Posted - 11/29/2017:  07:46:55


quote:

Originally posted by Tom Hanway

quote:

Originally posted by ChuckCharles

Thank you for the tips I will check out Tom Hanway's book, it sounds like it would be a big help. Does anyone of you know if its available in e-book form?






Hey, Chuck, it sounds as if you're off to a great start with the tunes. In answer to your question about ebook form, the answer is YES:  All four Irish and Celtic collections are available as eBooks with free digital downloads of the tunes. For Complete Book of Irish & Celtic 5-String Banjo (1998), also 20 O'Carolan Irish Classics (2015), the tunes are up to speed but not insanely fast.  None of this is written in stone anyway, and one can play the tunes faster or slower to suit one's taste or comfort zone. Now, I play the tunes very slowly (mainly to help beginners) for Best-Loved Jigs and Reels, and Best-Loved Airs and Session Tunes



Please go to my author's page for the full list of books and eBooks:



All Titles by TOM HANWAY (Books and eBooks)



My advice, to anybody and everybody who's interested, is this: With thousands of tunes in circulation, and hundreds that are standards are standards, don't be overwhelmed: Work on melodies that you really like to play, and work them up to tempo, depending on the tune and playing context.  It's a steep learning curve to be able to play this stuff with mad fiddlers, pipers, whistle, flute, tenor banjo or box players at sessions. So, learn one tune at a time, master it, then put tunes together in medleys so you can remember them all.  "So many tunes ... so little time."  (I'm forever re-learning tunes to get them back under my fingers.  There are so many tunes to have at one's command and one cannot possibly remember them all.  A good idea is to work up particular tunes for the occasion, remembering what the session leaders (or best players) like to play at a particular session.)



There are some very old Irish and Scottish medleys that are still heard at sessions globally, for example, the Michael Coleman medley, each tune played once through here (from Complete Book of Irish & Celtic 5-String Banjo):



The Tarbolton (originally Scottish), Longford Collector, Sailor's Bonnet



To be honest, I don't bounce nearly as much as I used to back in 1997 when I recorded these.  Nowadays, I tend to use less ornamentation for a lot of tunes, though sometimes I use even more ornamentation (depending on the tune).  Sometimes at sessions, it's nice to play even notes, leaving out triplets and the like, locking in with other players, and driving the tune home.



Finally, none of these tunes are easy to play on a 5-string, but not to worry: They're even harder to play on the uilleann pipes, which is like wrestling an Octopus! 



Let me know, Chuck, if I can help you in your search for material, and the same goes to everybody who is interested in learning this stuff.  I do take tab requests, and will try transcribing almost anything that might work on a 5-string.  Have fun, and play tunes that appeal to you.  



All the best ~ Tom






 Hi Tom, Thank you so much for the advice. I always practice the melody I am learning at tortoise speed ;) and I figure out the fingerings for the triplets the way they work for me. And if they don't work or if it gets to complicated for my skill level  I leave them out.  I am definitely going to get a copy of the complete Book of Irish and celtic 5string banjo, sounds to be exactly what I need. As soon as I work op the courage I will post a video of some of the jigs and reels I ve figured out myself so far.



regards, Chuck

Tom Hanway - Posted - 12/02/2017:  05:39:12


Cool, Chuck. Thanks! Tortoise speed is good. That's how we do it--we have to do it that way. Accuracy builds speed.



Please see my reply in this OT thread:



How does one practice precision? @ banjohangout.org/topic/336911/2



Kind regards ~ Tom


Edited by - Tom Hanway on 12/02/2017 05:44:12

Tractor1 - Posted - 12/02/2017:  06:21:57


if you are going to take these to jams they have to be loud enough , fast enough and clean enough to fit with the locals.Fiddle players emphasize to match bowing ,that needs to be matched also.One idea is to keep a simple arrangement and complicated one both.That is why I like my ''squeezed down way"too much attempt at single string trills ,triplets and other ornamentations slows me to a useless tempo.I don't have the fingers for it.

Tom Hanway - Posted - 12/06/2017:  19:14:14


Good man, Tom, I like your "squeezed down way" approach! Practice slowly, man, and take no passengers!

Tractor1 - Posted - 12/06/2017:  21:07:26


I do .Amazing how much easier some things are at 120 bpm compared to 100.One has to get the strings excited more because of the longer note spacing in the slower tempos.It builds finger strength and good smooth pick to string contact imo,But in the bluegrass jam world you never know when it has to be loud or fast beyond good music. Thanks

I just do a few celtic tunes. I just consider my self a banjo player ,that plays many kinds of music.


Edited by - Tractor1 on 12/06/2017 21:14:33

Tractor1 - Posted - 12/07/2017:  05:20:29




Here is about the prettiest thing i have listened to in a long time

g3zdm - Posted - 12/07/2017:  12:41:37


That's lovely - but it isn't either of the 2 melodies that I know of as Foggy Dew; parts of it remind me of Neil Gow's Lament on the Death of his second wife.
Anyone know the true title of the tune, please ?

Chris Muriel, Manchester, UK.

Tractor1 - Posted - 12/07/2017:  14:44:36


now you have 4 to choose from ha ha , I figure fiddle tunes vary from lineage,location ,artists etc. I think calling them out as ultimate version would be impossible on some.



Foggy Dew is the morning in the valley mood I hear here,so I shall maintain till further notice.thanks


Edited by - Tractor1 on 12/07/2017 14:50:58

g3zdm - Posted - 12/08/2017:  02:04:00


Nice guitar / fiddle rendition. That one is 1 of the Foggy Dew melodies that I was already aware of.

An Irish rebel song adds words to this ("for those who died that Eastertide in the shroud of the foggy dew").



Chris Muriel


Edited by - g3zdm on 12/08/2017 02:04:32

Tractor1 - Posted - 12/08/2017:  05:24:01


the 2, I posted have the same intro and first verse to my ear and seem very similar,but I have not done a snail's pace study of the whole thing.There are a bunch of the singing versions on you tube


Edited by - Tractor1 on 12/08/2017 05:24:36

Tom Hanway - Posted - 12/08/2017:  07:22:50


Lovely stuff, Tom, and I've got one for you, a slow air that Co. Bronx (haha) fiddler Eileen Ivers composed for her parents' 40th wedding anniversary. No one had ever heard the tune until she played it at their anniversary. It went down extremely well, and she recorded it later. It has caught on and a lot of people have recorded it now.



Flute player Noel Sweeney (from Ballinamore, Co. Leitrim) showed it to me only yesterday at rehearsal. I'm not playing it on banjo, I'm backing it on guitar. 



So, three videos, first Bygone Days (the tune she wrote for her parents.)  Also, hear Eileen playing a couple of reels.  Last, hear her messing around at home. Nobody plays the fiddle like Eileen, nobody. 





Enjoy!



Tom

Old Hickory - Posted - 12/09/2017:  09:58:07


quote:

Originally posted by ChuckCharles

Does anyone else here in the hangout play Irish trad on a 5 string banjo in a band?






I've played 5-string banjo (and electric bass) in a Celtic-Americana band since 2007, with a 3-year break during my temporary relocation to NYC. I bought both the Tony Trischka fiddle tunes book and Tom Hanway's "Complete . . ." book.



But not all the tunes introduced by our fiddle/hammer dulcimer player were in either those books or available anywhere else (when I first needed them, anyway).  So I had to work out my own versions. I did this by going to ABCnotation.com to find versions of the tunes closest to the versions my bandmate was playing.  Downloading the ABC notation files gave me midi audio of the melody line and a viewable/printable image of the standard notation.  First step in developing a banjo version was to play and tab the melody with no regard for banjoistic style, playability or fingering -- simply get the melody down.  Then I started working on making it playable, moving the notes to strings and frets that worked for me.  Changing notes as needed to accommodate my technique and ability. I've done this with five or six tunes, two of which I eventually tabbed out and posted here:



Donnybrook Fair  - no longer exactly how I play it. Now the multiple E notes are all 1st string 2nd fret.



Gallagher's Frolics



Here are three Celtic tunes published in Banjo Newsletter in March of this year. The linked article has been made free to the public with no subscription needed.



Even when tunes I needed were in the Hanway or Trischka books or posted online, I did as others have said and modified the fingering to make them as easy to play as possible. To stay as true to the melodies as I could, I've had to learn some new technique. But when I can't get something under my fingers, I have to do whatever it takes to make something playable in my combination of Scruggs, melodic and single-string styles.



My latest fiddle tune challenge is learning Fishers Hornpipe in D so I can play it at jams.  I learned it in G for my band, because my bandmate played it on hammer dulcimer instead of fiddle and G was better for him.  It's really easy on banjo in G and a real workout, for me, in D.

Tractor1 - Posted - 12/09/2017:  10:24:29


I play Fishers in G and C pretty much verbatim from O Neill's book.But in a straight time vs horn pipe,probably in the 108 bpm range.
Some go for it like a bluegrass tune and get it on up in tempo.The chord changes gives it easy possibilities for variations imo

steve davis - Posted - 12/09/2017:  10:39:45


Tom mentioned the need to choose a style.
I don't think in terms of what style I'm playing.

Playing what seems to fit in the moment can include melodic,Scruggs,single string and the gray areas between those "styles" all in the same tune.

Tractor1 - Posted - 12/09/2017:  10:52:20


I don't much play in the moment,personally.Nothing wrong with that,it just ain,t me.I choose the style when working it out note for note ahead of time.I don't always keep it to one,but melodic with hammers ,pull offs and slides tends to be the biggest go to for me.
There are great players that thrive on the way you do it Steve,for sure

Old Hickory - Posted - 12/09/2017:  12:20:14


Remembered that I had also tabbed my arrangement of Out on the Ocean. So now it's in the tab archive, too.



As to playing in the moment: While I have in the past few years increased my ability to improvise melodically, that doesn't extend to playing highly accurate melodies of fiddle tunes, especially Irish tunes such as the ones I've worked out and uploaded here. For most of the Celtic tunes I play in my band, I basically know one version. If I play anything different than what I've worked out, it's not an intentional variation on the melody or some interpretative exploration. It's simply I make mistakes and play chord notes, stock melodic licks or even nothing until I reach a spot where I can recover.

Tractor1 - Posted - 12/09/2017:  12:53:36


I bet we all do this,I would love to see them all.I actually do this one a bit different in a place or 2 now.



 Some of the first part ,I learned from Jim Smoaks book in the 70s.Jim  from ,was around here then,.He was  first generation, said he listened to Snuffy 


Edited by - Tractor1 on 12/09/2017 12:59:19

steve davis - Posted - 12/09/2017:  17:51:57


I like sneaking a hint of reggae rhythms into fiddle tunes,here and there.

Tom Hanway - Posted - 12/10/2017:  06:33:49


Fantastic, I'm delighted to see people sharing their personal approaches to playing trad tunes. How one chooses to practice and work up tunes will determine how they sound in a solo performance, at a trad session, and on stage. All will be revealed to listeners' ears, and many knowledgeable people have discerning ears when it comes to spotting "style" in a person's playing. Taste, as always, is individual and subjective, for both player and audience.  



Below is an exercise for loosening up one's fingers in an Irish-Celtic-finger-picking-style-for-5-string-banjo. I prefer to call it simply "Celtic fingerstyle banjo" because it's shorter and easy to remember. ?



"Celtic fingerstyle" guitar has been around for donkey's years, and it has its own set of fretting-hand and playing-hand techniques, some of which overlap with Irish and Celtic fingerstyle banjo, which almost always sticks to G-tuning so that players can play trad medleys without re-tuning (as in OT music) and disrupting a trad session. Here are two examples (six tunes):



LIVERPOOL HORNPIPE/CRONIN'S/THE RIGHTS OF MAN (3 Hornpipes)



THE TARBOLTON/LONGFORD COLLECTOR/SAILOR'S BONNET (3 Reels)



Here's a recording of Fisher's we put out in 1998.  Please notice the ornamentation in both the fretting- and picking hands. This matches the tablature, played just once.



FISHER'S HORNPIPE (Key of D - no capo)



Celtic fingerstyle banjo--the way I use it--means something specific in the living tradition that is Irish and Celtic music. I have outlined a playing method in four tune collections in 1998, 2012, 2013 and 2014. That's 224 transcriptions to date--not including the BHO Tab Library and my Photos, where I have submitted dozens of Irish and Celtic tunes and fingering exercises. See my 2001 article: Perspective and Meaning in Celtic Music.



My four works offer what I believe to be a coherent set of playing techniques that are intended to produce desirable sounds for playing trad tunes. I combined approaches from many related traditions so that the 5-string players can gel with other instrumentalists in Irish and Celtic tradition, borrowing stylistic techniques from many of these instruments, e.g., fiddle, pipes, flute, whistle, accordion, and, of course, the tenor banjo (especially triplets and 'stuttered triplets'). Irish fingerstyle or Celtic fingerstyle is also a solo style of performance. My author's page has a full list of books and eBooks (also online audio for all of them).



I'll avoid historical anecdotes, old debates, semantics, and arcane bluegrass references, e.g. Scruggs/melodic bluegrass/Caroll/Keith/Thompson/single-string/Reno/Fleck styles. 



Let's get down to the brass tax. Here are some fretting-hand and picking-hand exercises in "Celtic fingerstyle". Some might prefer "Irish fingerstyle" or even "Davis-style."


Edited by - Tom Hanway on 12/10/2017 06:51:25

Tom Hanway - Posted - 12/10/2017:  07:04:02


Here's a full version of the 'The Swallowtail Jig' (please see post above), a stock Irish tune, though I don't hear it played much at sessions in Ireland, funny enough!  It's not the hippest tune, I suppose. I still love it, and I have some greasy fretting-hand ornamentation, which I got from American fiddler Craig Eastman back in the '80s. I will put up that version later--I've haven't tabbed it yet. Notice that this tune is in Dorian mode. It's a "gapped" (pentatonic) scale in the opening phrase, though it uses all seven notes (diatonic scale). I came up with the name for the Stelling SwallowTail, in part, because of this tune, but also for the reel, The Swallow's Tail. (A Dorian).






Edited by - Tom Hanway on 12/10/2017 07:20:31

Tractor1 - Posted - 12/10/2017:  07:48:25




this is a Canada tune I think.Once again squeezed down,and unshuffled.I think the writer did a good job of music for the ascension of an eagle.I love it when tunes endeavor to mimic things in other worldly things.
I just put this up,and since we are talking about swallows and also usable ideas I thought it would fit slightly .
Great world class picking there Tom,wish you were around here,it would give me someone I would enjoy viewing,especially since I read you also do the fingerstyle blues ala Gary Davis

Tom Hanway - Posted - 12/10/2017:  15:33:33


Thanks, Tom, we'd have fun sharing and shredding on banjo. I love hornpipes especially, and I have to be conscious of not playing too many of them in a row. 



I am a fingerstyle guitarist, yes, and I recorded some Rev. Gary tunes on The Badbelly Project: Hesitation Blues. Actually, I learned single-string playing from him, even before I picked up a banjo. He had a two-finger style, though I was using four fingers at the time; still, I would play the bass runs with just the thumb and index, and I still do. 



It's the "brass tacks" I meant to type in the The Swallowtail Jig ~ First Phrase post--not brass tax--blame it on text messaging. So, getting down to the essentials again, the brass tacks, here's a typical exercise that illustrates basic options in Celtic fingerstyle. 



The focus here is on how one wants the banjo to resonate, or, how one wants a tune to sound:




  • Is one looking for a more legato (ringing) sound?

  • Is one seeking a more staccato (punchy) sound?

  • How much ornamentation might be used in a tune, initially, or perhaps, in later variations?

  • Is a bare bones version preferable to a highly ornamented one?  



These are the types of questions one is continually asking when playing Irish and Celtic tunes, and how one deals with them is determinative of playing style, or, at least how others perceive one's playing (style), for good or ill. The proof is in the pudding, and it's good to be painstaking and thorough in one's practice, or, one doesn't know what one's missing. 



Here's a good question: Is one playing primarily for oneself, or, is one seeking to play with others at a trad session, e.g. Irish, Scottish, Shetland, mixed, etc.?



Please check out and work through the variations below--start with the middle one if the first is too hard--and notice how the banjo rings differently for each version. 



First, is an Irish fiddle version by maestro Kevin Burke, a must-listen before attempting the exercises below.



The Earl's Chair (Reel) - Irish Fiddle Lesson by Kevin Burke



'The Earl's Chair' is a reel that I hear a lot in the midlands of Ireland. These exercises serve to demonstrate the basic method of Celtic fingerstyle banjo--what informs and distinguishes it from playing "fiddle tunes" in a bluegrass or OT picking style. 




  • Chords are optional, and besides, they can always be re-harmonized. They are incidental to playing and ornamenting Irish and Celtic tunes.

  • Don't be concerned with the jazz chords for now (I was showing off), but do notice the last version which has more normal (basic) chords. 

  • Pay attention to the picking-hand fingerings, and try out your own if these don't work for you. These work for me, but I had to practice and make friends with them. (I tend to use fingerings that allow me to play at the fastest tempos. I don't think about fingerings in performance.)




Edited by - Tom Hanway on 12/10/2017 16:23:27

maryzcox - Posted - 12/10/2017:  16:59:06




FSU Irish Music Ensemble end of semester gig @ Finnegan's Pub  Clawhammer Banjo with Mary Z Cox 

Tractor1 - Posted - 12/10/2017:  17:13:42


To answer your good question,I don't have any interest in seeking out one of the few jams of the nature you speak of. As I already said I feel a newbie should set their sights on the intended goal and hone his or her playing to get there.

I still listen to and go after some of the old country fiddle tunes.I guess that puts me in your other category,, of playing for one's self,but I play for others if that gives it any value at all ,to this .

I do jam with others here and there and enjoy stacking tracks .

.Turning the bland notes of a page into something musical takes some knowledge for sure.What you are putting forth is great for this.I actually always try to get as close to what the example instrument is doing also,but I certainly don't claim to be as immersed in fitting in at some session as you ,the reason being there aren't any.It would be a waste of time for me.

There is also the factor of me not writing books and being world known as a go to expert as you are on this music.The perks of an amateur are quiet different.



I probably am more of a legato fan,what little a banjo has of it,but yes note separation can be an issue in the melodic style.


Edited by - Tractor1 on 12/10/2017 17:18:57

Tractor1 - Posted - 12/10/2017:  17:24:01





many many roads

Tom Hanway - Posted - 12/11/2017:  09:55:17


Thank you, Mary Z. Cox for that lovely rendition of 'Tam Lin'—so great to hear it. I used to play this eons ago with Irish fiddlers back in New York City. I would love to have been in the mix for that one. Maybe next time?



Okay, Mary Z. Cox, if you don't already know her, has plenty of gorgeous old time collections at CD Baby. Purchasing tunes from the artist is way cooler than going to streaming sites or being a slave to YouTube



Mary is absolutely prolific, uniquely gifted, and a real champion of clawhammer banjo and mountain dulcimer. She has videoed or recorded many classic Irish tunes and made them her own, e.g. 'Sheebeg and Sheemore' (Sí Bheag Agus SÍ Mhór), 'Dunsmore Lasses' (Dunmore Lasses), 'Pigtown Fling', 'Tam Lin', among others. It's great stuff.



'The Glasgow [Reel]' aka 'The 'Tamlin' ('Tam Lin')—not to be confused with the 'Tam Lin', a traditional Scottish ballad—is another lovely Irish tune that has crossed over the pond into American and Canadian old time music, also having variants in the Irish, Scots-Irish and Scottish diasporas worldwide. This tune has been used in loads of sets (tune medleys), which can be found at The Session.



The 'Tamlin' can be played with just about anything, 'The Mason's Apron', as well, and that's how I'm going to put it back into my repertoire, out of Dm, for starters. 



Davey Arthur (of The Fureys and Davey Arthur fame—'The Green Fields of France') was born in Donegal but spent much of his childhood in Scotland. He is credited (deservingly) for composing the 'Tamlin'. 



Interestingly, Paddy O’Brien was enamorate of the tune, but not its title, so he changed it to the 'Howling Wind'—the folk process relentlessy at work, haha. The 'Tamlin' (by any title) has gone on to become a stock banjo tune at Irish and Scottish sessions. However, many variations, including the D-Minor-to-A-Minor modulation, have largely been propagated by fiddlers. 



It's a fiddle trick to move tunes up or down a string, using the exact same fingerings. The Fiddler's Companion tell us "the melody has currency with many musicians who play for Irish step-dancing competitions," also that "it has influentially been recorded for step dance practice by piano accordion player Pat King." I reckon this tune found its way into OT, New England and Canadian fiddling enclaves a long long time ago. Still, it's an Irish tune.



Okay, friends, I'm all for crossover versions of tunes. The Irish are forever copying American country songs and making them their own­—not necessarily paying royalties—and I've gotten hired to pick banjo on many an Irish country recording where this happens. (If I'm getting paid, shouldn't the songwriters also be getting paid?)



In any case, 'Tam LIn' is rendered many ways and in many keys: D Minor, A Minor (for flute), D Minor to A Minor (fiddle and flute), also E Minor and B Minor. I think it would be cool in G Minor. Why not? G Minor, moving further up the neck for the B-part, brings one up to the 17th fret, but the melody is pretty simple. The A-part (even with variations) largely works out of chord arpeggios, so it's handy to learn the A-part out of closed positions (for playing the tune in any key). The B-part is trickier, and fiddlers have many variations for it. Again, it's a good idea to work out of closed position in order to play the tune in any key. Anyway, that's my strategy in Celtic fingerstyle, which is geared towards session playing as well as solo and concert performances. (All will be revealed.)



I just worked it up in Gm for the craic, but it's out of Dm that I used to play it, so that's next.  Capoing is allowed for Em, sure, especially if it follows 'The Mason's Apron' (which I play out of G Major, sometimes capoed to A Major). With so many Irish tunes in circulation, the best way to keep tunes in one's repertoire is to combine them in sets. Okay, re-tuning the banjo to Gm—gDGBbD—would be an old-timey option, also good for a solo performance. (I don't re-tune when playing medleys at Irish sessions because there's no time for it, also because it's disruptive to the session to have a 5-string player constantly re-tuning.)  



Honestly, I have forgotten more tunes that I learned as single tunes, and it's a never-ending battle to keep so many tunes under one's fingers. The trick is to get out to sessions with great intentions, fall flat on one's face, lol, go home, study and practice, and then go out the next week, then the next, and so on. Finding good sessions, I admit, is easier in the midlands of Ireland than in a lot of places, so I'm lucky.



Fyi, Mary recorded 'Pigtown Fling', which has a distant cousin in Ireland, called 'The Roving Bachelor' or 'Tommy Peoples' (No. 2)'.  Can you hear how these tunes are similar?



Here's a lovely rendition of that related tune with the late Frankie Kennedy on flute, husband to Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh (Mooney), on fiddle, in their pre-Altan days:



Frankie Kennedy, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh - 'Tommy Peoples' Reels'



Enjoy!



Tom


Edited by - Tom Hanway on 12/11/2017 10:00:07

maryzcox - Posted - 12/11/2017:  11:53:46


Wow Tom--thanks a lot for all your kind words--does this mean we are now engaged to be married ?  heart I could at least bake you a fresh apple pie with cinamon butter crust :)



  I have to tell you that this is my second year playing with the Florida State University Irish Music ensemble--which is a performance class in the world music department. Mostly I play Celtic back up guitar for them--but once in a while they'll let me clawhammer a tune or two.  The class changes personnel every semester--but there has been a core of 5 or 6 who return each time. 



The reason  I play guitar is that the reels & jigs change keys so fast that I'd probably never keep up on the banjo and end up with really awkward fingering :)  But I'm still learning Celtic guitar too--my jig timing on guitar needs a lot of work . 



Anyway, the graduate student who instructs this class has been just awesome with everyone--instead of booking our recitals in the stuffy audioriums on campus--we have them at Irish Pubs and as front bands for real Irish bands.  Last year we fronted for Brock McGuire and Runa and both are having us again this year :) It is great fun & I love the words to the tunes when they force us to sing :) Pride of Petravore,  Rocky Road to Dublin--haha. 



Anyway--got a chance to record Tamlin & Julia Delaney last year with Tim Gardner on the fiddle & cello banjo--which is another very fun sound :)



Best wishes, 



Mary Z Cox



 



Tom Hanway - Posted - 12/12/2017:  02:10:24


quote:

Originally posted by maryzcox

Wow Tom--thanks a lot for all your kind words--does this mean we are now engaged to be married ?  heart I could at least bake you a fresh apple pie with cinamon butter crust :)



I have to tell you that this is my second year playing with the Florida State University Irish Music ensemble--which is a performance class in the world music department. Mostly I play Celtic back up guitar for them--but once in a while they'll let me clawhammer a tune or two.  The class changes personnel every semester--but there has been a core of 5 or 6 who return each time. 



The reason  I play guitar is that the reels & jigs change keys so fast that I'd probably never keep up on the banjo and end up with really awkward fingering :)  But I'm still learning Celtic guitar too--my jig timing on guitar needs a lot of work . 



Anyway, the graduate student who instructs this class has been just awesome with everyone--instead of booking our recitals in the stuffy audioriums on campus--we have them at Irish Pubs and as front bands for real Irish bands.  Last year we fronted for Brock McGuire and Runa and both are having us again this year :) It is great fun & I love the words to the tunes when they force us to sing :) Pride of Petravore,  Rocky Road to Dublin--haha. 



Anyway--got a chance to record Tamlin & Julia Delaney last year with Tim Gardner on the fiddle & cello banjo--which is another very fun sound :)



Best wishes, 



Mary Z Cox



Good Morning Banjo by Mary Z. Cox






Mary dear, in music and in food, great palettes work alike, and the answer has to be "yes" to that fresh apple pie with cinnamon butter crust, à la mode please. 'John's Stinson's Dream' is lovely, btw. You're nothing short of amazing. heart



I was listening to Tamlin/Julia Delaney (among other things) from your Good Morning Banjo recording—it sounds sooo good! These tunes blend perfectly, and you and Tim Gardner make them fresh and fun.



I hear this as crossover music, traditional yet innovative, antebellum-old-time meets contemporary Celtic, and that's no easy tightrope to walk. You've bridged a stylistic gap with bare-bones arrangements, and the music is mysterious and sublime. That cello banjo sound speaks volumes—it's the way you play all your banjos. Tim's fiddling is loose and inspired. (I'm ordering a bunch of your magnificent recordings.)  



Okay, 'Tamlin' is in D Minor (Aeolian), and 'Julia Delaney' is D Dorian, slightly-less-minor sounding because it doesn't have a flatted sixth (Bb). These modes are indistinguishable when pentatonic scales are used—leaving out the sixth.



If people were to go to O'Neill's (1850) for 'Julia Delaney' (1401) they would be looking at a snapshot in time, an old setting in D Major. The B section has an entirely different melodic contour from what is commonly played today in Irish traditional music. It's still worth checking out, but it's almost a different tune.



I don't have the benefit of old-time tunings, e.g. aDADE, when I render these same tunes because I'm seeking to play every freakin' melody note and then be able to switch keys and modes on the fly—no re-tuning. So, in this regard, Celtic fingerstyle is vaguely similar to a jazz guitar approach—being able to play anywhere on the neck at a moment's notice.



At the same time, it's very unlike jazz in that tune-playing sticks religiously to the melodic contour, avoids licks and filler notes, and embellishes certain notes. Ornamentation is either pre-planned or spontaneous, and one learns to improvise in a very small musical space, adhering to tried-and-true ornamental devices found in Irish and Celtic music. 



The three types of variation in Irish traditional (and all Celtic) music are the melismatic, rhythmic and intervallic, and these are sometimes combined in interesting ways. Sam Bush's "Taste, tone, and timing" doesn't cover it all.



In the same tune I might take motifs and phrasing ideas from the pipes (rolls or turns), whistle (grace notes and bent notes), fiddle (cuts, double-cuts, long and short rolls) and tenor banjo (triplets and 'stuttered' triplets).



And that's just for starters. Special fretting-hand and picking-hand techniques are needed to play, ornament and combine tunes in sets—tune medleys with each tune played two or three times (sometimes more).



Thank you, again, Mary, you've inspired me to get 'Tamlin' and 'Julia Delaney' back under my fingers. And, I'll be ordering your recordings—I can't wait!



All the best,



Tom




Edited by - Tom Hanway on 12/12/2017 02:28:54

Tractor1 - Posted - 12/12/2017:  06:23:20


Personally I like Sam Bush's choices ,as they are.I see nothing he is leaving out that he should work on.But to each their own.

One can go to the internet archive and find fiddle tune collections back to the 1700s.These snapshots would also be a snapshot of the tradition at the time.Each snap shot would vary in the aspects mentioned.All these tunes vary from artists to artists, pub to pub,year to year.

I think great music sells it self with out the need to be marketed by traditional marketing ideas.The proof is in the pudding.



archive.org/stream/irishbards0.../mode/2up



here is one of the many interesting books


Edited by - Tractor1 on 12/12/2017 06:37:36

Tractor1 - Posted - 12/12/2017:  08:26:53


Page 86 gets interesting on the assessment of music in1786.Hint turn the fs to s etc,

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