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Irish and Celtic Fingerstyle Banjo

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Pioneering 5-string styles to play traditional tunes from Ireland, Celtic lands, ex-Celtic lands, and the Celtic diaspora.

82 Members, Created 5/11/2012 -

Administrators: Tom Hanway (owner) , peter somerville


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new celtic tabs

From peter somerville on 5/14/2012 5:20:50 PM

I've added a couple of new tabs to my site, temperance reel (teetotalers) and morning. there's some modern fingering approach in them. i'd be interested to hear what folks think of them. i can't figure out how to link them to here, i'm a bit illiterate on the computer! so apologies, you'll have to go to my site.

20 Comments

Tom Hanway says:
5/15/2012 5:00:38 PM

Great stuff Peter! Hey, what do you think of the Duelin' Banjos link, anybody? It's something Eric put up a while back, not from the poster. I'll leave it up, for the craic, but it's off-topic and it's not Celtic.

peter somerville says:
5/15/2012 5:35:11 PM

that tab format takes me a minute to adjust to . i don't know, not much new is there? bar 9 and 10 i like.

Tom Hanway says:
5/20/2012 9:40:27 PM

I ask some mods, and the consensus there was that it probably was off-topic, so feel free to delete it, so I did. It's Eric's tab, so I believe, and I don't think he'll be offended by its deletion off a Celtic Fingerstyle Group link.

Tom Hanway says:
5/20/2012 9:42:00 PM

Peter, I looked at the stuff you sent me privately, and I suggest you put up tabs to your profile first, then figure out how to link it here. Just a hunch. I like your approach, and we're on the same page. Thank you for posting.

peter somerville says:
5/21/2012 1:40:54 AM

finally got the tabs up. i wonder what pickers will make of them?

Tom Hanway says:
5/22/2012 2:36:54 AM

I also put this on your tune link: I'm focused on your picking-hand fingerings and where I would generally play MIT where you are playing MTI, starting in the first measure. Doubling with the middle finger on the first string is fine, but one could also play a grace note (B) in the previous measure, using the thumb on the second string, and in Celtic fingerstyle, using the fretting hand, hammer-on to a D-note, which would avoid doubling with the middle finger on the first string. Yours is a Celtic fingerstyle approach in its emphasis on strict melody, and I see nothing wrong or weird with your setting, and it's a lovely tune. I would just do it a bit differently, especially at the top, using MITMIT, then doubling with the thumb on the downbeat, or maybe using IMI on the inside strings, but there are many ways of doing it. I have transcribed 'The Tenpenny Bit' (G Ionian or Major mode) in Best-Loved Jigs and Reels, but it's an altogether different tune: Go figure! That's trad for you: same title, different tune! Interestingly, your 'Ten Penny Bit' has many of the melodic contours found in 'The Sligo Jig' (Ryan's Favourite) - both being in A Dorian mode. Maybe try MITMIT at the top, and it might change the way the tune feels or is naturally accented. Just a thought, it's fine the way it is. Great tab.

Tom Hanway says:
5/22/2012 3:09:33 AM

I commented on this 'Temperance Reel' on your tune link. Beautiful setting. It seems more bluegrassy, more Celtic Diaspora 'Temperance Reel' than Sligo-style (Irish) 'The Teetotaller' - but it's clearly in the zone of contemporary Celtic fingerstyle banjo. It's in the pocket, unique yet faithful to the tune. I would tend to use different picking-hand fingerings in the first full measure, emphasizing more thumb than index, but these fingerings still work for me. I tend to play something akin to a fiddler's (Sligo-style) long roll, using a hammer-on-pull-off combination (0-2-0) where you "cut" the pull-off (2-0), which is very clean and tidy. Beautiful tab, and I would recommend this to bluegrass pickers who are beginning to cross over into Celtic terrain.

peter somerville says:
5/22/2012 4:32:50 AM

hi Tom, yes that fingering would work fine on t bit for me. I cant figure out the grace note you're suggesting. i used to play this tune fast at a pub gig in the middle of a song 'when will we be married Molly, when will we be wed' etc, so too fast for grace notes.
yes good comment about temperance reel. i've learnt it from american sources which remains in the b part. in the a part i've gone more modern on the fingering withe the middle finger playing the 3 rd string several times, an approach i've only got onto recently and i find it works really well for me. I'm not getting to sessions enough to study regional styles much so just doing the best i can. i'll see if i can get that long roll in. so much to work on! thanks for taking the time to check them out. of the remaining tabs i've got, i think Morning Dew has modern approach fingering of most possible interest, and a personal favorite of mine. must check out Iain's tab now

boyratchet says:
5/23/2012 10:54:49 AM

I don't really give fingerings much thought, so I am curious as to what you are going for when you experiment with different fingerings.

Also, I posted a tab for Temperance Reel which is pretty close to how I play it. Reading Tom's comments on the b part were interesting.

boyratchet says:
5/23/2012 11:03:02 AM

I don't really give fingerings much thought, so I am curious as to what you are going for when you experiment with different fingerings.

Also, I posted a tab for Temperance Reel which is pretty close to how I play it. Reading Tom's comments on the b part were interesting.

Tom Hanway says:
5/23/2012 3:43:32 PM

I give fingerings for both hands a lot of thought so I can find the easiest ones that sound right for playing at tempo. I look for fingerings that leave me the option of fretting-hand options, say, pull-offs, or hammer-pull-offs, so I can always add variation without having to change the picking-hand sequence. I wouldn't call it a pattern, but a sequence. It's always melody-oriented, in the beginning, with easy ergonomic options. Economy = Ease. Speed comes from accuracy. Ornamentation has to be felt, and sometimes it has to be drilled in, hard-wired in, so it deserves special attention, especially in the context of a tune. One tune at a time.

Tom Hanway says:
5/23/2012 3:55:37 PM

@boyratchet, that's a really nice version. Isn't it Lydian mode in the first part, did I see a C sharp, or do I need glasses? Cool. I love it. Please link it here. It's a really clean version.

peter somerville says:
5/23/2012 4:42:53 PM

that C# is interesting! and after a couple of plays i like it. That tune Tsarka, boyratchet is cool but so short it's a tease so i hope you'll put more of it up one day.
lots of different reasons for trying different fingering. eg, i can now finally play the single string passage in pike county breakdown by playing t i m. wish i'd found that years ago. i'm also able to play closer to the melodies on celtic tunes by trying these new fingerings. staying lower on the neck let's me add ornamentation more easily.

boyratchet says:
5/24/2012 10:19:10 AM

Based on the comments, I went back and checked the recording. It is in fact a C# that is played. Why is that strange? (I have a basic understanding of modes but not much practical experience.)

I also realized that it isn't pipes but rather an accordion (or something similar) that is being played. That has influenced my "ornamentation". In order to try to capture the pumping bass of the accordion, I try to replace higher notes with those an octave down and on the 4th string or simply strike the 4th string when I have a free moment. I noted this two times in the tab, but I am trying to find more places to throw these in.

peter somerville says:
5/24/2012 3:04:57 PM

no doubt Tom will have a more informative answer. all i can say is the arrangements that i've heard and seen have a C natural in the A part. there's no doubt some tabs on the hangout here with a C natural.

Tom Hanway says:
5/24/2012 4:55:20 PM

C natural or C sharp, it hardly matters, it's just nice to see Lydian mode. It perks up the tune, though it might sound odd at a session if no one else is playing C sharp. That doesn't make it wrong, just different or weird to others who might not consider playing a C sharp. So what, it's not about conformity to C natural or C sharp. I use C sharp in Miss McLeod's when I play it as a solo piece, but I tend to go with C natural at sessions, so people don't look at me funny for missing the "proper" note. No big deal.

boyratchet says:
5/25/2012 12:17:46 AM

Thanks, that's good to know. And thanks for the compliments on the tab.

peter somerville says:
5/27/2012 8:40:01 PM

your book has finally turned up Tom! looks good. glad it's in alphabetical order so i can find tunes easily. i'll have more to say when i've gone thru it more. it's interesting comparing our arrangements, eg high reel, we play similar notes but there's so many ways to play the same notes. You've got melodic style for end of A part but B part you play the same melody single style. so many possibilties. Cup of Tea also interesting. just looked at those 2 so far as i know them well myself.
hey i think it's time you did a recording celtic style with a band. i'd love to hear the 'end product'.
there's a well known Fitzgerald musical family here, i think originally from Clare. i wonder if they're related to Moya?

Tom Hanway says:
6/4/2012 7:34:49 PM


Thanks Peter. I don't know about the Fitzgerald thing, lots of Fitzgeralds, but maybe?

Good spots, I like to give more than one possibility for playing the same notes. Why not? I often switch between single-string and melodic, because neither is wrong and my fingers want to do both, so why not let them? I enjoy putting the same notes in different arrangement settings because I hear both as sounding good. Playing both ways allows for different types of ornamentation, and it becomes contextual or situational, and tempo could be a factor. I like the banjo ringing in all kinds of different ways. Why not use the fifth string and play across strings when it sounds good, allowing for ornamentation across strongs? And why not play lots of notes on a single string, or across a few strings strings and go for other types of ornamentation? There are so many ways of getting the same notes and leaving open ornamental possibilities on the 5-string; I wouldn't rule any of them out.

Pipers use both open and closed styles, more legato and more staccato, and there is an obvious parallel with 5-string banjo, depending on the sound one wants to produce at any given time.

Good spots, so many possibilities. None of this is written in stone.

Tom Hanway says:
6/4/2012 8:01:12 PM

Peter, isn't it always: I meant to play it that way? And aren't there multiple strategies for producing the sounds that we want to hear?

It's good to have more than a single approach to a tune, considering tempo, ornamentation and context. We have so many possibilities at our fingertips, and it's good to incorporate whatever is handy and sounds good.


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