The Best ITM Tune-Learning Tutor

Daily Archives: May 5, 2014

Christmas Eve (G)   

The reel “Christmas Eve” is a popular tune, and a mighty flute tune. Try to keep that swing going. Unfortunately, some sessions only bring the tune out in December.  At others, and locally, it’s played anytime, because it’s too good a tune to be played only one month out of the year!  It was composed […]

Smokey Chimney (D|A)

“The Smokey Chimney” is a strange little hornpipe, a fact which makes me like it even more.  It is in two keys, and so seemslike some kind of hornpipe mash-up — which it is.  It is tune #1635 in O’Neill’s 1850 (i.e., O’Neill’s Music of Ireland, 1903) as a two part tune, the first two parts […]

Drops of Brandy (D)

“Drops of Brandy” is a solid but simple slip jig often played in D or G.  It is #448 in O’Neill’s 1001 (1907), in G. It is in Phil Rubenzer’s Midwestern Irish Session Tunes (2000) in both D and G (pp. 219-20).  James Merryweather, author of Merryweather’s Tunes for English Bagpipes (1989, pg. 47), holds […]

Apple Hornpipe (D)

The “Apple Hornpipe” is a light-hearted tune, but not a hornpipe, despite its name.  It is a barndance.  While I first heard it on the CD The Green Mandolin (2008) by New England guitar and mandolin player  David Surrett, the tune is, in fact, traditional Quebecoise (i.e., Quebec music), and appears on the CD 100 […]

Drunken Landlady (Edor)

This reel, “Drunken Landlady” and called “Bean an Tí ar Meisce” in Irish, is clearly a version of “Pigeon on the Gate.”  The Bothy Band recorded this tune (in Ador) on their vinyl album Out of the Wind, Into the Sun (1976). The piper, singer, and folk-song collector Seamus Ennis (5 May 1919-5 October 1982) […]

John Brennan’s (D)

Historically the reel “John Brennan’s” was called by four names: “Silver Spire,” “The Great Eastern Reel,” “John Brennan’s (Reel),” and the ever-popular “Untitled” or Gan Ainm.  The tune was recorded (and paired with “Farrell O’Gara’s”) in 1931 by the fiddle-duet Paddy Killoran and Paddy Sweeney, both from County Sligo and both then-recent émigrés to New York City.  It was […]

Maids of Selma (G|Eaeol)

This jig, “Maids of Selma” in English, is “An Maigdean Ua Selma” in Irish.   It shows up as tune #250 in O’Neill’s Music of Ireland (1903) – referred to as “O’Neill’s 1850” because there are 1,850 tunes in it — and it’s #65 The Roche Collection of Traditional Irish Music (1927).  It is usually played […]

Mist Covered Mountains (Ador)

This jig is called “Chi Mi Na Morbheanna” in Irish, and translated as “Mist on the Mountain,” “The Mist Covered Mountains,” or the more Tolkienesque “The Misty Mountain.”  In The Fiddler’s Companion (online), this tune is credited to Clare fiddler Junior Crehan (1908 – 1998) from Miltown Malbay, who reportedly based this jig on the old […]

Morrison’s Jig (Edor)

This jig, usually just called “Morrison’s,” gets its name from the renowned Sligo-born Irish-American fiddler James Morrison (1891 – 1947) who, in fact, did not write it.  He was, of course, older than that California musician who named his band after Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception (1954).  Our James Morrison learned the tune from a […]

Navvy On The Line (G)

“Navvy On The Line” is another light-hearted hornpipe.  Often attributed to the Tyneside fiddler James Hill (1811-1853), a man fond of hornpipes, this tune is also called the “London Hornpipe.” The word “Navvy” is an 18th century truncation of “navigator,” referring to the well-paid, hard-drinking, and profligate manual laborers working on civil engineering projects in […]