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Beer Tent The general discussion forum, and the place to start a new "beer-tent-like" Piping Related discussion...

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Old 05-02-2019, 12:03 PM   #1
Patrick McLaurin
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Default Tunes you can play at an Irish Session on Scottish Smallpipes in A

Given the other thread about learning tunes by ear with some excellent advice by Tim Cummings in his second article about how to actually go about effectively learning tunes by ear, I thought I might bring the opposite approach to the table specifically regarding Irish sessions.

I have spent A LOT of time holding my Scottish smallpipes in A at Irish Sessions listening while a bunch of tunes get played that I can't play due to the limitations of the smallpipe scale. This would be less of a problem if Scottish sessions were a more common occurrence (highland bagpipe band practice doesn't count), but the *relative* ubiquity of Irish sessions has the appealing draw of actually existing.

So, I've started a list and a free tunebook of those, mostly Irish, tunes that can be played on Scottish smallpipes in A that you're likely to find at Irish sessions and you'd be playing the tune in the correct key!

The list is here (scroll down):
https://www.patrickmclaurin.com/wordpress/?page_id=4022

The non-copyrighted tunes have been arranged here:
https://www.patrickmclaurin.com/wordpress/?page_id=3243

Some tunes make use of C natural or a high B key. Some tunes would be best played with your drones off (because they're really in the key of G, not A). I've noted these considerations when appropriate, along with suggested note substitutions if there is a note or two that goes outside our range.

Nothing is set in stone and variation is the spice of life, but perhaps these resources can get you started on enjoying an Irish session actually playing music.

I will say that whipping out a stack of sheet music at a session you are new to is not the best way to endear yourself to the natives. Perhaps bringing the stack wouldn't hurt if only to ask if any of the tunes included are in regular rotation at your local session. Then you can start with those, and perhaps after a while you can introduce new tunes that they could learn to expand your common repertoire together.

And if you know of any tunes that should be listed/included, please list them here and I'll get them added!

Happy Piping!

Last edited by Patrick McLaurin; 05-02-2019 at 12:05 PM.
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Old 05-03-2019, 07:34 AM   #2
John McCain
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Default Re: Tunes you can play at an Irish Session on Scottish Smallpipes in A

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick McLaurin View Post

And if you know of any tunes that should be listed/included, please list them here and I'll get them added!

Happy Piping!
The Giant Irishman
Joe Cooley's Jig
Traver's Jig
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Old 05-03-2019, 09:34 AM   #3
Tim | Birchen
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Default Re: Tunes you can play at an Irish Session on Scottish Smallpipes in A

That's a very useful collection, Patrick! And when can we expect the collection of Irish session tunes appropriate for smallpipe chanters in D?
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Old 05-03-2019, 12:19 PM   #4
will103
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Default Re: Tunes you can play at an Irish Session on Scottish Smallpipes in A

Patrick, thanks so much for the tunes. Brilliant. Cheers will
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Old 05-03-2019, 04:17 PM   #5
Patrick McLaurin
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Default Re: Tunes you can play at an Irish Session on Scottish Smallpipes in A

John, many thanks!

Tim, Tim, ...Tim (sigh) I was hoping nobody actually played their D chanters. I donít.

Cheers Will!
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Old 05-03-2019, 06:52 PM   #6
Lochie
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Default Re: Tunes you can play at an Irish Session on Scottish Smallpipes in A

This is great, thank you !
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Old 05-04-2019, 05:22 AM   #7
John McCain
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Default Re: Tunes you can play at an Irish Session on Scottish Smallpipes in A

Patrick, you know of all the tune books with ďIrishĒ tunes for bagpipes. You know, more than anyone, because of your stewardship of the Peekar index.

So, the Terry Tully books, among others (for example, a number of tunes in Allan MacDonald Moidart books) are worth mining for session tunes for A Smallpipes.

The problem is that many of these have been re-arranged in a way that Irish session players wouldnít like. Key change is a big issue. In the Texas Scots session I led, our sole Irish tune was Jim Wardís which fits great, but in a key that ITM folks find disconcerting. (Itís in a blast of jigs from Cape Breton, Wales, Cornwall, Manx, Northumbria, Scotland, France, USA)

Years ago, I decided to learn flute and whistle to expand the repertoire I can play. Even a wealth of amazing Scots tunes donít fit on pipes. (and some donít even work for whistle, then I pick up a guitar)
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Old 05-04-2019, 06:49 AM   #8
Patrick McLaurin
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Default Re: Tunes you can play at an Irish Session on Scottish Smallpipes in A

Iím gonna give credit where itís due: Bob Pekaar still maintains the contents, I just wrote a crappy php script to search it. I do have a number of highland piping books with finagled Irish tunes, and Iíve finagled a few myself. But I wanted a dedicated list of passable arrangements that wouldnít require a pure drop Irish session to adapt to a curious Scottish smallpiper. I hope this collection gives more Scottish smallpipers the courage to head out and play with other musicians and their instruments that arenít bagpipes and drums, but whose idioms are all the same. There is nothing like it, and itís fun. Itís all about accessibility!

The contents of this collection has 3 main sources 1) tunes I learned from the Lubbock Irish group years ago (and a couple from Jerry OíSullivan a couple years ago) 2) scouring thesession.org for good tunes that fit any of the various pipes I play 3) other attempts at such lists scattered around here and bookface. I figured it was about time such a list found a permanent home and then I figured, might as well post some sheet music too.
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Old 05-04-2019, 07:30 AM   #9
John McCain
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Default Re: Tunes you can play at an Irish Session on Scottish Smallpipes in A

I find it an invaluable resource!

Here are some reels to go along with the jigs I mentioned:

Matt People's #1
Humours of Tulla
The Eel in the Sink
The High Reel
Dinky's (has a high B, just cough loudly at it)

And another jig:
The Priest in his Boots

And a polka:
Tony Lowe's Polka
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Old 05-04-2019, 08:04 AM   #10
pancelticpiper
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Default Re: Tunes you can play at an Irish Session on Scottish Smallpipes in A

There are two distinct categories:

1) Irish tunes you can play on Scottish smallpipes

2) Irish session repertoire that can be rendered in the standard session keys on Scottish smallpipes.

True that there are quite a few Irish session tunes that fall in that G-a two-sharp gamut.

But as I've pointed out before, it would be far, far easier to participate in Irish trad sessions playing an Irish trad instrument (whistle, wooden flute, uilleann pipes) due to the vast majority of the Irish trad session repertoire sitting nicely on the gamuts of those instruments.

With SSPs each chanter scale buys you a certain number of tunes. No SSP chanter will allow you to play more than a fraction of the repertoire.

A chanter with an F#-g range in one sharp would be a must, probably the most useful chanter, due to the huge number of tunes in G Major with mostly a G-g range.

A chanter with a C-d range would be perhaps just as useful if not more so, for all the D Major and D Mixolydian tunes (you really need the ability to play both C# and Cnat).

Armed with those two you could probably play around half of the common Irish session repertoire, perhaps more.

You'd be using those chanters in G and in D far more than a chanter in A.

But its' a fool's errand, because

1) you would have to be switching chanters all the time

2) even if you had a half-dozen chanters to give you all the keys, none of the chanters would have the RANGE that a vast number of ITM tunes require.

Remember that a typical Irish session player has several hundred reels and jigs in their repertoire (I've seen the estimate that the basic core repertoire is around 300-500 tunes) so having a handful of tunes is of little use, in the big picture.
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Last edited by pancelticpiper; 05-04-2019 at 08:08 AM.
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