This week long class will attempt to explore four reels, four jigs, one hornpipe and one Carolan tune. We'll do more or fewer tunes to meet the needs of students. We'll pick the ones of most interest to the class once we are together. More tunes and sets of tunes are available on the website.
Always remember that Irish tunes are part of the world of traditional music. These tunes were transmitted by ear for centuries before they were written down. The "folk process" was and remains constantly at work on the melodies. Over the years these tunes develop something like a regional accent or dialect. That means several things:
The notations and recordings presented here are generalized, and somewhat simplified, versions of the tunes. You will hear variations and ornamentations on these melodies at sessions. Consider the tunes presented here as a starting point.
Irish melodies often range over an octave-and-a-half. Rarely as much as two octaves. The octave-and-a-half range often forces fingerings for lute family instruments into second position on the fret board. This location may pose difficulty for advanced beginners who play guitar, banjo, mandolin, bouzouki and cittern. The solution is to practice and master scales in the keys of G and D covering two octaves. That will force the use of fingerings at second position - that's up the fretboard from the nut of the instrument. In the meantime, tunes in this section are organized into those that can be played at the nut and those that require moving up the fretboard into second position. Beginning wind and harp players should not have the same difficulty.