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easy irish tunes with parts

alaskan anglo

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What do you mean by "parts?" Soprano, alto, tenor and bass, or scores for voice and piano, or tunes with chords?

What instruments/voices do you have in your group? Should it be more vocal or more instrumental?


At any rate, you'll have to learn quickly - St. Patrick's Day is just over a month away!




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  • 4 weeks later...

You might want to track down the Douglas Gunn arrangements of Carolan's music arranged for recorder trio. They're a bit artsy and baroque, but are quite a nice change from the usual.


Well now, considering that Carolan was a professional musician and an older contemporary of J.S. Bach, and played for the gentry, not the peasantry - "artsy and baroque" seems quite appropriate!

If "the usual" means interpreting everything that's in 3/4 time as a waltz, give me the "nice change!":P


All we really have of Carolan's music is Bunting's transcriptions of his pieces as played by later generations of harpers. But if you take just the melody lines as the basis for you interpretation, you'll find that they can stand up to any degree of sophistication. Before my folk group disbanded, we had several Carolan pieces in our performance. For these, we definitely left "jig-reel mode" and "rebel-song mode" aside, and went into "classical mode". For most planxtys we were concertina (melodic), violin, guitar and double bass (bowed), which amounts to 2 solo instruments with basso continuo. We applied classical dynamics and phrasing. They were always well received. In a couple of planxtys, I played 5-string banjo (classic finger-style, definitely not frailing!) instead of concertina, playing mostly arpeggios to add a harp-like element to the arrangement.

Pieces like Planxty Irwin gave me the opportunity to demonstrate that you can play an Anglo legato if you really try!


This year is the first time I'll be doing a Paddy' Nite gig solo, after 20 years with the group. Variety is the keyword in choosing the pieces, so I'm including 2 Carolan numbers: Eleanor Plunket/Planxty Irwin as a set on the classic 5-string banjo; and Lord Inchiquin on the Anglo (harmonic style, of course!). Both of these sit well on the respective instruments - but of course, I've been working on them for months!


As to what to play for Paddy's Nite, I've planned my first set exclusively with songs that contain references to Irish locations:


The Black Velvet Band (In a neat little town they call Belfast ...)

The Ferrymen (The little boats are gone from their berths beside the Liffey ... the Dublin docks are dying ...)

The Orange Maid of Sligo (Bay of Sligo, Ben Bulben)

The Ballad of William Bloat (In a mean abode on the Shankill Road ...(Belfast))

The Star of the Co. Down (Near to Banbridge town in the County Down ...)

Bridín Bán (... I've strayed beside the pleasant Bann and the Shannon's winding wave ... piped and played ... by the Barrow's lovely shore...)

The Cliffs of Doneen (Doneen, Kilkee, Kilrush, Clare)

Slemish Mountain (an exile song by myself, consisting almost entirely of Co. Antrim place-names: Slemish, Ballymena, Braid Water, Bushmills, Ballymoney, Glens of Antrim, Cushendall - the area in which Patrick himself grew up as a young immigrant worker!)


In the other sets, I have, of course, Carrickfergus (song title=place-name) and Whiskey in the Jar (plenty of place-names, the protagonist being a robber on the run!).


Looks like it'll develop into a geography lesson. I must remember to look for a large wall-map of Ireland! :D




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