Strike the Gay Harp

I was listening to an album by Kevin Crawford called In Good Company today, and this one jig stood out to me, and it turns out it’s because my musician friends play it at sessions. It’s called Strike the Gay Harp, and I love it. It has three parts, in the key of D. Here a link to a recording of my friends playing it, and a few videos from YouTube for your viewing and listening pleasure. Tell me what you think of it! I’ll post a vid of me playing it soon! But first–

My friends playing Strike the Gay Harp.

 

Tommy Coen’s Reels

I recently learned two reels from my fiddle teacher, both called Tommy Coen’s reels.

According to “The Fiddler’s Companion:”

Coen was born in Urrachree, East Co. Galway, but moved with his family to Salthill, just west of Galway City, in the late 1920s. He started out as an accordion player, but later switched to the fiddle and it is for his skill on the latter instrument he is remembered. Coen worked as a conductor on Connemara buses and is said to have been inspired by the local scenery when composing his tunes. Flute player Mike McHale was overheard to tell a story about Coen during a concert at the East Durham Irish Arts Festival in 2000 (communicated by Mike Hogan). McHale was a boy who had picked up the tin whistle, and was entertaining himself by noodling around with it during his bus ride on his way home from school. Hearing him, the vehicle’s conductor approached him a asked, “Can you play that thing?” McHale answered, “A couple of tunes, Sir.” “Well then” said the conductor, “My name is Tommy Coen, will you come to the back of the bus, I have a fiddle under the seat.” Later, according to his student Séamus Walshe (Taylors Hill, Galway), when Coen’s health failed he returned to accordion playing, “putting his fiddle playing into the box. I think he wrote a total of about six tunes.

In this video, I know the first as Tommy Coen’s (or Sean Ryan’s,) and the second as Tommy Coen’s #2. I learned them both in G minor–not sure what key the video has them in. Really nice playing here, though. Enjoy!

Paddy O’Rafferty’s

At my last workshop with Dan Foster, I learned a jig called Paddy O’Rafferty’s. Now, There are at least three versions of this jig that I have heard. One I hear and play alot at sessions around here, and there’s another that gets played too. The first is a three parter, and the other is a five part tune. The one I learned from Dan is the five part version, and I do prefer it, though they are both bangin’. Here’s an example or two of each-I’ll let you decide which one is better!

the three part version (first tune–can’t get better than Seamus Ennis):

The five part version (starting at 1:40):

 

Apples in Winter

It hardly feels like winter here, or well, I should say it hardly looks like winter–there’s little snow, but the temperature is low enough. This morning as part of my second breakfast (yes, I am a giant Hobbit) I had an apple. And just two days ago I was playing the concertina and this tune, Apples in Winter, spontaneously popped out of it. So of course, I took that all as a sign that I should share this tune with the world. It’s a wonderful and not difficult jig in E dorian.

I first heard a two part version of this tune played by Edel Fox and Neill Byrne at a house concert a few years back. I have a recording so I was able to learn it. There’s also a four part version. Here are a few examples–not Edel and Neill, but good ones nonetheless. Note how there are a couple variants of the ending of both the A and B parts.

A four part:

Our pal Gilles Poutoux:

Paddy Cronin:

 

The Kesh Jig-an Old Standard Brought to Life

Ok this is a bit of a teaser. It’s a video of Kevin Burke doing a tutorial video for an online service called fiddlevideos dot com. But, it is the abridged version of the lesson. They hope to leave you wanting more. I’m sure they have some great content, but this isn’t about them, it’s about the Kesh jig! Check them out, though, if you’re so inclined.

This video shows Mr. Burke playing the kesh jig right off the bat. I wanted to share this to show how this simple, perhaps overplayed tune can sound really amazing if its strong points are emphasized. It’s got a lot going on, lots of variety in melody and texture, so to speak, all of which can be emphasized to great effect. Here, have a listen:

A New(ish) Thing I’m Doing on YouTube

Port na Seachtaine means “Tune of the Week” in Irish Gaelic. It’s also the title of an experiment I’m doing on YouTube lately, for the last 4 weeks so far, in which I pick a tune, record and post a video of me playing it on the fiddle on Monday, then practice it during the week. The following Sunday I’ll post a new video of myself playing it to see what a week’s worth of practice has given me. I’m also experimenting with video overlays–an editing technique that makes it appear that I’m playing along with another version of myself. I’ll do concertina first, then record myself playing along on fiddle. Paste the two videos together and VOILA! I always say I wish I could clone myself.

Let me know what you think, either here, or in the comments sections under my videos on YouTube!

For example—

MASHUP:

BEFORE:

AFTER: