Workshop Information

Recently, we have been trialling running a short tune-learning workshop at the beginning of each session. This involves spending 30-40 minutes learning a new tune by ear. The idea is to increase the confidence of the sessioners for playing tunes by ear and relying less on the music. After we have learned a tune, we will post notes about the tune we learned here.

The tunes here should all be shown as scores. If they're not then it could be your browser doesn't support the library used to draw the music. You can probably see the ABC notation used to generate the music. I'm trying to add PDFs to all the music so you can download that to see the score. Alternatively, use a new browser!

Select a date below:


2011.12.09 - (No tune this month)

We did Christmas Carols this month, just to have a change from learning new tunes. Remember that some carols are jigs, slides and reels!


Download ABC

2011.11.11 - (No tune this month)

This month we recapped the previous tunes we'd learned by ear.


Download ABC

2011.10.14 - Maggie in the Woods (Polka)

This month we learned Maggie in the Woods - a great little polka that you will find played regularly in sessions.

The tune has some slightly risque lyrics:

If I had Maggie in the woods
I'd do her all the good I could
If I had Maggie in the woods
I'd keep here there til morning

I've kept the chords to a simple 4-chord trick. Try swapping the C after the Em with an Am7.

X:1
T:Maggie in the Woods
R:Polka
K:G
L:1/16
GA |: "G"G2D2 G2A2 | "C"B2e2 e4 | "G"d2B2 BAGA | "D"B2A2 A2 BA |
"G"G2D2 G2A2 | "C"B2e2 e2 ge | "G"d2B2 "D"A2BA | "G"G4 G4 :|
|: "Em"g2f2 e2d2 | "C"e2f2 g3e | "G"d2B2 BAGA | "D"B2A2 A3d |
"Em"g2f2 e2d2 | "C"e2f2 g3e | "G"d2B2 "D"A2BA | "D"G4 G4 :|

Download ABC

2011.09.09 - Fairies, The (hornpipe)

Remember this tune is a hornpipe, so although the quavers are written straight, you need to swing them. This is common practice in the transcription of Irish music.

X: 1
T: Fairies, The
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
R: hornpipe
K: Gmaj
BAF|GFGA BdcB|AGAB G2Bc|dgfg edcB|cedB A2Bc|
dggf g2fe|dedc B2AG|ABcA dcAF|G2GF G2:|
|:Bc|dggf g2fe|dedc B2AG|ABcd edcB|Add^c d2B=c|
dggf g2fe|dedc B2AG|ABcA dcAF|G2GF G2:|

Download ABC

2011.08.12 - Lanigan's Ball (jig)

X: 1
T: Lanigan's Ball
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
R: jig
K: Emin
E2F G2A|B2A B^cd|DED F2G|AdB AFD|
E2F G2A|B2A B^cd|edB cBA|BGE E3:|
|:e2f g2e|fag fed|e2f g2e|fdB B2B|
e2f g2e|fag fed|edB cBA|BGE E3:|

Download ABC

2011.07.08 - Down by the Sally Gardens (waltz)

X: 1
T: Down by the Sally Gardens
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
R: waltz
K: Dmaj
D2 E2 | F3 E D2 | E2 F2 A2 | B6 | A2 d2- dA | B2 A2 F2 | E4 D2 | D6- | D2 D2 E2 |
F2 E2 D2 | EF- F2 A2 | B6 | A4 dA | B4 AF | E4 D2 | D6- | D4 ||
A2 | d4 c2 | B4 d2 | cA- A2 F2 | A4 FA | B4 AF | A2 B2 de | d6- | d4 DE |
F2 (3EFE D2 | E3 F A2 | B6 | A2 d2 A2 | B2 A2- AF | E4 D2 | D6- | D2 |]

Download ABC

2011.06.17 - Behind The Haystack (jig)

X: 1
T: Behind The Haystack
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
R: jig
K: Dmaj
d2e fdB|d2e fdB|AFE ~E3|AFE ~E3|
d2e fdB|d2e fdB|AFD ~D3|AFD ~D3:|
|:~B3 BAF|ABc d2B|AFE ~E3|AFE ~E3|
~B3 BAF|ABc d2B|AFD ~D3|1 AFD ~D3:|2 AFD D2f||
|:~g3 ~f3|ede f2B|AFE ~E3|AFE ~E3|
~g3 ~f3|ede f2B|AFD ~D3|1 AFD D2f:|2 AFD ~D3||

Download ABC

2011.05.13 - Spanish Lady (polka)

This tune is a session standard that's named after the song for which this is the melody.

X: 1
T: Spanish Lady
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
R: polka
K: Dmaj
|:AA AB/c/|dd de/f/|ge fd|BA A2|
AA AB/c/|dd de/f/|ge fd|BA A2:|
fa af|ed de|fa af|ed e2|
fa af|ed de/f/|ge fd|BA A2:|

Download ABC

2011.04.08 - Jim Ward's (jig)

Jim Ward's is the first tune I ever learned by ear at a session. It's a nice simple, repetative jig in the key of G major. Jim Ward was the banjo and flute player in the Kelfinora Ceilidh Band during the 1930s and 1940s. It's sometimes known as Jim Ward's Favourite. It's said that Jim Ward wrote this tune, so fair play to him if he's able to compose his own favourite tune.

Being a nice simple tune, it is open to various ornamentations and variations. Try rolling, trebling or just cutting those dotted-crotchet Gs in the first part. Also try trebling (or cranning if you're on a whistle, flute or pipes) the low Ds at the end of the phrases in the A part. The downward runs in the B part (CBA BAG) are also ripe for playing as dotted-crotchets with rolls or chords. The end of the B part can be held on the D (rather than the scale downwards) to give a nice lead into the start again. Watch and listen to the video closely to see some possible variations.

The score here gives the most basic chords you could play to this tune. Try variations on these - using Am7 and Bm7 instead of the C and D in the last half of the B-part works. Again, see the video for some ideas.

I've put the tune into a set with Saddle the Pony and Haste to the Wedding (jigs on our regular play list - see the jigs page) to show how it might fit into a set. You could use the recordings of these tunes to learn them by ear too.

X: 1
T: Jim Ward's
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
R: jig
K: Gmaj
|: "G"G3 GAB | AGE GED | "G"G3 GAB | "C"AGE "D"DEF |
G3 GAB | AGE GAB | "C"cBA BGE |1 "D"DED DEF:|2 "D"DED D2B||
|:"C"cBA "G"BAG | "D"ABA AGE | "C"cBA "G"BGE | "D"DED D2B |
"C"cBA "G"BAG | "D"ABA ABc | dcB AGE |1 DED D2B :|2 GED DEF ||

Download ABC

2011.03.11 - Lucy Farr's (barndance)

Lucy Farr's is a nice slow barndance that's really quick and easy to learn. That's why we chose it for the first learn-by-ear workshop. It's in G major.

It's a dance tune, so make sure you get a nice swing into those long notes. You can try using a cut to separate the long notes.

Chord-wise you can stick to a simple 3-chord trick; that is, G, C and D. In fact, with this tune you can get away with just G and D. In the video below I play the first time through the tune using a simple 3-chord trick (you can hear I throw a C in quickly on the E in 6th bar. The second time through I use some alternate chords. Note that I play these alternate chords on the second-half of the B part. I'm using Em, Bm (Bm7 on the last time through) and Am.

Martin Hayes plays a really nice version of this tune on his album Under the Moon.

Audio from the Video

X: 1
T: Lucy Farr's
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
R: barndance
K: Gmaj
|:DE/2F/2|G4 G4|GABG E2 D2|B4 B4|BcdB A3 A|
BcdB G4|GABG E2D2|DEGA BddB|A2 G2 G2 :||
|:A2|BcdB G2 G2|GABG E2 D2|DEGA BddB|B2 A2 A3 A|
BcdB G4|GABG E2 D2|DEGA BddB|A2 G2 G2 :||

Download ABC