Category Archives: Tune of the Month

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September 2019 Tune of the Month – Lisnagun

September’s tune of the month is an Irish tune that has found its way into many sets by folk and pipe bands alike in recent years. Upon hearing it again in one of the grade 1 medleys at the World Pipe Band Championships I figured it would make a good tune of the month. Lisnagun is by Brendan Ring, an uilleann piper, and has a simple, but effective melody, hence its popularity. I have included a straightforward version that precedes (recording) or follows (sheet music) an embellished version of my own.

Lisnagun <- pdf

Lisnagun <- mp3

August 2019 Tune of the Month – Jacky Latin

Jackie Latin is an old tune that spans many piping traditions. I, however, only ran across it listening to PM Ben Duncan playing at The Masters Solo Piping Competition as a part of Piping Live! week at the National Piping Centre. You can hear him play his MSR starting at 11:36:40 with the tune starting at 11:39:39. He is essentially playing the 6 parted version published in Willie Ross’ first book with slightly different rhythm in places. The tune has been published many times with a few available online, though they vary in the number of parts (and the name of the tune: Jacky Lattin, Jackey Layton, etc.). Traditionally, the tune doesn’t really fit as a competition style reel, but Ross’ version fits the mold very well. If you haven’t picked up the Pipe-Major W. Ross’s Collection yet, shame on you; you should have bought it right after acquiring Donald MacLeod’s Collection (no sheet music this month as I don’t want to infringe on Ross’ copyright of the arrangement). The tune itself is relatively easy; there’s a throw at the end of each line, a B –> C grip in the first part, a few doublings scattered around, and that’s it aside from timing issues. GDE and GD gracenote rhythms in reels is essential to getting the flow. I hold the first note of GDE patterns, DOT cut dot: look for this in the 5th and 6th parts. This tune also has the GDGD, cut dot cut dot, rhythm most associated with the reel The Smith of Chilliechassie; in this case I make sure to hold the second note, cut DOT cut dot = tach-ummmmmmmmmmm da-daaa: look for this in the 4th part of my recording. And while I was thinking about those things, I should have held the D on the throw a little longer at the end of each line and held those DOT cut dot, ABC and ABE, patterns in the first and second parts, respectively. Doh! Well, that’s why I record my practices…I’ll update with a new recording after I no longer have to sight read the tune.

Jacky Latin (mic in front, rightish side) – same audio as the video above (recorded 2019-08-14)

Below are several recordings made over several days of most of my collection of bagpipes. Which of the setups do you like?

Jacky Latin (mic off to the left) – not the audio from the video above (Pipes are Colin Kyo with Ackland Overtone drone reeds = why you get two sound perspectives. Chanter is Colin Kyo with Shawn Husk chanter reed.) (recorded 2019-08-14)

Jacky Latin (Gellaitry + original Kinnaird tenors and regular X-TREME bass, Colin Kyo + Sound Supreme reed) – mic off to the left (recorded 2019-08-15)

Jacky Latin (David Glen + original Kinnaird, Colin Kyo + Husk) – mic off to the left (recorded 2019-08-16)

Jacky Latin (Glencoe drones, Canning reeds with carbon fiber bass, Colin Kyo chanter + Husk reed) – mic off to the left (recorded 2019-08-19)

Jacky Latin (Henderson + X-TREME drone reeds, Shepherd MK3 Classic + Shepherd Bb reed) – mic off to the left (recorded 2019-08-20)

Jacky Latin (Kron standard + Ackland Overtone drone reeds, Kron Medalist + Gilmour reed) – mic off to the left (recorded 2019-08-21)

Jacky Latin (Chris Terry drone + Ackland Overtone drone reed, Shepherd MK3 chanter + Shepherd Bb reed)

July 2019 Tune of the Month: Within a Mile of Dublin

You probably know that I’ve spent some time learning uilleann pipes so I’ve been staring at a lot of Irish music recently. July’s tune is one that has previously found its way to the highland bagpipe repertoire as it can be found in Terry Tully’s Collection of Traditional Irish Music and on pipetunes.ca (both arranged by Terry), though the setting I provide here is different.

Within a Mile of Dublin <- pdf of sheet music (I didn’t play all the gracenotes written here in the video below, and neither should you!)

June 2019 Tune of the Month: The Mooncoin Jig

You may be aware that I’ve been collecting and arranging tunes for the Scottish smallpipes which are applicable to those interested in playing in Irish music sessions. Most of the tunes are for A smallpipes, though no small number require you to turn your drones off as the tunes resolve on G instead of our usual A or D. In addition to that, a similar number require you to have the C natural note which uses an extra hole on smallpipe chanters as their cylindrical bore does not facilitate alternate fingerings to achieve “accidentals” (notes outside the default key). You could very heavily tape the normal C# down to C natural, but the note becomes very muted. However, for the tune of the month, I have identified The Mooncoin Jig as being one of the more behaved tunes with only a single high B that I have also taken the liberty of arranging a replacement phrase for those of us without a high B key.

The Mooncoin Jig <- pdf

You might notice in the video below that on the repeat of the first part I reverse the order of the end of the 5th bar with the beginning of the 6th bar (swapping the birl with the GDE on low A), as suggested in the notes in the sheet music (although I referenced them as the first and second bars in the pdf). The second time through the tune, in the *2nd* part: I also play the 7th bar twice (as the 6th and 7th bars) as an alternative to the high B section.

May 2019 Tune of the Month: The Rusty Gulley

Shout out to dunholmpiper on Instagram (Paul Martin) for making me aware of this awesome tune: The Rusty Gulley (Wee Totum Fogg). The first three lines are pretty much his setting and then from there out I arranged it based on an amalgamation of other versions I found (which include thesession.org, Breabach’s track Farsund off their most recent album Astar, and my own head). It can also be found in LBPS’s suggested Session Tunes tunebook. If you’ve got a high B key, there’s some cool stuff you can do in the 4th line on the high hand in the first bar as is done on the low hand in the 3rd bar.

The Rusty Gulley <- pdf

April 2019 Tune of the Month – The Wild Irishman

Just a tune I found scouring thesession.org and recognized from some highland pipe recording; the ending of the first part is rather distinctive. It is embellished rather simply, preferring half doublings over full doublings, especially for smallpipes (trying to minimize use of the piercing high G grace note). This tune is one that can be played in Irish sessions as it is already in the correct key signature for smallpipes in “A”. I have taken 2 versions of the tune that fit the range of the smallpipes from thesession.org and simply added highland bagpipe embellishments. Along these lines, I have created a new page on the blog cataloging the tunes I’m aware of that (mostly) fit the A smallpipe scale and can be played at Irish sessions, borrowing from the Irish session repertoire. The tunes that I don’t risk violating copyright are located in a Free Tune Book. Please let me know if you are aware of any other tunes that need to be in the list and/or in the tune book, it’s a group effort!

Tunes for Irish Session Playing (and other lists of specialized tunes) <- link

The Wild Irishman <- pdf

March 2019 Tune of the Month

I probably found The Canongate Twitch browsing through thesession.org looking for tunes that fit the range of the different kinds of bagpipes I play (6 now, I think, though 3 of those nominally have the same, Scottish, scale). I thought, “what a great tune, shame about the first line phrase endings.” So I rewrote them, as I was in a bit of a composing fit at the time.

Turns out this tune has been covered before by The Battlefield Band and The Tannahill Weavers (cannot verify). Perhaps it references the Canongate district of Edinburgh? The tune has similarities in the first part to The Woman of the House in the centre in David Glen’s Irish Tunes for for the Scottish and Irish War Pipes. Woman of the House is yet another tune that has similarities but isn’t close enough to be quite the same tune, in my opinion (I’ve added it to my list of tunes I’m going to learn on the uilleann pipes though).

If we take this source (which attributes the Tannahill Weavers for the setting), the Tannies and the Batties play very similar versions of The Canongate Twitch, so there’s history somewhere in there, I’m just not sure how to connect the dots. Below I’ve provided the Batties/Tannies version along with my own so you can decide which you like better for yourself. If you feel my setting lacks the usual number of gracenotes expected for a highland pipe setting, I decided to cut back on the number of gracenotes my brain was automatically adding because I felt it was just too much and they got in the way of the melody.

The Canongate Twitch <-pdf

January 2019 Tune of the Month: Franc A’Phoill / King of the Pipers

I have long been enamored with Brian McNamara’s uilleann pipe rendition of King of the Pipers from his album Fort of the Jewels (a great album you should buy). There aren’t any links for you to listen to any part of this album online that I found given a cursory search. Anyways, the tune doesn’t fit the highland pipe scale restrictions so I arranged a highland pipe version. Below you can hear me play it following Lark in the Morning. The tune has a couple of names it’s known by. The superimposed notes at the end of the first part in the sheet music are my lazy way of doing 1st (D) and 2nd (B) endings.

Lark in the Morning & Franc A’Phoill <- mp3

Franc A’Phoill / King of the Pipers <- pdf

There’s another Irish jig that has been arranged for the highland pipes, Friar’s Britches (or Frieze Breeches). You can hear Andrew Carlisle play it in the Winter Storm Ceol Beag final on Facebook (his performance starts at 1:05:00, jig starts at 1:10:45). This seems to be Andrew’s go to jig as I’ve heard him play it at this competition several times. So there is some history to modifying cool Irish jigs to fit the highland pipe scale.

Tune of the Month December 2018: The Curragh

This jig, when played on accordion anyway, sounds like it comes right out of a Scottish country dance band repertoire. The last 3 notes of the first line need to be played an octave up from the original but I think it fits nicely. Paddy O’Brien was a famous accordion player and composer who died in 1991. A book of his compositions is for sale which makes me hesitant to share the sheet music, though the dots can be had from thesession.org which is where I found them when researching a previous tune of the month: The Maid in the Cherry Tree which is also known as the Curragh Races; however, I don’t really have sympathy for composers’ rights holders when they let their book fall out of print/availability. Since the book seems to no longer be in print, until that’s rectified, I’ll post the sheet music here.

The Curragh <- pdf of sheet music

The Curragh <- mp3 on the highland bagpipe