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|My interest in traditional music began
with my brother’s Dubliners’ LPs. I started playing the tin
whistle, then the mandolin and discovered Irish music sessions.
Lancaster was full of musicians in the early 80s
(and still is!). Musicians
passed through, bringing tunes from Scandinavia, France, the USA and
beyond. There were visits to musical friends in France, Sweden and
Our regular Saturday session became very eclectic (Now on Thursdays at the Gregson in Lancaster..see the Thursday night page)
These tunes are a product of music I have absorbed over the years. The best tunes seem to come in one burst and don‘t change much afterwards. Others evolve in the playing, going through various incarnations and sometimes arriving back where they started! Then they need names! Tunes are a bit like short stories, their names often celebrate events, characters and places.
The dots are only the bare bones of the tunes. Traditional music has become so diverse through ornamentation, variation, and interpretation. Folk tunes are not fixed things; they evolve and develop with familiarity. Some tunes grab you, while others creep up on you!
As a ceilidh band player I tend to classify tunes according to the types of dances that could be done to them. Apart from the slow airs in the first section, the tunes are arranged according to their time signatures. Tunes in 3/4 are loosely divided into waltzes, mazurkas or polskas. Tunes in 4/4 and 2/4 may be reels, polkas, schottisches or hornpipes. The last section contains tunes in less familiar rhythms. Sometimes a tune just “comes out” and resists all attempts to tidy it up!
Most of these tunes are playable on a tin whistle (usually in the key of D), flute, fiddle, banjo, mandolin, concertina etc. Some fit on the bagpipes.
I hope you find something to your taste.
Andy Hornby 2021