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Thread: Suggestions on a beginner "set list"

  1. #1

    Default Suggestions on a beginner "set list"

    I have only been at this a couple months, and, although progressing at an acceptable pace, I am starting to plan ahead to put together a basic set list of tunes I like. Coming from a bagpiping background, most of them are jigs and reels, as I just like the swing of them .
    But, I am curious, what do smaller sessions usually have for a set list? I know it varies from circle to circle, and even region to region-but, I am just curious as to what the most common tunes are amongst celtic trad players.
    In the piping world, each band has their own set list, but there were still standard tunes that most pipers were expected to play. I cant even recall more than half of them now, but there were probably 15 or so that, even if you jumped coast to coast to a completely different band, you knew a handful of tunes that were just considered standard (scotland the brave, Rowan tree, sky boat song-to name a few). Is this something that is done in the session world?
    I cannot wait for this pandemic to end. There was a great open session every wednesday night at my local pool hall that I want to join-but, for obvious reasons, that is postponed...

  2. #2

    Default Re: Suggestions on a beginner "set list"

    Hi there. A few people have published lists of standards and I'll add a few links to the end of this post. The only issue with these lists is that once people start to get into the tunes properly, they begin to extend their repertoire far beyond such lists and at some sessions you'd likely rarely ever hear any of the standards being played. However it's useful to get a few dozen of these under your belt so that if any of them appear in a set, you can join in. (Or string a few together into sets and if you're asked to play, you can be pretty confident that the players will be able to join in with you...).

    Here's Henrik Norbeck's list of 40 "must know" session tunes http://www.norbeck.nu/abc/TopSessionTunes.asp

    Here's "Dow's list" of 60 "must know" tunes http://www.cheakamus.com/Ceilidh/Dow.../Dows_List.pdf

    Here's the irishtunes.info list of the top 20 session tunes https://www.irishtune.info/session/tunes.php (the page also lists the top 20 tunes by tune genre, so you can expand the repertoire by clicking on, for example, the barndances link to get the top 20 barndances none of which appear in the aggregate top 20 list)

    Another way of finding out which are the most popular Irish tunes is to visit the landing page for tunes at "the session". https://thesession.org/tunes If you run a search and leave the search boxes for tune type, key and title blank it will return all tunes in the database in order of popularity.

    Hope that helps.

    Aidan

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  4. #3

    Default Re: Suggestions on a beginner "set list"

    Hey Aidan, in 'Dows' list, are the tunes listed below the main title on each notation sheet shown as potential options to string a few together?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aidan Crossey View Post
    Hi there. A few people have published lists of standards and I'll add a few links to the end of this post. The only issue with these lists is that once people start to get into the tunes properly, they begin to extend their repertoire far beyond such lists and at some sessions you'd likely rarely ever hear any of the standards being played. However it's useful to get a few dozen of these under your belt so that if any of them appear in a set, you can join in. (Or string a few together into sets and if you're asked to play, you can be pretty confident that the players will be able to join in with you...).

    Here's Henrik Norbeck's list of 40 "must know" session tunes http://www.norbeck.nu/abc/TopSessionTunes.asp

    Here's "Dow's list" of 60 "must know" tunes http://www.cheakamus.com/Ceilidh/Dow.../Dows_List.pdf

    Here's the irishtunes.info list of the top 20 session tunes https://www.irishtune.info/session/tunes.php (the page also lists the top 20 tunes by tune genre, so you can expand the repertoire by clicking on, for example, the barndances link to get the top 20 barndances none of which appear in the aggregate top 20 list)

    Another way of finding out which are the most popular Irish tunes is to visit the landing page for tunes at "the session". https://thesession.org/tunes If you run a search and leave the search boxes for tune type, key and title blank it will return all tunes in the database in order of popularity.

    Hope that helps.

    Aidan

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suggestions on a beginner "set list"

    I would seek out a website for the jam session you were to be attending. They might post a tune list, or even have a downloadable PDF of the sheet music.
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    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suggestions on a beginner "set list"

    Comhaltas's Foinn seisuns books offer a lot of the old standards in a stripped down version and a lot of players use either the individual tunes or the sets to get started on their own list. Many of the sessions I attend are heavy on reels, of course, with jigs in second place, and hornpipes third, polkas, slides and slip jigs next and then marches. Ordinarily, we'll do, say, a set of hornpipes for every 6 reel and 2 jig sets. We'll probably do a set of slips a session, maybe 2 sets of polkas. slides and marches maybe one or two every three or four gatherings. But that's for wild/free range sessions. For the ones that I attend on a regular basis, we have favorites that mirror whatever gig we're practicing for. if that helps.
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    Default Re: Suggestions on a beginner "set list"

    Quote Originally Posted by Tailgate View Post
    Hey Aidan, in 'Dows' list, are the tunes listed below the main title on each notation sheet shown as potential options to string a few together?
    The tunes listed below the main title on "Dow's List" are alternate names that the tune is known by. For some of the tunes on Dow's list you'll find suggestions for tunes to play in a set with the tune in question listed below the tune's notation.
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    Default Re: Suggestions on a beginner "set list"

    You might find yourself "taking a sip from a fire hose". Back in the 1990's in St. Paul I compiled a (growing) list of common tunes for our group that met every Sunday at O'Gara's pub. I ended up with 70 tunes that, after a lot of editing and advice from all sorts of musicians, (including some rather well known players who will remain nameless at their request) we settled on arrangements that work for fiddle and accordion as well as whistle and flute. We were a group of about 15 beginners who gained a lot of help from the experts in the area. My point in telling this story is that there is, and will be help from local and not so local people and one only needs to ask, 'what's the next tune I should learn?'.
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  13. #8

    Default Re: Suggestions on a beginner "set list"

    Quote Originally Posted by Aidan Crossey View Post
    Hi there. A few people have published lists of standards and I'll add a few links to the end of this post. The only issue with these lists is that once people start to get into the tunes properly, they begin to extend their repertoire far beyond such lists and at some sessions you'd likely rarely ever hear any of the standards being played. However it's useful to get a few dozen of these under your belt so that if any of them appear in a set, you can join in. (Or string a few together into sets and if you're asked to play, you can be pretty confident that the players will be able to join in with you...).

    Here's Henrik Norbeck's list of 40 "must know" session tunes http://www.norbeck.nu/abc/TopSessionTunes.asp

    Here's "Dow's list" of 60 "must know" tunes http://www.cheakamus.com/Ceilidh/Dow.../Dows_List.pdf

    Here's the irishtunes.info list of the top 20 session tunes https://www.irishtune.info/session/tunes.php (the page also lists the top 20 tunes by tune genre, so you can expand the repertoire by clicking on, for example, the barndances link to get the top 20 barndances none of which appear in the aggregate top 20 list)

    Another way of finding out which are the most popular Irish tunes is to visit the landing page for tunes at "the session". https://thesession.org/tunes If you run a search and leave the search boxes for tune type, key and title blank it will return all tunes in the database in order of popularity.

    Hope that helps.

    Aidan
    I actually checked out your site, and it is helping me with a ton of ideas. Thank you for the advice!

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    Registered User Rob Ross's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suggestions on a beginner "set list"

    Quote Originally Posted by DougC View Post
    Back in the 1990's in St. Paul I compiled a (growing) list of common tunes for our group that met every Sunday at O'Gara's pub.
    I still have my copy of your book, tend to play my Irish tunes like I learned them at O'Gara's, and I teach folks to play 'em that way. Thanks for such hosting such a great session to learn tunes! I lament greatly the passing of both the St. Paul Slow Session AND O'Gara's.
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    Default Re: Suggestions on a beginner "set list"

    What everybody else said.
    You have to start somewhere and focus, and the lists suggested in Aidan's post are more than enough for the first ten years. + or -.

    Anyway, coming from a piping background, you have a head start .

    Some of us like hornpipes, polkas and waltzes/mazurkas and other exotica, but pretty much every session I've been to around the world is still mainly reels and jigs (in that order).

    In the last 20+ years, it's become a lot more common to see youngsters turning up from degree courses in trad music and offshoots from these courses, and their idea of a "common repertoire" is very different from us old codgers. Especially if they turn up en masse.

    Then again, sometimes one of us codgers will play an old chestnut that was, but is not now, and the youngers will ask: Wow, what was that?

    Everyone's ears know a good tune when they hear it.

    It's just that everyone's ears are different.
    Bren

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    Default Re: Suggestions on a beginner "set list"

    Speaking of sessions around the world, when I was a more frequent visitor to my old hometown of Melbourne Australia, I would enjoy any session attended or run by accordionist Paddy Fitzgerald, a Corkman now well into his 70s, but still going strong when I saw him last November.

    (He told me he had to slow down for health reasons. He told me this near midnight on a Wednesday in The Last Jar pub when he'd been playing there nonstop since 5pm. This is how I intend to slow down in my 70s).

    Here is a list of Paddy's reel sets:
    https://irishsession.net/wordpress/p...favorite-sets/

    I should have learned more of them.
    Bren

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    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suggestions on a beginner "set list"

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Ross View Post
    I still have my copy of your book, tend to play my Irish tunes like I learned them at O'Gara's, and I teach folks to play 'em that way. Thanks for such hosting such a great session to learn tunes! I lament greatly the passing of both the St. Paul Slow Session AND O'Gara's.
    And I also have a set, although I never did get over to the jam. Found my copy at Irish on Grand. Still find it a great resource. And eventually I may start to try and play Irish music.
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    Default Re: Suggestions on a beginner "set list"

    Quote Originally Posted by Bren View Post

    I should have learned more of them.
    Hehe, Bren. There's still time!

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