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Thread: Tunes to learn and places to pick for a trip to Scotland?

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    Default Tunes to learn and places to pick for a trip to Scotland?

    Hi all,
    I'm going to be studying abroad in Edinburgh from September-December. I'd like to hit the ground running and get learning some of the common tunes played over there. I come from a bluegrass background, and have recently been getting into jazz but have no experience with Celtic, Irish, or Scottish music. Any suggestions on where to start? Any good places to pick on a regular basis that you suggest?

    Thanks so much in advance,
    Eli

  2. #2
    Registered User Bren's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tunes to learn and places to pick for a trip to Scotland?

    In Edinburgh I know of regular sessions in the city centre at Sandy Bells, Captains Bar, the Royal Oak, the Waverley and there are others.

    All these sessions are different from each other and Sandy Bells is different every day depending on which night you go, or what time of day if it's Sunday.
    I'm not a native so I only know these places on a drop-in basis when I'm down there, almost always at weekends.

    There are also bluegrass/old-timey sessions if you know the right people and a lot of crossover between musicians so if you make any musical contact at all, you will eventually be drawn into Scottish music too.

    Some impressions from recent experience of places I've played in:

    Sandy Bells - 4pm Sunday mostly older folk (though not necessarily older than me!) playing well-known old Scottish tunes in unison at a steady pace. Great to listen and pick up some ideas and meet some mentors.

    Captain's Bar (Thursday/Friday) - more of a sing-around where you take it in turn. Playing a bluegrass song or tune is absolutely acceptable when it's your turn and other musicians might join in including the bar manager (or is he just a regular barman?) who is a fiddler . No mics or anything but the acoustics are surprisingly good.

    Royal Oak - Friday nights they have a couple of booked folk singers and it can be OK to sit in with them if you know what you're doing. And they might throw in a crowd pleaser like Copperhead Road and every mandolinists knows what to do with that.

    Waverley Bar (Wednesday nights, and Sunday night after Sandy Bells 4pm session I think I haven't been to a session there) - some top mandolinists like Kevin MacLeod and Iain MacLeod play there and you'll get a good insight into Scottish tunes and way of playing.

    All these bars are tiny and can quickly get rowdy with a crowd but they generally don't have TVs playing or recorded music so the live acoustic music gets a good chance. And you will meet people.

    Everyone will have their own opinion, and there are plenty websites, but for starter tunes, if you just buy one book, I think you can't beat:
    https://www.scotlandsmusic.com/Produ...dlers-volume-1


    I should add that the pubs I mentioned are not far from each other. According to Google maps you could walk from Sandy Bells to the Waverley, passing Captain's and The Royal Oak in 12 minutes on a good day. So you can easily check them all out in one night. Other places are further afield.
    Bren

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tunes to learn and places to pick for a trip to Scotland?

    Wow. Memories. I joined the session at Sandy Bells a few times, back in the 80s. There was a place called, I think, The Green Tree, also in Edinburgh, where there was a reliably good session on Thursday nights. Some serious players.

    Wow memories.
    Life is short, play hard. Life is really really short, play really really hard.

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tunes to learn and places to pick for a trip to Scotland?

    Quote Originally Posted by eli.smitthh View Post
    Hi all,
    I'm going to be studying abroad in Edinburgh from September-December. I'd like to hit the ground running and get learning some of the common tunes played over there. I come from a bluegrass background, and have recently been getting into jazz but have no experience with Celtic, Irish, or Scottish music.
    I don't know where you are located. If you are anywhere near a big or big-ish city in the US, you should be able to find a Irish and/or Scottish session. I would go and sit in. If it s close by, I would go weekly every week this summer. Perhaps even record the session on your phone. Then spend the time between working with the recording to learn the tunes. Learn the tunes. Learn the tunes as best you can.

    This is in addition to everything else you can do to find out what is being played and where in Edinburgh. This "stateside prep work" all goes towards "hitting the ground running".

    So here is something I wrote that may be of interest if not helpful.
    Life is short, play hard. Life is really really short, play really really hard.

    The entire staff
    funny....

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    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tunes to learn and places to pick for a trip to Scotland?

    You could probably do worse than take a few repertoire lessons from Laura-Beth Salter;
    https://scottishmusicacademy.com/cou...n-modern-trad/
    Eoin



    "Forget that anyone is listening to you and always listen to yourself" - Fryderyk Chopin

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    Registered User Denis Kearns's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tunes to learn and places to pick for a trip to Scotland?

    To aid with your Scottish musical education, you might want to read about James Oswald. Besides composing some very cool tunes, he compiled a lot of Scottish traditional ones. I believe he was originally from Edinburgh, but ended up in London working for King George and was one of Ben Franklin’s favorite musician/composer.

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    Registered User Dan Adams's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tunes to learn and places to pick for a trip to Scotland?

    Having just returned from Scotland, I had a hard time finding any traditional music being played in the pubs, Disclaimer; I was a tourist and didn’t have access to some of the outlying area that most likely have small pub hosting traditional music. I heard a lot deafening rock/folk music drowning out all conversations and a brunch of party goers dancing in the pubs and spilling into the street. I finally did find a traditional session at MacGregor’s in Inverness, a little slow with some confusion as to what to play, but finally some traditional music. I didn’t take my mandolin, but only recognized one tune that I may have been able to play along. . I’m not a Scottish music person. In Ireland; traditional music in pubs was everywhere. The one session I sat in on, the locals made me feel welcome and I knew a lot of the tunes.
    Play em like you know em!

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    Registered User Dan Adams's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tunes to learn and places to pick for a trip to Scotland?

    I should learn more Scottish tunes if I ever return. I did play ‘Flowers of Edinburg’ in the Grass Market street in old town Edinburg. Lots of fun and just a little busking in Inverness. As a fiddle player in Dublin once told me, busking has changed since the ‘electrics’ have take over. Seems as if every street busker is ‘amped’ up to reach the widest area possible. Good for them, but I think busking as an acoustic musician is a thing of the past.
    Play em like you know em!

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    Default Re: Tunes to learn and places to pick for a trip to Scotland?

    Do you mean ' Edinburgh '

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    Default Re: Tunes to learn and places to pick for a trip to Scotland?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Adams View Post
    Having just returned from Scotland, I had a hard time finding any traditional music being played in the pubs, Disclaimer; I was a tourist and didnít have access to some of the outlying area that most likely have small pub hosting traditional music. I heard a lot deafening rock/folk music drowning out all conversations and a brunch of party goers dancing in the pubs and spilling into the street. I finally did find a traditional session at MacGregorís in Inverness, a little slow with some confusion as to what to play, but finally some traditional music. I didnít take my mandolin, but only recognized one tune that I may have been able to play along. . Iím not a Scottish music person. In Ireland; traditional music in pubs was everywhere. The one session I sat in on, the locals made me feel welcome and I knew a lot of the tunes.
    I'm sorry you didn't seem to find much trad music in the pubs.
    I know the session in MacGregors pretty well, and I must say 'slow' is not how I would usually describe it. You must surely have hit it on a bad day. Check out MacGregors Facebook page and you will see videos of sessions (usually Sunday ones) which are heaving.

    It is quite hard to recommend a list of Scottish tunes to learn. People don't tend to play Flowers of Edinburgh much at sessions, in my experience.
    Have a look at The High Road to Linton, Jenny Dang The Weaver, Kenny Gillies of Portnalong, Dr Flora MacAulay of Carradale, The Jig Run Rig, Munlochy Bridge, The New Rigged Ship (Shetland reel), The Jig Of Slurs, Paddy's Leather Breeches, maybe some more contemporary tunes like Bulgarian Red, certainly Calum's Road.

    That's probably not a bad start.
    David A. Gordon

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    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tunes to learn and places to pick for a trip to Scotland?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Hanson View Post
    Do you mean ' Edinburgh '

    Dave H
    And let's not even get into the pronunciation!
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Default Re: Tunes to learn and places to pick for a trip to Scotland?

    Two nations divided by a common language.

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    Default Re: Tunes to learn and places to pick for a trip to Scotland?

    Not Edinburgh, I take the Trad Session in Dunbar (East Coast, 20 mins by train). It's pretty free and easy, tunes and some songs depending on who is there. Always nice to see another mandolin player! Volunteer Arms, every Thursday, from 730pm.

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    Registered User Bren's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tunes to learn and places to pick for a trip to Scotland?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dagger Gordon View Post
    I'm sorry you didn't seem to find much trad music in the pubs.
    It is quite hard to recommend a list of Scottish tunes to learn. People don't tend to play Flowers of Edinburgh much at sessions, in my experience.
    Have a look at The High Road to Linton, Jenny Dang The Weaver, Kenny Gillies of Portnalong, Dr Flora MacAulay of Carradale, The Jig Run Rig, Munlochy Bridge, The New Rigged Ship (Shetland reel), The Jig Of Slurs, Paddy's Leather Breeches, maybe some more contemporary tunes like Bulgarian Red, certainly Calum's Road.

    That's probably not a bad start.
    Dagger's list is interesting and each tune could be the start of a new journey.

    e.g if they play Calum's Road, then Memories of Fr Angus McDonnell and The Hut on Staffin Island are probably not far away.

    Like this set here:
    https://thesession.org/members/156195/sets/56230

    That could be a good approach to learning repertoire:
    Take each of the tunes in Dagger's post, put into "thesession.org" tune search, and click on "sets with ..." and that will lead onto to other likely tunes.
    Not necessarily all Scottish - people do like to mix and match.
    Bren

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    Default Re: Tunes to learn and places to pick for a trip to Scotland?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bren View Post
    Dagger's list is interesting and each tune could be the start of a new journey.

    e.g if they play Calum's Road, then Memories of Fr Angus McDonnell and The Hut on Staffin Island are probably not far away.

    Like this set here:
    https://thesession.org/members/156195/sets/56230

    That could be a good approach to learning repertoire:
    Take each of the tunes in Dagger's post, put into "thesession.org" tune search, and click on "sets with ..." and that will lead onto to other likely tunes.
    Not necessarily all Scottish - people do like to mix and match.
    Hi Bren,
    What you say is indeed true, and would be a good way to learn. Thanks.

    It was good to see you again a couple of weeks ago in Orkney. I've just spent the weekend on the Isle of Eigg. Island hopping!
    David A. Gordon

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    Registered User Bren's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tunes to learn and places to pick for a trip to Scotland?

    Great to see you as well Dagger, looking well and sounding good.

    As it happens I'll be in by Eigg in a couple of weeks on Barry Nisbet's "sessions and sail" Americana boat trip with guests Pepita Emmerich (mandolin content!) and Theo Barnard.
    https://youtu.be/s_l6zWdP2l4
    https://youtu.be/oCe9jTGY43U
    Bren

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    Default Re: Tunes to learn and places to pick for a trip to Scotland?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bren View Post
    Great to see you as well Dagger, looking well and sounding good.

    As it happens I'll be in by Eigg in a couple of weeks on Barry Nisbet's "sessions and sail" Americana boat trip with guests Pepita Emmerich (mandolin content!) and Theo Barnard.
    https://youtu.be/s_l6zWdP2l4
    https://youtu.be/oCe9jTGY43U
    Oh great! I met Barry at Orkney, and went to see Pepe and Theo (Rain of Animals) last week at Ardersier and had a nice time with them. Please say hello from me.
    David A. Gordon

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    Registered User mbruno's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tunes to learn and places to pick for a trip to Scotland?

    I'm going to be in Edinburgh from 9/12 - 9/16 or so (going down to Dublin after that and flying back to WA on 9/26).

    If you're around and wanna jam, LMK!

    Thanks for the list Bren!!!
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