Tag Archives: Irish fiddle

The Earl’s Chair

The Earl’s Chair–an Irish Reel Session Favorite

When I play The Earl’s Chair, sometimes I think: The Duke of Earl’s Chair. That would be a slightly Americanized version of this great Irish fiddle reel.

I first tuned in to The Earl’s Chair when I heard the Liz Carroll album, Lost in the Loop. It’s preceded by an incendiary Silver Spear, and followed by a lively Musical Priest. There’s a cool riff she does that I imitate to some extent in this tab chart.

Originally I made a music notation version of what I was teaching. That went out to the Second Sunday Session that will be meeting tomorrow.

Since then I’ve tweaked it a bit. What appears below is close to how I play it now.
Fiddle tab of The Earl's Chair

Here is what The Earl’s Chair sounds like.

This is a moderately difficult tune even at the intermediate pace of the sound file. Below is a YouTube video I made right after recording the above.

At the Second Sunday Session we play the Earl’s Chair after Silver Spear, just like Liz Carroll. Well, our Chair is more of a Lazy Boy Recliner by comparison.

Lannigan’s Ball

A Good Time at Lannigan’s Ball

A few years ago, I went to the Clearwater Library to sit in on a concert presented by the Bay Area Fiddlers. I had been out of the group for a few years. So it was that I met Anson and Pat Young for the first time.

I learned before long that they were very active in promoting the group and making sure things happened that needed to happen.

I know most of the tunes we played that day. One was new to me: Lannigan’s Ball, a sprightly jig in E minor. I faked along as well as I could and resolved to really learn the tune, because I liked it.

Now I teach it to my students, using this tab chart.

an Irish jig in fiddle tab version of Lannigan's Ball
Lannigan’s Ball, an Irish jig in fiddle tab

Here is the tune played at a moderate tempo.

For printing, and sharing with others, here is a pdf chart. Now that I look at it again, as I put it online, I wish I had put in a grace note from the 3rd finger to the first finger in the second bar, and the fifth bar which has the same figure of notes. Feel free to add that ornament to Lannigan’s Ball and have fun at the ball!

This audio file features me playing Lannigan’s Ball as you see in the chart, then a second time with a little more ornamentation.

Dancing Tables by Liz Carroll

Dancing Tables, a jig by Liz Carroll, first showed up in a collection of Irish fiddle tunes. It was in Mel Bay’s Irish Session Tune Book.

I’ve used that often to see standard versions of popular tunes. The book includes favored variations, too. It has proven itself to be a good starting place for tunes.

Recently, Liz Carroll published her own Collected Original Irish Tunes. The way the tune is published there is a bit different from Mel Bay’s.

If you like her tunes it’s a great resource. The one I’ve been learning the past week or so is Fremont Center.

Getting back to Dancing Tables, here is the tab chart.

Fiddle tab chart of Dancing TablesAnd here is a pdf of Dancing Tables.

When I went to Amazon to get a link to the Mel Bay book, I saw the reviews were a little rough. And unfairly so, in my opinion. So I added my two cents worth. Below should be the link.

A Fiddler’s Quick Fix in the Morning

One morning not long ago I woke up with a head ache. Maybe it was from staring at those little dots of music at orchestra rehearsal. Or peering at the little screen on my lap top.

I took some ibuprofen, (my drug of choice), and made coffee. As I waited for the coffee to brew I was trying to remember a Liz Carroll tune. There was something about it that haunted me. But, I wasn’t remembering exactly how the tune went or what album it was on.

As I continued trying to focus through my achy head and morning bleariness, suddenly a new tune popped into my head. I’m saying it was an instant download from the Grassapelli influence. It was just there.

I got out my fiddle and Edirol. By that time the coffee was ready, so I poured a cup. By the time I had played through the tune two times and recorded it, my headache was gone. Hence. Quick Fix.

Elan Chalford original fiddle tune, Quick Fix, in fiddle tab

And here is the fiddle tab chart in pdf.

Let Me Out

This is one of my original tunes with an Irish fiddle flavor. I have it in the Canine medley, which includes Little Begger Dog and Old Gray Fox.

One of my challenges is to find the happy medium between the way I play the tune with maximum ornamentation, and an accessible way for intermediate fiddlers.

Since I increase ornamentation the longer I play a tune, it is a matter of going back in time. How did I play the tune when I first put it on paper or recorded it?

I put a version or two of this on YouTube.com/grassapelli a while back. I’m not sure if it matches the tab chart. Tunes mutate when I’m not looking at them.

Of all the tunes I’ve written, this is one I enjoy playing more than most. I don’t know why. It just feels good.

Fiddle tab chart for Let Me Out
Let Me Out in fiddle tab

The better to print version: Let Me Out in pdf.

Julia Delaney

Apparently I was mistaken about Margaret’s Waltz being an Irish tune. An yet, I’m going way out on a limb here and saying this is an Irish reel. Definitely sounds Irish.

I worked out a harmony part in twin fiddling for this, but you need to go into second position to pull it off. That’s one reason for not producing a tab chart. Maybe someday, in music notation.

Fiddle tab chart for Julia Delaney

Some of the bowing may seem a little odd. I arranged it so that the cross string bowing could be up bow on the E and down bow on the A. The bow technique feels more natural.

Here’s the pdf for Julia Delaney.

Margaret’s Waltz

Some fiddlers prefer to play this waltz in the key of A. Here you have Margaret’s Waltz in the key of G, where I’m used to playing it.

This is a pretty piece. It has migrated to American fiddling as well as any other tune from Ireland, not counting Red Haired Boy….and Devil’s Dream….and….well let’s stop there.

For waltzes, you won’t find another Irish one that is played more than Margaret’s. [Update: this is apparently not an Irish waltz. But, it is from the British Isles.]

Fiddle tab chart for Margaret's Waltz
Margaret's Waltz in Fiddle Tab

The pdf chart for Margaret’s Waltz.

Kilfenora’s Jig

The first time I heard Martin Hayes it was a compilation disc of many fiddlers. His playing was totally magnetic. I went right out and found Under the Moon.

First the album, then the collection of tunes. Kilfenora’s Jig was really was irresistible I’ve been playing it long enough now that it has evolved a little.

The version of the tune here is close to how I play it.

fiddle tab chart for Kilfenora's Jig
Kilfenora's Jig in fiddle tab

And the pdf of Kilfenora’s Jig.

Swallowtail Jig

One of the principles of music notation publishing is economy. Publish as much music as possible in the smallest amount of space. This principle was driven by physical constraints of material and human labor. It led to the use of repeat signs, target signs of several types, measure repeat signs, and more.

When I was putting together my book 43 Fiddle Tunes in Tab, I used these concepts to draw maps of tabs that were sometimes hard to follow. It gives me great satisfaction to straighten out some of these twisty pathways on this blog.

One such is the fiddle tab chart I made for Swallowtail Jig. There is one area in the B part that has stumped students repeatedly, (forgive the pun). In the chart below it is rewritten more intuitively.

fiddle tab chart for Swallowtail Jig
Swallowtail Jig in Fiddle Tab

And Swallowtail Jig as pdf for better results when printed.