Monday, December 31, 2012

Lo How a Rose E'er Blooming

Two tunes for today!

Here's one of my favorite Christmas carols. I meant to post it last week, but technology wasn't on my side.

A Goat in a Boat

I learned this tune from a concert by Louisa Bennion (concertina) and Loïc Bléjean (uilleann pipes) last week. It's fun to learn tunes from non-string players and pick out their variations, ornamentation, and phrasing! 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Where Lilies Bloom

Here's a fun polka I learned from a Cheiftains album. Thanks to Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh for convincing me that Polkas are actually cool.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Last year, I heard Frigg play at a festival in Madison, Wisconsin. What a treat! I had never heard of them, but I love Scandinavian music, so I stopped in to listen. I was blown away!

This tune is the first cut off their album, Grannen and was written by Ale Möller.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Garrett Barry's

Here is a classic jig called Garrett Barry's. I first heard this tune on Tommy Potts' CD Liffey Banks, then learned it from Neil Martin, although he transposes it into G from D.

Pushing a baby walker with my foot while playing is more difficult than I expected! But he was a great listener!

See for more info on folk cello!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Jerry O'Sullivan's


This is my first NTAD post, and I'm excited to start sharing new tunes with you. I'm Liz Davis Maxfield-- Katie Davis Henderson's sister, and I'm the new NTADer!

Here's a lovely slow reel to start. Lúnasa recorded Jerry O'Sullivan's on their album The Kinnitty Sessions. Kevin Crawford plays it in EbMajor on his Bb flute, so I took the liberty to transpose it to DMajor. It is also played in GMajor. 

I play folk cello and my first book, The Irish Cello Book, will be released by Berklee Press and Hal Leonard in early 2013. For more information, visit my website,

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Brushy Run

This. Is a big day. I am posting my final addition to my New Tune a Day project. Since my last, I've graduated with my Masters degree, published my thesis, gone on vacation to Thailand where I swam in the sea, rode elephants, cavorted with tigers, and ate my weight in pad thai, came home, packed up all our stuff, and moved to Colorado.

Here's my final NTAD.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Tommy Peoples

I learned this reel off of an Altan recording. Tommy Peoples is a great fiddler and his tunes are gorgeous as well. This reel is quite simple and easy to learn.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Booth Shot Lincoln

Here's a simple old time tune in cross-tuning. I learned it from one of my students, who learned it off of an Uncle Earl album.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Teampall An Ghleantáin

Here's a reel I learned off of Caoimhin O' Raghallaigh and Mick O'Brien's first album, Kitty Lie Over. The fiddle is tune down a major third.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Andy de Jarlis, Ingonish, Mrs. McGhee

Here's a set of jigs I've probably listened to a million times on the Altan album. I recorded the entire set, not able to stop after the first jig. Love these tunes. The first is attributed to Andy de Jarlis, but it could also be traditional. Sorry about the dark screen. My camera was being moody today.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Blackberry Blossom

Here's an old time tune that shares a name with a well known bluegrass jam tune. I learned this tune from Bruce Molsky's playing. It's kind of weird sounding because there's a slightly raised 4th (the C#) sometimes, making the tune sound a little lydian.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Road to Errogie with Leslie Anne Harrison

May I introduce Leslie Anne Harrison on wooden flute! She and I toured together when I subbed in for New Time Ensemble's fiddler during their 2011 New England tour. She's a fantastic musician and super awesome person. Here's a reel she learned today! I joined in on the second go-around. Also make sure to check out Folk Ragoût, an Irish/Breton duo she plays in with Fred Pouille.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Cold Frosty Morning with Nick Hornbuckle

Today's a special day because I am joined by banjoist Nick Hornbuckle. I learned this tune from a video he posted to youtube, and he graciously allowed me to use his footage for this NTAD.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Edward in the Treetop

Here's an old time tune I learned off of Rayna Gellert and Susie Goehring's album "Starch and Iron."

Friday, May 18, 2012

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Locust Tree

Here's a tune written by Brittany Haas which she plays with Crooked Still on the album "Some Strange Country" and on her latest project, "Criss Cross" with Dan Trueman. She plays a 5-string fiddle (by Jon Silakowski), which I don't have. But I happen to have a viola, which I learned the tune on. So today's video has the tune two ways, once with viola in the original key (D), and once with fiddle, up a fourth (G).

Friday, May 11, 2012

Lady MacDonald's

Here's a reel I learned from Oisin MacDiarmada. He taught it at a workshop and I just listened to the recording today.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sonny Riordan's

My friend and bandmate Colin has been studying Irish traditional music at the University of Limerick for the past year or so and he occasionally sends me tunes he's learning. Here's a polka he sent me recently.

Monday, May 7, 2012

2 Ridées

Today I learned a couple of ridées, which are Breton dance tunes in 6. I learned them off of a Lùnasa album. Ridées and other Breton tunes don't often have titles unless there are lyrics. These two, as far as I can tell, are like that.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Frieze Britches

Here's a long jig I learned off of Ronan Browne and Peter O'Loughin's album The South West Wind. They play a version with 6 parts, although there seems to be many different version floating around with 4, 5, or 7 parts as well.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Trip to Dingle

Here's a polka composed by Alan Kelly. I've learned what I think is quite a unique version of it, from a recording of Peter Staunton and Niamh Varian-Barry.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Salt River

Finally! An old-time tune! This one I learned off of one of Bruce Molsky's recordings.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Laird of Drumblair

Here's a Scottish strathspey I learned from the playing of Donegal fiddler Tommy Peoples. It's a quick and easy one to learn. (Don't be fooled by the fast notes, they're just up-and-down the scale.)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bonnie Kate

Here's an old tune. I learned it from the playing of Tommy Reck, and I've tuned the fiddle down a major third in order to play along with him.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Siobhan O'Donnell's

Here's a happy reel in A written by John Brady. I learned it in order to teach a student of mine who wanted to learn it, too.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Tatter Jack Walsh

Here's a great jig I heard the first time eons ago listening to Ashley MacIsaac's crazy fiddle/rock recording. I listened and learned a version from Liz and Yvonne Kane.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Cutting Ferns

Here's a polka I learned from some recordings a friend sent me who is currently a masters student of traditional Irish music at the University of Limerick.

Stuck on a Log

Andy Reiner of Tuneswappers wrote and taught me this cool old-timeyish crooked tune in 3.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Fox in Town

Here's a reel from Brendan Mulholland, Paul McSherry, and Brendan Hendry's album "Tuned Up." The fiddle is tuned up a half step.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Pitnacree Ferryman

I was at a Celtic Festival in Evanston this weekend. On Friday night, Téada headlined and on Saturday, Natalie Haas & Alasdair Fraser headlined. The two groups converged Saturday night for a post-concert session, where all attempts at finding cross-over Irish/Scottish tunes were made. Eventually, the evening dissolved into Alasdair and Seamus Begley (who was accompanying Téada for this part of their tour) sat and played Gallic songs from Scotland and Ireland and Natalie accompanied. It was wonderful. To commemorate the weekend, I learned a tune off of Alasdair and Natalie's latest recording. This reel is a common session tune in Scotland.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Winnie Hayes'

Here's a really simple jig in E dorian. I learned this particular version from a youtube video of Donal Lunny playing with Mary Custy.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Liffey Banks

Here's a nice old reel in G. I love the melody, especially the opening phrase. I learned this particular version from a Téada recording.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Kitty's Rambles

Here's a jig I learned off of a Bobby Casey album. I've tuned my fiddle to Bobby's tuning, down a half-step.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Pat and Al's

I've been posting less frequently because I'm in the middle of preparing my master's thesis, and it's going to get worse before it gets better, so as per usual, in a stressful time I've learned a Liz Carroll tune. Here's a jig from her Lost in the Loop album.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Wolves a Howlin'

Another tune I learned straight for the source of all that is good: youtube. This is an old time tune in G tuning that I learned from a video of Rayna Gellert.

Friday, February 24, 2012

An Buailteoir Aerach

Here's a reel from the same set as the last tune I learned (The Enchanted Lady) on Caoimhìn Ò Raghallaigh and Mick O'Brien's album Deadly Buzz. I dropped the strings down a major third to play along with the recording.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Enchanted Lady

Here's a tune off of Caoimhìn Ò Raghallaigh and Mick O'Brien's latest album, Deadly Buzz. Many of their tunes are played with the fiddle tuned down a major third, and this is one of them. (So G is tuned down to Eb, D to Bb, etc.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Bridie's Joy

Here's a reel I learned off of Ronan Browne and Peter O'Loughlin's album "The South West Wind." I love this sweet little tune.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Walk Along John to Kansas

I learned this old-time tune off of Tatiana Hargreaves' album. Tatiana is a young but awesome fiddler. This tune is an old tune, and I don't know much about it except the ibiblio says it comes from "the south."

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Golden Castle

Today I learned a tune off of sheet music, which I don't ordinarily do. I prefer to learn tunes by ear most of the time. However, there's this free collection of hundreds of tunes you can download (for free!) by following this link. I got the whole thing printed out and from time to time I like to browse it for new tunes. Anyway this hornpipe was written by Junior Crehan, a Clare fiddler.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Gooseberry Bush

Today I'm finally getting around to doing a tune. The next few weeks I expect will be like the last few: insane. Well. I'll still try to average at least 4 tunes a week. Here's an old Irish reel I learned from the playing of Joe Burke, Matt Molloy, and Ann Conroy Burke on the live recording Geantraì.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sunday, February 12, 2012


This is a cool little slip jig I learned off of a recording by Duncan Wickel and his aunt Beanie Odell. The two of them play twin fiddle on the album Red Wellies.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Paddy Fahey's

Galway fiddler and composer Paddy Fahey doesn't name his tunes, so there are several dozen tunes floating around the world now, all dubbed Paddy Fahey's. Here's one of them, a jig I learned of Yvonne and Liz Kane's album Side by Side.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Shoemaker's Daughter

Ed Reavy writes excellent tunes. Here's one of his reels in G. I learned my version from a youtube video and from a collection of Ed Reavy's tunes in abc that my friend Jim,,, sent me.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Starry Lane to Monaghan

Here's another Ed Reavy tune (finally!) I got this one from the Kane sisters' album Side by Side. Their liner notes say he wrote this in honor of a starry night when he looked down the lane and saw the nearby county of Monaghan, where his mother was from.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Newt Payne's Tune

Here's a pretty tune for you. I learned this from a video of Adam Hurt and Stephanie Coleman and another video of Rhys Jones and John Herrmann. I love the B part. Also, oddly, it's played AAABBB.

Friday, February 3, 2012

3 Deer and a Hare

I ordered Liz and Yvonne Kane's album Side by Side recently, and it arrived in the mail yesterday. So today I learned one of Liz's compositions from this album.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Rambling Pitchfork

Today I returned to an old favorite source of tunes - Caoimhìn Ò Raghallaigh and Mick O'Brien's album, Kitty Lie Over.  I've tuned my fiddle down to their tuning - down a major third from standard.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Five Miles from Town

I have Rayna Gellert's recording with Susan Geohring on repeat.  By the end of this project (July 2012), I will probably have done every single tune on that album.  I LOVE IT.  So this is another one, called Five Miles from Town - tuning is standard with the low G string tuned up to an A. (ADAE)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Reel of Eight

A couple days ago I skyped with Métis fiddler Jennilee Martineau and she taught me this tune.  It's crooked because the first half of the A-part has 10 bars.  I had a tough time getting the bows right - it's exactly opposite from what I am used to. The important thing, I learned, was that the upbeat gets the emphasis, so anything you can do with your bow to stress the upbeat is good.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Donegal Lasses

I went to a workshop this weekend by Laura Cortese.  She gracefully recorded a couple of tunes into my handy dandy recorder for me to learn.  This jig was one of them.  I have adopted some of her Scottish flavor for it.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Let the Bottle Circulate

Here's a cool little Scottish slow reel I learned from Laura Cortese today at a workshop.  She learned this from the whistle player from Old Blind Dogs.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

For the Love of Music

Here's a slip jig written by the amazing Liz Carroll.  She plays this on her album Lake Effect - and in the set she plays this tune first in G and then in A.  I'm playing it here in A.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Goodbye Girls

Another Old-Time tune!  I learned this one off of Rayna Gellert's and Susan Goehring's album "Starch & Iron."  I listened to it over and over today at work.  It's such a cool, unpredictable tune.  I think Rayna learned this tune from Andy Cahan.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Say Old Man I Want Your Daughter

I'm so grateful for youtube.  More than half of the tunes I've learned so far have come from videos on youtube.  This one came from a video of Stephanie Coleman and Adam Hurt playing live somewhere in the UK.  The tune is cool, open tuning, and crooked.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Waltzing with Lilly

This is a tune written by a friend of mine, Joe Morales, who plays guitar and claw-hammer banjo.  He wrote this one for his wife.  He taught it to me today.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Orphan

Today I learned a jig from Kevin Burke's album, "Up Close."  I love Kevin Burke's emotive, sweet playing and his wonderful lilt.  This is a slow jig and pretty simple to learn.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Old Maid of Galway

Here's another tune I learned from the inimitable Liz Carroll. This one's from her recording "Lost in the Loop," and she pairs it with a reel she wrote called, "Lizzy in the Lowground."  I like how she plays this tune lower and slower than most.  It's groovy.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Friday, January 6, 2012

Mother's Delight

I learned another tune off of Frankie Gavin and Alec Finn's old recording.  They list this tune as Sean Franks, but that's actually a different tune (the album is notoriously mislabeled.)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

John Riley the Shepherd

The source for the tune I learned today is Adam Hurt's recording "Earth Tones," which despite the new-agey title, is a gorgeous album of old time tunes he plays on a gourd banjo.  Gorgeous stuff.  This tune is on the last track.  I also listened to Stephanie Coleman's version, and play it in that key (G dorian.)  Also Stephanie's version is straight (not crooked), and Adam's version is crooked.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Maid(s) of Mount Cisco

So I'm back after a bit of a break!  (I wasn't about to learn a new tune each day during the holiday break when my time was better spent sitting and watching Star Trek Voyager on Netflix, or visiting Yellowstone National Park...)  This is a lovely reel, and I learned a unique version from MacDarra Ó Raghallaigh's playing.