The Craobh Dugan Tune Book
The Story of the Tune Book
by Skip Mansur
Going to an Irish seisiun (session) as a musician for the first time can be a bewildering experience - the old timers will seemingly pull hundreds of "chunes" (tunes) off the top of their head to play... newbies are often left exclaiming "What key are we in?" and "What was the name of that tune?"
The Craobh Dugan Seisiuns Tunebook (version 4.1) was collected and put together over the years largely in part by my own experience trying to learn the tunes. Also, since I started out playing rhythm guitar and bouzouki, chords were important to me (something the melody players usually could care less about!). So I've tried to include chords wherever possible.
Melody and Accompaniment
In Irish music, the melody is the thing, and the accompaniment is usually secondary (although it can add a lot to the music in my opinion). All the melody players will typically play the same notes in the melody, with a few variations as experienced players may add. The accompaniment is a different story... in fact for years, guitar players were sometimes banned from seisiuns. There is no set accompaniment to any given tune, although there may be some fairly standard suggestions for chords. However, two different guitar/zouk players may find themselves playing completely different chords to the same tune... in fact a rhythm player can profoundly affect the feel of the music with minor and modal chord substitutions - they can for example give a tune a somber minor key feel and the next time through change the chords to major and give the tune a completely different feel (sometimes to the dismay of the melody players who are used to a particular sound!).
The Tune Book's Goals
This tune book was put together with two main goals in mind - first, to document the particular versions of tunes and sets of tunes that our group typically plays, and second, to serve as an aid for folks wanting to play with us and to learn the music. To quote the introduction in the fine collections of tunes by the Pub Scouts and The King Street Sessions, "These are tunes which we have learned from many sources and comprise but a small part of the rich Irish music tradition. Since that tradition is grounded in the session where musicians learn and share tunes, we freely grant permission to copy, use, and enjoy this book."
Set Names Explained
Not all sets are named after the first tune in the set as you may notice in the set list index. This is because we often had a favorite tune, and found one or two others that we liked with it. However, the set remains named after the favorite. Some tunes have lyrics associated with them and those lyrics are indicated by an [L], and they may appear in part under the tune, or in the lyrics section at the end of the tune book.
This tune book will continue to evolve and new tunes and different arrangements will be added. I hope to continue to update the book and keep a most recent version posted.