Just looking for some suggestions for some intermediate-level Irish songs to add to my rep. on the wire and/or lever harp.
Posted In: Amateur Harpists
Sylvia Woods has two nice books. One of Irish tunes and one of Irish Dance tunes. The non dance tunes book has two versions of each, one a little more advanced than the first, so they can be played together to make for longer pieces. In fact you can easily make a nice long piece out of each by playing the easier version once playing only the basic chords in the left hand (she includes the chord symbols so guitar players can play along easily, or so you can flesh out your own arrangements as well), then a second time doing the full easier arrangement, then a third time with the more advanced arrangement.
A few people I know have commented that they didn’t like her choice of keys for a few of the pieces in the dance tunes book because they weren’t all in the keys typically used in Irish sessions, but if you are playing solo or with your own group it doesn’t make a difference really.
And if you want to expand out of strictly Irish music she has a similar book of Scottish tunes and ballads. What is nice is that since they were all arranged by the same person they have a common arranging style that can lend an air of cohesiveness if you wanted to play them as a set at a gig. Sometimes jumping from one arranger to another the styles can be so different the transition can come across as a bit jarring or noticeable.
Thank you, Rachel! I was thinking about getting the Dawning of the Day book, in fact I even have it marked on my wish list at Melody’s. I’ll check into the Kim Robertson arrangements, but I may not be up to that performance level yet. Something to look forward to though I don’t care too much for the faster tunes,
Karen, sorry it took so long to get back to you.
Yes, from the 50 Irish Melodies Book my favorites are:
Farewell But Whenever You Welcome The Hour, The Garten Mother’s Lullaby, Shule Aroon and Mari’s Wedding.
From the Irish Dance Tunes book I like:
Carrickfergus, Brian Boru’s March, Little Beggarman and Rights of Man
From the 52 Scottish Songs book:
John Anderson My Jo, Loch Lomond, Baloo Baleerie and Rattlin’ Roarin’ Willie
I know it’s a month since you posted but I’m new to the forum and just saw it. The books that are a starting point for any harper in Ireland are the ‘Sounding Harps’ series by Cairde na Cruite(Friends of the Irish harp). The books have different difficulties and I’m not sure where you are, as the books are sold in most music shops in Ireland, but they have a website if you are interested!
Yes, I’d definitely agree there. They are an excellent series and used by most teachers. I remember using those among others when I started playing – and again when teaching. Inisheer is a beautiful air and – in my opinion – easier than the Wild Geese to learn.
I have attached two links to ‘harp.com’ – a great website for finding harp music etc. If searching from the UK/Europe use the first link, if from the
Thanks so much! I will look into the Sounding Harps series. I did wind up purchasing the Dawning of The Day by Rasmussen and am looking through it. I’ve been playing Inisheer all along, it is one of my favorite tunes. Another that I love is the Gentle Maiden. Celtic music is my main interest, so these suggestions from those who specialize in this genre of music is most welcome.
Happily Harping Away~
Hi again, I forgot to mention this book earlier – it would probably be best to work up through the Sounding Harps series first though (depending on playing ability) as only the melody is given and you have to compose your own bass. The book is ‘The Life, Times and Music of Turlough O Carolan’ by Donal O’Sullivan (published by Ossian Press). I mention this one due to your interest in Celtic and earlier music/harps. For me – as an Irish harper it is a wonderful resource to have and contains all of O’Carolan’s tunes – known and attributed.
All the best,