App o’ the Morning: Random Sheet Music


So I got a tin whistle tutorial by noted Irish whistle player Mary Bergin, so that I can learn to play a tin whistle the way whistle players do, instead of the way recorder players do. It's too early for me to say whether the tutorial was a good investment or not, as I've just begun working through it, but Jane says I'm showing improvement, so there's that. (If you're interested in the tin whistle, and are looking for inspiration—or, possibly, sheer terror—check out Bergin's albums Feadóga Stái … [Read more...]

App o’ the Morning: The Craic

The Irish Gaelic word "craic" is an odd bird. Pronounced "crack", it means "news, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation", and apparently it's a culturally significant word in Ireland. I first ran across it in the Silly Wizard song "Take Her in Your Arms", which at one point describes the scene in a pub:There's a seisun in the corner, and the craic is grand tonight.That means that there are folks playing music in the corner (a "session"), and the conversation is … [Read more...]

ABC Music Notation


One of the neat things about exploring a field you know little about is that you can learn a lot in a very short time. Last week I talked about LilyPond, a nice application for typesetting music. It's a powerful program, capable of typesetting books of multipart orchestral scores. It works for me, and I like it. However, I've since learned that the world of folk music runs on a different music typesetting notation called ABC. ABC notation has been around for twenty years this month, and has … [Read more...]

App o’ the Morning: LilyPond


The tin whistle is a folk instrument; and the wonder and glory of folk music is that although it consists mostly of old standards, the old standards aren't particularly standard. For any well-known tune there will be any number of versions extant, with different words, slightly different melodies, different arrangements, and so on. And then, when you learn to play the tune, you're not expected to simply play it just like everyone else—instead, you're expected to take it and make it your own, a … [Read more...]

Penny Whistles and Me (UPDATED)

I've been listening to a lot of Irish Traditional music recently, and a lot of Irish traditional songs are played on the penny whistle, also known as the tin whistle. (That wind instrument you hear on records by the Chieftains or the Dubliners? Probably a penny whistle.) The penny whistle, a cousin of the recorder and the flageolet, is one of the simplest wind instruments: a whistle, or fipple flute, with six finger holes, capable of playing two full octaves on a diatonic scale (i.e., without … [Read more...]