Mount Piper Reel

Tony took a walk up the local Mount Piper Conservation Reserve here in central Victoria and decided that the unnamed reel he'd recently composed should be called "The Mount Piper Reel". The photos are some of the snaps he took whilst on his way up and down the walking trail. The tune is in A Major. For some strange reason that he doesn't understand, quite often when he plays an A Major Reel at a session backers often include a G chord. This only seems to happen with guitar players but not pianists. So to be clear, the backing for this tune uses A,D,and E chords, with the odd Bminor and F#minor thrown in,but definitely no G chords!!!!!

Mount Piper Reel.PDF can be downloaded here

Rebecca O'DeaMount Piper Reel

“My Ireland – Volume 1”

101 Irish tunes, with sheet music and chords. And an MP3 for each one, with Tony O'Rourke playing the tune on banjo, with guitar accompaniment.

A brilliant resource for anyone wanting to get a solid stock of tunes under their belt.

You can download a free sample of the book (PDF, 840k), which contains the full table of contents and a few pages of the sheet music, and listen to each of three tunes: Coalminer’s Reel(A)Cat That Ate The Candle (a Jig), and O’Carolan’s Concerto.

Or go ahead and get unlimited access for only $10 (US).

Gerry Gaffney“My Ireland – Volume 1”

Tony O’Rourke and Suzette Herft

Tony O'Rourke and Suzette Herft

Tony O'Rourke with Suzette Herft at the Burke and Wills Winery in Mia Mia (near Melbourne).

Suzette is a Melbourne-based singer and had been giving a performance of her “Joan Baez Tribute Show”. After dinner she and Tony sat down for a some informal singing and it went on for about 3 hours. A great night!

Photo by Janet Frawley.

Gerry GaffneyTony O’Rourke and Suzette Herft

At the Newstead Folk Festival

Tony attended the Newstead Folk Festival, near Castlemaine in Victoria, Australia, in January 2013. Sean Kenan took some photos and gave us permission to publish them here.

Tony O'Rourke plays banjo at Newstead

Tony O'Rourke plays banjo - Photo by Sean Kenan

5 musicians

Left-to-right: Adrian Clarke (fiddle), Rob Zielinski (fiddle), Sean Kenan(fiddle), Simon Leverton (guitar), Tony O'Rourke(banjo), with piper Pat Lyons looking on. Photo by Sean Kenan.



Gerry GaffneyAt the Newstead Folk Festival

Tenor guitar, mandolin

A listener asks: "Can your lessons be adapted to 4-string tenor guitar playing if it's tuned DGBE? Looks like the first lesson in Book 1 works fine."

Tony replies

I play tenor banjo tuned GDAE and some CGDA, but have no experience with DGBE on a banjo.

However, as these are the same highest 4 strings tuning as a guitar, then you would be able to play any tunes that don't have notes lower than D using the same fingering as you would on the guitar.

What to do with tunes that have notes lower than D? Well, this occurs all the time with instruments such as D Flute, tin whistle, and Uillean Pipes, where the lowest note is in fact D.

What practitioners of these instruments do is extemporise, that is re-create the phrasing of those lower notes (notes that are non-existent on their instruments) and "put in something" to fit the instrument. In other words alter the melody.

The last tune in this clip is Farrell O'Gara, a tune that uses a number of low A & B notes.  Played on fiddle and concertina there is no problem, as both instruments contain all the notes to the tune, including low A and Low B.

In the second clip you might be able to hear the flute player re-phrasing the tune to fit the instrument, the flute not having the Low A and Low B. In fact she does it with the next tune also, Lads Of Laoise, which contains both low B and Low A.

I guess it's worth considering that by using a DGBE as compared to a GDAE tuning you are sacrificing half an octave of notes, that is G, A, B, C and their sharps. But it's also worth noting that Gerry O'Connor uses a CGDA tuning so he doesn't have Low G, A, or B in the third clip.

Another advantage of learning GDAE tuning is that it is the same as mandolin tuning, so at some stage in the future if you decide to play mandoline then apart from some adjustment for the smaller fretboard the switch is pretty easy.

Of course there's nothing wrong with using a number of different tunings. I myself use GDAE on banjo and mandoline, occasionally CGDA on banjo, EADGBE on guitar, and also two open tunings on guitar - DADF#AD (open D) and EAC#EAE (open A).

Hope this helps, good luck with it.

Gerry GaffneyTenor guitar, mandolin