The Noon Day Feast or Scatter the Mud

One of my favorite Bodhran players sent me a youtube video of The Noon Day Feast, telling me how much she loved it.  It is now on my to-do list to learn.

Here’s the mandolin tab and standard notation as well as guitar tab for flat picking.

The Noon Day Feast Mandolin Tab

The Noon Day Feast Guitar Tab


Old Bush/Wise Maid Celtic Irish Reels on Mandolin

Last night, the wife decided to go to the gym. I was home alone, and I had no more work to do, so thought I’d finally learn these tunes completely.  I found the best way to do it, is to make a recording, with melody, chords and a metronome.

Here’s the sheet music or tablature.

(Ye) Old Bush

The Wise Maid

Here’s the recording.

New Tune, The Stone Smith

After the great show at Firestorm Cafe, here in Asheville, the following day a tune popped out.  It’s nice driving tune, I’ve called “The Stone Smith”, in honor of one of my good friends, who happens to be a stone smith.  This guy here —> (If you need any stone work done, he’s the man for it.)

Here’s the tune.

The Stone Smith

Let me know how you like it.  I’ll work on getting a nice recording of it up soon.  I enjoy playing it with Mist Covered Mountain and The Rambling Pitchfork.



Battle of Evermore, Performed at Firestorm Cafe, Asheville NC for 2012 Imbolc

The Battle of Evermore, was originally composed by Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin. Sandy Denny was the only performer to ever perform on a Led Zeppelin Album.  She sang in this duet.

The arrangement in this video, is not the same as Led Zeppelin’s. For one, we only have one singer, Linda Go.  Second the original was recorded a step lower.  The main chord pattern I use is Am to G, then Am to D.  The chorus is still D.  The third part, is C to G, and then G7 to C.  The original version is a bit different.   You can find the mandolin tab for the original on the tab section of this blog.  And right here…

The Battle of Evermore

Tunes to Learn: Master Crowley’s, Roscommon, Dinny O’Brien’s, Porthole of Kelp

The following tunes are on my “to learn” list.  Here is the tab and standard notation along with a youtube video of most of them.

Master Crowley’s Reel

Roscommon Reel



Porthole of Kelp



and I’ll look for a good video of Dinny O’Brien’s later.  If you find one, send me a note.

Dinny O’brien’s



Learning New Tunes

A woman recently sent a message, saying, she’d be interested in hearing the process of learning a new tune.

What Makes A Tune Easy to Learn

This has been on my mind lately, because I’ve found that learning by ear has many benefits over learning from tab or standard notation. Tab and standard notation allows you to correctly learn the tune from the beginning.  However, it can draw out the amount of time one takes to learn a tune.  When learning by ear, we have to listen to the tune repeatedly, which helps us get the tune stuck in our mind. I’ve found that tunes are much easier to learn when we know how they sound by heart. When learning a tune by ear, most of the time, we are learning from a recording or from someone else playing for us. Usually, this makes the tune more interesting. Tablature and written tunes usually lack life until a player inflects it with that life. Hearing tunes with “lift” and the stylistic human quality makes them more interesting, and also inspires us to learn them quicker.  (You can tell the difference between someone who’s learned by ear versus through sheet music or tab. The ear trained musician will know many songs, but not the names of them.  The sheet music musician often requires that they hear the name of a tune before they can jump right in. That’s interesting, no?)

Once we’ve figured all this out, then what?

Figuring Out the Key

The Key and the Scale Used for Various Tunes Sets the Tone. Learning to hear what the tone feels like, helps you pick the right key instinctively.

Once we’ve found a tune we enjoy, the next step is usually to figure out the key a tune is in. Why? Because this tells us what notes will be within that

tune, and we don’t have to waste time randomly fretting notes on our mandolin fretboard, hoping we hit a correct note.

The usual keys in Irish Celtic Music are D, G, and A, with variations on those keys. This is not to say that all tunes fall into these three categories, but most of the time they will. To figure out which key a tune is in, repeatedly pluck the D string, in rhythm with the tune in 8th notes. Start with D. If that does not sound correct, try G, and so on. Eventually you will be plucking a string that makes a good drone for the tune you are trying to learn. This droning string should sound good throughout the entire tune. Although again, keep in mind some tunes change keys from the A to the B section.

Examples of tunes in these three keys are as follows.You can pluck the notes of these tune’s Keys, throughout the entire tune as a drone.

D = Rose in the Heather, Merry Blacksmith, or Maid Behind the Bar.

G = Kesh Jig, Jim Ward’s, Swallowtail Jig (Em),  or Out on the Ocean.

A = Tenpenny Bit(Am), Bill Sullivan’s, Islay Ranter’s Reel (Am to A major in the B part).

Now if you were going to figure these tunes out for your self, you would know that in the D tunes you would probably only be using the notes, D, E, F#, G, A, B, C# , because those are the notes in the D scale. Similarly, in the G tune, you would be using the notes, G, A, B, C, D, E, F#.  If you were going to figure tunes out in the key of A, you would use these notes, A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G#.  This information is no way meant to be exhaustive. Figure out the scales for Em, Am, Dm, F, C, etc., as well.  But to get you started, learning tunes in these three keys will suffice.

The Mist Covered Mountain is now available as Tablature on the "Tunes and Tab" page.

What Chords Do You Use

Say you want to back someone up who knows a melody because you haven’t learned the tune yet. It’s good to know what chords may be used to do that, once you know the key.

If you find the tune is in D, often the chords you will use will be D, G, A. If the tune is in G, try out G, C, D. If the tune is in A, try A, D, E. If it is in Am, try Am to G, or Am to G to Em to Am.  If the tune is in Em, often you can bounce back and forth from Em for a 2-4 bars, and then D.  Or for Em, you can do a classic, Em, D, E, C, D pattern.  Try the chords in these orders first. If you are certain of the key yet, these chords don’t sound correct, try a different order of the same chords.

Once you can figure this out, you are on your way to having a process for learning a tune by ear. If you have any questions, feel free to comment on this post, and I’ll answer them.

By the way, if you aren’t up for learning tunes by ear, I’ve just tabbed Mist Covered Mountain!

In a bit, we can discuss how to begin hearing the tenor of a tone, to instinctively know what key to play in. We can also discuss how to begin learning a song by ear, more efficiently.

Choice Wife, A Farrell’s Welcome to Limerick, Gallagher’s Frolics Revisited

Got inspired to record these two tunes, and put them to a short video of a walk on the park way, I just took.

The tabs and standard notation to these songs are on the tab and notation page of this site.

Recorded with my Mowry and Trinity College Octave.

Old Bush and the Maple Leaf

Two nights ago, at the White Horse in Black Mountain, NC, we played these two tunes together.  The Old Bush and The Maple Leaf.

(Ye) Old Bush <–tab

The Maple Leaf <–tab

For you guitar flatpickers, here are those same tunes tabbed out in standard tuning and DADGAD.

(Ye) Old Bush Standard Guitar     The Maple Leaf Guitar

(Ye) Old BushDADGAD    The Maple Leaf DADGAD

While I’ve always found the “chopped off head” youtube videos kind of strange, this is the best one I could find at the time for The Maple Leaf.