English Country Dance Tunes English Pub Session Series : Dave Mallinson - TheReedLounge.com

English Country Dance Tunes English Pub Session Series : Dave Mallinson

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The tunes are suitable for every instrument associated with traditional music, and only 14 notes are required to play them all. They are eminently suitable for playing at country dances, ceilidhs, barn dances and hoe-downs and most have been recorded by notable bands and personalities.

To facilitate musicians identifying repertoire suitable for their current personal ability, the tunes in each book are presented in order of difficulty, and start and finish progressively harder throughout the series, in the order listed.

Introduction to the series

A friend remarked at Sidmouth Folk Week, “Mally, I’m going to recommend your Easy Peasy book to everybody, it’s great! It reflects very closely the repertoire we play at our local session.” Another friend commented at Cleethorpes Folk Festival, “Mally, you do a gross injustice to some really good and useful tunes by labelling them ‘Easy Peasy’, it gives the impression that they are only of any use to beginners to cut their teeth on.” “Very true,” I thought, “I play many of these tunes myself at dances, in sessions and for the morris dancers. Wouldn’t it be a great to extend Easy Peasy into a series.” The idea was born, and soon developed into this set of four books which contain the most popular tunes that are played in English pub sessions, at folk festivals and by country dance musicians and morris players. Each book has its own theme and identity. Given average luck, with these tunes under your belt, you’ll be able to join in most of the time.

Because most traditional airs only require the fourteen notes D, E, F sharp, G, A, B, C, C sharp, D, E, F sharp, G, A and B, I decided it would be a good idea to continue the theme, meaning all the tunes can be played in the first position on the top three strings of the fiddle, all the notes are in the range of the wooden flute and tin whistle and all the music is within the scope of the D/G melodeon without accidentals.

Chord arrangements are more or less as played on the soundtrack, but nevertheless, are only suggestions. The dominant chords (i.e. D in the key of G, A in the key of D and E in the key of A etc.) throughout these books are noted as plain major chords, whereas many musicians prefer to play the seventh (D7, A7, E7 etc.). Feel free to play either type of chord as the mood takes you.

You’ll notice many of the tunes are not English. It’s the pubs, sessions, folk festivals, ceilidhs etc. that are English. In, what might be termed, a general English session, melodies from Northumberland, Ireland, Scotland, America, France and Scandinavia are to be heard alongside English airs, which tend to be associated with the more southern regions of the country

Hundreds of personalities, records, bands, books and sessions have, unknowingly, made tiny, almost imperceptible contributions to the settings and choice of the tunes found in these books (some of the more influential are listed below). They have also been moulded further by the limitations of my instrument, the D/G melodeon, and, of course, the fourteen note rule. All the settings are my own versions and every tune has, to a greater or lesser degree, my own personal stamp on it. But, I’m sure you’ll find all the tunes ‘session friendly’, you can learn them exactly as written and have a perfectly acceptable version. However, I consider it unwise to learn a tune from only one source and I would suggest strongly that, when learning a new tune, you pay heed to other books, recordings and live performances.

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  • This Old Man
  • What Can the Matter Be?
  • Aiken Drum
  • Polly Wolly Doodle
  • Some Say the Devil's Dead
  • The Heel and Toe Polka
  • The Bear Dance
  • Here We Go Round Mulberry 
  • The Boston Burglar
  • The Orkney Rope Waltz
  • The Gentle Maiden
  • My Love Is Like a Red Rose
  • Green Grow the Rushes-o
  • The Greenwood Tree
  • Galopede
  • Boil ‘em Cabbage Down
  • The Road to Boston
  • The Year of Jubilo
  • Goodbye Girls
  • Bonny Breast Knot
  • Drumdelgie
  • Corn Rigs
  • The Scartaglen Polka
  • The Big Corral
  • Big Rock Candy Mountains
  • Cindy
  • Gussie
  • Jumping Cactus
  • Dixie
  • The Sidbury Four Hand Reel
  • The Thistle of Scotland
  • Marching through Georgia
  • Pop Goes the Weasel
  • Golden Slippers
  • Another Jig Will Do
  • Come, Let Us Dance and Sing
  • Circassian Circle
  • A Life on the Ocean Wave
  • The Geud Man o' Ballangigh
  • Finnegan's Wake
  • The Bourton Six
  • The Lass o’ Gowrie
  • Twelve Reel
  • The Road to the Isles
  • Chinese Breakdown
  • Turkey in the Straw
  • The Cumberland Reel
  • The Arkansas Traveller
  • Beatrice Hill’s Three Handed
  • Ap Shenkin
  • Horses’ Brawl
  • Herbert Smith’s Four Hand
  • Double Lead Through
  • Barney Brannigan
  • A Man's a Man for A' That
  • Teribus
  • Durham Rangers
  • Newcastle
  • The Sussex Polka
  • Little Diamond
  • The Magic Slipper
  • Swedish Masquerade
  • The Goathland Square Eight
  • Voulez Vous Danser
  • The Tempest
  • Jack’s Maggot
  • Three Meet
  • Dorset Four Hand Reel No. 1
  • Dorset Four Hand Reel No. 2
  • Tavern in the Town
  • The Haymakers' Jig
  • Highland Laddie
  • The Dashing White Sergeant
  • Sellenger’s Round
  • Sir Roger de Coverley
  • The Triumph
  • The East Neuk of Fife
  • The Sweets of May
  • Miss Forbes' Farewell
  • The Fandango
  • Orange and Blue
  • The Flop-Eared Mule
  • Bonny Dundee
  • The Duke of Perth
  • La Russe
  • Jeanie's Blue E'en
  • Bottom of the Punchbowl
  • Peacock Followed the Hen
  • Petronella
  • The Friendly Visit
  • The Sheffield Hornpipe
  • Proudlock's Hornpipe
  • The Humours of Donnybrook
  • Father Kelly's Jig
  • The Morpeth Rant
  • Pay the Reckoning
  • Haste to Wedding
  • Phillebelula All the Way
  • The Blarney Pilgrim
  • Banish Misfortune
  • The Ship in Full Sail

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