The B part of “Tuamgraney Castle” starts with a slide up to third position. Flynn walks you through the second part of “Tuamgraney Castle” in this video.
Check out these songs featured in the Irish Flatpicking Guitar course.
Learn to play traditional Irish dance tunes such as reels, jigs, and hornpipes on the guitar in the style of Paul Brady, John Doyle, Arty McGlynn, and others. With technique lessons on jig picking, triplets, and other techniques derived from traditional Irish tenor banjo playing.
Flynn talks about the basic flatpicking technique used in 4/4, 3/4, and 2/4 time (reels, waltzes, and hornpipes) in Irish music: alternate picking, which involves alternating down- and upstrokes in a regular manner. It’s also the basic pick technique used in bluegrass, old-time music, etc. Flynn also shows you the most common scales you’ll use in Irish music: D Dorian, D Mixolydian, and D major, all played in open position. You can use these scales to practice alternate picking.
Jigs are in 6/8 time, with two beats divided into two groups of three eighth notes, so alternate picking doesn’t really work for jigs. Instead, in traditional Irish music the players of plectrum instruments (guitar, tenor banjo, mandolin, bouzouki) usually pick jigs with a down-up-down, down-up-down pattern, which creates a groove that works well with 6/8 time. Slip jigs, which are in 9/8 time, are also played with the down-up-down pattern. Flynn gives you a few scale exercises you can use to practice jig picking.
In Irish music, triplets are an important part of how people ornament the tunes, and in the tenor banjo tradition, picked triplets are essential. In this lesson, Flynn talks about different kinds of triplets and how they’re used. He also gives you a few ways to practice them.
“Tuamgraney Castle” is a hornpipe in the key of A minor (or A Dorian). It has a bouncy swing feel, and Flynn plays it with a few ornaments, including a roll on the A note at the second fret of the G string.
“The Morning Star” is a single reel in the key of G and its relative minor, E minor. Flynn ornaments it with grace notes (called “cuts” in Irish music) and triplets. Single reels are shorter than standard reels; each part is only four measures long and while each part is repeated, sometimes, as in “The Morning Star,” the second B part ends differently than the first.
“Garrett Barry’s Jig” is in the key of D modal (D Mixolydian) and is a very common seisiún tune. Like all jigs, it uses “jig picking,” so if you haven’t gone through the lesson on jig picking, you should do that before tackling this lesson.
In this lesson Flynn introduces you to playing triplets with “The Geese in the Bog,” a jig in the keys of C and A minor. Flynn first learned “The Geese in the Bog” while teaching Comhaltas Ceoltoírí Eireann classes in Boston. Comhaltas is an organization devoted to the preservation of Irish traditional music. Since “The Geese in the Bog” is the first tune you’ll learn with picked triplets (“trebles”), if you haven’t gone through the lesson on Picking Triplets, you should do that before you tackle this lesson.
“The Hare’s Paw” is a reel in the keys of G and E minor. Flynn plays a lot of it in second position and uses guitaristic slides, “trebles,” and slurred triplets.
“The Boyne Hunt” is a reel in the key of D major. It’s part of the Comhaltas Ceoltoírí Eireann catalog of standard tunes and is played all over the world. Flynn plays the entire tune in second position with two different kinds of trebles and a roll in the B part.
“A Fig for a Kiss” is a well-known slip jig and is popular at seisiúns. It’s in the key of E minor (E Dorian) and has a few ornaments: cuts and picked triplets. Slip jigs are in 9/8, so you’ll use jig picking to play “A Fig for a Kiss.”
“Planxty Irwin” was composed by the 18th-century harper Turlough O’Carolan, who lived around the same time as J.S. Bach. He wrote numerous harp pieces that are a combination of traditional Irish music and Baroque music, and many of them have become popular at trad seisiúns. “Planxty Irwin” is in 3/4 time in the key of G major.
“The Connachtman’s Rambles” is a jig in the keys of D and B minor and is a very common seisiún tune. The A part is clearly in D major and the B part is clearly in B minor. The B part includes some stretches and strong cuts on the top string.
“Elizabeth Kelly's Delight” is a slip jig in A minor (or D modal). Flynn was influenced by Paddy Glackin and Micheál Ó Domhnaill’s recording and there’s also a great Lúnasa recording of it. You can compare versions, if you want, on The Session.org. Flynn plays the whole tune in second position, fingering the B and C notes on the G string rather than the B string.
“Mrs. Carolan’s” is the name Flynn gives for a reel in the key of D modal that he learned when he was playing with acclaimed Irish button accordionist John Whelan, who recorded it on Come to Dance, where it was called “Sleepy Maggie.” Flynn plays “Mrs. Carolan’s” in second position, with a lot of trebles. In this lesson, he also shows you how a more flexible pick can help when you’re playing a tune with a lot of trebles.