Brown - A Beginner's Guide to...

I am from the northeastern USA, and play in local sessions. I am in the "grandpa"
phase of my earthly existence and have been playing music all my life--trumpet,
harmonica, guitar, church choir, solo singing, tin whistle, and most recently B/C
accordion--jack of all trades, master of none. I have been involved in sessions
since the late 1990s, mostly playing guitar accompaniment. My wife plays fiddle and
sings like an angel, and we are in a band together. I dearly love music, and
listening to it and making it is an important part of my life.
A disclaimer on the advice or information I put on this site: I have accumulated a
lot of musical knowledge over the years, but in drips and drabs, with little formal
instruction. In my own opinion, my playing is solid, journeyman level, nothing
fancy. So if you want advice from a flashy and talented musician, look elsewhere. I
will say, though, that what advice and information I give will be as sound as it can
be, and I will qualify anything I am not sure of.
I am a firm believer in the fact that traditional music is the people's music
(that's why they call it folk music), and it is all about participation--we should
be welcoming and encouraging to all (although also not be afraid to politely
encourage beginners toward listening and lessons, and drunken singers toward a cup
of coffee).
I play a Martin 000M guitar (standard tuned), a plain old wood-fipple unpainted
Clarke whistle, Hohner Special 20 harmonicas, and a Saltarelle B/C Irish Bouebe
accordion (swing tuned).

And now, provided as an aid to the beginning accompanist, is a humble beginner's
guide to The Music:

A Beginner’s Guide to Accompanying a Session
by Alan Brown
19 March 2009 (updated 22 August 2010)

The Irish and Scottish traditions have a wonderful thing called the session (also
spelled seisuin)--a gathering of musicians, usually in a pub, and usually involving
liquid refreshment as well as music. The music in these gatherings is mix of tunes
that people have in common (played together in unison), and solo pieces, like airs
and songs (generally played alone, or accompanied by a friend). Traditionally, the
tunes were played in unison without accompaniment, but increasingly in past decades,
instruments such as guitars, pianos, octave mandolins and bouzukis have been used to
accompany the melody instruments. This article is written from a guitar player’s
perspective, but has information that will interest players of any rhythm instrument
(even a drum). The article is written from the perspective of an American playing
this music, so take what is said accordingly--sessions are similar, but not
precisely the same all over the world. The article is not for beginning players--it
is tailored for someone who already has a musical background, perhaps in another
genre, and assumes some knowledge of music fundamentals, how to play the guitar, and
basic chord structure. And remember, this is an aural tradition, which means passed
along through learning by ear. So be sure to listen. Learn to use, and trust, your
ears as your guide. If you come to this music from a classical background, you are
used to using sheet music as your primary guide to learning music, with your ears
supporting. With this music, it is the opposite, as your ears are the primary guide.
In fact, while some people use sheet music as an aid in learning this music, many do
not use it at all. Quite a difference from those brought up in the classical world!

Session Etiquette:
If you are new to it, attend the session and listen a few times before bringing an
instrument, and asking to join in, and don’t insist on playing along with
everything from the start. In fact, there is nothing wrong with even the experienced
accompanist taking breaks--not every moment of transcendent musical beauty needs to
have a guitar chugging along in the background. To paraphrase Miles Davis, sometimes
the spaces between the notes are as important as the notes you play. Unlike the
melody instruments where excessive improvisation is not appropriate (except for
ornaments and other minor embellishments), accompaniment is generally developed on
the spot. Be spontaneous, but not so spontaneous that you confuse the melody
instruments (you are there to support them--a steady rhythm comes first). A session
(assuming there are enough chairs) will welcome as many melody players as can play
along. But there is a limit to how many rhythm players you can add before the melody
players are overwhelmed, and the “wall of rhythm” muddies the overall sound. At
the same time, sessions are more accessible to rhythm players, as it is easier to
learn a few basic strumming and chord patterns than it is to get many dozens of

1 sur 7 07/10/2014 11:37

marches are still heard often in Scotland. These are Irish. thumping rhythm. Types of Tunes and Songs: Tunes: Are instrumental. sometimes faster and slower within the same phrase. In the Irish tradition. she is dancing on her toes).ru/download/tutors/Al Brown . These are from County Kerry. Mazurkas: These are slower tunes written in 3/4 or 6/8 time. think of the words ' elegant elegant elephant'. heard a lot at ceilidhe dances. but there are also laments and ballads where the rhythm is very free-flowing. The words 'edible elephant' or �rashers and sausages’ give you an idea of the rhythm of a jig. http://irishguitar. When playing with other accompanists. 2/2 or 2/4 time (depending on the source you believe). bouncier than waltzes. and airs bubble along freely at the pace of the soloist. and remember. Be sensitive to this. The words 'humpty dumpty' give you an idea of the rhythm of a single jig. you also have to know the soloist if you want to accompany. and usually dance music. especially where set dancing is done. Airs: Are instrumental. and use a lot of swing (almost to the point of dotted notes). quick and bouncy dance tunes. This style of dance is what spawned American contra-dancing and square-dancing. This paradox often produces a surplus of rhythm players at sessions. 2/4 or 6/8.A Beginner's Guide to. Reel: In 4/4. Jig (Double Jig): In 6/8 time. These were once more common than reels in sessions in Ireland. Polka: In 2/4 (or 4/4) time. especially northern/central Ireland. forming squares or lines. and even get the singer’s permission before playing along. singers have long sung without accompaniment. Dance: You can’t discuss session music without some discussion of dancing. also played in Scotland. but quicker than a slip jig. There are pub songs where the beat is very sure and people sing along (like Clancy Brothers). In Irish dance. and some Scottish ceilidh dances involve marches (like “The Gay Gordons”). but are also played in County Donegal (which is where they are called highlands). Slide: In 12/8 time. Songs: Are tunes with words. Simpler than reels. who dance alone. but with a simpler rhythm. while set dancing is faster. Some Scottish ceilidhe dances are even set to marches. Don’t be too quick to jump in. These are Irish.. slip jigs or hornpipes. These community dances involve groups of people. More common in Donegal than elsewhere. but usually played a bit slower. play with control (quiet is good). and are performance pieces. and dancing together. and are often associated with sailors (Popeye the Sailorman’s theme is a hornpipe). there are also community dances. usually little slower than reels. Hornpipes: These are in 4/4 time. or groups of couples. Also played in Scotland. Ceilidhe dances are generally a relaxed type of dance that all ages participate in. often changing partners during the dance. These are individual dances. played at the pace of a double jig. jigs. more athletic and energetic. Being able to accompany a slip jig is the sign that you have moved from apprentice to journeyman status. Step dancers can use either hard shoes (the roots of tap dancing are in this type of music) or soft shoes. often used to accompany set dancers. They come from Scotland. 2 sur 7 07/10/2014 11:37 . which consist of ceilidhe dances or set dances. jigs or polkas and slides. Step dancers like these for soft shoe dances (that is why our elephant is elegant. Step dances are usually done to reels. In Ireland and Scotland. Strathspeys (or Highlands): These are in 2/4 time. tunes under your belt and be able to play the melodies at high speeds. the melody is king. since most of the music arose from dance accompaniment. Jig (Single Jig): In 6/8 time. but in recent years have been supplanted by the reel. they are dance tunes. work together so that you are harmonious. Slip Jigs: In 9/8 time. with the 'humpty dumpty' feel of a single jig. usually slow pieces (the melody of a song. or in a troupe of dancers. There are Scottish dances that are similar to Irish soft shoe dances (some involved with dancing over crossed swords--ouch). The rhythms are often very subjective. without the words). Because of the bagpiping tradition. triplets and a steady. Take turns sitting tunes out or playing melody. The words 'animated alligator' give you an idea of the rhythm of a reel. Ceilidhe and set dances are usually set to reels. and designed to be played more quickly. Hop Jigs: In 9/8 time. and with the �humpty’ feel of a single jig. but with longer phrases. and with a lot of syncopation (especially �Scottish snaps’ which are sixteenth notes followed by a dotted eighth note). pace varies. These are from County Kerry. played quicker than a double jig. Marches: These can be in 4/4.. Even if you know the air. you have step dancers. slower than reels. They are dance tunes that come from England. quick paced dance tunes. quick paced dance tunes.

The Mountain Road [Michael Gorman]. with unaccompanied melody instruments. hear the harmonies as the tunes are played. Some have more sections. Hop Jigs: The Butterfly. you don’t hear them much at sessions. The Sally Gardens. The Kid On The Mountain. can be the work of a lifetime. etc). basic session accompaniment can come pretty quickly. You also sometimes hear F and G#. But by skipping around certain notes. They are played in all different meters. The Rakes Of Kildare. but member �Dow. so a simple accompaniment works well. The Cliffs Of Moher.’ which are pretty common the world around. most everyone in the circle can join in. Morrison’s. The eight bar structure is common because the dance steps that go along with the tunes are usually broken up into eight bar patterns. Polkas: Denis Murphy’s. or identified which chords go where. My Darling Asleep. The Maid Behind The Bar. E. King Of The Fairies. musicians are able to play in a surprising number of keys. The structure of airs is often AABA. But while you can quickly master a basic accompaniment pattern for a standard D major or E minor tune. you can use the same dance steps with different tunes. Saint Anne’s. Some of them are a bit overplayed. The Rocky Road To Dublin. Chord Structures: As stated. John Ryan’s (The Keadue). as in the past no one ever wrote harmony parts. so be careful. http://irishguitar. and provide some variety. Waltzes: In 3/4 time. O’Carolan Tunes: O’Carolan was an itinerant Irish harper from the 18th century who wrote a lot of pretty harp tunes in a very baroque/classical style. Farewell To Ireland. As thesession. Out On The Ocean. The Irish Washerwoman. O’Carolan had such a profound impact on Irish music that his name is instantly recognized by session players. That way. C. which are generally member �llig leahcim' is so fond of saying: “Learn the bloody tunes!” Here are 50 tunes.. The Road To Lisdoonvarna. The Congress. F#. The Gravel Walks. or do not repeat exactly. If you can play by ear. The Rights Of Man Slip Jigs: The Foxhunter's.. Some do not repeat. The Wise Maid (All Around The World). Jigs: The Blackthorn Stick. each of which is repeated twice (AABB). B. or the tune. but unlike other airs. or do what I did. Off To California. The Kesh. Structure of Tunes: Tunes are generally divided into eight bar segments. Planxty Fanny Power. a list first developed by thesession. Harvest Home. session music was originally played in unison. C#. Slides: Merrily Kissed The Quaker’s Wife. Father Kelly’s (Rossmore Jetty). You can learn the tunes on your guitar. instead of in a set or line. The Bucks Of Oranmore. is king. Donnybrook Fair (The Joy Of My Life). and most will have a few of his tunes under their belt that they can play to slow things down between the dance tunes. The Bird In The Bush. A. Instruments with the home keys of D and C were predominant. playing in related minor keys. The Blarney Pilgrim. The Star Of Munster. There are also strange combinations. Learning the Tunes: While this article is about accompaniment. when they get played at a session. Rolling In The Ryegrass (The Shannon Breeze). And learning the tunes can have a huge impact on the quality of your accompaniment. Basic instruments in Celtic regions were often diatonic instruments that could not play sharps and flats. So there is some freedom to decide what goes best. In Scottish 3 sur 7 07/10/2014 11:37 . a great instrument for learning tunes. The Lark In The Morning. but each section is still repeated (AABBCC). coming up with chords that fit a particular tune. Egan’s. The Connaughtman’s Rambles. Tripping Up The Stairs. or felt to be out of fashion. The notes you generally hear in this type of music are D. and strumming or picking patterns that complement the melody. The Concertina Reel. and pick up the tin whistle. The Merry Blacksmith. They are often called Planxty (which means song) followed by the name of the patron who offered him food and drink for a few nights (Planxty Irwin. Dance tunes are generally made up of two sections (A and B). so most tunes use those scales. the melody. G. are played with a steady rhythm. Learning them is a good place to start. Reels: The Banshee [James McMahon]. The Lilting Banshee. which lends itself to unison Brown . The Silver Spear. and have a good sense of rhythm. Hornpipes & Set Dances: The Boys Of Bluehill. Miss McLeod’s. Chord structures are implicit. The Cup Of Tea. Drowsy Maggie. and by playing tunes that use modal scales. The Foxhunter’s. Cooley’s (Luttrell’s Pass). it is important to remember that in this type of music.A Beginner's Guide to. but very much loved at ceilidh dances as a chance to dance as a couple. The music is simple.

and you are in B Aeolian (or natural minor). with its two sharps (F# and C#). sixth and seventh notes. and the chord based on the fifth (V) note of the D scale (A). music. Em D mixolidian: D. Am. but by starting the scale on different notes. C. Bm. Em. with the I chord being minor. F#m. Dm. D. Bm. Am. instead of three �safe’ chord choices. For example. and start your scale on the D. and have very different feels. in sessions. Em. D7 A major: A. each with their attendant harmonic structures. or Natural Minor: Many tunes in sessions are based on a modal scale that has flatted third. F. move to either the IV or V chord depending on the melody. For example. D and C). The basic chords here are the I/VII/IV chords. Am. They are designed to go around and around in repeating circles. Am G mixolidian: G. E. but have different root notes or tonal centers. Major keys used in session music. Em. G. D Dorian: Unlike other western music. G A minor: Am. Dm Aeolian. there are only two. which is known as the Aeolian mode.. Generally. Start your scale on E and you are in E dorian. A lot of people try to play these with major chords. and you are in the mode of D major. G. F. but you can add some minor chords as well. Bm. but session tunes don’t always resolve at the end of a section. the other chords you will hear the most are the chord based on the fourth (IV) note of the D scale (G). using the D major scale. sticking to the three appropriate major chords usually works best for modal tunes. One of the biggest mistakes a beginning accompanist can make in accompanying session music is apply the aeolian chords listed above to a 4 sur 7 07/10/2014 11:37 . D. Em and D). G. Dm. In my experience. and the VII and VI chords being major (for example. and then end with quicker use of the IV and V chords. E7 C major: C. http://irishguitar. Em. C. The most predominant chord pattern in minor tunes is I/VII/VI. A. D. The most predominant chord pattern in minor tunes is I/VII. C. Start your scale on A and you are in A mixolydian. Here is a discussion of the four modes you will most commonly find in session music: Major: Major key session tunes are usually built around the bedrock I/IV/V chord pattern that most rock and folk accompanists know so well. because highland pipes are in B flat. with the I chord being minor and the VII chord being major (for example. Em. If you are playing a tune that doesn’t resolve. F. A7 G major: G. and the chords you will encounter (from more common to least common): E minor: Em. C B minor: Bm. The four modes all share the same notes of the D scale. D. This is known as the mixolidian mode. and the chords you will encounter (from more common to least common): D major: D. G. Aeolian keys used in session music. back to the I chord. and the chords you will encounter (from more common to least common): A mixolidian: A. the tunes you hear in this music fall into four modal scales. if your root chord (I) is D. G. Musical modes can share the same scale. or the natural minor scale. Modal keys used in session music. Sometimes you return to the root chord. you will also hear things in the keys of B flat or E flat. A basic progression you will hear (within an eight bar section) is to start on the root (I) chord (these tunes almost always start out with the root chord). And start your scale on the B.A Beginner's Guide to. G7 Mixolydian: These tunes are built around a traditional major scale. but with a flatted seventh note. Note that. where the classical minor mode is the most common. the most common �minor’ tunes are usually based on a modal scale that has a flatted third and a flatted seventh (Dorian Mode).ru/download/tutors/Al Brown . F#m. C. the musicians generally throw a sustained root note (and root chord) at the end to keep things from hanging in midair.. G. but one trick to tell that a tune is modal is that the V chord (which includes that un-flatted seventh note) does not seem to fit. A. a whole different feel results.

you will hear the same harmony note throughout a long stretch of a tune. Em. Also. replacing a major chord with its relative minor chord. http://irishguitar. Mixolydian Chords in non-modal tunes: Sometimes a modal chord will pop up in a tune that is otherwise in a major key. with only one way of shaping each chord--to do so is to waste much of the instrument's flexibilities. E. like the V chord (for example a tune in the key of D could have a B part where the first chord is an A chord). but start on another chord. and it is more important to know where the melody is going. You can also sometimes use a “major substitute. if you find a spot where the most common chords don’t work. not all tunes fall into one mode throughout the entire tune. B parts sometimes are in the same key. If you use them sparingly. There are tunes where the A part is in the key of Bm and the B part is in the key of D. F#m. This is known as a drone. This is especially effective if you tune your low E string down to a D. you can leave your finger on the third fret of the B string throughout the tune... it clashes with the C# notes you will hear in the melody. and as some people have pointed out in discussions. when in E aeolian. and you will find that it often does the trick (for example. in a D major tune. and the relative minor of C is Am (these are relative because of the notes they share in common. Dorian keys used in session music. But in E dorian. the C chord sounds very appropriate. One can do a fairly credible job of accompanying dorian tunes by going back and forth between these two chords at the appropriate moments. Here are some �tricky bits’ to watch for. dorian tune. and constitute a musical version of an “American accent. D. G. and if you look at the minor keys played in session music. you will probably get asked to do something different. A. you can put an Em chord between that G and A chord. and some attribute it to bagpipes. Bm. Tricks and Alternative Chords for Standard Tuning: There are a lot of different ways to form chords. For example if you are in D major. you will note that they are all relative minors of the common major keys). the relative minor of G is Em. as you have the root note of the tune droning in two different octaves. And there are alternatives to the basic chords listed above. and you go from your D chord to a G chord. and Asus4 chords instead of normal A chords. you do not want to treat the guitar like a giant autoharp. Or the A part is in the key of G and the B part is in the key of A Brown . The trick is that the extra chords in this mode are not as obvious as they might be in other modes. Minor substitutes work well for IV chords in major tunes. try the VII chord. especially when passing from the I chord to the V chord. D. you play the minor chord rooted on the note six steps above your major chord. which usually have one or more drones that play the same note as long as the bagpipe is playing. For example. For example. To find a relative minor chord. seventh chords can add nice variety to your playing. G A Dorian: Am. For example. the relative minor of D is Bm. and then to an A. and the chords you will encounter (from more common to least common): E Dorian: Em. In fact. C B Dorian: Bm. Seventh Chords: There are some who argue that seventh chords are not traditional to Irish music. although if you do that for every minor tune all evening. is to use shapes that de-emphasize or eliminate 5 sur 7 07/10/2014 11:37 . Droning Notes: Often in traditional music. D Other Chord Structure Information: Of course. while A parts almost always start on the root chord. a G major chord often fits into spots in an E minor tune.” But I myself like the sound of a seventh when I am playing a V chord (like an A7 chord in the key of D). You can also use minor substitutes as a passing chord. a C chord in a tune that is in D major). One trick to remember when shaping your chords. playing the D normally. but using Em7 chords instead of G chords. You can use this effectively in tunes. or fall comfortably into any one mode. Different Sections in Different Keys: Not every part of every tune is in the same key. and using a seventh chord as a passing chord when moving from the I chord to the IV chord (like a G7 between the G and C in the key of G).A Beginner's Guide to. Relative Minors: You can use minor substitutions. or even through the entire tune.” replacing a major chord for its relative minor in a minor key tune. A. For example. and let it sound without damping throughout. and other techniques that you can use to liven up your accompaniment.

You will notice that as you move from key to key. But this involves very fast strumming. that C natural chord will clash with the C#s in the melody). so give it appropriate attention.. If you finger the seventh fret of the A string. Another trick is to let the bottom string and top two strings drone throughout a tune in E minor. in B minor. one for each eighth note. and another on the seventh fret of the D string. With these three chords. You can strum half as fast. but puts two down strokes back to back. Strumming Patterns: You can use fingerpicking on dance tunes. So especially while you are learning. Slide all these fingers down two frets. with a very interesting variety to your sound (again. You can also use a syncopated two stroke approach to jigs. and you have a D major triad on top of the A. and then back down one before you return to the home position. In a good session. the pace will vary. your strums should go down/up/down/up. For example. but you have to put your accent of the fourth note on an upstroke. because of the way your fingers fall on the frets. In a jig. it offers some other color to the tune. you will find it difficult to sound good without barring your chords. and above all. or make an Irish tune sound like its bluegrass descendents. http://irishguitar. some progressions that sound good. which uses the A. and there is nothing wrong with slowing a dance tune down so you can hear the beauty of the melody (fiddler Martin Hayes has built his career around this). Another nice chord shape that slides up and down the neck is the A chord that starts with one finger on the fifth fret of the B string. damp the high E string instead of pressing the second fret. which can fit either major or minor modes. about 80 beats per minute. in A minor. Jigs are also played about 100-120 beats per minute (but in a jig. thirds. since Irish music is based more on traditional rhythms. The “Holy Grail” of session accompaniment is to be able to produce a steady string of strums. each beat is three eighth notes). consisting of roots and fifths. keep it steady! Speed: The pace of tunes varies. and keep the accompaniment Brown .A Beginner's Guide to. 6 sur 7 07/10/2014 11:37 . This works really well on an A mixolydian tune. you can accompany many E minor tunes. it makes a nice open E chord. This music favors open chords. and you have a nice A major shape on top of an A bass note.. Sometimes little repeated two or four bar vamps will work in tunes. do not work as well in another key. Historically. and you have an open C chord in the middle of the drones. clashing with the F#s in the melody). You want to accent the first and third of the four eighth notes of a measure-the down strokes. like the High Reel. that allows you to put both of your accents on the down stroke. reels are often played at about 120 beats (each beat is two eighth notes) per minute. And you can also slide this shape up three frets. the tunes were played slower. or play easily. which is hard to do quickly (although this is the most common jig pattern you see people playing). If you go down/up/down/up/down/up. F#m and A chords. however. followed by a quick eighth note length up stroke (the �humpty dumpty’ feel of a single jig). you will probably have to strum less. you accent the first and fourth note of the six eighth notes in a measure. when using the traditional D chord shape. that F chord wouldn’t sound as well. and the ninth fret on the D and G strings. so you may want to stick to the Bm. You want to avoid too much use of backbeats. replacing the three eighth note strokes with a down stroke filling a quarter note length. And using a finger on the third fret of the B string in G chords instead of leaving the B string open helps reduce the strength of the third in that chord. G and D chords. etc). For example. the vamp Am to F to G to Em often works nicely on a guitar (although in an A dorian tune. Slide them down two more frets. and you have an open D chord in the middle of your droning strings. If you go down/up/down/down/up/down. remembering that with a dorian tune. Rhythm: Don’t let all the discussion of chords above fool you. or you can use other patterns. Excessive backbeats can make the music sound too jazzy. And then slide it up to the top of the neck (10 th fret of the B string. you don’t have two down strokes back to back. which some people find difficult. in one key. Damp the top and bottom E strings. For example. Slide this shape down two frets and you have a G major triad on top of that A bass note. but strumming usually works better for the fast stuff. In modern sessions. another on the sixth fret of the G string. For reels. For jigs there are two schools of thought. keeping a good rhythm is the most important function of an accompanist. with the droning A in the bass adding nice color to the tune.

One of the most common is “dropped D. Web-based sources for these books include www. although it has its limitations. Sources: While older books often do not include anything but the melody. This can create a nice drone on some tunes. I will be forever indebted to Boston-based guitarist Matt Heaton for lessons that have helped my playing immensely. Donal Clancy (who plays with Danu) and English guitarist Ian Carr (who works a lot with John McCusker and Kate Rusby). Dead string rhythm: When you are first learning to strum along with session music. Great Accompanists: My four favorite guitar accompanists are John Doyle (formerly of Solas. using the thumb to play bass notes on the top three strings. Andy has one of the best left hands in the business. there are some excellent session tune books that include guitar chords. And honorable mention for rhythmic accompaniment with an instrument not always known as a rhythm instrument is English accordionist Andy Cutting (who plays with John McCusker and Kate Rusby). member �Mix O’Lydian’ has some good information on modes on his website. Also. but if you want to use it throughout your playing. Playing arpeggios can help you adapt your sound to the free pace of a ballad singer or slow air. Enjoy: And finally. which describes the tuning of the strings from lowest to highest. and the challenges of learning that you forget about the whole point of this wonderful type of music--to enjoy playing with your friends. the right hand plays the melody. bar across the neck with your finger. And look for inputs on thesession. This produces a “chunk” sound. and fingers to play the chords they play with their right hands—don’t just get your ideas from strummers. thesession. and it can make some keys that are straightforward in standard tuning (like E minor) to become pretty tricky. Liz Carrol and appears as a soloist).. and many of these tune books also have optional CD that accompany them. In fact. and bands to listen to (for their strong rhythm work. http://irishguitar..ossianusa. There are many more excellent rhythm players. and a new approach to shaping your chords. So you can just concentrate on the from member 'irisnevins. And don’t forget the value of lessons. creating an oom-pah-oom-pah kind of sound. it can require some tricky stretches with your hand. Face to face lessons with a good teacher can be Brown . as well as overall musicianship) include Altan. Dennis Cahill (who works with Martin about half the guitarists accompanying traditional music use alternate tunings. and you can use your thumb to play the bass notes they play with their left hands. Dervish and Cherish the Ladies. Guitar tuning: From my experience. who now plays with Eileen Ivers. and don’t want to work on chords and strumming at the same time. there are some fun things you can learn from Irish piano players. This technique is sometimes used even by experienced accompanists just to do something a little different.buttonbox. and the first three fingers to play chord notes on the bottom three strings usually works well. but don’t squeeze hard enough to fret the and www. which is called dead string rhythm. and the left plays chord and bass buttons. so find him by searching members. For slow tunes. don’t get so wrapped up in rules. and follow links to his fine website. On a button accordion. Danu. and does a lot of session work). member �coyotebanjo’ has literally written the book on Irish accompaniment.' she always has something interesting to bring to the discussions. David Mallinson has put out a few (including 100 Essential Session Tunes and other books of a similar nature). Hornpipes sound nice by alternating the thumb bass with the three fingers all playing a chord at the same time.” where you drop the tone of the low E string by one whole step. So go out there and have fun! 7 sur 7 07/10/2014 11:37 . And thesession. The other common tuning is DADGAD. This creates a percussive sound that doesn’t really have notes or a chord involved. and Waltons has others as well.A Beginner's Guide to. Some people think this tuning is made for Celtic music.