• Iona Catherine

10 British Folk Tunes to Fall in Love With in 2022

(according to me, a folk fiddler)


It's really difficult to agree on what are the best folk fiddle tunes ever. What one person may love, another will find unexciting or even dull. It all depends on personal taste and experience. However, here are ten that I have recently fallen (or re-fallen in some instances!) in love with, including links to each tune on the thesession.org.

1. The Sailor's Bonnet

One of my favourite folk recordings ever is The Gloaming's version of Sailor's Bonnet. Slow and stunning initially, before launching into the tune at breakneck speed.

https://thesession.org/tunes/570


2. King of the Fairies

A brilliantly quirky tune, to be played at a medium pace with fairies of a shady grove in mind.

https://thesession.org/tunes/475


3. The Keel Row

One of my folk session favourites, shout out to Tommy MacDonald for always providing such a racous version on the accordian and vocals. https://thesession.org/tunes/9755


4. Dawning of the Day

If you want something slow and beautiful to play, this is it. The tune also has a set heartbreaking lyrics about soldiers at war. Check out this version by Mary Fahl - I'm a huge fan of her unsual vocal tone. https://thesession.org/tunes/1441


5. Carolan's Welcome

Did you ever hear about the mythical Carolan? Said to be a blind wanderer in the 1700's, he wrote folk tunes and played them upon his harp for money on the streets of Ireland. He is now regarded as one of the most important composers in Ireland's history. https://thesession.org/tunes/1055


6. The Atholl Highlanders

This Scottish tune has a most unusual timing structure - it feels as though the bars are misaligned, making for a fantastic dancing experience. Try it out at speed at a session or a Ceilidh and everyone will be up and dancing and clapping! https://thesession.org/tunes/107


7. The Little Beggarman

This was one of the first folk tunes I ever learnt on the fiddle when I was a small child. I recently rediscovered it in the depths of an Irish reels book that I use for teaching. https://thesession.org/tunes/566


8. The Munster Storyteller

Imagine the stories of a munster fiddler as you play this one! Great with lots of rolls added in. https://thesession.org/tunes/11060


9. The Butterfly

An oldie but a goldie in my repetoire. EVERYONE knows this one at a session. A curious slip jig indeed. My favourite version is by Mad Dog Mcrea, listen to it below. https://thesession.org/tunes/10


10. The Kesh

The most recently discovered tune in my repetoire, I still need to give this one a good learn! An ever popular jig, it's been added to over 5000 folk sets on The Session. https://thesession.org/tunes/55


Phewph! What a great list. I'm off to play these tunes now, and hopefully you might want to go away and learn or listen to some of them too.


If you want any guidance on playing the folk fiddle, whether you are a beginner or seasoned player, don't hesitate to get in touch with me, Iona Catherine, here at learnhowtomusic.com/contact. I look forward to hearing from you! And happy fiddling.



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