Saturday, March 5, 2011

Big Book of Irish Songs

Big Book O Irish Songs from Hal Leonard

This time of year, everyone wants to be a little Irish and if you are playing local pubs and coffee houses, you might want to have a few Gaelic ballads on your set list.  Your audience will appreciate your inclusion of them even if they aren't Irish just based on their beauty alone.

Now while "When Irish Eyes are Smiling" is a lovely sing-along, there is so much more to Celtic music than that.  You would do well to look into the history of many of these songs which oftentimes were written in homage to the wealthy landowners from whom Irish peasants rented.
Playing the Harp & Guitar - Saint Patrick's Day Parade

Therefore many of the songs in this genre are not necessarily love songs as one might think.  More than that they were written out of respect and awe of people occupying a certain station in society. 
Think of how an artist renders his patron in a painting.  Very flattering!  In other words the one who pays the piper calls the tune.  Traditional Irish Folk Songs like Garryowen are used as a Bagpipe March and have patriotic lyrics.
Wake Songs are also another type of Irish music that might be misunderstood.  A parting glass and an Irish Wake was part of the experience of many who would leave Ireland never to return to friends or family.  Needless to say, these are very moving compositions.  Hal Leonard's Big Book of Irish Songs for Piano Vocal & Guitar offers lyrics and guitar chord diagrams in standard notation.  Not all are Folksongs but quite a few are from Tin Pan Alley such as those written by George M. Cohan (Mary's A Grand Old Name & Harrigan) The songs are alphabetically ordered for easy access and the book itself folds quite flat for your music stand or piano.  This is NOT a Fake Book so be prepared for multiple chord changes on the guitar.  Well worth the effort if you want to get the full flavor of each song.

Drum Major leading a band of Pipers playing Garryowen.

No comments: