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Thread: Irish trad on uke

  1. #1
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    Default Irish trad on uke

    I'm thinking about upgrading to a better soprano. I'm currently doing Bb tuning low F for Jazz and Pop tunes. Once I get a new soprano how do I set up the old uke for playing Irish Traditional Music. Re-entrant or linear? Bb, C, or D tuning?
    Thanks in advance for any advice.

  2. #2
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    You could just tune it GDAE - same as mandolin and tenor banjo set up for ITM. Aquila sells a GDAE set for soprano that's also okay for concert. If the E string snaps, it's easly replaced with 20-pound test mnofilament fishing line.
    ...SteveZ

    Ukuleles: Oscar Schmidt OU28T (T8), Lanikai LU-6 (T6), RISA Solid (C), Effin UkeStart (C), Flea (S)**
    Banjo-Ukes: Duke 10 (T)*, Lanikai LB6-S (S)*
    Tenor Guitars: Martin TEN515, Blueridge BR-40T
    Tenor Banjo: Deering Goodtime 17-Fret
    Mandolin: Burgess (#7)***

    * CGDA reentrant, **DAEB, ***GDAE, The rest are CGDA

    The inventory is always in some flux, but that's part of the fun.

  3. #3
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    I love playing Irish trad. I think my baritone has the best tone for it, as well as being able to play easily in the key of G. G, D, and C are the most common keys for tunes, so I'd say go for either C or D, with D probably being a bit more popular (especially among whistle players!).

  4. #4
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    Just switched my baritone to GDAE a couple hours ago. Now have to give the strings a couple days to stabilize.
    ...SteveZ

    Ukuleles: Oscar Schmidt OU28T (T8), Lanikai LU-6 (T6), RISA Solid (C), Effin UkeStart (C), Flea (S)**
    Banjo-Ukes: Duke 10 (T)*, Lanikai LB6-S (S)*
    Tenor Guitars: Martin TEN515, Blueridge BR-40T
    Tenor Banjo: Deering Goodtime 17-Fret
    Mandolin: Burgess (#7)***

    * CGDA reentrant, **DAEB, ***GDAE, The rest are CGDA

    The inventory is always in some flux, but that's part of the fun.

  5. #5
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    I've learned several songs from the book Irish Songs for Ukulele. Strumming and singing, that is. No pickin yet. I love Irish music, it's the 1st thing I can comfortably sing and play in front of people. My DNA must have a lot of Irish in it, me brogue comes right out!
    "Those who bring sunshine and laughter to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves".

    Music washes from the soul, the dust of everyday living.

  6. #6
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by whistleman123 View Post
    I'm thinking about upgrading to a better soprano. I'm currently doing Bb tuning low F for Jazz and Pop tunes. Once I get a new soprano how do I set up the old uke for playing Irish Traditional Music. Re-entrant or linear? Bb, C, or D tuning?
    Thanks in advance for any advice.
    I've never been a fan of changing tunings for the material I'm playing. Violin players don't have to do it, and they're in the similar range of G3-D4-A4-E5. I stay in Low G on my soprano (G3-C4-E4-A4) for everything, and rearrange the tunes as needed.
    If you need just about every Irish trad melody, get a copy of O'Neill's. Irish tenor banjo music is also a good source. I like the playing of Angela Carberry, check on YouTube.

    I don't think there's any advantage to reentrant uke tuning for any of the styles you listed. Someone will mention "campenellas", which is a special effect unique to the double-strung Italian tuned baroque guitar, that of course sounds nothing like it on the single strung courses of the ukulele. IMO, it's an underwhelming reason to lose G3, and be forced to use inversions of every chord... ok, getting off my soapbox.

  7. #7
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    Ken Middleton plays a lot of Irish reels and jigs, (one of my favourite ukulele players), and I believe he sticks with GCEA

    For example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b52HRqrXJY8 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCz_2SOXWsI
    Pono ETSHC-PC

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    Headcorn Ukulele Group http://www.headcornukulelegroup.org/

  8. #8
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    There are a few of us who arrange and play irish dance tunes in campanella style, with the uke tuned in reentrant C tuning. Often we transpose down two half steps from the key in O'Neills or wherever we found the tune. If you hunt around on the forum, you can find links to tunes by Jonathan Lewis, ukuleletim, and me. In addition to Ken Middleton's ebook, there is a good collection of irish dance tunes by Rob MacKillop published by Mel Bay. Also Sam Muir has a new book of Scots trad music arranged for uke, published by Schott. She has some samples on youtube - very nice, in my opinion. All of these arrangers work exclusively in high G. I know there are also some low G arrangements out there too.

    I haven't seen much on the uke as a rhythm instrument for irish trad music. I am sure you could accompany vocals on traditional tunes. Probably it would be quite nice. And there is surely a way for the uke to play behind session instruments. But the uke isn't as loud as a fiddle or a box so I'm not sure how the little fellow will be heard. As a rhythm instrument I suppose you could go either reentrant or low g.

    By the way, I share soundbored's love of irish music on banjo. In addition to Angela Carberry, I like John Carty's banjo and tenor guitar versions of irish tunes. When I arrange irish music for the uke, the banjo sound is my model.

    Let us know what you find...

  9. #9
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    This is interesting, in-depth discussion of modes used in traditional music and lots of ear-training so it develops skills applicable to any instrument, including uke. It is pretty technical, though.


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