The Joy of Sets Vol.2
Another book of tunes suitable for sessions or
ensembles, this fine collection has some standards and some not so well
known tunes which should please learners and experienced musicians
The tunes were learned from sessions or recordings, and includes
notes on the sources and backgrounds of the selections.
The book is small enough to fit into a fiddle or mandolin case, and
has a useful index on the back. Clear standard notation for any instrument,
with guitar chords for every selection.
A companion CD is planned, and details will appear here when it is
- Johnny McIljohn's No.1 I first learned this Irish reel from a Boys of
the Lough record. They got it from Tommy Maguire of Leitrim, whose father,
John Maguire, was known as 'Johnny McIljohn' for some reason. He 'lilted'
the tunes regularly at country house ceilidhs so his name became associated
with the tunes. It seems to be a variant of The Silver Spear.
- Johnny McIljohn's No.2 See notes for Johnny McIljohn's No.1.
- Far From Home was collected by Captain Francis
O'Neill in the 1870s in California. Although many think of the tune as
being from Shetland or Scotland (sometimes it has even been called
Far Frae Hame), there's no evidence for it, apart from the
fact that it sounds like a Shetland reel.
- Staten Island was originally called Burns
Hornpipe and was first published in Glasgow in about 1780. There are
Staten Islands in the Arctic and off the coast of Argentina, as well as
the more famous one in New York. In Donegal the tune is known as The
- Jenny Nettles is an old Scottish tune first appearing in
written form in the early 17th century.
- Lord Randall's Bride I got this tune from a 78rpm record by
- Eight Men of Moidart is from the playing of Bert
Shorthouse. The title refers to an incident when Bonnie Prince Charlie
landed in Moidart in 1745; seven fishermen observed him arrived and
performed a dance in the sand with glee. They were one man short for the
eightsome dance, so they used a spade stuck in the sand for the eighth.
- Snouts and Ears is as played by the great
accordionist Jimmy Blue.
- The Old Polka comes from Orkney, and I play it
with Orcadian accordionist Jack Yorston. I first heard it on a record of
Orcadian fiddle music.
- Highland Polka is from Kerr's Merry Melodies
(c.1880), and has been slightly changed by me.
- Angus Polka No.1 I think this originated with The
Cameron Men, a family of fiddlers from the county of Angus who recorded in
the early 1930s. It was also recorded by Jim Cameron in the 1940s
(from which I've based this version), and more recently by Andy DeJarlis
and the Boys of the Lough. Other names for this lovely polka have been
Cameron Men's Polka No.1, Traditional Polka and Countryside Polka.
- Calum Beg (or Beag) is from the playing of the
Foundry Bar Band.
- The Shetland Fiddler is a popular session tune, and
evolved from The Hawk hornpipe composed by prolific and celebrated
Tyneside fiddler James Hill (Scots-born).
- Hey Ho My Bonnie Lass is from the playing of Iain
- Da Ferry Reel comes from the island of Yell, and
the story goes that a fiddler was coming home from a wedding and had a
rest. He heard the sounds of music and dancing coming from a hole in the
ground and listened until he had learnt the tune. 'Ferry' translates here
- Lay Dee At Dee According to Tom Anderson, seamen would
come ashore and sleep in a stone house called a lodge where there would
only be one bed for everyone to share. If someone took up too much room,
he'd be told "Lay dee at dee, boy!" roughly translated as
"keep to yourself."
- Miss Spence's Reel Tom Anderson wrote that Miss Spence's Reel was
composed in 1759 by John Anderson of Voe. He was playing at a dance, and
there were so many Spence lasses that he named the tune Miss Spence's Reel.
- Far O'er Struy is a retreat march, a form of
bagpipe tune usually in 3/4 time popular with fiddlers too. 'Struay' is a
hill-road above the Dornoch Firth, near Inverness.
- McEwan's Barn I learned McEwan's Barn from the playing of well
known button accordionist Fergie MacDonald. Anna Shepherd recently told me
it's also known as I Bhi Ada.
- Highland Skip The tune I know as Highland Skip is more widely
known in Ireland as The Boyne Hunt (other names it goes under
include Molly McGuire, Neil Gow's Reel, Tom the Blacksmith, etc),
but in fact it's a variant of what was originally a Scottish tune called
The Perthshire Hunt, commissioned for the Perthshire Hunt Ball. I
think I originally got the tune from 'Ryan's Mammoth Collection'.
- The Piper's Cave was composed by someone called
Sutherland and was recorded in 1949 by Jim Cameron and his Band.
- Teribus is the town tune of Hawick.
- Short Cut to the Pub is an Irish polka version of
the Scottish pipe march Campbell's Farewell to Redcastle and is
also known as Joe Bane's.
- The Banks of the Allan was first published in
Scotland in about 1798. There is an Irish variant called The Tailor's
- Peggy's Jig I first knew Peggy's Jig as Cape Breton Jig No.2,
and it was only recently that I found out its real name. I think it was
composed by the late Cape Breton fiddler Mike MacDougal, who is best known
for his Memories of Father Angus MacDonnell.
- A Scarce o' Tatties - When a friend of piper
Norman MacLean's complained about the quality of potatoes in London, a new
tune was born. In Gaelic the title is Cion A' Bhuntàta.
- Logan Water is an old tune, traced back to the
1680s as the tune for various broadside ballads. This version is taken
from the playing of Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham on The Ruby CD.
- The Haughs of Cromdale is probably named after the
17th century battle of the same name; the 'haughs' are low-lying ground
along a river (in this case the river Cromdale). Among other names for
this are Barrack Hill, Lady Catherine Stewart, Merry Maid's Wedding,
New Killiecrankie, The Spilling of the Kale, and Tralee Gaol.
- Sweet Molly has also been called Hopetoun
House, Polly's Reel, The Ranting Widow, Cock Your Pistol Charlie, and
in Ireland The Youngest Daughter. It's good old-fashioned reel -
enjoy playing it!
- Lochaber No More There are versions of this tune called King James
March to Ireland dating from the 17th century. It is known in Ireland
as Limerick's Lament. It was the poet Allan Ramsay who in 1724 set
the words 'Lochaber No More', about an enlisted Highlander's nostalgia:
"Farewell to Lochaber, farewell to my Jean
Where heartsome wi' her I ha'e many days been
For Lochaber no more, we'll maybe return
We'll maybe return to Lochaber no more."
My version of the tune came from a record, but I can't remember which.