Learn To Play Irish Songs On The Guitar. Get the basics off before moving on to the other
song, most of the songs on this site use only three chords anyway so they are not that hard to learn.
It may feel daunting the first time you pick up the guitar and decide your going to learn how to play a few songs.
It's very easy to get fed up and stop practising, this is the last thing you should do. It's well worth the effort
you put in. The hardest part is the first few weeks. The amound of practise you put in depends on how quick you want
to learn the instrument.
I recommend about an hour a day, but not all at once as the top of the fingers get sore, so break your practise
into about three twenty min. sessions a day. You'll be a bit rough around the edges for several weeks and you'll think
it'll never come. When it does come and you start playing your first song on guitar you will even start to enjoy the practise.
Getting over the sore fingers will take perseverance but the top of the fingers will soon get hard and they will
stay hard once you keep at it. You don't really need a guitar teacher but it helps you developing bad habits from the
start. Apart from the fingers getting soar the other big hurdle you'll have to master is changing from one chord to
another. Another thing about being thought from a teacher is that you'll develop a style simaler to the teacher instead
of developing a style of their own.
Again this takes a bit of time and effort, you'll be slow at the start and if your a compleat novice the time
it takes to change from one chord to another will be about 5 or 6 seconds. Keep at it, never give up. Over a few weeks
you will soon be changing chords in about three seconds, then after six weeks or so it will happen almost instantaneously.
You'll be changing without even thinking about it.
You'll want to start of with an easy song. Regardless of what kind of music your intrested in. Pick a song with only
two or three chords. Stick with the song you choose instead of drifting from song to song. The most widely used chords
in all songs are D G A C Em Am. The first couple of ballads I started with were Monto, Now I'm Easy and Henry My Son,
that's because they only have a couple of chord and I knew the lyrics of by heart.
You don't have to be playing a song to be practising, You could be sitting there and just using your left hand
to change the chords while the right hand does nothing. Example of this is if you don't want to be making noise and
having to listen to your partner moaning.
The links on this page will take you to videos I have made where you can clearly see what chords I'm using and they
will give you the tepmo and strumming pattern. I keep the timing to the way the songs were written originally. There
are also some videos by friends of this site including Padraig Grimes who has supplied many great video lessons.
Using a major key of C is actually quite easy to play if one uses F with a small barré (XX3211) because you then just
have to move the fingers up one fret to change to C major and one fret higher to G (with a finger change on the high
frets) meaning that it's very easy to play the three main chords of that key. Another advantage is that you can play all the
other chords of C major without any need for a large barrée, which are usually really hard for beginners. By being familiar
with C major and knowing how to change the key one also avoids the frustration to discover that all your favourite songs contain
barrée chords and thus appear to be unplayable. For example Bm which isn't mentioned on the site among the common chords also
is an important, often used chord. Bm leads me to my second advice for novice players. My experience is that if there's a
Bm in a song one can usually replace it D or G major without loosing too much of the melody. A '7' 'sus2' or 'sus4'
chord can always be replaced by the corresponding major chord to reduce the number of chords needed to have a start.
Here's a few easy songs to get you started.
Over the next few weeks I'll be putting some video tuition to some
of the more popular songs on the site. These will show the chords and I will play the song in the correct timing. These videos
are mainly for the novice player to get them off on the right track before developing bad habbits. There are several singers
and groups who have changed the timing of well know songs and when a beginner goes to learn the song and the first version
they come across has being changed from the original then the learner will assume this is the way to play it. Take for example
the well know song Fiddlers Green by John Conolly, well when you listen to John playing it and then listen to for example Barney McKenna from The Dubliners,
it's like two completely songs, Barney plays it much slower from the way it was written
Brian Flynn who wrote that big hit for The High Kings gives the lesson this time and the song is Galway Bay. They call these auld songs ''Chestnuts'' for some reason. Brian plays it with the capo on the first but you don't have to.
This one is very old and known all around the world. There's also lots of info. on the songwriter. It's in waltz timing.
Our first song is by Padraig Grimes doing a finger picking version of The Cliffs Of Dooneen. Christy Moore has this one
in his set list for many years. The song discribes what can be seen from the cliffs which are located in Co. Kerry that look
out at the coast of Clare..
There are over 100 English folk songs on the site, one of the most famous would be The Leaving Of Liverpool. A raft of ballad singers in Ireland and England covered this one during the folk revival of the 1960s including Ewan McColl,
The Dubliners and Johnny McEvoy. I play this one in the key of A Major using the capo on the second.
The first video lesson of the new year is an old standard ballad that's
sang by every ballad singer in Ireland. I use a capo on this one which is called Spancil Hill it's almost always played in the Am key. If you didn't alread know where it's located, well it's in Co. Clare.
I'll Tell Me Ma Guitar Lesson
Here's one by The Dubliners with the lesson by Peter Edwards, there are several of Peter's video lessons on the site
including ''Black Is The Colour'' and one by The Wolfe Tones called ''Flight Of The Earls''. This one isI'll Tell Me Ma
The next song was one of the first ones I placed here on the site
many years ago, It's a classic at this stage and translated into many languages around the world, like all the videos I do
myself here I try to keep the timing and feel of the tune as original as possible. There Were Roses by Tommy Sands.
James Connolly On Guitar I have set this one in the key of A using the capo on the 2nd fret. It's a rebel song I first heard from The Wolfe Tones in
the early 1970s. Nobody knows who wrote it so it's credited as ''Traditional''. It tells the story of this man from Scotland
who came to Ireland to organise the trade union movement in Belfast before moving to Dublin. He then sets up The Irish Volunteers
and from his base in Liberty Hall in Dublin he marched his men to The General Post Offce which was only a few meters away
to take part in the Easter Rising of 1916 and was later shot for his part while tied to a chair.
The next video lesson is an old Scottish song brought to Ireland
by Luke Kelly, Luke learned most of the old stuff from Ewan McColl who was his mentor while in England. This one is a love
song called Peggy Gordon which is in the key of D. This one is within everybody's voice range so you should have no bother singing it.
There are standard songs that are preformed at nearly all folk session,
what's meant by a standard is that there are about 50 or so songs that you'll hear being played time after time, today's song
is one of them. It's a simple little three chord job that's being around for a hundred years and it's called Sam Hall Paddy Reilly is probibly the best known for this one, it was also sung by Johnny Cash but in a different sort of timing.
Pete St. John is Ireland's most well known song writer, he has penned
some of the countrys most loved folk songs over the past 40 years. His biggest hit to date went to No.1 in the charts when
it was recorded by Paddy Reilly all them years ago, as Paddy said of Pete ''he writes for folk singers, he keeps things simple''
, and that's what I have done here with The Fields Of Athenry, I recently changed the key from G to D because that's the key I play it in. There's lots of info. regarding the reason for
writing this classic on the page.
A rebel song today about the 1798 rising written by Leo Casey. This one I also set in the key of C Major while using
the capo on the 5th fret. I use the capo here so the learners don't have to play the standard F Chord which I know can be
hard while starting. It's just another way of playing in the key of C. Anyway this ballad is called The Rising Of The Moon
There are man fine songs that arrived in Ireland over the last hundred years or so from England. Most have stood the
test of time mainly because they were written in the standard folk style, what's ment by this is that they have usually
got four lines in the verse and a catchy chorus with a good tune to go with it. Also the song is easy to remember and
the subject is something that many people can relate to. The Wild Roveris one of them.
Advanced guitarists - I'm sure there are many who visit this site and are looking for even more ways to improve their
playing techniques. I was about to record another of Phil Coulter's but forgot that Siggi from Germany who has a youtube channell
already sent me The Town I Loved So Well where he plays the melody and chords together. As I say, this one is for the more advanced players out there but with lots
of practise anyone can get to this level of playing. It's a long video but siggi goes through it step by step.
When you first start to learn the guitar you usually want some handy little three chord songs. The one today has only
the 2 chords and was one of the very first ones I learned may years ago. It's an old tradition English ballad about a boy
who eat some poison berries from a tree and becomes ill. Henry My Son. Another 2 chord job is a song I wouldn't normally play at a session but would only play for my onw enjoyment
at home. This one is about going to prison for 21 years and wasting away. Prison songs for which there are plenty of would usually give a bit of background information to the listener
as to why the person ended up in jail but this one doesn't. It concentrates on the compleat loneliness of being locked away
from his sweetheart.
How To Play Sean South On Guitar who came from Limerick City and not Garryowen as the song says. This ballad is one of the more famous of all the rebel
songs in Ireland. The writer, Sean Costello used the same tune as Roddy McCorley who also gave his life for his country and
was exeuted in 1800 in the County Antrim town of Toomebridge. I believe Sean South was first recorded by The Irish Ramblers
in 1963 on the album The Patiot Game which was recorded in New York and was before The Wolfe Tones album Let The People
Sing 1972. But had the 'tones got this one out on a single ? any info. would be greatful.
Me being a hugh fan of The Pogues I just had to record a few of their songs. Although The Pogues play this one nowadays
it was actually done when Shane MacGowan had left [got sacked] from the band and was recording his new stuff with The Popes.
On the album The Snake this one is credited to Shane, the music is actually a traditional tune written long before he was
born. The Song With No Name
Eric Bogle who comes from Scotland is renounded for writing anti war songs also wrote some classic love songs. Leaving Nancy was one such song, it's not your standard love song about boy meets girl and falls in love, no this one concerns his mother.
It's about the feelings going through his mind as he leaves Scotland for a new life in Australia. The who story is written
about the time he spent on the railway station platform and the sad farewell to his mother as he boards the train.
Johnny McEvoy is renowned for singing old sad songs, most of which he wrote himself. The one I decided to cover today
is Long Long Before Your Timewhich is around since the 1980's . The song tells of his a woman losing her child during birth. She chose to give up her own
life to save the life of the baby which was common enough years ago.
One of Christy Moore's most popular songs is Nancy Spain which he got from Barney Rush many years ago, Christy sing it at nearly every gig he plays. It's another slow ballad which
suits me down to the ground, I love the slow sad songs, I'd play this kind of song 'till the cows came home. Again it's another
which I use the capo and play it in the key of A Major.
Here's a song about The Irish War Of Independence which tells an old man walking the streets of Dublin looking for his
son who took part in the war.The song mentions that the father and son come from Cork City but there's no evidence to suggest
that anybody from Cork took part in the fighting in Dublin. The Dying Rebel lyrics + chords I learned this one song from my grandmother way back in the 1960s.
I changed camara for this one, I'm using an iphone 4s to see if the sound quality is any better. It turns out not too bad.
It's The Ballad Of James Larkin in the key of D using a capo on the first fret to give it a bit of umph. I usually play this one without any capo. There's
lots of information on the life and times of James Larkin who formed the Irish Transport And General Workers Union and was
in charge of the union during the ''Lock Out'' of 1913.
If you ever get fed up playing the ballads and are looking for a bit of diversion I have put together a few old Country Songs On Guitar. It's a melody of a few classic oldies that use the basic strumming pattern. The key I'm using is C Major where I place the
capo on the 4th fret and play G, C and D shaped chords, they are really easy to play along with.
Back in the 1970s Phil And June Colclough used to holiday in Ireland. It was while visiting Dingle that they got their
insperation to write what has become one of the finest Irish folk songs of all time. Song For Irelandis set on the west and south coastline of Ireland. The Dubliners were the first to get their hands on the song followed by
Mary Black who does her own unique version which is very different than the way Luke Kelly sang it. I recorded this song back
in 2002 and had forgotten all about it. It was done on a home recording set up where I used a keyboard and guitar. It's what
I'd call an OK version and is one of the few songs where I pick the guitar instead of strumming.
If you missed any of the previous lessons there a list below of the ones I've done so far. I don't use a plec. /pick
for any of the videos, just the fingers strumming up and down. This is something you should master because someday you'll
be without your plec for one reason or another and so it's a good plan to learn how to play without the pick.
List Of Songs With Live Guitar Lessons
Leaving Nancy Ballad Of James Larken Lullaby Of London The
Cocky Farmer The Gypsy Padraig
Where My Eileen Is Waiting The Dying Rebel
Gallippoli Nancy Spain
I still Miss Someone Long Before Your Time Fields Of Athenry Old
Flames The Ferryman Black Velvet Band Boys Of The Old Brigade Sam
Hall Rising Of The Moon Peggy
Gordon 21 Years
Night Visiting Song Joe Hill
The Ferryman Only Our Rivers Run Free Song With No Name James Connolly Bright Blue Rose Rainy
Night In Soho
I have put together a video showing strumming Patternsfor some of the songs on the site. Play thousands of ballads using a few different strums.
D Shape = E Major
C Shape = D
A Shape = B
G 7 Shape = A 7
G Shape = A
E Chord Using Capo
D Chord Using Capo
B Chord Using Capo
A 7 Chord Using Capo
A Chord Using Capo
The chord images above are a guide for using the capo on the second fret. There are hundreds of songs on this site
that require a capo to play along with. There are several reasons why you would use a capo. The first one is because you dread
playing a standard B Major chord, well as the chart above suggests, you only have to put the capo between the first and secont
fret and make an ''A Shape'' and the sound produced is B Major. The main reasing for me using it is because I feel it produces
a much crisper sound.
Learning to play Irish folk songs and ballads on guitar is not much different than playing pop or rock music, it's just
a matter of changing the strumming pattern. There are some fine guitar players around that never knew how to read tabs or
sheet music but have the natural gift of being able to play by ear. Then there are the majority of players who constantly
struggle to learn even the most basic of songs.
If you have recorded a video and want to display it on the site to help others out then let me know. The only thing I
ask is that whatever chords your are playing can be seen in the video and that you kept to the original timing as best as
you could. While groups like The Dropkick Murphy's and Flogging Molly are proficent musicians and singers thay have changed
the way the song was originally written and as I'm trying to keep the tune of the song as original as I can, their versions
of traditional music wouldn't fit what I'm trying to achieve here.