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100 Essential Irish Session Tunes Book - Dave Mallinson

Edited by Dave Mallinson, 100 Essential Irish Session Tunes contains what are arguably the one hundred most widely-played and -known Irish jigs and reels. The layout is exceptionally clear and the chords are straightforward and flexible.
When embarking on the task of learning a set of tunes in order to join in the Irish pub sessions, one major problem is deciding which tunes to learn first. This book will help because it presents 100 of the most widely known and most regularly played of those tunes. With these under your belt you will be able to go along to virtually any session and know that the musicians will most likely be able to play a fair few tunes from your repertoire. Also you will be able to start any of these tunes safe in the knowledge that someone will know it and may join in to give moral support.
It would be untrue to say and open to dispute that this book contained the exact top 100 - but it would probably be true to say that these pages contain a selection of 100 tunes from the top 150. Learn these tunes and you will have a good foundation on which to build a more specialist pool of tunes according to the particular sessions you most regularly frequent.
With 75 reels and 25 jigs, chords, classified and alphabetical (with alternative titles) indexes, this book will give you the knowledge to make a significant contribution to most Irish sessions.
Important note from Mally
The tune settings in this book are all 'session friendly', i.e. you can learn them exactly as written and know that you will have a perfectly acceptable version. However, I consider it unwise to learn a tune from only one source and I would suggest strongly that, when learning a new tune, you pay heed to settings in other books, on recordings and what you hear down the pub. It is important to note that the settings in this book are greatly influenced by the instrument I play, the D/G melodeon. I've made a conscious effort to allow this to happen in order to give the book its own unique character. The list below would constitute an excellent nucleus towards forming a valuable Irish music library, many of them are available from When choosing books, take care not to be put off by the title; some of the best sources of tunes are from tuition books. Just because the book cover says 'Learn to Play the Banjo', don't think it's of no use if you play the tin whistle.
Books will only help you to learn the notes of a tune. To pick up the rhythm of Irish music you must devote a large amount of time listening to both recordings and live musicians. Of greatest importance, you must practise; the value of these books is directly proportional to the number of hours a day you spend practising.