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Airs for Pairs Book - Matt Seattle


This book contains twenty-one of the most popular traditional melodies, both dance tunes and song airs, from around Britain and Ireland. Each tune is arranged with a harmony part for a second melody instrument as well as an optional chord accompaniment for guitar, piano etc.. In all cases but one (College Hornpipe) the harmony does not descend below middle C, so that the arrangements can be played by almost all melody instruments including recorders.

The tunes are a part of a body of popular music which has survived to the present day alongside many other types of music. Generally called ‘Folk’ or (preferably) ‘Traditional’ music, it forms a tradition distinct from that of ‘Art’ or ‘Classical’ music, though it is no less artful in its own way and on its own scale. So, although musicians with a classical training are welcome to play and enjoy these arrangements, it should be borne in mind that there are many ways of interpreting the written notes: ornamentation which is not written down is frequently used to embellish the music and in the case of the dance tunes a robust approach to rhythm is called for (for fiddlers, ‘digging in’ with the bow on the main beats). For those who need extra guidance there are now many excellent tutors available for most instruments and styles.

My thanks to Stewart Hardy for doing most of the violin bowings in this edition. Other volumes in the Airs for Pairs series are now available, More Airs for Pairs and Scottish Airs for Pairs. Finally, I have enjoyed putting this collection together, may you equally enjoy playing and performing from it.

Using the Arrangements

There are many ways of using the written arrangements for performance. They can be played through from beginning to end with harmony, but the usual way is to play the tune once through (with any repeats indicated) solo or in unison, and then repeat it with one player taking the harmony line, giving the listener a chance to get aquainted with the tune before the harmony is added. The tune can be played again if desired with the players swapping parts. Medleys of the tunes with the same or contrasting tempos can be put together if required, but each tune will stand on its own also. Chords are given for all the tunes, but these are an optional addition as the arrangements will work perfectly well without accompaniment, though less experienced players may find it helpful to have some rhythmic support.




The Ash Grove
Blow the Wind Southerly
College Hornpipe
De’il Amang the Tailors
Drops of Brandy
Egan's Polka
The Fairy Dance
Harvest Home

Haste to the Wedding
Mairi’s Wedding
The Marquis of Lorne
Mrs McLeod’s Reel
Off She Goes
Pop Goes the Weasel
The Rakes of Mallow
Sheebeg and Sheemore

Sir Sydney Smith’s March
Skye Boat Song
Soldier’s Joy
Staten Island
The Wind that Shakes the Barley

Airs for Pairs Book - Matt Seattle

SKU: AD101
  • This book contains twenty of the most popular traditional melodies, both dance tunes and song airs, from around Britain and Ireland. Each tune is arr