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How to Make an Irish Jig Sound Properly Irish (2 of 2)

     Session tunes are always played at least a couple times through. I love sessions in which the players mess with the tunes four or five times before moving on into the medley, giving people a chance to experiment with different shadings, chord voicings, and even passing around the melodic spotlight. In your accompanist role, you can easily drone through a tune for starters, slowly break out of the drone by adding skeletal chordal motion on a second course, then play 3- or 4-course chords through the big finish.

     Example 4 shows a slightly more balls-out driving accompaniment you can go into after the ideas in Examples 2 and 3. Moving from the mando’s high register to the low register totally changes the character of your accompanying drive and can be incredibly satisfying for everybody involved. Use the accompaniment in Example 4 for a gutsy groove in the first part of the tune. Then switch to the higher voicing in Example 3 to give high contrast to the second part of the tune. Then mix and match as the spirit moves you.

     It’s not uncommon in sessions to medley together an A major tune and an A minor or modal tune. If the session launches into the next tune and you can’t immediately intuit whether it’s major, minor, or modal, simply stick to the unison A until likely chordal candidates reveal themselves. Minor and modal tunes give you a chance to pull against your own drone with a flatted 7th added to your picking drive. Take the 3-course picking pattern established in Example 2 and toggle from the 7th to the 5th frets and back again. What you’re hearing now is a hypnotic rock-n-roll chord change that, if not overused, can really add some lovely dark coloration to your chordal accompaniment.

     Next time I’ll teach you a really dark and plaintive tune called "The Coleraine Jig." It includes some uncommon chromatic movement and suggests a slightly different approach to accompaniment. Till then, good luck with your jig driving.

[Click here for printable notation for "The Rambler" accompaniment]

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