Some responses to the tune collection…
Paddy’s settings are always faithful to his sources, while containing his own ‘stamp’. There is considerable complexity in his settings and variations, lots to think about. I am finding myself humming tunes from the collection I haven’t thought about for a long time. I could not be happier with the collection.
— Frank Claudy, Davenport, IA – April 2001
For anyone interested in playing and learning to play traditional Irish music I heartily and unreservedly recommend Paddy O’Brien’s Tune Collection which has recorded 500 reels and jigs on twelve cassette tapes. A book which annotates each tune with interesting background information is included. No written music (dots) are included, but you will get a great feel for how the music is played. Paddy plays a 2-row 1947-vintage B/C Paolo Soprani (swing tuned) throughout (he has the bassoon reed turned off, so you hear each tune very clearly and precisely). He is very spare with ornamentation and yet he provides some beautiful examples of melodic variation on each tune. It’s like having a master class in your living room.
— Chris Moran, California – April 2001
Thank you for the Tune Collection. I’m on my second round of listening. I refer to your notes constantly. Your tempo really puts the tunes in the spotlight and I feel like I’m hearing some of the old standards for the first time. If listening wasn’t so enjoyable, I’d almost say that your collection and the notes are a graduate level course in Irish music!
— Kevin Dailey, Washington DC – May 2000
Paddy O’Brien of Chulrua possesses one of the largest repertoires of any Irish traditional musician today. He gathered this storehouse of music some 3,000 reels, jigs, hornpipes and other pieces in the course of four decades of playing and performing in both Ireland and America. A former member of Dublin’s famed Castle Ceili Band, Paddy has played with and learned from many legendary Irish instrumentalists and is, at this point in his career, something of a legend himself.
Aspiring musicians not lucky enough to study with Paddy personally can still take advantage of his massive repertoire by getting The Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection, which includes a book and 12 cassettes (10 CDs) of Paddy playing 500 reels and jigs. The collection has proved a hit with musicians from as far away as the Australian outback and is an invaluable source of new repertoire for players of all levels. It’s not cheap, but it beats the price of airfare to Minnesota for personal instruction.
— Don Meade, The Irish Voice, New York NY — May 26- June 1, 1999
Well I have had my Paddy O’Brien tapes (called The Paddy O’Brien Collection: A Personal Treasury of Irish Jigs and Reels) for almost a month now and I thought I would share some of my reaction. When I first got these tapes I realized right away that they were wonderful but I’m still in the process of realizing just what a treasure they are.
There are 400 reels and 100 jigs on twelve one-hour cassetes, and there is a book with comments from Paddy on each tune . Paddy plays each tune unaccompanied (on a B/C button accordion) at the normal tempo of a nice sedate session, the tempo that you would play for yourself in your own kitchen. He usually plays the double reels twice and the single reels three times, enough so you can play along and get the sense of the tune and enough so that he can introduce a melodic variation or two into the tune.
Since I got the tapes, I’ve been trying to play along with tape #1 every day. I pick one or two tunes to really try to learn by stopping the tape after each phrase and by rewinding and repeating, but the others I just play along with as I would at a session. It takes me a couple of hours to get through the whole tape so I don’t make it every day, but I really look forward to it. By this method I have learned, to a degree, most of the 47 reels on tape #1, and they are really great tunes. Some of them I already knew, but even those have slightly different settings as played by Paddy.
To Paddy, the melody comes first and he doesn’t use ornamentation unless it adds to the melody. As I played along with some of the tunes that I already knew, I realized that in some cases I didn’t really know some of the notes. In many reels there are some really “choice” notes that connect the phrases and players can often skip over these notes by putting in a lot of rolls instead. As a player you often pride yourself on mastering ornamentation, but in order to put in a lot of ornaments you may really be simplifying the underlying melody of the tune and losing some of those “choice” notes.
I have a few treasured possesions that bring a smile to my heart just to look at them. My old tattered copy of Vol. 1 of Breathnach’s Ceol Rince in its plain red cover is one, and my Paddy O’Brien Tune Collection has joined their ranks. And at the rate I’m going I’ll be playing them daily for the next year or two. Thank you, Paddy, and everyone involved in putting this collection together!
— Mark Bickford, Ithaca NY – August 1995