Last updated 21 June 2021
I used to host these tunes and tune sets in the “notable players of the Irish mandolin” page. But I’d prefer to keep that space as a showcase for some of the superb mandolin talent who have kindly shared their music with me and have allowed me to share it with you…
So these are various recordings I’ve made over the years which I’m happy to “put out there”, warts and all…
21 June 2021. John Cradden runs the superb website “The Celtic Mandolin” www.thecelticmandolin.co.uk (please pay it a visit!). As well as being a fine mandolinist, John has a real talent for arranging music and when you visit his website you’ll find lots of material which allows groups of players of instruments in the mandolin family to play Irish and Scottish tunes in a variety of time signatures with harmony and counter melody lines. John goes to great lengths to develop these arrangements, to set them out in “dots” and tablature and to create sound files which break the arrangements down into their constituent parts as well as combined versions so that the visitor to the site can get the full picture.
John and I became acquainted when he came across one of my original tunes – Michael Gregory’s – and suggested to me that he’d like to arrange and record it. I was, of course, delighted to give John permission and even more pleased when I heard the results. Check out the “big” arrangement here.
A few days ago, John got in touch with me to suggest that we collaborate on a few tunes and this is the first of the outcomes of that collaboration. I’m playing a set of jigs – Junior Crehan’s/Willie Clancy’s Secret Jig on my G&O #34 mandolin and John is backing me on bouzouki. (Well, actually, a 12-string guitar which he has modified to play as a bouzouki…) I’m amazed at how much life John’s backing has injected to this set. Thanks, John! I look forward to future collaborations in due course!
24 April 2021. A while ago I discovered Jon Antonsson’s wonderful website which is aimed at players of Irish music on the flute but which also contains a number of very useful tools to help with practising, notably drones in a variety of keys and the very useful bodhrán metronome – see Irish | Tunes and Tools | Skåne County. Now, I don’t know about you, but I find metronomes – either the traditional pendulum type or the modern electronic click/pulse generators – very difficult to play alongside. But Jon’s bodhrán metronome is much easier to keep in step with. So I’ve been using Jon’s bodhrán beats extensively while I’ve been practising. I thought I’d record a couple of sets so you get the idea. Here’s a set of reels – Miss Monaghan/The Monaghan Twig – played alongside Jon’s 80bpm reel metronome setting. Listen to Aidan Crossey playing Miss Monaghan/The Monaghan Twig on his G&O #34 mandolin. And here’s a set of jigs – Junior Crehan’s/Willie Clancy’s Secret Jig – played alongside Jon’s 110bpm jig metronome setting. Listen to Aidan Crossey playing Junior Crehan’s/Willie Clancy’s Secret Jig on his G&O #34 mandolin.
22 April 2021. One of the side effects of my focus in recent months on tabbing and recording individual tunes as tune learning aids for fellow mandolinists has been that I’ve had less time to focus on playing sets. So I’ve made a pledge to myself to set aside a little time each week to play and – if the results are up to scratch – to record some sets of tunes. Here’s the results of yesterday’s endeavours. The first is a set of jigs – The Firefly/Regan’s – which are tunes which I rate highly and which go very well together as a set. The second is a set of reels – The Sunny Banks/The Mills Are Grinding – which is a set I’ve played in sessions for many years. It’s simply the most upbeat, optimistic and, yes, sunny set of tunes which I play. Listen to Aidan Crossey playing The Firefly/Regan’s on his G&O #34 mandolin. Listen to Aidan Crossey playing The Sunny Banks/The Mills Are Grinding on his G&O #34 mandolin.
20 April 2021. Over the course of the past few weeks I’ve become somewhat obsessed with Lucy Farr’s Barndance. It’s a tune which didn’t grab me when I first heard it. I (foolishly) thought it was a bit one-dimensional and “simple”. However I started to add some colour to it by varying some of the phrases and it immediately began to insinuate itself into my list of favourite tunes. This version was recorded on 19 April 2021. I allowed myself to just “go with the flow” and this is the result. Listen to Aidan Crossey playing Lucy Farr’s Barndance on his G&O #34 mandolin.
8 February 2021. The Humours Of Ballyconnell/Craig’s Pipes. In late January 2021 I was delighted (and a little shocked!) to have been invited to take part in the Blarney Pilgrims podcast which is a gem of an idea. A lengthy discussion with a player of Irish music which goes into some detail about what drew them to the music in the first place, their influences, their lives, what they had for breakfast that morning (I joke only slightly…). And said interviewee plays a few tunes along the way. For those with a lot of time on their hands, you can find my interview here Aidan Crossey Interview (Mandolin) — The Blarney Pilgrims Podcast. Darren, the interviewer, asked me to prepare a set of tunes in advance which he would use to “play out” the interview if time allowed. Time didn’t and so, here you go – let’s not let it go to waste! Listen to Aidan Crossey playing The Humours Of Ballyconnell/Craig’s Pipes on his G&O #34 mandolin.
20 January 2021. Sometimes a set of tunes becomes our signature set – the one we turn to when we need to be on rock-solid ground. For me, at this point in time, the set in question is The Nightcap/The Frost Is All Over. I was trying out different positions in which to stand my Zoom H1n digital recorder this evening and was using this as my test recording. I quite liked the energy in this take and so I decided to keep it. (Despite the fact that my foot tapping in the first few seconds registers as a bassy boom in the first few seconds and the mic has picked up the sound of a low-flying plane during the second jig…) Listen to Aidan playing The Nightcap/The Frost Is All Over here.
18 January 2021. I used to play at a session where the regime was strictly purist – apart from two tunes which made a regular appearance courtesy of the session leader, a mighty fiddler. The tunes in question were The Tennessee Waltz (which was usually combined in a set with a trad Irish waltz and which the session as a whole tended to pile into) and the tune which I have just recorded, Ragtime Annie which was either played standalone or straight into a reel in D such as The Mountain Road. Few other players were much taken with this tune but it sits really well on mandolin/banjo and so I was one of the few who chimed in with him. (There’s a third part to the tune with a key shift to G but we didn’t give that part house-room – and to my mind it’s a far better tune as a two-parter.) Listen to Aidan Crossey playing Ragtime Annie.
17 January 2021. I was playing around yesterday on the G&O mandolin which was recently gifted to me by its maker, Michael Gregory, and I decided to re-record two pieces which I have previously recorded. Farewell To Whiskey/No. 5 combines a polka with a 2/4 march (No. 5) which I am told (whisper it) may have come from the Orange fifing tradition. That wouldn’t be surprising since I learned it from the playing of Gary Hastings, who has collected many tunes from that tradition (e.g. see his book “With Fife And Drum” which is a really interesting read from an ethnomusicological perspective). The second recording is of the Scottish air Hector The Hero, composed by James Scott Skinner. This has become quite popular in Irish music circles, largely due to Tommy Peoples’ playing with The Bothy Band.
13 January 2021. Some time ago I recorded a version of the song air Sliabh na mBán, inspired by the singing of melodeon player and singer Breandánn O Beaglaoich. On listening to it again, I was tempted to re-record it using my current home recording set-up and current octave mandola – an Ashbury A Style. This is the result. Listen to Aidan Crossey playing Sliabh na mBán here.
There now follows a slew of recordings which I made during the mid-2000s and which I have rescued here…
(Hector The Hero – by Scott Skinner)
(Flower Among Them All – a slow 4/4 tune from Northumbria)
(Farewell to Erin – reel)
(Dunmore Lassies – reel)
(The Ace And Deuce Of Pipering – set dance, or long dance)
(The Congress/The Monaghan Twig – set of reels)
(The Boyne Hunt/The Silver Spear – set of reels)
(Farewell To The Bay – waltz, composed by Aidan Crossey)
(King Of The Pipers – 5-part jig)
(Shandon Bells/The Nightcap – jigs, specially recorded for this website, 27th October 2006)
(The Broadway/Chief O’Neill’s Favourite – hornpipes, specially recorded for this website, 27th October 2006)
(Father Kelly’s/Farewell To The White Horse – reels, the second composed by Aidan Crossey, specially recorded for this website, 27th October 2006)
(The Walls Of Liscarroll/Garret Barry’s – jigs, specially recorded for this website, 27th October 2006)
(The Old Bush – reel, specially recorded for this website, 27th October 2006)