Reel, Bm, Traditional Irish
TrailJams Tune of the Week for January 29, 2023; November 21, 2021
This traditional Irish reel is a very popular session tune.
Two features of this tune set it apart from most traditional Irish reels. First, it is in the key of B minor, which is a fairly rare key for Irish tunes. Not difficult, just rare. B minor uses the notes of the D major scale, and this tune lays out well on whistles, concertinas, and fiddles. Second, this tune is a three-part single reel. So, rather than having the usual A and B parts, this tune has A, B, and C parts. But as a single reel, each part is short: each is four measures long rather than the more typical eight measures of a double reel. While the basic tune is fairly simple to play, it invites ornamentation and variation, as you will hear in the recordings.
- Video – The Dubliners: The Musical Priest / The Blackthorn Stick – two reels from the album The Dubliners.
- Video – Andy McGann and Paddy Reynolds: Musical Priest / Sailor On The Rock – from the album Andy McGann and Paddy Reynolds, with Paul Brady
- Video – Liz Carroll: The Silver Spear/The Earl’s Chair/The Musical Priest (Reels) from the album Lost in the Loop.
As always for traditional tunes, the musical notation and chords do not indicate the “right” way to play the tune, but are a useful reference.
Play from the Dots
Examples of sets that include this tune.
- The Musical Priest / The Torn Jacket
- The Musical Priest / Father Kelly’s / Castle Kelly
- Musical Priest / Devanney’s Goat
- Musical Priest / Sheehan’s / Star of Munster
- Musical Priest / Sheehan’s / Merry Blacksmith
- Silver Chair Reel Set: The Silver Spear (D) / The Earl’s Chair (D) / The Musical Priest (Bm)
References and Resources
For those who want to dig deeper, here are some other resources.
- More Recordings
- Audio – Stuart Mason & John Weed: The Musical Priest – played slowly on fiddle with guitar backing. From the album Slow & Easy Volume 1.
- Audio – Kenn Gordon & 1916: The Musical Priest from the album Kenn Gordon & Friends Vol IV
- Video – Ryan G. Duns: Tin Whistle, The Musical Priest – solo tin whistle
- Book – Tom Morley: Learn to Play Irish Fiddle – with audio tracks.
- Book – Dave Mallinson: 100 Essential Irish Session Tunes – with audio tracks.
- Book – John Weed and Stuart Mason: Slow & Easy Volumes 1 and 2 – with audio tracks.
- Lesson – Shannon Heaton: Musical Priest – #NameYerTune – tune taught phrase by phrase on flute
- Lesson – Mikela Valenzuela: The Musical Priest reel – slow, medium, fast fiddle lesson
- Lesson – Duncan Cameron Music: Musical Priest fiddle lesson
- Additional Resources
- Webpage – The Session: The Musical Priest – crowdsourced sheet music, comments, and more information