Reel, A Dorian, Traditional Irish
Also known as: The Copperplate
The Old Copperplate is a traditional Irish reel that is popular in Irish session playing. It is often paired with another traditional reel, The New Copperplate. By the curious routes of tune naming, both tunes are also called “The Copperplate.”
Copperplate is a printing process, hundreds of years old, in which a design is engraved into a sheet (plate) of copper. Ink is applied to the plate, and then the inked design is transferred to paper in a printing press. The term “copperplate” also refers to a handwriting style in calligraphy, and to a family of typefaces and fonts. All three of these forms of “copperplate” are still used by artisans today. The illustration for this page includes copperplate decoration and handwriting from the book The Universal Penman by George Bickham the Elder (1684–1758). It also contains modern fonts in the Copperplate typeface family. For more about copperplate, see the References and Resources section on this page.
- Video – David Hansen: The Old Copperplate – played on mandolin with backup on guitar, double bass and organ.
- Video – Tergal14 Mandolin: Irish tenor banjo. Reels. Old copperplate & Otter’s holt
- Video – Chris Smith: The Old and New Copperplates – from the album Coyotebanjo, Irish Traditional Music from America, Chris Smith with Roger Landes and Randal Bays. Played on tenor banjo and fiddle with bouzouki backing.
Dots (Music Notation)
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 Maid I Never Forgot / The Old Copperplate
- Ships Are Sailing / The Longford Collector / The Old Copperplate
- The Old Copperplate / The New Copperplate
References and Resources
For those who want to dig deeper, here are some other resources.
- More Recordings
- Video – John Whelan: The Maid I Never Forgot/The Old Copperplate from the album Celtic Roots (Spirit Of Dance). (The Old Copperplate starts at time 2:20 in this recording.)
- Audio – Traonach: Ships Are Sailing/The Longford Collector/The Old Copperplate (reels) – from the album The First Round
- Audio – Comhaltas: The Old Copperplate – from the album Foinn Seisiún Volume 2
- Audio – Stephen Ducke: The Old Copperplate (Reel) – played on tin whistle. From the book Irish Music – 400 Traditional Tunes. (Note: the whistle is tuned about 30 cents flat in this recording.)
- Lesson – Tom Morley: Learn an Irish Trad Fiddle Tune – The Old Copper Plate – fiddle lesson
- Book – 100 Essential Irish Session Tunes, by Dave Mallinson (Mally Productions), with accompanying audio tracks.
- Book – Comhaltas: Foinn Seisiún Volume 2
- Book – The Portland Collection, Vol. 2, Contra Dance Music in the Pacific Northwest By Susan Songer with Clyde Curley.
- Book – Stephen Ducke: Irish Music 400 Traditional Tunes
- Other Resources
- Webpage – The Session: The Old Copperplate (Reel) – crowdsourced sheet music, comments, and other information
- Webpage – The Irish Traditional Music Tune Index: Old Copperplate – sheet music, lists of recordings and books, and other archival information
- Article: Dorian, Mixolydian, Oh My: Modes in a Nutshell, by Jonathan Lay, TrailJams
- About Copperplate
- Video – Eric Paul Meier: From Paper to Copper: The Engraver’s Process (2009) – demonstration of copperplate engraving and printing
- Video – Rebecca Vincent: An etching story: making and printing a multi-colour copper plate etching
- Article – Wikipedia: Copperplate Gothic – about the Copperplate Gothic typeface designed by Frederic W. Goudy