Reel, D, Traditional Irish
The Sailor’s Bonnet is the final tune in the famous Tarbolton Set played by fiddler Michael Coleman on a recording released in 1934.
Michael Coleman’s recording of this tune was released in what has become known as “The Tarbolton Set.” That set: The Tarbolton / The Longford Collector / The Sailor’s Bonnet. From that recording, the set became and has remained a popular favorite among Irish tune players. Michael Coleman was born in County Sligo, Ireland, and emigrated to the USA, where he recorded his music in New York City.
- Video – The Bothy Band: The Salamanca / The Banshee / The Sailor’s Bonnet – from the album 1975. (The Sailor’s Bonnet starts at time 2:42 in this recording.)
- Audio – The Center for Irish Music: The Tarbolton / The Longford Collector / The Sailor’s Bonnet – from the album Young Irish Musicians Weekend Vol 1, by The Center for Irish Music, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. (The Sailor’s Bonnet starts at time 2:24 in this recording.)
- Audio – Comhaltas: The Sailor’s Bonnet – session recording. From the album Foinn Seisiún Volume 1.
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. The version of the tune here is simplified, based on The Bothy Band’s recording of the tune on their 1975 album.
Play from the Dots
Examples of sets that include this tune.
- Wise Maid Reel Set: The Wise Maid (D) / The Old Copperplate (A Dorian) / The Sailor’s Bonnet (D)
- Salamanca Reel Set: The Salamanca (D) / The Banshee (G) / The Sailor’s Bonnet (D)
- The Tarbolton Set: The Tarbolton / The Longford Collector / The Sailor’s Bonnet
References and Resources
For those who want to dig deeper, here are some other resources.
- More Recordings
- Audio – Michael Coleman, Michael Andrews: Tarbolton / Longford collector / Sailor’s bonnet – circa 1934 recording of The Tarbolton Set, played on fiddle (Michael Coleman) and guitar (Michael Andrews). Source: Irish Traditional Music Archive. (The Sailor’s Bonnet starts at time 2:21 in this recording.)
- Audio – Castlerock (Slowplayers): The Sailor’s Bonnet – played at a slow tempo on flute and fiddle. From the album Session Tunes volume 1 by Castlerock. Angeline LeLeux (fiddle) and William Bajzek (flute), who produced the album under the name “Slowplayers” later renamed their duo “Castlerock.” (Mt. Vernon, Washington, USA)
- Audio – Stephen Ducke (Tradschool): The Sailor’s Bonnet (Reel) – played on tin whistle. From the book Irish Music – 400 Traditional Tunes
- Video – Tergal14 Mandolin: Sailors Bonnet – played on mandolin
- Book – Foinn Seisiún, Volume 1 — Published by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann
- Book & Audio – Dave Mallinson: 100 Essential Irish Session Tunes
- Book & Audio – Stephen Ducke: Irish Music – 400 Traditional Tunes
- Lesson – Kevin Burke (Fiddlevideo): The Sailor’s Bonnet – fiddle tutorial, with downloadable sheet music and audio. (Full lesson requires subscription to Fiddlevideo.)
- Lesson – Martin Hayes: The Sailors Bonnet – Patreon Subscribers Choice #1 – fiddle tutorial video with demonstration of the whole tune, and then each phrase.
- Additional Resources
- Webpage – The Irish Traditional Music Tune Index: Sailor’s Bonnet – curated information about the tune, provided by Alan Ng.
- Video – Chris Haigh (The Fiddle Channel): Michael Coleman; Greatest Irish fiddle player of the 20th Century!