Common Tune List

Common Tunes for Fiddle Hell

At past Fiddle Hells, we've played common tunes together at various sessions, from a list of 52 tunes we assembled a number of years ago.  Knowing some of these tunes can be very helpful in jam sessions, since it gives you some common ground with other fiddlers, across a variety of styles.  A 2-CD set is available for these: skip down to the Original Common Tunes.

We've put together a new common tune list for 2016 and 2017, again across multiple styles, based directly on your suggestions over the last 3 years of the Fiddle Hell online survey. There were more than 500 great suggestions on the survey (thank you all!), and narrowing them down to just 52 has been a challenging and interesting process.

We think you'll really enjoy the tunes on the new list! Just as on the original list, you probably play some of them already, and you may see a few that you personally suggested. Some of these tunes will be featured at Fiddle Hell in November, 2017, at workshops, jams, and flash mobs. The Reiner Family Band recorded the new common tunes (played both fast and slow) on a new 2-CD set, which is available in our Store

If your favorite tune didn't make it onto this list, you can still play it at Fiddle Hell.  And of course, you can keep playing the original 52 tunes!

New Common Tune List for 2016 and 2017 and beyond

Color code: Reels, Breakdowns, Polkas, Two-Steps, Rags & Rants, Jigs & MarchesWaltzes & Airs, Strathspeys

Äppelbo Gånglåt
(Swedish walking tune in G)
Beaumont Rag (Texas and bluegrass rag in F)
Belle Catherine, La (French Canadian reel in C)
Big Sciota (oldtime and bluegrass breakdown in G)
Blackberry Blossom (bluegrass and oldtime Southern reel in G)
Boatsman (oldtime Southern reel in A)
Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine (oldtime march in D)
Brenda Stubbert’s (Cape Breton reel in A Dorian) by Jerry Holland, ©1982 Fiddlesticks Music
Calliope House (Scottish jig in E) by Dave Richardson
Cellosaurus Stomp (song and dance in D and G) ©2015 by Andy Reiner  Sheet music here
Chez Seychelles (Cajun waltz in D)
Chinquapin Hunting (oldtime Southern reel in A, often tuned AEAE)
Cliffs of Moher, The (Irish jig in Am)
Cock of the North (Scottish pipe march or jig in A, aka Auntie Mary)
Crested Hens (French bourée in 3/8 in Em) ©1987 by Gilles Chabenat
Crooked Stovepipe (New England reel in G)
Cutting Ferns (Scottish strathspey in A Dorian, aka Cutting Bracken, Tha Mi Sgìth)
Devil’s Dream (New England (and more) reel in A)
Egan’s Polka (Irish polka in D, aka Kerry Polka and Peg Ryan’s)
Father Kelly’s (Irish reel in G)
Fisher’s Hornpipe (New England (originally English) hornpipe or reel in D)
Gaspé, Reel de (French Canadian reel in D)
Inisheer (Irish waltz in G) by Thomas Walsh 
Jamie Allen (English rant in G)
Jefferson and Liberty (New England jig in Am)
Jolie Blonde (Cajun waltz in A) P. D.
Josefin’s Dopvals (Swedish waltz in G) ©1997 by Roger Tallroth
June Apple (oldtime Southern reel in A Mixolydian)
Kitchen Girl (oldtime Southern reel in A Mixolydian and A Dorian)
Maison de Glace, La (French  Canadian jig in D) ©1997 by Rejean Brunet
Merry Blacksmith, The (Irish reel in D)
Midnight on the Water (Texas waltz in D; often tuned DDAD) attributed to Luke Thomasson
Minor Swing (swing tune in Am) ©1937 by Django Reinhardt
Montréal, Reel de (French Canadian reel in G)
Morrison’s Jig (Irish jig in Em)
My Cape Breton Home (Cape Breton air in G) ©1988 by Jerry Holland
Old Joe (oldtime breakdown in C)
Perrodin Two-Step (Cajun two-step in D)
(New England, Scottish, English reel in D)
Pig Ankle Rag (oldtime Southern rag in D)
Reconciliation, The (Scottish reel in A)
Road to Boston (New England march in D)
Sailor’s Wife, The (Scottish jig in Dm or sometimes Em) attributed to Niel Gow
Shove That Pig’s Foot a Little Farther in the Fire (oldtime Southern reel in G)
Slider’s Reel (bluegrass breakdown in D and A) ©1994 by Dave Reiner  Sheet music here
Slockit Light, Da (Shetland 4/4 air in D; Slockit = Extinguished) ©1969 by Tom Anderson
Small Fox, Big Field (New England reel in Bm) ©2007 by Eric Eid-Reiner  Sheet music here
Spotted Pony
(Missouri oldtime breakdown in D)
Stool of Repentance, The (Scottish jig in A) by Niel Gow
Swinging on a Gate (Irish reel in G)
Trip to Moscow (Northumbrian March in Gm) ©1995 by Ian Ball
Whiskey Before Breakfast (Canadian Métis reel in D) attributed to Andy DeJarlis


Original Common Tune List

FH Tunes cover

You can order a 2-CD set of the original 52 common tunes, played both up-to-tempo and slowly by the Reiner Family Band. This is just $15 postpaid (within the  US) in our Store.

This will help you prepare for Fiddle Hell, or learn the tunes even if you can't make it this year.  Why 52 tunes? One for every week of the year, of course. 

Color code: Reels & Rags, Jigs & Marches, Waltzes & Airs

Angeline the Baker (Southern reel in D)
Ashokan Farewell (Northern waltz in D) by Jay Ungar ©1983 by Swinging Door Music-BMI
Athol Highlanders’ (Scottish march in A)
Big John McNeill (Scottish reel in A)
Bile Them Cabbage Down (Southern reel in A)
Billy in the Lowground (Oldtime and bluegrass reel in C)
Bodine’s Waltz (Western waltz in A) ©1981 by Dale Hopkins, founder of Fiddle Hell
Brian Boru's March (Irish march in Am)
The Butterfly (Irish slip jig in Em)
Cluck Old Hen (Southern reel in A Dorian)
Cold Frosty Morning (Southern reel in A Dorian)
Coleraine (Irish jig in Am)
Cooley's Reel (Irish reel in Em)
Cork Hornpipe (Irish hornpipe in D)
Devil's Dream (Scottish reel in A)
Drowsy Maggie (Irish reel in Em)
Fairy Dance (Scottish reel in D) by Nathanial Gow (public domain)
Flowers of Edinburgh (Scottish reel in G)
Gary Owen (Irish jig in G)
Golden Slippers (Northern song in G) by James A. Bland (public domain)
Gravel Walk (Irish reel in Am)
Haste to the Wedding (Ubiquitous jig in D)
Irish Washerwoman (English jig in G)
Julia Delaney's (Irish reel in Dm)
Kesh Jig (Irish jig in G)
La Bastringue (French Canadian reel in D)
Laird O'Drumblair (Scottish reel in A) by J. Scott Skinner (public domain)
Liberty Two-Step (Oldtime reel in D)
Little Liza Jane (Southern reel in A)
Maid Behind the Bar (Irish reel in D)
Old Joe Clark (Southern reel in A)
Over the Waterfall (Southern reel in D)
Over the Waves (Mexican waltz in G) by Juventino Rosas (public domain)
Ragtime Annie (Oldtime reel in D, two parts)
Red Haired Boy (Ubiquitous reel in A)
Redwing (Oldtime song in G) by Kerry Mills (public domain)
Road to Lisdoonvarna (Irish jig in Em)
St. Anne's Reel (Canadian Reel in D)
Sandy Boys (Southern reel in A)
Seneca Square Dance (Southern reel in G)
Shady Grove (Oldtime song in A Dorian)
Ships Are Sailing (Irish reel in Em)
Si Bheag, Si Mhor (Irish air in D)
Smash the Windows (English & Irish jig in D)
Soldier's Joy (Ubiquitous reel in D)
Spootiskerry (Shetland reel in G) ©1980 by Ian Burns
Staten Island Hornpipe (Scottish hornpipe in D)
Stone's Rag (Texas rag in C) by Oscar Stone (public domain)
Swallowtail Jig (Irish jig in Em)
Ten Penny Bit (Irish jig in Am)
Tennessee Waltz
(Oldtime song in D) ©1947 by Redd Stewart and Pee Wee King
Turkey in the Straw (Oldtime reel in G)

Skip back up to the New Common Tunes.

Playing by ear vs. using sheet music (thoughts from Dave Reiner)
Since I write fiddle books, I'm certainly not opposed to sheet music in general. And quite a few of the common tunes on the Fiddle Hell 2-CD set are also in my book Anthology of Fiddle Styles.

But playing by ear encourages you to:
- Listen more carefully to other players
- Absorb more of the stylistic nuances and feel for the tune (these can't be conveyed by sheet music)
- Improve your ability to learn by ear
- Jam and play along with tunes you haven't heard before or not much
- Vary the tune a bit within the style

If you're new to fiddle, I'd guess there are a couple of songs that you can sing or hum, like Happy Birthday, or Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, or others, and that you could play these by ear on fiddle with a little experimentation.  Try it!  It's just a matter of developing this ability with fiddle tunes.  If you listen to and try singing or playing along with your favorite fiddlers or with the Fiddle Hell repertoire CDs (which include slow versions of the tunes), you'll eventually have some of those tunes in your head.  Then you can sound them out on your fiddle.  I know it's hard at the beginning, but it'll get easier over time.

Even if you track down some sheet music for a tune, that may not be the version that's commonly played, so listening and playing by ear is still preferable.  And even if you can play what's on the sheet music perfectly, it may sound mechanical and you'll be tied to it unless you take the additional step of learning it by ear.

Here's my personal experience.  I've learned some tunes by ear and some from music.  The ones that I'm most comfortable with and that sound the best are almost always the ones I picked up by ear.

Print Email