The Irish Cello Book

Traditional Tunes & Techniques

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  • Suggested Retail Price: $24.99
  • Format: Book with Online Audio
  • Pages: 176
  • Dimensions: 9 x 12
  • ISBN: 0-87639-137-4
  • SKU: 50449652
  • Publication Date: April 01, 2013

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Learn to play traditional Irish melodies on the cello.

With technical lessons and a tune book of over 100 tunes, this book covers traditional articulations, concepts, and practices of Irish fiddle music, adapted to the cello. The recording features demonstration and play-along tracks by world-class Irish musicians including Liz Carroll, Matt Crannitch, John Carty, and others.

You will learn to:

  • Play Irish melodies using traditional ornamentation, bowing, and performance nuances
  • Recognize distinguishing features of song forms, such as jigs, reels, hornpipes, highlands, airs, and others, as well as regional styles such as Donnegal, Clare, Sliabh Luachra, and others
  • Adapt melodies to the cello, adjusting them for register and making them easier to play
  • Play in a traditional Irish ensembles and sessions, understanding the customs and rules of participation
  • Develop your own unique interpretations of these tunes, with your personal expressive preferences but remaining true to the overall tradition

The “Tune Book” section includes over one hundred tunes transcribed for cello, including: Butterfly, Connachtman’s Rambles, Cooley’s, Drowsy Maggie, Earl’s Chair, Fig for a Kiss, Harvest Home, John Ryan’s, Kesh Jig, Maid Behind the Bar, Morrison’s Jig, O’Carolan’s Welcome, Off to California, Out on the Ocean, Rights of Man, Road to Lisdoon Varne, Rolling Waves, Si Bheag, Si Mhor, St. Anne’s Reel, and Swallow Tail.

The Irish Cello Book is an extensive collection of Irish tunes written out in bass clef for cello along with listening suggestions for those who prefer to learn by ear. Each chapter discusses a different aspect of Irish music in detail as it applies to the cello and to Irish music in general. A tremendous amount of research has been put into this book and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to know the inner workings of playing Irish traditional tunes with detail given to ornaments, bowings, variations, rhythm, and regional styles.”

—Abby Newton, Celtic Cellist (with Ferintosh and Celtic Crossing) and Author of two books of Scottish and Irish Tunes for Cello with Mel Bay

“I’ve been asking Liz David Maxfield to write the The Irish Cello Book for years, and finally, she has written a wonderful book on Irish tune playing. This book is all in bass clef and written from a cellist’s point of view. It includes an incredible wealth of information, both in the text and on the accompanying recording, about how to make the large number of tunes really sound Irish, using bowing, grace notes and variations. I can’t wait to share this with my students!”

—Renata Bratt, Ph.D, Author of The Fiddling Cellist

“A thorough, well thought-out overview of what makes up the basics of the traditional Irish melodic style. This is much more than a tune book: Liz both explains and shows very clearly how to adapt the melodies and stylistic elements to the cello. This is a great book for any cellist who wants to become proficient in playing Irish tunes!”

—Natalie Haas, traditional Cellist (Alasdair Fraser, Mark O’Connor’s Appalachia Waltz Trio, Laura Cortese Acoustic Project, Brittany Haas & Dan Trueman)

“I’m very excited about Liz’s book, and I wish that there were more books like this for the cello! It features clear explanations of what makes Irish music Irish, as well as how to best adapt it for our instrument. With a mixture of chapters focusing on physical techniques, and discussions on more subjective stylistic issues, this book also goes the extra step to address skills and techniques necessary to simply get better at learning by ear. By connecting its comprehensive content to the real world, outside of its covers, this book will soon be seen as the definitive classic for cellists looking to play Irish music in an authentic and meaningful way.”

—Mike Block (multi-style Cellist and Director of Mike Block String Camps)

The Irish Cello Book does the impossible: while explaining the technical aspects of Irish music, it also escorts the reader into a community of established players where the expressive, feeling part of this important music is most alive. Players with classical backgrounds will appreciate the thoughtful, comparative analysis from a technical perspective, while everyone will benefit from the creativity, imagination, and respect for tradition conveyed here.”

—Eugene Friesen (Director, Berklee World Strings)


Liz Davis Maxfield

Liz Davis Maxfield has performed and taught workshops on folk cello throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. She holds…