Cari Fuchs, editor,
Irish Session Tune Book
(Mel Bay, 1997)

If all it took to make a good tune book was a lot of good tunes, Mel Bay's Irish Session Tune Book would be a winner.

The slim volume is packed with more than 300 traditional tunes, many of which I've had trouble finding in other resources. The notation is clear and easy to read, and the book -- while lacking a ring binding which would make it simple for musicians to play from directly -- is bound loosely enough that it's simple enough to photocopy pages without damaging the binding.

But editor Cari Fuchs, who collected and transcribed all the tunes, didn't make it any easier than she had to.

There is no table of contents. There is an index in the back, but it doesn't include page numbers. It simply tells you if the tune you're seeking is a jig, reel, hornpipe or other traditional style. You have to find the appropriate chapter (again, without convenient page numbers to help speed your search) and then page through to find the tune listed alphabetically. Tell me an index with page numbers would have been too much trouble to include?

Once you find the tune you're looking for, you're set -- assuming you play a melody instrument. Guitarists, pianists and anyone else looking for chords will have to figure them out on their own because, again, that was apparently too much trouble to include.

I'll hang onto this one because it does offer a fair selection of tunes I don't have elsewhere in my collection. But if you like a touch of convenience with your music books, buy another one. Mel Bay's Irish Session Tune Book makes finding tunes a chore.

[ by Tom Knapp ]

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