• Paraic McNeela playing The Bird in the Bush on the McNeela African Blackwood flute

The Bird in the Bush (reel)

Also known as an tÉan ar an gCrann or the Bird in the Tree and other variations thereof, this is one my favourite session tunes and one of the great Irish reels. You won’t often see it in top ten session tunes but that’s because it is an under appreciated gem. Easily introduced to any session, armed with this tune you’ll mark yourself as a trad Irish music insider.

Composer is unknown but it was first recorded in 1923 by John J. Kimmel on accordion* and was popularised by fiddle player, Michael Coleman’s 1927 New York recording with Edward Lee on piano.**

Most musicians will have learnt this when they were learning an Irish musical instrument so it’s a piece a lot of people will know and a great one for pleasing a crowd. It suits a wind instrument best, the wind sound mimicking the birdsong, so a flute or whistle, but it really sounds great on them all. It is often played with The Silver Spear but it slips seamlessly into many more sets.

Usually played in the key of G major you’ll hear plenty of versions and variations of it and thanks to the relatively easy going nature of Irish music sessions nobody will mind if your version is slightly different to theirs. If you’re open to adaptation and can play a little under the music while you get used to the different versions, you’ll be away in a hack!

I’m playing on my own African Blackwood flute, which is on special offer at the moment, click here for more details: https://mcneelamusic.com/mcneela-african-blackwood-flute-with-foam-lined-box/

ABC NOTATION

X:11

T:Bird in the Bush

Z: id:dc-reel-13

M:C

L:1/8

K:G Major

B|d2e^c dBB2|cBAB G2AG|EAAc BGGA|BABd efge|!

d2e^c dBB2|cBAB G2GE|DEGA Bdge|dBAc BGG:|!

A|BABd g2bg|agef gedB|GABd g2bg|agef g2ga|!

bgg2 agef|gage dBGE|DEGA Bdge|dBAc BGG:|!

*[source: https://www.irishtune.info/tune/156/]

**[https://www.cranfordpub.com/tunes/Irish/Bird_in_Tree.htm].

ABC notation and sheet music thanks to thesession.org

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Posted by McNeela

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