Also known as ‘an tÉan ar an gCrann’ or ‘the Bird in the Tree’, The Bird in the Bush 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.

Its composer is unknown but the tune 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 learned this when they were first 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. But really it sounds great on any instrument.

It’s 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. Visit my online store for more details.


The Bird in the Bush Sheet Music Notation

The Bird in The Bush sheet music


The Bird in the Bush ABC Notation

R: reel
M: 4/4
K: Gmaj

d2e^B dBB2|dBAB G2AG|EAA2 BGGGA|BGBd g2ge|!


Bdef g2fg|afdf  gfed|bdef g3b|agab g2ga|!

bgg2 agef|gage dB3|DEGA B2BC|dBAC BGG:|!



ABC notation and sheet music thanks to


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  1. Hi folks.
    Looking at the sheet music and the notation.

    The last quarter of the song don't match. Artistic variation?

    In notation
    bgg2 agef| gage dB3| DEGA B2BC| dBAC BGG:|!

    In sheet music

    bgg2 agef| g2e3dBB2| DEGA B2BC| dBAC BGG:|!

    1. That’s it exactly Graham. Tbh it’s rare to find two versions of a tune notated the same way. I may have tinkered with the ABC when adding it to reflect how I play the tune myself!

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