There are several types of rythmical ornaments in Irish music. This is a brief outline of the most common.
The Cut The cut is one of the simplest ornaments to play.It consists of a grace note played rapidly before the principal note.The grace not or cut is higher than the main note.
The Tap The tap is similar to the cut, except that the grace note or tap is lower than the main note.
The Casadh The casadh is again similar to the cut, except we now start on the main note; there are three notes instead of two.
The Short Roll The short roll has the value of 1 crotchet or 2 quavers. To play a roll, we play a note above and a note below the note being “rolled”. (See diagram)
The Long Roll The long roll has the value of a dotted crotchet. Like the short roll, we play a note above and a note below the main note.
Some important points
Be able to play the tune from memory, in time & in rhythm, before trying to add ornamentation.
Less is more! Don’t use too many ornaments…
Ornaments must be played as rapidly as possible, and must not break the rhythmic flow of the tune.
It takes time to learn these ornaments, so if at first you don’t succeed, don’t despair! (1 roll = 1 year of toil & labour…)
Originally from Athlone in County Roscommon, Stephen Ducke now lives in a small village in the French Alps with his wife and two children.
He is author of a tin whistle tutor book entitled "Tin Whistle - A Complete Guide to Playing Irish Traditional Music on the Whistle" and runs Irish music classes and workshops with Tradschool in France. He has recorded one solo album, "If There Weren't Any Women In The World".