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Celtic Guitar
with Tony McManus
 
 
About This Course
 
Learn to play reels, jigs, airs, and other traditional forms, both fingerstyle and with a flatpick. Celtic guitar master Tony McManus walks you through melodies and shows you how to bring tunes to life with the ornamentation that defines Irish and Scottish traditional music.
 
 
Try a Sample Lesson
 
DADGAD tuning is associated with Celtic guitar more than any other tuning. In this lesson, Tony talks about how the tuning originated, how to get into DADGAD, and what you can do with it. Tony uses DADGAD to play jigs, reels, airs, etc., and he demonstrates how the whole step between the second string A and third string G makes it easy to play melodies across the strings, for a harp-like sound. He shows you a D major scale played in such a way that no string is played twice in a row: every note of the scale rings into the next note. He even shows you how you can play a Bb major scale in the same way.
 
 
 
Meet the Instructor
Tony McManus
 
 
Tony McManus is recognized throughout the world as one of the leading guitarists in Celtic music. From early childhood, his twin obsessions of traditional music and acoustic guitar have combined to produce a startlingly original approach to this ancient art. In Tony’s hands the complex ornamentation normally associated with fiddles and pipes is accurately transferred to guitar in a way that preserves the integrity and emotional impact of the music while sounding completely suited to the guitar.
 
 
 
Peghead Play-Along Tracks
 
Peghead Nation is creating a library of accompaniment videos (and downloadable MP3s) for songs and tunes that are taught on the site, classics that you'll find at many jams and picking parties. As a subscriber, you have access to this library and can use the tracks to practice playing tunes and songs at a slow or medium tempo with guitar accompaniment. New songs will be added regularly.
 
 
The Celtic Guitar Subscription Includes:
  • 15 extensive video lessons with instruction in Celtic style and ornamentation
  • In-depth instruction in flatpicking, fingerstyle, and Celtic rhythm guitar
  • 12 complete tunes to play
  • Complete transcriptions in notation and tablature for all lessons
  • High-quality video with multiple camera angles so you can see closeups of both hands in action
 
 
$20/Month For One Course
 
Additional courses only $10/month each!   •   Save 20% with an annual subscription
 
 
Get started now!
Use promo code TonyLand at checkout
and get your first month free or $20 off an annual subscription.
 
Celtic Guitar Course Outline
 
DADGAD Tuning
 
DADGAD tuning is associated with Celtic guitar more than any other tuning. Tony talks about how the tuning originated, how to get into DADGAD, and what you can do with it. He demonstrates how the whole step between the second string A and third string G makes it easy to play melodies across the strings, and shows you a D major scale played in such a way that no string is played twice in a row.
 
Ornamentation in Celtic Music
 
In many ways, the ornamentation used in Celtic music is what distinguishes it from other kinds of folk and roots music. In this video, Tony talks about the use of ornamentation in general and demonstrates some of his ornamentation techniques on “Muireann’s Jig,” including some quick hammer-on/pull-off ornaments that he refers to as “tickling the string.” He also shows you how he uses his thumb to play triplets with a down-up-down motion, like a flatpick, and gives you an exercise to practice playing triplets with your fingers on the top strings.
 
Celtic Flatpicking and Rhythm Guitar
 
In Celtic music, there’s not as much a distinction between fingerpickers and flatpickers as there is in American music. Most guitarists play some of both. Tony talks about playing melodies with a pick, as well as how he accompanies jigs, reels, etc., and the distinction between those rhythms.
 
Fingerstyle Airs: “Donal Og”
 

This fingerstyle version of the beautiful air “Donal Og” comes from Donegal, in the north of Ireland, from the singing of Mairead Ni Dhomhnaill, sister of Triona Ni Dhomhnaill of the Bothy Band. Tony starts by breaking down the melody, line by line, without any accompaniment, but with ornamentation, including, grace notes, trills, hammer-ons, and vibrato. Once you’ve learned the melody, Tony shows you how to turn it into a fingerstyle arrangement, adding bass notes, harmony lines, arpeggios, and harmonics.

 
Fingerstyle Jigs: “Will You Come Home with Me”
 

“Will You Come Home with Me” is an Irish jig you’ll learn to play in DADGAD tuning. Tony plays the tune through, first just the melody and then with bass notes and chords. Then he takes the melody apart, showing you how the melody is played across the strings and adding ornaments. In Part 2, Tony shows you how to add bass notes to the melody for a fleshed-out arrangement.

 
Fingerstyle Airs: “The Lea Rig”
 

The Robert Burns song “The Lea Rig” is another of Tony’s great fingerstyle ballad arrangements in dropped D. He plays the tune through and then breaks it down, showing you the melody of each line by itself, and then adding bass notes and fill-in notes. The second time he plays the melody he adds some cool harmonics to the third line that create a harmony to the melody line.

 
Fingerstyle Strathspey: “Hecla”
 

The Scottish strathspey is a dance form that comes from the Spey River valley. In this lesson you’ll learn “Hecla,” a four-part strathspey in E minor written for the Highland pipes by Fred Morrison. Tony plays it in Csus2 tuning (CGCGCD) capoed at the second fret. Tony plays “Hecla”  through and then explains the rhythm of the strathspey, which has a heavily accented feel with dotted quarters and 16th notes. The chordal structure of “Hecla” is fairly straightforward. The first part is just Em and D, but Tony changes up the chords for the second, third, and fourth parts, starting the second part with an A minor, the third part with A major, and the fourth part with B minor.

 
Fingerstyle Strathspey: “The Devil in the Kitchen”
 

“The Devil in the Kitchen” is a Highland bagpipe tune that Tony plays in an unusual tuning that he learned from Scottish guitarist Dick Gaughan: DAAEAE. DAAEAE is great for playing bagpipe tunes, because at least one of the A bass notes will always be ringing. Tony explains how the tuning relates to the bagpipes, both with the drones and the bagpipe’s scale, and shows you the I, IV, and V chords in the tuning. Then he walks you through both parts of “The Devil in the Kitchen,” which includes a lot of triplets on the second string and grace notes on melody notes on the first string.

 
Fingerstyle Reels: “Major Harrison’s Fedora”
 

The three-part Irish reel “Major Harrison’s Fedora” is normally played in E minor, but Tony plays it in DADGAD, capoed at the second fret, so it sounds in F# minor. Tony teaches you each part, first just the melody and then adding the bass notes and chord progression.

 
Breton Wedding Gavotte
 

In this lesson, you’ll learn a wedding gavotte from Brittany, the Celtic region of France, which Tony plays in DADGAD tuning, capoed at the fifth fret. Tony plays it through and breaks down the structure and basic melody of each part phrase by phrase. Then he shows you how to add open-string bass notes and ornaments to the basic melody.His arrangement includes some different bass notes as well as some of his characteristic ornaments, like a frail with the middle finger and a thumb slap.

 
The Humours of Tulla
 

Tony’s arrangement of the Irish reel “The Humours of Tulla” was inspired by hearing the great Scottish guitarist Tony Cuffe play the tune fingerstyle on the guitar. The arrangement is in DADGAD, capoed at the third fret. Tony plays it through and then takes it apart, phrase by phrase, showing you all the ornaments he plays, including lots of triplets on the first string in the second part.

 
Flatpicking Reels: “Rakish Paddy”
 

The popular Irish reel “Rakish Paddy” was originally a Scottish strathspey. It’s a two-part tune, with each part played twice. Tony starts by playing the first part through slowly, showing you some of the ornamentation he uses, in both the right and left hand. He also talks about playing picking-hand triplets, how he approaches the string with the pick and how triplets are easier to play if you slacken your grip on the pick rather than tighten it. After walking you through the B part, Tony shows you how he accompanies “Rakish Paddy” with just two chords, D and C/D.

 
Flatpicking Jigs: “Patsy Geary’s”
 

The Bothy Band recorded “Patsy Geary’s” jig in the 1970s, but it’s much older than that. You’ll learn to flatpick it in dropped-D tuning in this lesson. Tony plays the tune through and then takes it apart phrase by phrase. He plays each part slowly, showing you different ornaments and fingering options, as well as some slides and position shifts. Then he shows you how he’d accompany “Patsy Geary’s,” laying out the chord progression and a few different places to play the chords.

 
Flatpicking: “Dan Ar Braz’ Gavotte”
 

Dan Ar Braz is a wonderful guitarist from Brittany, the northwest corner of France, which has a Celtic musical culture that is very different from Scottish and Irish music, but is also very different from the rest of France. A lot of the Breton dance music is based on a gavotte, which consists of a two-bar phrase followed by a four-bar phrase, both of which are repeated. Tony plays the first phrase and then talks about alternate picking, and using the steady motion of alternate picking to keep steady time. He walks you through each phrase slowly and talks about how dance tunes are played in Brittany. He also shows you the chords and rhythm you’d use to accompany “Dan Ar Braz’ Gavotte.”

 
Flatpicking Reels: “The Silver Spear”
 

The Irish reel “The Silver Spear” is a two-part tune in the key of D, played by Tony in dropped-D tuning. He plays it through at a normal tempo and then takes it apart slowly, first without any ornamentation. Then he explains some of the ornamentation he uses, including many picked triplets. The second part of “The Silver Spear” starts up the neck at the fifth through seventh frets, and Tony explains how he fingers it and uses the open E string to get back down to first position.

 
Flatpicking Slip Jigs: “The Fairy Jig”
 

Slip jigs are in 9/8, as opposed to the 6/8 time of regular (or double) jigs. “The Fairy Jig” comes from Donegal, but Tony learned it from Dublin fiddler Paddy Glackin. It’s in D major, played in dropped-D tuning. The second part is played up at the fifth fret and Tony explains the positions he uses to make the fingering easier and smoother. Once you’ve learned the basic tune, Tony shows you some of the ornamentation he uses, including cuts and a picked triplet that crosses strings.

 
The Mouth of the Tobique
 

Quebecois music is yet another part of the great Celtic diaspora. In this lesson you’ll learn to flatpick a three-part reel, “The Mouth of the Tobique.” Tony plays it through and then breaks it down phrase by phrase, showing you a few simple variations as he goes. The third part has a fun syncopated feel, with the melody played primarily on one string.

 
 
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