The Johnstown Reel: an Edinburgh flute tune

A focus this term has been modern tunes by Edinburgh flute and whistle players. The Johnstown Reel is a fine slow reel by Rebecca Knorr and is often played in Edinburgh sessions.

Rebecca is an exceptional flute player and teacher, with a great line in pipe tunes. She created the traditional flute degree course for the Royal Conservertoire of Scotland in Glasgow and plays regularly with Islander Ceilidh Band.

The tune is named after Rebecca’s grandmother’s home town in Pennyslvania and in E Dorian and Bm, making for two unusual and contrasting wistful parts. This has been recorded by Rebecca with guitarist Tony McManus and with her band Calluna, while The Tannahill Weavers also recorded the tune. Here she is with Tony McManus, who she played alongside with fiddler Tim O’Leary in the 1990s:

There’s a little bit of discussion on The Session, with a good version uploaded by Kenny Hadden. I’ve recorded a slightly different version for the class that can be found on the Resources page.

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