FluteFling Autumn Workshops

Gordon Turnbull teaching flute (c) Ros Gasson

Gordon Turnbull teaching flute (c) Ros Gasson

FluteFling returns to Edinburgh this Autumn with a series of three workshops on traditional flute and whistle playing led by Gordon Turnbull. The afternoon workshops will take place at Tribe Porty in Portobello and evolve out of both the successful regular fortnightly classes that had previously taken place up to 2015 and the popular ongoing all-day annual Scottish Flute Day events that will return in 2017.

The workshops will take place on:

  • Saturday 8 October
  • Saturday 19 November
  • Saturday 17 December

There will continue to be a relaxed, supportive and informal style to the teaching, which will not only help develop repertoire from Scotland, Ireland and beyond, but also focus on aspects of technique. As before, the workshops are open to adults already playing whistle, low whistle or wooden flute in D as well as metal classical flutes (Boehm sytem).

Musicians returning to the instrument after a break are most welcome, but the workshops are unfortunately not suitable for complete beginners at this stage.

You can find out more about the workshops on the dedicated page of the reorganised web site, including online booking details.

I hope to be able to accommodate beginners in the near future; if interested, please get in touch and also sign up to the FluteFling Newsletter

Classes, workshops and tuition Autumn 2016

Flute and whistle mural

Classes for traditional flute and whistle in Portobello, Edinburgh are set to return this Autumn but details are currently on hold until September.

I am looking into options for resuming flute and whistle classes in Portobello, Edinburgh this coming Autumn but this continues to be tricky due to personal circumstances, albeit different ones from the past year. I expect this to become clearer over the coming few weeks so will have more news in September.

Regular group sessions

I am currently considering monthly Saturday workshops or fortnightly evening classes (as before) and while I have a venue in mind, will need to confirm this.

Individual tuition

Unfortunately I am unable to offer individual tuition at this stage. This is purely due to time.


If you are signed up to the FluteFling Newsletter, then details will be announced there first.

Image: Musical mural at Ormeau Park, Belfast (c) Gordon Turnbull 2016

Autumn term update

FluteFling classes are taking a break this term, but will aim to be back in the New Year.

In the mean time there is always the archive to explore or revisit and I am exploring other flute and whistle playing opportunities for the group. Please check back for any updates, sign up to the newsletter or drop me an email.

Photo: David Begg (flute) playing in Sandy Bell’s Monday night session, Edinburgh (c) Gordon Turnbull

Scottish flute and whistle tunes

Last week the Flute and Whistle 3 class looked at a couple of reels, one traditional, the other contemporary, and so began what is going to be a bit of a theme this term — modern Scottish tunes written on the flute or whistle.

The Brig o’ Tilt is in a few collections. I think I initially learned it from Kerr’s Merrie Melodies, but it is also in the Athole Collection, and it perhaps celebrates the new bridge over the north road built at Glentilt in 1823. Bridge of Tilt is near Blair Atholl and today the A9 flies past.

The tune is solidly in D and has a distinctive second part where an arpeggio “tune within a tune” element prevails. There aren’t many places to decorate, so much depends on the breathing to provide emphasis. A couple of places do exist for cranning however. If not feeling confident on this, try cutting to separate the D notes.

The second tune is a three-part reel in Em by Niall Kenny, The Trip to Pakistan. Niall used to live in Edinburgh, but is now based in Lanarkshire and can been playing regularly in Glasgow and Edinburgh sessions.

The trip to Pakistan has been recorded a few times, appears in many collections and has a pipes setting too. Here’s a video of him playing it (right at the end of two sets, but it is well worth watching all of the video just to enjoy his music):

There are a few places to roll and cut, but much the genius of the tune is in the tune is in the third part, where the emphasis of the descending lower notes of the phrases invert the rhythm. There’s some discussion of it on The Session, to which Niall contributes and describes his intentions behind the tune.

The class resources for the tune are on the usual page.

Photo: Gilbert’s Bridge by Anne Burgess, some rights reserved

Lucy Farr’s Barndance plus one

This week we caught up with some of Amble’s tunes from when she took the class. Our main focus was Lucy Farr’s Barndance and we followed this with another, Where in the World Would we be Without Women?

Lucy Farr was a fiddle player from east Galway, who ended up living in London. She featured on the influential 1968 recording Paddy in the Smoke, which was a live recording from the London session scene of the time. There is a great profile of Lucy Farr here. Fetch a cup of tea to have while reading that one as it is as detailed as it is fascinating.

Our barndance is one of two associated with Lucy Farr, who called it The Kilnamona Barndance according to flute player Niall Kenny on this lengthy discussion on The Session. There is also some discussion about it’s identity as a German (Northern Irish dance form) and a 7-step dance (also German, possibly the same dance). I know little about this dance form other than it has a similar musical feel to a barndance, which in itself feels like a little like hornpipe.

Once in a session in Sandy Bell’s, someone from the Western Isles sang in Gaelic to this tune when I played it and told me it was well known and that the song translated as I Saw the Cat. It is worth checking out the recording by fiddler Martin Hayes, from neighbouring east Clare, of a much-slowed down and meditative version of this simple but effective tune.

If We Hadn’t Any Women in the World is a barndance that could follow Lucy’ Farr’s quite nicely. Harry Bradley recorded this on As I Carelessly Did Stray…, but he cites Hammy Hamilton’s recording on Moneymusk as the source. I believe that I may have heard this on an early cassette version of that recording (and have misremembered the title slightly too — Where in the World Would We Be Without Women?). Hammy Hamilton’s fine version is freely available online and I note that he freely switches phrases around, which may also account for my own fluid setting of the tune. Again, many versions and much discussion on The Session website. The tune was first recorded by James Morrison in 1928 according to the sleeve notes.

Dots, ABCs and recordings for both tunes can be found in the Resources section.

Photo of Lucy Farr via Mustrad.