Every culture has its folk music; melodies to celebrate with, rhythms to dance to, and songs that live on forever preserving the culture’s history and personality. Celtic music may very well be one of the purest and richest forms of folk music across the entire history of music.
Back in the day, if you hailed from the western extremities of Europe, you had few luxuries to look forward to after your long hard days making a life for yourself and your family. But the moment your ears caught wind of a few fiddles, flutes, pipes and tin whistles busting out a Celtic tune, all your troubles evaporated as your feet pulled your bone-tired body from the chair to the dance floor.
Guitar is not ordinarily associated with Celtic music. And there’s certainly nothing ordinary about Tony McManus. Yet, the music that sings from his six strings is indisputably Celtic to its roots, and at the same time, extraordinarily fresh, contemporary and infectious.
Fair warning: If you happen to come within earshot of a McManus live performance, prepare to be spellbound where you stand for the duration of the concert. John Renbourn calls Tony McManus, “the best Celtic guitarist in the world,” and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that would disagree with that statement.
We’re so proud and excited to welcome Tony to the family of TrueFire educators! We asked Tony to prepare a curriculum that introduces acoustic and fingerstyle players to the key concepts and techniques that underlie Celtic guitar music, and also provides a starting repertoire of accessible Celtic tunes. The Celtic Journeyman over-delivers on every count and we’re confident you’ll likewise agree.
“We’re going to be looking at the real nuts and bolts Celtic dance music that got, and still gets people through the day. The guitar in this music is still finding its own way. I grew up in Scotland listening to a lot of Irish music and have been grappling with two obsessions - one being the guitar itself, the instrument we all love - and the other being the traditional music itself.”
Tony organized The Celtic Journeyman into two sections. The first section presents a toolkit of 17 essential concepts; Intro to Dropped D Tuning, Drop D In Ballad Arrangements, Arpeggiating Chords, Jig Time, Scale Harmonizing, Arranging Melodies, Intro to DADGAD Tuning, Harp-Like Scales In DADGAD, Melodies with Open Scales , The "Celtic" Mode, Left Hand Techniques, Triplet on Strings 1 & 2, Triplet With Thumb, Frailing, Using a Capo, Common Celtic Rhythms and Tonal Considerations.
In the second section, Tony demonstrates all of key concepts and techniques by sparking up your repertoire with six tunes…
“We’re going to look at six significant Celtic tunes that illustrate the depth and scope of the genre; an Irish ballad called The Accursed Kerryman; a Scottish fiddle tune, Tullochgorum; a slow arrangement of an Irish reel, The Old Bush; a march from Brittany in DADGAD tuning; an Irish jig, Out on the Ocean; and finally a four part march, The Heights of Cassino, from the Highland bagpipe tradition that sums up all of the ideas presented in the course.” Tony also includes a bonus lesson he refers to as, “The laziest jig ever!’
Tony will first perform the tune at tempo, then break it down referring back to the key concepts and techniques, and then finish up with a slow run-through of the piece. All of the performances are tabbed and notated, plus you’ll get Guitar Pro files so you can loop and slow down any section as you work through it.
The Celtic Journeyman is a masterpiece on so many levels. You’ll find yourself just watching the performance videos over and over again just for the sheer pleasure of it. When you’re able to break the spell and actually dig in to the lessons, you’ll find Tony’s teaching brilliantly clear, accessible and inspiring. Plus, he’s so likeable you’ll just plain enjoy every minute you spend in the shed with him.
Put the pipes, fiddle and tin whistles away — grab your guitar and lets get Celtic!