Friday, May 31, 2013

Tune of the Month for June 2013: Star of the County Down

You are cordially invited to our inaugural autoharp tune-of-the-month festivities! We're very excited to start working on this tune learning and sharing project with everyone who would like to participate. Here's how it works...

To start things off, we've selected the tune "Star of the County Down" as an enjoyable, fairly simple piece that many people know, and which is both diatonic and chromatic-friendly. We'll decide on tunes by poll in the future, but we were anxious to get started this time!

Star of the County Down is an old Irish ballad and exists in many different versions (and even different time signatures!), so if you search around on YouTube you'll find all kinds of possibilities. Bryan Bowers has a lovely version on his album "Bristlecone Pine." There's some additional information here on Wikipedia.

For those who don't yet know the tune, here's a video of the very talented Ryan Carr playing it:

Sheet music of two different versions is available here:

Josh Birch's version in Am (4/4) -- downloadable audio here
Josh Birch's version in Em (4/4)

Cathy Britell's version (3/4, Em)

You can post your recording using the "Comments" box below. For more information about the TOTM project, visit the main pageThe YouTube playlist with all the submitted versions is here.


  1. I wasn't quick enough to make a video with the other old men last night, but here's a recording of Foot in the Air's version. Note: I was missing one chord on my harp, so I faked it and darned if it didn't sound about right.

    1. What chord were you missing, Stew? I wish CD Baby would let us hear the rest of your solo!

    2. ...and here's the rest! Thanks, Stew!

    3. But wait! Now there's a YouTube version!

  2. a link to my contribution for this month.

    Hank Brass

  3. Tune of the month plus temperament comparison: Star of the County Down in equal temperament, Silbermann, 1/4 comma meantone and just intonation:

    -Josh Birch

  4. Here's the Star of the County Down from our 2002 CD "The Green Fields of Virginia." It combines the waltz version and the faster 4/4 song. John is on autoharp, I'm on bass and vocals, and our friend Tim Sauls is on bouzouki.

    Kathie Hollandsworth

  5. From Ken Sluce, a new arrangement in 6/8:

    Hopefully his video will be coming soon as well!

  6. From Paul Ranney: Instrumental with picture created by a friend: Backup band by Free Spirit (guitar and bass guitar), melody by chromatic autoharp with standard even-temperament tuning (more or less) at 440.

  7. Sorry to be among the last ones to the party, but I thought I'd share my
    somewhat unusual take on this tune from my "Crossing the Water" CD.

    It is played on a sweet-tuned Schreiber, single-key wide-body autoharp. It
    also demonstrates one of my favorite techniques, learned from listening to
    guitarist Leo Kottke: i.e. "Taking a lovely, simple melody and driving it
    into the ground".

    -Rick Fitzgerald

  8. I sent this to Josh earlier with the manuscript; but I guess it didn't get included. Here's one in A, played on my D'Aigle A 'harp using some minor sevenths, etc. The ideas for the arrangement came from a Brooks Williams recording.

    1. Thanks for posting it, Cathy! I must have forgotten in all the excitement.

  9. From Wendy Snook, played in 3/4 and 4/4:


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