Welcome to Tiompán Alley!


Take what you need, but do me a few favors. Tunes and songs written by me, and arrangements on the MP3’s, are copyright © by me. Contact me for recording rights, but play them and sing them if you like them (but for heaven’s sake give me some credit – I need all I can get). Any printed stuff you may reproduce as long as you leave my name and contact information at the bottom. If you are going to publish them for profit please contact me for some just compensation.

By the way, I have an e-mail address and would love some feedback.djames@tiompanalley.com. No reasonable requests ignored!

And… come back often!


Tiompán Alley, Saturday, April 10, 2002

I’m starting a new series of hand-outs. Easy tunes mostly. I have a “session” learning class going at St. Patrick’s Celtic Center in South Bend (call or Email) and we’re trying to cover five tunes a week. They will eventually end up here as “Hand-outs.” Help yourself!

Tiompán Alley, Monday, Jan 14, 2002

The beginnings of Your First Five Irish Tunes are up. Everything’s still not working quite the way I want, but have patience. The gear’s on the way for the audio samples, and more tunes will be up as quickly as I can solve some layout problems.


Tiompán Alley, Tuesday, Jan 1, 2002

Happy New Year to everyone! Had a great session at The Forge on 127th and  Kedzie in Chicago on Sunday afternoon. Perfect way to ring out the old year. Watched “Dorian Grey” drop the ball on T.V. with Kimmie’s relatives New Years’ Eve. Back to teaching tomorrow, and up to full speed next week. 2002’sgoing to be a great one!


Tiompán Alley, Wednesday, December 5, 2001


I’ve been at it for almost a month, and this site has grown. More photos and tunes, and yes, Mikey, our picture is on the Gallery page. Lots of P-R stuff, and some MP3 sound files of myself and Paddy’s Racket (check the David James and Paddy’s Racket bio pages). You might be interested in a “blast from the past,” dug up by old band crony Bill Mitch. I couldn’t believe it when I got this old photo from him in the mail of us all in Savage Rose, our psychedelic-blues band at Notre Dame, 34 years ago! I’m going to start piling on the tunes very soon – some rare and interesting. I’m not going to try and  “re-invent the wheel” with a mess of tunes. You have a much better source with John Chambers’ wonderful site JC’s Tune Finder (see Links page). I will try for a collection of tunes from the odd corners, like Donegal and the north of Ireland, and maybe some old-time American tunes – I have yet to see many on the web. Look for them here, and come back often. “First Five” is still in the works but its birth is closer.


Tiompán Alley, Monday, November 12, 2001


This web site is going up TODAY. If you’re here it means that I have been successful. I’m brand new at this; I’ve only had the capability for a month, but this has been long on the wish list. I’ve been hiding under a rock too long; its time to get out in the world and this is a part of the “new world.” Thank-you Ethan James, Kim Hoffman, Steve and Lys Ann Shore, Mike Powers, Indiana Arts Commission, and all the Irish musicians on the planet.


There isn’t much to see here yet, but that will change quickly. Booking information, teaching information of course, but no p.r. photographs yet, no audio files. Photographs are waiting for a scanner, which ought to be on this system within a week. I’ve got the capability for audio files, but I have to fill in a couple of tiny software holes and learn a couple of things. This shouldn’t take long, so come back soon.

                        Here you will also find photos from gigs, sessions, encounters with friends and places. Look in the Photo Gallery.

                        Here you will find some tunes and songs. I do not intend to duplicate any of the great collections, but you would be amazed to know how many tunes and songs are out there that are not written down. You might find one or two of interest here. I write tunes and songs now and then. You will find them here.

                        If I am going to appear somewhere for a performance or workshop, or if there’s a concert, festival or workshop I think you ought to know about, you’ll find that information here.


The First Five Irish Tunes series has long been a dream. I’m fulfilling a promise I made to the Indiana Arts Commission a year ago for which they were kind enough to give me a small grant. Their involvement started ten years ago with a fellowship grant that enabled me to buy my first computer, on which I have been developing workshop handouts and teaching aids. I’ve been using them since that time, and always looking for more, better, easier.

Here’s the concept. Take five simple tunes, one at a time. Show where on the fiddle (tin whistle, dulcimer) your fingers go to play them; how to navigate on the instrument is step one. Provide audio clips with the tune played very slow, and at two or three more increasing speeds, so you can learn them “by ear;” listen with an ear to navigating is step two. You have to know what they are supposed to sound like – the way an Irish musician would play them.

What do they look like on the printed page, and why should you care? After all, you know where to put your fingers and how the tune is supposed to sound. Take a look at one of the great tune collections, like O’Neill’s Music of Ireland. Take a moment some time and surf over to the Ceolas archive. In those two places – there are many others – you’ll find thousands of tunes. You probably can find that tune that’s gotten under your skin and made you want to learn how to play. If you already have begun to learn how to navigate and listen – lifetime tasks always begin with a few short steps – a good skill is to learn to read music. Daunting? Nah! Reading Irish tunes – is not hard, and I will lead you to that skill in easy steps. I’ll use “fiddle fingers,” whistle hole numbers and diagrams, dulcimer location tabs, and color to build up your skill level. You can download the most help-invested version, then proceed to two or three more examples in which the aids are removed one-by-one until only the bare printed music remains. Do this a few times and you’ll be ready for anything.

Early in the Twentieth Century Francis O’Neill, a native of County Cork and now Chicago’s Chief of Police (!) collected over a thousand tunes from the Irish players in his town and all over the United States. He published them in collections, and Irish musicians the world over rejoiced that they, having left their native land and wandered to the far corners of the globe, could refresh their memories of tunes they had heard or learned long ago and now forgotten. They could expand their repertoire, because O’Neill had had access to musicians from all over Ireland in compiling his collections. You can do the same thing! Here they are, right in the book! Here they are, right on the web. If you have at least the beginning of an idea of what Irish music is supposed to sound like; if you have a recording, say, of a tune you want to learn, but it’s just too fast; being able to read music will open the door to wonderland.

`Nuf said. I do not intend to re-invent the wheel. Where there are references in other places I will use them (with permission). I have already told you where the greatest on-line collection of Irish tunes is, the magnificent Ceolas Archive. There will be a bibliography on this site, and a list of some of the great players I like to listen to, and some links to their web sites and publications. If you know of more “helps,” I would be delighted to hear from you. djames@tiompanalley.com will do for now. As quickly as I can I’ll set up a special “feedback” mailing address for these kinds of things.

I hope you like these offerings. Let me know.


You can start HERE

Home, Jeeves!