Get sheet music to this tune here
Check out my Fiddle Tune a Day recording of Irish Washerwoman here
Hi, Vi Wickam here for myTalentForge.com.
This a free fiddle lesson for one of my favorite fiddle tunes. It’s a jig called Irish Washerwoman.
Lots of fun! There’s a lot you can do with it! And it’s a tune just about everyone will recognize.
I’m going to play it for you first, at kind of an up-tempo pace- normal speed. And then I’ll break it down for you, and then play it at more of a medium tempo so you can play along. Here we go!
That’s Irish Washerwoman. Now the way I played it- I played it pretty straight the first and third time, and I threw some improvisation and some variation in there the second time.
I’ll probably touch on just a little bit of the improvisation, but we’ll stick close to the melody in this lesson as I teach it to you.
If you’re advanced enough for you to pick it up from me playing it, then all the better! Pick that up, run with it, do your own thing, have fun with it!
So here’s Irish Washerwoman- breaking it down from the start.
We’re in the key of G, which means low twos on the A string and the D string. So our sharp is F#. Everything else is natural.
[3, 2, 1, 3, 3, 0, 3, 3…]
We’re in 6/8 time, which means an 8th note gets the pulse. There’s 6/8th notes in a measure. When we do jig-time, the first beat and the fourth beat of the measure- the first of each group of 3- get a little bit of extra emphasis.
Generally speaking, that first note of the measure will be on a downbow, and that 4th note will be on an upbow. So the first beat will have a little bit of an extra, natural push to it because it’s on a downbeat.
To be extra clear on this, I am not Irish, I am not Scottish. I’m a fiddler! And I like to play these songs, but do not consider this to be an authentic Irish Jig version of this. I’m an American, I’m an old-time fiddler, and I like this tune.
So you’re getting my version of this tune as I play it and my take on jig playing. Which is going to be different from someone who’s an authentic, Celtic fiddler. And that’s okay! We all have our own styles and we all have fun. That’s what fiddling is all about!
Back to the tune- we have: [3, 2, 1…] so the first two notes are pick up notes. The first measure where we are actually playing is [1, 3, 3, 0, 3, 3, 1, 3, 1, 3, 2, 1… 1, 3, 3, 0, 3, 3, 3, 1, 3, 2, 1].
That’s our first phrase. That’s our first chunk of the tune.
If you’re having trouble learning this from this lesson, and you’d like to have sheet music, we have sheet music to this tune in the lesson on myTalentForge.com. You can either sign up on myTalentForge.com, or buy the lesson there if you’d like to have the sheet music.
Here we go again […1, 3, 3, 0, 3, 3, 1, 3, 1, 3, 2, 1].
Now to the second phrase, which is the same rhythmic pattern and the same notes pattern, but we’re down a step.
So we’re doing it over a different chord. This is over a G chord…
The second phrase is over a D chord- D7, because we’re starting with a C natural, which makes it a D7 chord. [C natural, A, D…].
The rhythm and the general framework is the same… [2, 0, 2, 4, 3, 2].
The third phrase is a repeat of the first phrase. […]
Then we have the fourth phrase of the A-part, the first section of the song. This is the ending […]. [2, 1, 2, 0, 3, 2, 1, 3, 3, 3]. So let’s put those phrases together. This is the A-part of Irish Washerwoman…
So we play the A-part, then we repeat the A-part. You just heard it, I don’t need to repeat it right now. But when you’re practicing and playing this, you play that part twice and then we move onto the B-part.
The B-part is also following that same rhythmic pattern and fingering and notes structure. […]
You’ll hear that it sounds a lot like the A-part. That’s intentional- that’s how the structure of the song is. The B-part kind of sounds like a harmony or a counter-melody to the A-part.
That’s our first phrase to the B-part [2, 3, 4, 2, 2, 3, 2, 2, 4, 2, 4, 4, 3, 2].
The second phrase, just like in the A-part is that same pattern in a different chord. So we did that first phrase over a G chord, the second phrase is over a D chord. Which we had the exact same situation in the A-part. […3, 1, 1, 3, 1, 1, 3, 1, 3, 3, 2, 1].
Let’s put those two pieces together […].
In the 3rd part- it is a departure, it kind of leads into the ending, rather than repeating the first phrase of the B-part. […] So we’re walking down […], but we’re doing a G natural note between each of those […].
If you notice, I leave my second finger in place as much as I can to avoid unnecessary wasted motion. When I put 2 down, I’m putting it down, touching the A string. And I just pull it off of the A string when I get down to […].
You’ll notice that the fourth part- that ending is exactly the same ending as the A-part. [2, 1, 2, 0, 3, 2, 1…]
Which makes a really seamless transition back to the A-part. And this song can go around and around in circles, and you could play it at least 3 times. But you can play it as many times as you want- because it’s a fiddle tune! They’re made for jamming!
Let’s play it again, I’ll play it at a slower pace for you. I’m going to keep it straight to the melody, just for your learning. This is Irish Washerwoman at an intermediate level. And I hope you’ve enjoyed this! Here we go!
That was Irish Washerwoman! Have a fantastic day! I’ll see you next time.