Hello and welcome back to Flatpicking Guitar Magazine’s free lesson portion of our monthly newsletter. This month’s tune is “O’Carolan’s Draught” by Irish composer Turlough O’Carolan. The title is pronounced “draft” and, as far as I know, it is referring to a drink.
O’Carolan lived from 1670-1738 and is considered to be one of Ireland’s most notable composers. This piece, like many O’Carolan compositions, was intended to be played on the Irish Harp. I find O’Carolan melodies to be absolutely beautiful on the flat-top guitar. They are like fiddle tunes without the swing. The great mandolin player Butch Baldassarri teaches a wonderful O’Carolan tune called “Morgan Megan” in his famous book “30 Fiddle Tunes for Mandolin.”
I was first introduced to “O’Carolan’s Draught” around 2001. I was playing rhythm guitar with Florida State University’s Irish Ensemble. I really enjoyed learning and playing the piece and have been teaching and playing it ever since.
Unlike many flatpicking related styles, this song does not involve “licks.” Rather it focuses on building a melody. I would not recommend soloing over the chords. All your variations will come from phrasing and ornamentation.
Make sure you click on the included lesson mp3 to hear the chords and melody in action. If you have any questions or comments on this e-lesson just drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.