D natural minor tunes
As these tables have been designed to be used in reference to the 2001 edition of
Carolan's music, informative alternative titles have occasionally been inserted.
The sign ♪ indicates that a lyric can be associated with the tune. D J O' Sullivan is not
always reliable in his ability to match lyrics to tunes.
The sign * indicates that the ascription of the song or tune to Carolan is either doubtful or
A total of 54 tunes are estimated as belonging to Bunting's key of D natural minor. From
the surviving evidence, it seems that this is the minor key most preferred by Carolan for
making songs, particularly laments. In MS29 f73r, f75v & f76r, Bunting particularly
associates songs in this key with the 'high bass key'. This might reflect the possibility that
the harpers of his time seldom or never played tunes in the #A key.
Of the 54 items listed in the table, 24 of them (almost half) have lyrics associated with
them. One of these is of doubtful attribution. Numbers 4, 11, 126 & 188 clearly exhibit the
style of an instrumental tune. Seabhac na hÉirne (134) was originally an instrumental tune
by Ruaidhrí Dall Ó Catháin known as Port Atholl.
The most common ranges for D mode tunes are ff-a, ee-a and ee-c and aaa-a.
The final note A of Isabella Burke (12) can be interpreted as a subsidiary final of tune
primarily built on a D dyad. It is unlike tunes such as A Bhríd Bhéasach (26) and Máire Níc
Ailpín (187) which appear to end on the root of the D dyad.
John O' Reilly 2nd air (141) might be a G mode tune.