Software for Traditional Irish Music

Latest Update: 10 September 2017

I've been a great advocate of using available technology to help students of traditional Irish music in the difficult task of learning and mastering tunes. Over the past two years I've learned hundreds of tunes using the programs and resources listed below.

See you at the session!



About ABC Notation

ABC is a language designed to notate traditional tunes in a standard text format. It was designed primarily for folk and traditional tunes of Western European origin (such as English, Irish and Scottish) which can be written on one stave in standard classical notation. Since its introduction at the end of 1991 it has become very popular and there now exist several PC and Mac based tools which can read abc notation and either process it into standard music notation or play it through the computer speakers.

As an example the tune The Blarney Pilgrim would be written out as

T: The Blarney Pilgrim
|:ded dBG|AGA BGE|ded dBG|ABA GBd|

The .ABC home page is located at

The .ABC notation for nearly any tune can be searched for by name at

Once you have the .ABC notation for a file, you can play or convert it to standard notation.

ABC Software

These are programs that I use and recommend for working with .ABC files:

ABCMus - Full-featured .ABC player for Windows. Includes stylistically correct "swing" and beat emphasis for reels, jigs, and hornpipes. This is what I use for practice nearly every day.

ABC2Win - .ABC to standard notation program for Windows.

ABCNavigator - Versatile ABC editor and tunebook printer.

Online Metronome

Free Online Metronome - Very versatile free online metronome program offered by

Useful Apps for iOS and Android

AppCordions Traditional Musical Instrument Apps for iOS and Android - Virtual accordions, concertinas, bagpipes, flutes, whistles, and hammered dulcimers

ClearTune for Android

ClearTune for iOS

Software to Assist with Learning Tunes from Recordings and YouTube Videos

One of the best ways to learn to play traditional Irish music with the correct feel and ornamentation is to listen and analyze the playing of good players on recordings or YouTube Videos The only problem is that often times they play so quickly that it is difficult to figure out exactly what they are doing.

If you have a reasonably fast computer with a CDROM drive, many very useful tools are now available for assisting with learning tunes off of audio CDs. These programs allow you to do several things:

1) Play the file back at a slower speed, without changing the pitch. Most programs will allow you loop on a particular section.

2) Change the pitch of a recorded tune without changing the speed. This is very useful, for example, if the performer on the CD is playing an E-flat or B-flat whistle and you only have a D-whistle.

Tune Slowing/Pitch Shifting Programs

Seventh String Music Software

The Transcribe! application is an assistant for people who sometimes want to work out a piece of music from a recording, in order to write it out, or play it themselves, or both.

Transcribe! offers many features aimed at making the transcription job smoother and easier, including slowing the music down without changing the pitch as well as actually showing the pitches present at any point in the music.

30-Day free trial versions for Windows, Mac, and Unix available for download.

Contact for more information:

Michael Eskin