Tommy Peoples in Irish Fiddling

Tommy Peoples–a Great Influence in Irish Fiddling

About 20 years ago I was teaching an adult student with an Australian accent how to learn Irish tunes. He came to a lesson with a cassette, asking me to transpose the tune into tablature for him. The tune was played by Tommy Peoples and it was Tommy Peoples Reel, a catchy tune with lots of ornaments.

Tommy Peoples playing the fiddle

When students make this request, and they still do, I will comply if the tune has merit, meaning, if I like it. This tune was a good candidate and it got the full treatment, even including setting it in CAD, computer assisted drawing. Before long it was even in my book, 43 Fiddle Tunes in Tab, which is no longer in print.

You can find the tab copy of Tommy Peoples Reel on the current post at Although it is a short tune it’s packed with ornaments. It begins with a bowed triplet!

Bowed Triplets at Will

It was said that Tommy Peoples could put in a bowed triplet at will anywhere in a tune, and often did. When I heard this I began using that ornament myself. And I didn’t hold back from using it in old time American fiddle tunes, either. It’s a great move and I love it.

The tune also features rolls in both parts, a first finger roll, followed by a third finger roll, and a second finger roll in the B section, as well as another first finger roll. Laissez le bon rolls roulez!

Once I put some time into the Tommy Peoples Reel, I followed up by getting his 50 Irish Fiddle Tunes that came with a CD. The format I got is changed to a larger book on Amazon and the CD is separate. Since I could not find the old copy, I ordered the new one.

Tommy Peoples, a Productive Fiddler

Tommy Peoples was recognized as one of the best fiddlers in his extended musical community. He played in the highly regarded Bothy Band. He received Musician of the Year in 1998 and Composer of the Year in 2014 at TG4 Awards. 

His style is called East Donegal by those who know such things. Differences in Irish fiddle styles was explained to me once, but it didn’t stick. It’s all good. That’s what I know.

He recorded extensively, wrote at least 130 original fiddle tunes, and played on stage with some of the best trad musicians anywhere.

Born in 1948, date not given, he passed away on August 3rd, 2018, according to the Tommy Peoples website. That web site still is offering copies of his book, From Time to Time: Tutor, Text and Tunes, autobiographical in nature, with many of his original tunes.

It’s a little pricey, but I hope to get one with his personal autograph, which will be rarer as time goes by.

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