Penzance Cornish Traditional Music Session

One Year Old on 10 October 2019 – come along to our 1st Anniversary Cornish Session.

There are several sessions and folk clubs in Penzance covering just about all folk genres. The Penzance Cornish Traditional Music Session at the Admiral Benbow pub on Chapel Street focuses on Cornish traditional music. It is held every Thursday from 8pm – 10pm.

The session in full swing in June 2019. Some of the musicians decided to get up and have a dance at the end of the night. Photo by Lee J Palmer.

Sometimes downstairs, sometimes upstairs, it’s always lively. Led by melodeon player John Gallagher, local musicians gather to play tunes covering the whole gamut of Cornish music, with the occasional song thrown in for good measure. You might hear sets of tunes joined together, from the 18th century, to new tunes from the 21st century. Cornish traditional music is very much a living tradition. The pace of the music can be quite fast. There is occasionally dancing.

It’s always fun for everyone, and a rare chance for visitors to Penzance to see some Cornish culture.

Musicians at the Penzance Cornish Session, June 2019. Photo by Lee J Palmer.

The Admiral Benbow is a fabulous pub with an equally fabulous interior, popular with tourists and locals alike.

Come along and experience the world of Cornish traditional music.

To contact the organisers please visit our contact page.

Info for musicians

Musicians are welcome to join in, even if you don’t know any of the tunes. The session is a great place to listen and join in when you’re ready – all that we ask is that you play sensitively.

If you already know the tunes, go for it!

Musicians are not paid, but the landlord provides some jugs of beer on busy nights. Playing is thirsty work!

Learn the tunes

You can find our current set list along with scores and sound files on the Kesson website.

Some versions of our tunes are played from Neil Davey’s Fooch! available in some independent stores like Trevada Music in Camborne.

You can also find the dots and midi files for session tunes in An-Daras’s Prys Ton.

You are also welcome to bring a small recorder or use your phone to record tunes and learn them by ear.

Play the chords

If you want to accompany the tunes, a book of chords by John Gallagher to accompany 71 Cornish tunes is also available to download and print. The book will always be a work in progress, so check back here for updates.

Current tunes

Sets

  • Tregajorran Furry (Neil Davey) (G)
  • Karol Korev (D)
  • Bodmin Riding (G)
  • Helston Furry (D)
  • Heva (G)
  • Polperro Furry (Mike Jelly) (D/Dm)
  • NEW: Sunny Corner (G)
  • NEW: Plethen a Beswar (Hocken’s Four Hand Reel) (D)
    Played back to back
  • Cornish Quickstep (D)
  • Bolingey Furry (Will Burbridge) (D)
  • Giddy’s King Harry (D)
  • Begone from my Window (D)
  • Boscastle Breakdown (G)
  • Quay Fair (D)
  • Duncan Hunkin (G)
  • Newlyn Fair (Marc Cragg) (G)
  • Bernard’s Polka (Marc Cragg) (G)
  • Raffidy Dumitz (Len Davies) (Dm)
  • Gelasma (Robin Holmes) (Dm)
  • The Descent (Steph Doble) (Dm)
  • Minor Quay Fair (Dm) – minor key variation of Quay Fair
  • Ryb an Avon (Am)
  • COMING UP: Merry Maidens (Kyt Le Nen Davey) (D)
  • Cornish Squire (Jim Pengelly) (G)
  • Cock in Britches (G)
  • Tinners Fancy (D)
  • Causewayhead (Bernard Evans) (G/D)
  • Jim Stacey (Hilary Coleman) (G)
  • We Be (G)
  • Tolla Rooz (Will Coleman) (Em)
  • Travelling with Strangers (G) / Waiting for a Bus (D) (Ray Delf)
  • An Dyfunyans (Am)
  • Ewon an Mor (Neil Davey) (Am)
  • An Diberdhyans (Em)
  • Dons Bewnans (Mike O’Connor) (Em)
  • Polka Covath (Ray Delf) (G)
  • Maggie May (G)
  • St Keverne (D)
  • Trevince (G)
  • Breakfast at Bryony’s (Neil Davey) (D)
  • Kan Jack (Robert Morton Nance) (G)
  • Pencarrow (Em / B modal)
  • Carnega Waltz (Richard Trethewey) (G)
  • Nancevallen (D)
  • Turkey Rhubarb (G)
  • Breannick (D)
  • Now The Summer Is Over (Andy Davey) (G)
  • Petticoats Tight (D)
  • Petticoats Loose (Gm)
  • Falmouth Gig (D)
  • Bishop’s Jig (G)
  • Porthlystry (D)
  • Hernen Wyn (Em)
  • Jackson’s Claret (D)
  • An Culyek Hos / The Mallard (Em)
  • Gwinear (Gm)
  • Bouncing Sam Jago (Hilary Coleman) (Dm)
  • Forbidden Fruit (D)
  • Ker Syllan (Merv Davey) (Em)
  • An Morladron (G)
  • Tansys Golowan (Jon Mills) (D)
  • Coer Elath (G)
  • Oll an Gerriow e’n Beaz (Frances Bennett) (Am)
  • Neidges Awarra (Neil Davey) (Em)

Single tunes

Getting faster tunes

  • Newlyn Reel (Am)
  • King of Sweden / Mr Martin’s Reel (D)

Tunes associated with places

  • May Tree Fair (Will Manley) (Dm)
  • St Just Cock Dance (G)
  • St Piran’s Furry (Roger Pinsent) (D)

Very old tunes

  • Royal Wedding (G)
  • Shaw’s Waltz (G)
  • John Old’s Nameless (F)

Slow airs, sometimes sung, other

  • Morvoran (Richard Trethewey) (Gm)
  • Estren (D modal)
  • Constantine (Am)
  • An Oula / The Owl (Henry Tamblin) (D modal)
  • O What is That Upon Thy Head (D modal)
  • Warleggan Ox Driver (D)

End of session tune

  • Duke of Cornwall’s Reel (G)

Occasional or coming up

  • Mowes Yseldryow / Dutch Girl (G)
  • The Night Tide (Richard Trethewey) (D/Em)
  • Can Palores (Ralph Dunstan) (D)
  • Joan Sanderson (Am)
  • Three Knights (Gm or Dm)
  • Nine Brave Boys (Am or Dm – modal)