Cooley's Reel - Beginner Fiddle Song

Cooley’s Reel

Cooley’s Reel is a traditional Irish fiddle tune in E minor. Nobody seems to exactly know who wrote the tune. Most likely it was composed by the accordionist Joe Mills before 1940. The tune is also known as “The Tulla Reel” and “Luttrell’s Pass”. It received the name “Cooley’s Reel” because of the accordionist Joe Cooley who was a member of the same band as Joe Mills. Joe Cooley liked the tune so much and played the tune so many times that the tune became associated with him.

More info about the origin of the song and about Joe Cooley can be found on

My recording of Cooley’s Reel

Really hope you like my recording. It doesn’t have the triplets I heard in other recordings. It’s not in the sheet music I use. The sheet music I use is a simplified version for beginners. ;-) It’s supposed to be played at 100 bpm for a half note which is pretty fast. I managed to do it at 75 bpm. There were a couple of measures that were a real challenge and I’ve practiced them many times with different rhythms (dotted 8th note + 16th notes) to be able to speed things up. And endless times I have practiced with the metronome. So here is the result. ;-)

Like the previous fiddle songs that I’ve played, this one is also part of the book with the collection of 25 fiddle songs. It’s really a great book and definitely fun for beginners! And since it comes with MIDI files, one can change the speed of the accompaniment which I find very useful. I can’t manage yet to play it at full speed, so I just make the piano accompaniment slower and keep having fun. :-)

Beautiful version on whistle

Found this beautiful version played on the whistle, very nice to dream away. Enjoy!

7 thoughts on “Cooley’s Reel – Beginner Fiddle Song

  1. This sounds pretty hard. You did a great job at playing this fast~

    A totally different thing but I have some questions.

    1. How did you get piano accompaniment files? I did also buy this and I only have the following music folders: MIDI_files (containing midi files of all the songs but completely with violin and accompaniment), Mp3_acc_files and Mp3_files.
    I tried to check my files again on the site itself to see if I missed downloading something back when I bought it but it gives me an error that tells me that either my code is wrong or that my purchase is more than 1 month ago… I guess there was a time limit for accessing it?

    2. How do you change the speed of midi? Do you have certain kind of software that does that and can save it into, I don’t know, an mp3 or something like that? Can midi be put directly into video software or does it have to be converted? I don’t really know much about working with midi files.

    3. How do you go about recording these fiddle videos? Are you using just the metronome or do you have the actual song playing on the headphones?

    As always keep up the great work! You are constantly making progress, I’m enjoying that a lot.

    1. Hello ChibiEdo, I’m glad you think I improved. :-) I’ve worked very hard at playing this song fast… and there were some difficult bars so I certainly learned a lot with this piece.

      Oh it’s cool that you also have these fiddle songs!! Hope you enjoy them!

      Now to answer your questions:
      1. You’re right, the piano accompaniment doesn’t come apart as MIDI file only as mp3 but then you can’t change the speed.

      2. I use the free program Musescore to open the MIDI files.
      – In the program I go to “View” > “Play Panel”. There you can change the speed.
      – Go to “View” > “Mixer” to mute the violin part.
      => That leaves you with piano sound alone at the speed you want.

      3. In the program Musescore go to “File” > “Export” and choose .wav. Mp3 export doesn’t work in the free version but .wav does. I can directly import .wav in my video editor program so that’s easy.
      Sometimes when I do a recording I use the accompaniment, sometimes I just listen to the metronome. For this fiddle song I did it with metronome because I had a hard time staying in tempo and it was easier to clearly hear the metronome with the headphone than the accompaniment. Since there is no ritenuto or so, there was no problem using the metronome.

      Hope this helps. Will you be doing a fiddle video too? Which one is your favorite from this book?

      1. Ahh thanks for the many explanations. I might try working with the midi like that too.

        I will probably do a fiddle video at some point but I’m not practicing anything right now. My favourite is star of the county down (reel). I heard that when clicking through the available music and immediately wanted to have this one. So I bought the book. There are a lot of other nice pieces in it as well though. But the speed makes it really hard. Also Star of the county down starts with 2 fast double stops which are impossible to play for me right now… well at least the last time I tried. My double stops and speed improved a lot already so maaaybe I can do them now but I don’t know.XD

        1. Yes most of these songs are really fast… When I played Star of the County Down I didn’t do the double stops, I cheated LOL
          Good luck with the double stops and all.

  2. Haven’t been here for so long and you’ve put so much new stuff :good: I had small break from playing, but now I’m back practising again.
    You have really good tempo here in this piece. I’m curious how fast you will be able to play your early fiddle pieces now. I like comparing my old achievements to the state I am now.
    To edit mdi files I mainly use finale – the same program, which I use to edit sheet music.
    I don’t have this fiddle collection, but I’ve seen the list of songs there and my fave are Star of a Country Down and Road to Lisdoonvarna. I have tin whistle and I’ve played both of them on it. Haven’t been practicing playing whistle for very long. I wish one day I will be able to come back to play it.

    1. Hi Emma, happy to hear from you. :-) Yes, I’m sure I can play the previous fiddle tunes faster now too. :-) But didn’t try it yet, I’m still very much into trying new pieces all the time. Only sometimes I play a piece from before again but it doesn’t happen often.

      I also liked Road to Lisdoonvarna a lot.

      Good luck with the whistle if someday you play it again. Have fun with it!

    2. Ohh you can play the whistle that’s so cool~ If you ever try to play something with it again I’d love to hear a recording!

      Also nice to see you are practicing again : D

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