The Rakes of Mallow (Guitar Lesson)

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Steve Eulberg

The Rakes of Mallow

Steve Eulberg talks more about the reel rhythm and teaches "The Rakes of Mallow" as a demonstration.

Taught by Steve Eulberg in Celtic Guitar seriesLength: 39:03Difficulty: 2.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (00:12) Musical Introduction Welcome back to the Celtic guitar series! Steve begins this lesson with a performance of the "Rakes of Mallow." In the following scenes, he will teach you how to play the melody and the chord progression to this classic reel.
Chapter 2: (04:59) Reel Rhythm and "The Rakes of Mallow" The "Rakes of Mallow" is a classic Irish drinking tune that was first printed around 1740. The city of Mallow is known as the "Crossroads of Munster." It is the administrative capital of north County Cork in Ireland. A "rake" is an immoral person. Essentially, this song is about some wild and crazy drinkers from Mallow. The most common version of the lyrics is listed below.

Breaking windows, cursing, sinking
Ever raking, never thinking,
Live the Rakes of Mallow;
Spending faster than it comes,
Beating waiters bailiffs, duns,
Bacchus' true begotten sons,
Live the Rakes of Mallow.

One time naught but claret drinking,
Then like politicians, thinking
To raise the "sinking funds"when sinking.
Live the Rakes of Mallow.
When at home, with da-da dying,
Still for mellow water crying;
But, where there's good claret plying
Live the Rakes of Mallow.

Racking tenants, stewards teasing,
Swiftly spending, slowly raising,
Wishing to spend all their days in
Raking as at Mallow.
Then to end this raking life,
They get sober, take a wife,
Ever after live in strife,
And wish again for Mallow.

Reel Rhythm Review

The "Rakes of Mallow" is an example of a reel. Review the reel at this time if necessary.

Reel Definition

The reel is a dance for couples, usually four to eight, documented in Scotland as early as the 16th century disseminated in Scandinavia, Ireland, and the U.S., where the Virginia reel is familiar in square dancing. Its music is in a moderately fast duple meter, and it includes steps done in place as well as stpes entailing movement from one place to another.

Note: This definition is taken from The New Harvard Dictionary of Music edited by Don Michael Randel. This edition was published by The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (Cambridge, Massachusetts) in 1986.

Reel Rhythm

The reel consists of a steady eighth note strumming pattern in 4/4 time. A strict alternate strumming pattern is employed by the right hand to produce this rhythm. Slight accents are performed on beats 1 and 3 of each measure.


The "The Rakes of Mallow" is typically played in the key of D major. As you might expect, the I, IV, and V chords are used to harmonize the melody. Respectively, these chords are D, G, and A(7). Steve uses familiar "open" chord voicings for each of these chords.


Many Celtic tunes feature an AABB form. The first section is played then repeated. Then, a new section is introduced and repeated. Watch at 00:26 as Steve demonstrates the A section of the progression. He demonstrates the B section at 01:06.

Practice Time

Tablature and standard notation to all musical examples presented in the lesson can be found under the "Supplemental Content" tab.

After watching and listening to Steve's performance of the chord progression, pause the lesson video and practice it on your own. Play along with a metronome to ensure that you are playing in time. Set the JamPlay metronome to 4/4 time with accents occurring on beats 1 and 3.

When you feel ready, return to the lesson video and play the progression along with Steve at 01:47. Steve sings the melody to help keep you on track within the form. Another play along example is provided at 03:54. This time around, Steve calls out each of the chord changes.

Comparison With Other Folk Styles

The reel strumming rhythm closely resembles strumming rhythms that find their way into American bluegrass and folk music. However, bluegrass and other folk styles typically feature a steady alternating bass pattern. Most Celtic music does not have a steady bass line. Celtic music places such a strong emphasis on the melody that there isn't much room left for an active bass line.
Chapter 3: (06:06) Changing Chord Shapes Some alternate chord voicings can be used in place of basic open chords to enhance the overall sound of the arrangement.

Note: Fretboard diagrams with proper left hand fingerings to all chords discussed in the lesson can be found under the "Supplemental Content" tab.


This new chord voicing can be used in place of the basic "open" D chord. Dadd9,11 is formed by sliding the open C major shape up two frets. The open third string now functions as the 11th of the chord. The 11th is simply a perfect fourth interval plus an additional octave. Within this chord, the open E string functions as the 9th. The open strings create a nice contrast with the higher, fretted notes.

Practice the chord progression with the inclusion of this new voicing. What effect does it have on the overall sound of the song?

Shifting the Accents

Steve shifts the accents of the strumming pattern to beats 2 and 4 throughout this scene. Do not let this confuse you. This accent pattern is most effective when played in conjunction with the melody line, which Steve explains in the following scene.
Chapter 4: (01:54) The Rakes of Mallow Melody Like many Celtic melodies, "The Rakes of Mallow" is very simple and repetitive. The end of the A part is identical to the end of the B section. Since these parts are the same, Steve teaches them first. Learn and memorize this section as Steve breaks down each phrase in the lesson video. Then, try it along with him at 01:19.

Fingering the Melody

Since many of the melody notes are played at the 2nd and 4th frets, Steve opts to play it in second position. Within this position, the first finger always plays at the 2nd fret. The middle finger frets notes at the 3rd fret. 4th fret notes are played by the ring finger. The pinky is not used. Although he is playing in second position, Steve uses open string notes whenever possible.
Chapter 5: (03:29) B Part of the Melody The B section of the melody features a repetitious D major scale segment. The scalar segment begins with a tonic D note played at the 3rd fret of the second string.

Right Hand

The rhythm of the melody is very straight forward. It is mainly comprised of eighth notes and quarter notes. Use alternate picking when playing groups of eighth notes.

Practice Time

Learn and memorize the beginning of the B section. Then, combine it with the ending Steve taught in the previous scene. Remember to always practice with a metronome!
Chapter 6: (00:18) Playing the Melody Play the B section of the song along with Steve in this scene. Make sure that all of your rhythms line up perfectly with his. If you happen make a mistake, simply keep going. Address any issues after the completion of the performance.
Chapter 7: (00:50) Melody Play Along In this scene, Steve plays the chordal accompaniment to the B section while you have an opportunity to play the melody line. He sings the melody to help you stay on track.
Chapter 8: (02:42) More of the Melody Steve breaks down the A section of the melody in this scene. Learn the A section one phrase at a time. Steve breaks the melody down in this fashion. Memorize each phrase as you follow along with the lesson video. Remember that the ending lick for the A section is the same phrase that you learned for the end of the B section.


This melody features several basic sequences. According to the New Harvard Dictionary of Music, a sequence is "The repetition of a phrase or melody (melodic sequence) and or a harmonic progression (harmonic sequence) at different pitch levels, the succession of pitch levels rising or falling by the same or similar intervals. In simpler terms, a sequence is a melodic pattern that repeats itself within a scale.

Note: For more information about musical sequences check out lessons 12 and 13 from Matt Brown's Phase 2 Rock series.
Chapter 9: (02:53) Melody Play Along Play the entire melody along with Steve in this scene. Remember that "The Rakes of Mallow" has an AABB song form.

Chapter 10: (01:20) Play Along While Steve Plays Chords Steve sings the melody and plays the chords while you have an opportunity to play the melody. Make sure your guitar part lines up with the rhythms that he sings.
Chapter 11: (08:18) Drop D Chord Shapes By tuning to Drop D, some new chord voicings can be utilized to produce a more authentic Celtic sound. Celtic rhythm guitar is often played in alternate tunings such as drop D and DADGAD. The ringing open strings that are available in these tunings are a staple of the Celtic rhythm guitar sound.


The same Dadd9,11 chord taught earlier in the lesson can now be played with a low D bass note.

Alternate D Major Chord

In addition to Dadd9,11, you can also play a D major triad that features open notes on the sixth and fifth strings. The low open strings give the voicing a booming bass sound. The first string can be played in conjunction with the chord, or it can be omitted. When added, the chord is transformed into Dadd9. Remember that E functions as the ninth of a D major chord.

Alternate G Major Chord

The dropped tuning of the sixth string enables you to play alternate versions of the G chord as well. The basic "open" G must be re-fingered to account for the dropped string.

Alternate A Major Chord

The same fretboard shape used for G major can also be used for an A chord. Simply slide the G major shape up two frets. When using this shape for A major, mute the fourth string. This note is not consonant within A major.

The third of the chord (C#) can be added on the third string. Fret this note at the 6th fret with the second finger. The addition of this note defines the voicing as a major chord quality.


This voicing features a power chord shape played on the bass strings with the second, third, and fourth fingers. The second finger frets the third of the chord (B) at the 4th fret. The second and first strings are played open. In relation to a G major chord, the open strings function as the third (B) and the major sixth (E).


When the G6 voicing is slid up two frets, an Aadd9 chord is formed. Now, the open second string functions as the ninth of the chord. The first string (E) functions as the fifth.
Chapter 12: (04:08) Putting the Pieces Together At this point in the lesson, Steve has shown numerous voicings that can be used for the I, IV, and V chords in the key of D major. Learning and mastering all of these voicings will enable you to interchange them on the fly while performing the song. In this scene, Steve provides a demonstration of how to use these voicings effectively with one another. Always make sure that the voice leading between two chords remains smooth.

In his performance of the song, Steve uses basic "open" chords the first time through the form. Then, he plays the progression again to show how various voicings can be interchanged. He uses the third set of voicings taught in the previous scene during the third repetition of the form. Next, he plays through the melody.

Watch this demonstration several times. How do the alternate voicings affect the overall sound of the song?
Chapter 13: (01:49) Final Thoughts Tempo

Many modern Celtic performers like to push the tempo of a song. This is especially common when playing upbeat reals. In the past several scenes, Steve provided a more traditional interpretation of the song as far as the tempo is concerned. In this scene, he demonstrates how the song might be played when the melody is performed by a fiddler at a rapid tempo. This example is provided at 00:31.

Similar to bluegrass and jazz music, all Celtic repertoire must be practiced at a variety of tempos. Standard songs in these genres are performed at a wide a range of tempos from one performance to the next.

Video Subtitles / Captions


Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

VolneyVolney replied

This video freezes and I really want to see what Steve is doing. Please help.

Jason.MounceJason.Mounce replied

Hi Volney, if you are having trouble with video playback please use the "Contact" link at the top of the main members page. There we list common troubleshooting tips that typically solve most issues. If you continue to have trouble, contact us using that link, or give us a call at 877-999-4526.

joe faulisejoe faulise replied

Great stuff Steve but it looks as if you are some time picking bass notes during strumming and you never really defined what the strumming pattern is. So what is it.

joe faulisejoe faulise replied

Enter your comment here.

EdnashEdnash replied

Video is freezing

figaro123figaro123 replied

From now on i will look that D major totally different :D

mrfishmrfish replied

Lesson 2 The Rakes of Mallow would not start??? video not found???

paddymupaddymu replied

I note an error in Rakes of Mallow chord progression. D and A are ok but G is shown as A

stevechillistevechilli replied

My first time using a Dropped D tuning, and some great chords! Why diid it take me so long to drop that bottom E? Thanks, Steve.

nancyrnancyr replied

I am enjoying the lessons but have difficulty when the song goes faster and faster without warning. Feels like I will be stuck on scene 12 until it is mastered. It is easier for me to learn something at a dedicated speed then pick it up. Muscle memory I guess.

rdacanrdacan replied

Steve ... under supplemental content Alternate D (standard tuning) the "G chord" illustration is incorrect (shown is a copy paste of the A with the label changed to G).

mattbrownmattbrown replied

It's fixed now. Thanks!

steveeulbergsteveeulberg replied

You are right. I'm sorry but I didn't create the supplemental for this lesson, so I can't fix it, but we can ask for a correction (hint!)

tuesdaytuesday replied

Hello Steve, Could you please tell me the strumming pattern you are using when you play the chord of the song Thanks

steveeulbergsteveeulberg replied

Hi tuesday, please see my response to jharvey.

jrharveyjrharvey replied

Could you tell/show me the strumming pattern you are using. I can't quite pick it up from following along. Thanks!

steveeulbergsteveeulberg replied

For Reels, I am normally using the "Boom Chuck" strum. I play the bass note and then strum the chord. Here my strumming is slower so it is Boom Chuck, Boom Chuck (1 2 3 4). When I strum faster it is boom chuck boom chuck boom chuck boom chuck (1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and). Hope this helps

graphitegalgraphitegal replied

Steve, I'm just starting out on the guitar, up to now just used fingers to pick/strum. Do you recommend switching to a pick for this style of music?

steveeulbergsteveeulberg replied

Yep! It is great to have both skills in your kit bag in any case.

jlewis1549jlewis1549 replied

I see a lot of questions with no answers from Steve.... : (

steveeulbergsteveeulberg replied

Hi jlewis...sorry for the delay. I am not notified when the discussion happens so I do miss some questions posted here. I AM notified when questions are posted via the jamplay community/feedback area in questions from "friends." Cheers, Steve

andygreigandygreig replied

Loved those chord inversion ideas, really broke the tune up. Think I'll get the mandolin later and play along!

steveeulbergsteveeulberg replied


Celtic Guitar

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Celtic music is a rich, diverse style filled with hundreds of years of culture and beauty. This style of guitar attempts to capture the rich cultural heritage of the music and transfer it into the world of guitar. From reels to jigs to horn pipes, Steve will get you well on your way.

Introduction to Celtic GuitarLesson 1

Introduction to Celtic Guitar

Steve Eulberg introduces Celtic guitar in this lesson. He will talk about the history of the music and cover some basics such as rhythm and timing.

Length: 16:11 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
The Rakes of MallowLesson 2

The Rakes of Mallow

Steve Eulberg talks more about the reel rhythm and teaches "The Rakes of Mallow" as a demonstration.

Length: 39:03 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Irish WasherwomanLesson 3

Irish Washerwoman

In this lesson, Steve Eulberg ventures into the exciting world of the double jig. As a demonstration, he teaches a song entitled "Irish Washerwoman."

Length: 27:13 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
The Road to LisdoonvarnaLesson 4

The Road to Lisdoonvarna

In this lesson Steve Eulberg talks about the single jig style of playing and teaches the song "The Road to Lisdoonvarna" as an example.

Length: 29:23 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Air Fa La La LoLesson 5

Air Fa La La Lo

In this lesson Steve Eulberg teaches a classic Celtic song entitled "Air Fa La La Lo." This song is heaps of fun to play and sing along with.

Length: 26:59 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
O Waly, WalyLesson 6

O Waly, Waly

Steve Eulberg teaches a hauntingly beautiful Celtic song called "O Waly, Waly" in this lesson.

Length: 19:01 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Rickett's HornpipeLesson 7

Rickett's Hornpipe

Steve Eulberg teaches a classic Celtic piece entitled "Rickett's Hornpipe."

Length: 24:20 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Another Jig Will DoLesson 8

Another Jig Will Do

Steve takes you into the world of slip jigs using the song "Another Jig Will Do" as an example.

Length: 36:43 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
The Lilting BansheeLesson 9

The Lilting Banshee

Steve explains and demonstrates the double jig. He uses "The Lilting Banshee" as an example.

Length: 34:26 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Celtic Guitar ResourcesLesson 10

Celtic Guitar Resources

Steve talks about some great resources for learning Celtic songs and lyrics.

Length: 12:47 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
O'Keefe's SlideLesson 11

O'Keefe's Slide

In this lesson, Steve teaches the Celtic tune "O'Keefe's Slide."

Length: 27:47 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Rocky Road to Dublin 1Lesson 12

Rocky Road to Dublin 1

Steve Eulberg teaches a classic Celtic tuned titled "Rock Road to Dublin 1."

Length: 32:58 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
The Rose Garden ReelLesson 13

The Rose Garden Reel

Steve teaches a great Celtic tune called "The Rose Garden Reel."

Length: 19:02 Difficulty: 3.0 FREE
O'Keefe's Slide Part 2Lesson 14

O'Keefe's Slide Part 2

Steve Eulberg presents his second installment of "O'Keefe's Slide." Here he demonstrates melodic embellishments known as ornaments. Steve explains two new ornaments that can be incorporated into the melody....

Length: 23:20 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
O'Keefe's Slide Part 3, The Final OrnamentsLesson 15

O'Keefe's Slide Part 3, The Final Ornaments

Steve completes "O'Keefe's Slide" by demonstrating the final ornaments. Studying this lesson will leave you with a better knowledge of how to add ornaments to a Celtic style song.

Length: 25:17 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Kesh JigLesson 16

Kesh Jig

Steve Eulberg teaches a Celtic song entitled "Kesh Jig." Here Steve provides a demonstration of both the rhythm and melody parts. The song is presented in standard tuning as well as open G tuning.

Length: 20:03 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Open G Tuning - Celtic ApplicationLesson 17

Open G Tuning - Celtic Application

Steve Eulberg breaks down open G tuning and demonstrates how it it can be used in Celtic music.

Length: 11:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Kesh Jig in Open G TuningLesson 18

Kesh Jig in Open G Tuning

Steve revisits the Celtic tune "Kesh Jig" now that he has covered open G tuning. Working in conjunction with lessons 16 and 17, this lesson explains how the tune can be played by a multiple guitar ensemble....

Length: 21:56 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Swallow Tail JigLesson 19

Swallow Tail Jig

Steve teaches an old Celtic song entitled "Swallow Tail Jig." Here you will learn the chord progressions that harmonize the A and B sections of the melody.

Length: 13:24 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
After the Battle of AughrimLesson 20

After the Battle of Aughrim

Steve presents a lesson on an old Irish song called "After the Battle of Aughrim." In this lesson you will learn the chord progression and three different ways to play the melody.

Length: 25:23 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only
Scottish Strathspey - BrachanlomLesson 21

Scottish Strathspey - Brachanlom

How does a pocket full of nickels and dimes help teach you an old Scottish song? Find out how in this lesson on the strathspey "Brachanlom."

Length: 22:01 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
The Wind That Shakes the BarleyLesson 22

The Wind That Shakes the Barley

Steve presents another great Celtic guitar lesson. He covers "The Wind That Shakes the Barley." Enjoy!

Length: 23:53 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Reluctant Bus BoyLesson 23

Reluctant Bus Boy

Welcome to this unique Celtic song lesson entitled "Reluctant Bus Boy!" This song was written by Steve Eulberg himself and was inspired by his son.

Length: 16:55 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Steve Eulberg

About Steve Eulberg View Full Biography An Award-winning multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter, Steve Eulberg weaves mountain and hammered dulcimers with a variety of unusual instruments to create thought-provoking, smile-inducing, toe-tapping acoustic experiences.

He has sung and composed for religious communities, union halls, picket lines, inter-faith retreats, mountain-top youth camps, as well as the more familiar venues: clubs, coffeehouses, bookstores, festivals, charity benefits and showcase concerts.

Born and raised in the German-heritage town of Pemberville, Ohio, Steve was exposed to a variety of music in his home. Early piano lessons were followed by trumpet in school band, and he became self-taught on ukelele and guitar and harmonica. Mandolin was added at Capital University where, while majoring in History, he studied Ear Training, Voice and took Arranging lessons from the Conservatory of Music.

While at college, he first heard hammered and mountain dulcimers, building his first mountain dulcimer just before his final year. Seminary training took him the west side of Denver where he built his first hammered dulcimer. With these instruments, he was able to give voice to the Scottish, English and Irish traditions to which he is also heir.

Following marriage in 1985 to Connie Winter-Eulberg he settled in Kansas City, Missouri. There he worked cross-culturally in a church of African-Americans, Latinos and European Americans, with music being a primary organizing tool. He moved with his family in 1997 to be nestled beside the Rocky Mountains in Fort Coillins, Colorado.

Founder of Owl Mountain Music, Inc. he teaches and performs extensively in Colorado and Wyoming with tours across the US and the UK. He delights in introducing the “sweet music” of dulcimers to people in diverse settings and in addition to his own recordings, has included dulcimers in a variety of session work for other musicians.

In 2000 he was commissioned to create a choral composition featuring dulcimers for the Rainbow Chorus in Fort Collins. It was recorded in the same year (BEGINNINGS). He is currently at work on a commissioned symphony that will feature hammered dulcimer and Australian didjeridu.

Eulberg passionately believes that music crosses cultural and language barriers because music builds community. Influenced by a variety of ethnic styles, his music weaves vital lyric with rap, rock, folk, gospel and blues. Audiences of all ages respond well to his presentation and to his warm sense of humor.

Steve is a member of Local 1000 (AFM), The Folk Alliance, BMI and BWAAG (Better World Artists and Activist's Guild).

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