Category Editor Paul Burgess
Music is an integral part of singing and dancing and often an accompaniment to other activities like processions and ceremonials.
Singers and Dancers are just as much musicians as people who play instruments.
Folk tunes are very often divorced from their original setting and played for another purpose or just for the joy of it. Thus a song tune can become a dance tune or a concert piece.
Sometimes a good tune inspires the addition of words to make it a song.
All of these things happen.
Here we can pool information about where tunes came from, when, what they were used for, possibly who published them, how they travelled and where they are to be found now.
Such a small word - such a big subject! Let's start with a Tune Index
Before putting tunes into the system please read the Policy for tune pages
A major source of tunes and a place to contribute them is The Traditional Tune Archive - The Semantic Index of North American, British and Irish traditional instrumental music with annotation, formerly known as The Fiddler's Companion. http://www.tunearch.org/wiki/TTA
James Stewart's Index of Tunes is an online PDF database of 70K tunetitles and which books they can be found in.
The definition of a musician's nationality can be loosely applied. Some players were born in one country and lived in that country all their lives playing whatever music came their way in a style that could be described as belonging to that country. Other players were born in England but their parents were Irish or Welsh, etc.
Other players were born elsewhere but learned and played in the midst of the culture into which they were born.
Yet others were born in a country and played music from another tradition or style in a venue of their country.
It doesn't really matter that much. This section is just to narrow the search.
The major part of the work in documenting Australia's traditional players was done by the late John Meredith in association with a number of other researchers.
Here is a list of the known performers.
See also the National Library of Australia pictures catalogue for John Meredith's collection of pictures of traditional players. (Search on John Meredith and Creator).
Many musicians over the centuries have written down their repertoire in music books and some of the old ones have survived into the 21st century. The oldest one so far identified was written down by Henry Atkinson of Morpeth Northumberland and is dated on one page - 1694.
Some good work has been done in transcribing these books and making them available as paper published tunebooks or as abc code collections on the internet.
The most useful list of historical dancetune books on the web is the 'Early American Secular Music and its European Sources' website. This was researched in the later 20th century and is a very good overview of the field, with only a few omissions of books that have come to light more recently. http://www.colonialdancing.org/Easmes/index.html
Another huge resource based on years of research is the late Bruce Olson's website . Some of the material on the site has become redundant since his death in 2003, yet it remains a valuable tool for serious scholars. http://www.fresnostate.edu/folklore/Olson/index.html
Tunes and dances are bound together and when Walsh and Simpson, et al published the tunes the dances often came attached. Mostly, modern musicians raid the tunes and skip over the dances.
- The Village Music Project
- The Farne Project
The Farne Project
- John Chamber's Tune Finder
This excellent resource trawls the web for tunes in abc format and allows the user to retrieve the results in a variety of ways. You just need to know something about your target tune to narrow the search.
- Chris Walshaw's Search Engine on the ABC Notation Homepage
Type in a title and see the tunes pop up, in notation, midi and ABC notation.
- The Traditional Tune Archive
The Semantic Index of North American, British and Irish traditional instrumental music with annotation, formerly known as The Fiddler's Companion.