JC's Online Music Books


A number of historic tune collections have been transcribed to ABC notation, and most of them are mirrored at several places on the Web. Here are the collections that I have copies of:
24 Country Dances for the Year ...
This is a transcription of tunes from a series books with this title, published in the late 18th and early 19th centuries by various editors and publishers, mostly in London.
the Abraham Mackintosh Collection
titled "A Collection of Strathspeys, Reel, Jigs &c.", and published in Newcastle-upon-Tyne some time after 1797.
Anderson's "Budget of Strathspeys, Reels and Country Dances"
Published in Edinburgh around 1810, this collection contains versions of a lot of well-known Scottish Country Dance tunes from that era.
the Aird Collection
One of the important Scottish collections, by James Aird in 1778.
Barsanti's "A Collection of Old Scots Tunes"
Published in 1742, this collection is one of the few that include a figured-bass line, with melodic bass lines and good harmonies.
the Boston Collection
Oliver Ditson's "The Boston Collection of Instrumental Music" was published in 1910, in New York.
Bremner's "A Collection of Scots Reels or Country Dances"
Published by Robert Bremner in London in the early 1757, this collection has mostly Scottish Country Dance tunes, with very simple bass parts.
Brewer's "New Instructions for the Clarinet"
Published by Brewer & Co in London in the early 1800s, this book has an initial tutorial on notation and technique for the 5-key clarinet of the time, followed by 54 tunes, some with a second clarinet part.
Brewer's "New Instructions for the Clarinet"
Published by Brewer & Co in London in the early 1800s, this book has an initial tutorial on notation and technique for the 5-key clarinet of the time, followed by 54 tunes, some with a second clarinet part.
the Caledonian Musical Repository
Two volums of this song collection were published, in 1806 and 1811, by Oliver & Co. in Edinburgh. Some of the songs are very well known today; others are interesting as examples of Scottish popular songs of the early 19th century. Many are now known only as dance tunes, with the lyrics rarely heard.
Fifty Old English Folk Dance Airs
I had a copy of this 1938 collection of well-known English tunes. I asked on a few online forums if anyone had transcribed its tunes, and got (multiple) copies of most of them via email. I edited them to be closer to the versions in the book, and transcribed the few remaining tunes. I should go through them and add chords some day ...
the John French Collection
John French (1753-1803) was a fiddler and composer from Ayr, Scotland. This collection of tunes mostly written by him was published about the time of his death, by Gow & Shepherd in Edinburgh, apparently to earn some money for his widow and children. Some of the tunes have become part of the Scottish repertoire, though often with different names and with many changes by other musicians.
John Walsh's collections
Starting around 1740, a number of collections by various names were published by John Walsh in London. These were compiled by a number of different editors, and they rarely gave any information about their sources. These are among the earliest known "Scottish" collections that include both music and dance descriptions.
Hill Country Tunes
A collection of fiddle tunes from western Pennsylvania in the 1920s and 1930s, collected by the folkorist, musicologist and field researcher Sam Bayard in 1943.
Köhler's Violin Repository
Ernst Köhler lived in Glasgow and published three volumes of tunes in the 1880s, with W.B. Laybourn (about whom little seems to be known) as the editor. The tunes are mostly Scottish, but a lot of Irish and English tunes are included. This collection has only the melodies, and rarely lists sources or composers, but is a good reference for dance tunes of the late 19th century in the British Isles.
the Landrin "Potpourri" Collection
Landrin's "Potpourri françois des contre-danse ancienne tel quil se danse chez la Reine ..." was published in London in 1760. It contains a dozen quadrille sets, each with 9 parts, and a tune for each. Dance instructions are included on the facing page, but I haven't transcribed these. These dances were quite popular in England and in the Colonies. Some of the tunes are supposedly ancestral to later British-Isles and (North) American tunes, but the connection isn't very obvious.
the Man of Feeling, or the Gentlemans Musical Repository
by Gaetano Brandi, London, 1803.
This is a selection of songs and instrumental airs from "fashionable" music of the time, suitable for parlor concerts, dances, and other such aristocratic events of the time. There is a photocopy at archive.org.
the Nelson Music Collection
by Newton F. Tolman and K. Dep. Gilbert
Transcribed to ABC by Ralph Palmer.
Northumbrian Minstrelsy
by J Collingwood Bruce & John Stokoe (1882).
Originally Mine
by George Meikle, the leader of the Lothian Scottish Dance Band, editor of the RSCDS's Originally Ours collection, and composer of the tunes here. George found that some of his tunes were online in mangled form, including incorrect titles, so he sent this collection to me in PDF, and asked if I could put it online in ABC form. The title is his, too.
the O'Farrell Project
The "O'Farrell Pocket Companion for the Irish or Union Pipes" (OVPC) is a four-volume collection published in London in 1805-1810. It is one of the earliest known collections of specifically Irish tunes, though a good number are actually of Scottish origin. The transcription was done by Bill Black, who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
the O'Neill's Project
The original O'Neill's Project transcribed all of O'Neill's 1850 into ABC. This is my copy of Dan Beimborn's original web site that housed the project. This may be the largest single ABC transcription project so far (but I'd like to hear of others).
Old English Country Dances
The only known copy of this book is in the British Library, and there is a scanned copy of it online, at Google Books. It was published by Frank Kidson in London in 1890.
Pat Shaw's collections
Pat Shaw published numerous books of dances, mostly with tunes. Over the years, I've learned many of the tunes for his dances, and I've put the transcriptions here. This is very incomplete, and will probably grow slowly with time.
the Playford Collection
This collection started as a backup copy of the version housed at the Ceolas archive, in the Playford.abc file.. Since then, I've collected more Playford tunes from various sources, and added a few transcriptions of my own. If there's a Playford tune that you'd like to add, send me email.
the John Pringle Collections
A Collection of Reels, Strathspeys and Jigs was published by John Pringle in London in 1801. Pringle composed the majority of the tunes, but also included versions of tunes by other composers, and a few traditional tunes without a known composer. All the tunes include a bass line, which is somewhat unusual for this time. Most of the bass lines are very simple, but a few are true counter-melodies.
Rinnci na hEireann
This is my transcription of the tunes in the book of Irish dances published by G.Shirmer Inc in New York in 1925. This book contains instructions for 25 dances in square, circle and longways formations. It has apparently been out of print for a long time, but a friend had a copy. Some day, I may also get around to typing in the dance descriptions. Meanwhile, this is an interesting set of old versions of a lot of well-known tunes.
the Ryan/Cole collection
William Bradbury Ryan's "MAMMOTH COLLECTION of more than 1050 Reels and Jigs, Hornpipes, Clogs, Walk Arounds, Slip Jigs, Essences, Strathspeys, Highland Flings and Contra Dances with Figures" was published in Boston in 1883 by Elias Howe. In 1940, the M.M.Cole company published "1000 Fiddle Tunes", the same collection reorganized somewhat, with no credit to the original editor or publisher. More recently, Mel Bay has republished a very nice wire-bound edition of the original, edited by Patrick Sky. When I found that I had transcribed a lot of its tunes to ABC, and mentioned on a few lists that I was working on completing the job, several people joined in and contributed tunes.
the Robert Petrie Collections
Steve Wyrick transcribed the three Robert Petrie collections in 2004 and 2005, and sent me a copy of each as he finished it. This is a significant Scottish collection from around 1800.
SCD
is collected tunes from various old collections of Scottish Country Dance music, transcribed by various musicians, and sent to me for inclusion here. We've only made a start on this, but the collection grows slowly with time. (Contributions are welcome, because it's always good to have such things mirrored on more than one web site.)
the Skye Collection
Ralph Palmer transcribed this historic Scottish collection, and sent me a batch of tunes every month or so, until it was complete.
Straight & Skillern's 204 Favourite Country Dances
published in London in or about 1775. Little seems to be known about the publishers, Thomas Straight and Thomas Skillern. They ran a music publishing business for about 10 years (1768-1778) which published an annual series of "24 Country Dances for the Year 17__", plus this combined edition near the end of their partnership. They also republished numerous earlier collections from other sources.
Thomas Bray's Country Dances 1699
Several local dance leaders had given me copies of pages from this book, to learn the tunes, so I borrowed a copy and trascribed all the tunes.
Tom Anderson's Collections
Tom Anderson has been the main collector of the traditional music of Shetland. At the moment, I only have one of his books in ABC form, Haand me doon the fiddle.
Thompson's Compleat Collection
Thompson's Compleat Collection of 200 Favourite Country Dances was published by Peter Thompson in London, in four volumes dated 1757, 1765, 1773 and 1780. Of course, it's nowhere near "compleat", but there are 800 tunes in the collection.
William Winter's "Quantocks" collection
William Winter (1774-1861) was a village shoemaker and fiddler in West Bagborough in Somerset, a county in the West of England. He compiled his personal collection of over 450 tunes in 1848-1850. In 1960 the tune book surfaced in a second hand bookshop in London. It was acquired by Geoff Rye of the English Folk Dance and Song Society and deposited in the library of Halsway Manor Traditional Music and Dance Centre in Crowcombe, Somerset. It was edited and published by Geoff Woolfe. It contains versions of familiar tunes, plus many unique tunes.
All of these collections would benefit from proofreading by anyone with a printed copy. If you find errors, send me email. Also, if you have an ABC transcription of another historic collection, send me email, and I may be able to mirror it.