The Musician's Companion parts 1-3

Elias Howe (editor, possible composer)
Boston, 1842-1844.
Transcribed by John Chambers May 2015 - Jan 2016.

The three volumes of this collection of around 1200 tunes were edited and published by Elias Howe in Boston in the early 1840s. They are organized in the three subdirectories with 1, 2 and 3 at the end of their names. Many of the tunes here are currently well-known, though often under different names. Around half of each book is devoted to "cotillion" sets, several pages with typically 5-7 tunes for the dances in square formation that were popular in that decade. The tunes in the cotillion sets were almost never given titles, even when the tunes were well known.

The individual tunes are in files with names of the form, where V is the volume (or "Part") number, PPP is the page number, N is number of the tune on the page, and Title is the value of the T: header line with spaces replaced with '_'. N is 0 for a few files that don't contain tunes, such as the title page. Some of the tunes have numbers, especially in the cotillions. and these numbers are usually at the end of the file name, but sometimes not when they produce duplicate names. There are a few files just named, with no title; they are placeholders for parts of tunes placed on a second page, to indicate that the music was transcribed but is in the earlier file. (Some tunes were placed on two facing pages.)

The titles in this collection are mostly upper case, though a few contain some words in lower case (mostly in parentheses). Capitalization in the file names matches current practice: important words are capitalized, words like articles and common prepositions are all lower case. Initial articles are omitted in file names but are present in tunes' T: lines, in lower case to match the occasional practice that makes it easy for software to ignore them.

Some of the music in this collection has notation which not all ABC software (or modern musicians) understands properly. For these tunes, two transcriptions may be present: The "-V2" version has the ABC 2.0 notation, typically proofread with the abcm2ps formatter. The "-V1" version is restricted to ABC 1.7 features, and may entail some rewriting or omission of unrepresentable annotations, typically proofread using the last abc2ps formatter, or its jcabc2ps clone. Also, the -V1 versions have '-' after the initial 5 digits, while the -V2 versions have '='. This is to make it easier to distinguish them in file-name patterns, such as are used in the Makefile. You may want to strip off the initial digits and the [-_=] characters, to get just the title as the file name.

Few of the tunes in this collection have attributions, and the cotillion tunes rarely have titles. Some tunes are well known, and occasionally the modern titles are added as subtitles. Howe may have been the composer of some of the tunes, but we don't really know.

Experimental file-listing tools: Tune lister -- Session lister -- Collection lister