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Click STRAIGHT THROUGH if you're looking for articles I've written about music


The rest of this section is mainly English traditional dance music manuscripts and printed books, transcribed into the ABC Music Notation Language and rendered to PDF, mostly for The Village Music Project.

1. Introduction
Very brief

2. The Collections
I think there are about 90 collections (I kept losing count), with PDFs, containing at least 12,000 tunes.


This is my Village Music Project annex section, containing all the VMP  transcriptions, including new and newly revised ABC files, many of which have yet to appear on the VMP website.

For the ABC files you will need (free) ABC software such as  ABCexplorer, ABCnavigator, or EasyABC.

There are also PDF files for every collection. How they behave when you click on them is dependent upon your browser settings; they will either open in your browser, or they may download to your computer automatically, or both. You can download them how you wish.

See Chris Walshaw's ABC Notation Homepage for details about the ABC Music Notation system, tutorials, and software.

See my Using ABCexplorer page for a quick "getting started with ABCexplorer" guide.

All the VMP transcriptions on this page have been transcribed by one of a team of volunteers, usually directly from the source, and checked for accuracy by a second volunteer, usually me.  The object has been to retain the original musical intent as far as possible. We are conscious that although some of our readers require academic rigour in the transcriptions, which we try and provide, many will simply be expanding their knowledge of the repertoire and maybe picking up a new tune or two, which has necessitated "regularising" some tunes for the casual reader. Rendering the tunes into modern notation, and sometimes "rescuing" a tune, has sometimes required intervention, but editing has been respectfully done with annotations that make it possible to reconstruct the original as written. The tunes are in the same order as in the original source, and archaic spellings have been retained. Where alternative titles have been found, these titles have been suffixed with .aka (= Also Known As)

The ABC files are plain ASCII with no HTML elements.

One way to download them is to open the relevant file and copy & paste either the entire contents, or individual tunes, straight into a "new file" within your ABC program. However, be aware that some ABC programs if done this way will omit the "file headers" containing important contextual information.

A better way is to have the browser download it for you, with the file headers intact. In Firefox for example you need to open the relevant file in the browser, either right-click or open the File menu drop-down box in the menu bar, click Save Page As to open the dialogue box. When you have downloaded the file make sure the file extension is changed to .abc rather than .txt. You will now be able to open it from within your ABC program.

I would encourage you to download, and even share, the collections whole as ABC, they take up hardly any room. The files are human-readable even without the aid of software. This will ensure their survival far into the future even better than PDF would.

These transcriptions are the result of many years' work by a team of volunteers. If you make use of them in any form of publication or recording, please remember to credit us appropriately. The list of volunteers is HERE


The tempii indicated in the various files are not suggested with any authority, they are merely an aid to comprehension.
Clicking a link will take you to an introductory page for that collection, from where you can access either the ABC or PDF file.

Alexander's "Fifty Scotch & Irish Reels and Hornpipes" (ca1825)
"Arranged for the Violin and Flute by an Eminent Professor, published by J.Alexander, 101 Leadenhall St."

Anonymous MS CAM1 "27" or "MU39" (19thC)
The Cocks Collection contains several anonymous manuscripts from 19th century Northumberland, of which this is one

Anonymous MS CAM2 "14" or "MU193" (early 19thC)
The Cocks Collection contains several anonymous manuscripts from 19th century Northumberland, of which this is another

Ashover MS, aka Harrison and Wall
Derbyshire, a small manuscript from the late eighteenth century

Henry Atkinson's MS (1694)
A very early manuscript tune book by a young merchant in Newcastle, from the Farne website.

Joseph Barne's MS 1762-9
A manuscript from Cumbria

John Baty MS#8, c1850-60
A manuscript from the North East

Thomas Bennet's Violin Book 1718
A collection of Preludes, Airs, Minuetts, Jiggs, Corants, Rigadoons, Gavots, Marches, Sarabands, Country Dance, etc., in MS for the violin or flute

Matthew Betham's Manuscript (1815)
A music manuscript from Towcett, Cumbria

James Biggins MS 1779
A music manuscript from Leeds, West Yorkshire

Blackman's Selection (ca1810-22)
"A Selection of the most favorite Hornpipes for the Violin. NB. Most of these Hornpipes are within the Compass of the Flute. Price 1s; London. Published by W. Blackman, Music Seller. 15 Union Strt. Southwark," ca1810-22.
A small published book from early nineteenth century London, containing thirty two still popular common-time hornpipes

Bland & Weller (circa 1800)
London music publisher

James Blackshaw 1837
One of the ASH Shropshire MSS

Thomas Bray's Country Dances 1699
A very early printed collection of 20 country dances and tunes, thought to be the earliest surviving dance tunes in England that include a bass line, and very good it is too

Browne Family MSS
Four manuscripts from Troutbeck, Cumbria, various dates

Joshua Burnett MS
Early 19thC, UK Worsborough, S.Yorks
Contains a great many common time hornpipes plus a number of reels and a few jigs and waltzes

John Buttrey MS
Early 19thC from Lincolnshire
A very large manuscript. Buttrey was a fifer in the British Army, posted in South Africa and India, eventually returning home to Lincolnshire

Cahusac's 24 Country Dances for the Year 1758, with dance notation

Cahusac's 24 Country Dances for the Year 1809
The Cahusac family, father Thomas and sons Thomas and William, were music publishers and instrument makers

William Calvert MS
A MS from North Yorkshire, early 19th century

Carlisle MS
Sometimes referred to as 1861 Carlisle, or J.Nicholson Carlisle.

John Clare MS
The early 19th century labourer/poet was aso a fiddler

WmClarke of Lincoln Music Manuscript Book, 1770
This is a music manuscript from Lincolnshire, England. Compiled by William Clarke, Charles Woodall, and George Skelton. It contains mostly popular dance music of the period c1770

John Clews MS c1800
One of the ASH Shropshire MSS

Craig's Empire Collection of Hornpipes
A published dance tune book, no date c1900

Benjamin Cooke's MS
An army officer's music book from circa 1770

Rev. Thomas Cowper MS 1766
A short manuscript from Dufton, Westmoreland

Robert C. Dalton MS 1841
A typical mid 19thC manuscript, 148 tunes

Dixon (Anonymous) Music Manuscript (1811)
A music manuscript from Lincolnshire, England. Found in the Dixon Family Papers in Lincolnshire Archives. It contains mostly popular dance music of the period, arranged for piano

Thomas John Dixon MS, 1798
Another MS from Lincolnshire

The Fiddler's Tune Books 1 & 2 Peter Kennedy, EFDSS, 1951-3
The original books, of which this is a transcription, have long been out of print, and although they have been re-edited and republished by Dave Mallinson, the new version is quite different

C.J.Fox MS, c1830
A manuscript from Beverley, East Yorkshire

Joshua Gibbons Music Manuscript 1823
Music manuscript fromTealby, Market Rasen, Lincolnshire

Giles, William Henry and "W.G."
Two related manuscript tune books from Bampton in the Bush, Oxfordshire, dated 1839, 1842. They contain a mixture of various dance tunes, including many that became Morris tunes, songs, and religious items

Goulding & Co; 24 Country Dances for the Year 1808

Goulding, D'Almaine & Potter; 24 Country Dances for the Year 1811
Goulding & D'Almaine's 24 Country Dances for the year 1826

William Thomas Green MS 1851
A music manuscript from Morpeth, in Northumberland

John Hall's MS 1833
A manuscript from Northumberland

Rev. Robert Harrison MS
A very large early 19th century tune book from Temple Sowerby, Westmorland

Edward Holmes MS 1845
A large dance tune manuscript from the East Riding of Yorkshire

Albert John Hughes MS n/d
One of the ASH Shropshire MSS

Richard Hughes MS 1823
One of the ASH Shropshire MSS

William Irwin's MSS
Important mid-19th century manuscripts from a noted Lake District fiddler, transcribed by Anne Gilchrist

H.S.J.Jackson MS
One of the collection of Wyresdale manuscripts

John Johnson's "Choice Collections of 200 Favorite Country Dances", 8 Volumes, London 1740-58. English Country Dance Tunes from the mid-18thC. Volumes 1 & 2 of the series were heavily based upon Daniel Wright's two collections of a few years previously

John Jones MS 1801
One of the ASH Shropshire MSS

Frank Kidson's Hornpipe Book
Hornpipes collected by Kidson

Lawrence Leadley MS#4, c1850 or earlier
One of the manuscript tune books belonging to the subject of the book "The Fiddler of Helperby", Dragonfly Music, 1994. It contains material that had been popular for some time, as well as up to the minute sets of quadrilles and polkas, and many very fine hornpipes

William Hall Lister MS, 1840-60
A manuscript from Northumberland

William Litten MS, 1802
The fiddle manuscript book of a ship's fiddler in the British India Fleet

John Miller MS, Perth, 1799
A very martial fyfe manuscript

William Mittell MS, 1799
A manuscript from Kent

John W. Moore MS, 1841
A good manuscript from the north-east

John Nichol MS, mid19thC
Another good manuscript from the north-east

James Nuttall MS
A manuscript from East Lancashire

R.D.Owen/New Harmony MS
A manuscript from Indiana with strong Scottish links

Playford's Dancing Master, volumes 1, 2, and 3,  1651-1728
The most important early collections of dances and music

Preston's Country Dances. Annual collections of 24.

Randall, William. 24 Country Dances for the year 1776
Complete with transcriptions of the dances

Roose, John MS 1850
A very large MS from Manchester

Rutherford, David. Complete Collection of 200 Country Dances Volumes 1 & 2, 1756-1759
Complete with dance notation

James Sailes MS, c1830
A short manuscript from Lincolnshire

Thomas Sands MS, 1810
A manuscript from Lincolnshire, 270 tunes

Humphrey Senhouse MS, 1747
A manuscript from the Cumberland landed gentry. 142 tunes

George Spencer MS, 1831
A manuscript from Leeds, 124 tunes

Henry Stables MS
A late 19th century manuscript from the Lake District

Anonymous MS from Staffordshire
Early 19thC, 41 tunes

C.J.Surtees MS, 1819
A manuscript from the North-east of England, various hands, 41 tunes

Thomas Tait MS, early 19th C
A short manuscript from All Saint's Church, Winterton, Lincolnshire
Eliza Tennyson Music Manuscript Book, 1822
19thC music manuscript from Lincolnshire, England. Compiled by Eliza, mother of Alfred Lord, Tennyson, it contains mostly popular dance and light classical music of the period for solo instruments

Scan Tester
My transcriptions from the 2 CD set of the Sussex concertina player

William Tildsley's MS, 1860
From Salford, Lancashire

Thompson's Annual Collections of 24 Country Dances

Thompson's "Compleat Collection of 200 Favourite Country Dances" Vols 1 - 4, 1751-80
"perform'd at Court, Bath, Tunbridge & all Public Assemblies with proper Figures or Directions to each tune set for the Violin, German-Flute & Hautboy. Pr. 3s 6d.  London"

Thompson's "Compleat Collection of 120 Favourite Hornpipes" circa 1770
Hornpipes of a theatrical persuasion, in every time signature imaginable! Seemingly originally published as four volumes of 30 tunes each, then consolidated into one volume. Tunes named for heroes of The Seven Years War (1756-63) suggest that the short volumes were published around that time and consolidated some time after that

Thompson's "Compleat Tutor for the Fife" circa1765
An important source of military fife music

VWMLa late 18thC
An anonymous manuscript

Walsh's Compleat Country Dancing Master
John Walsh and his son, also John, made three series of their Compleat Country Dancing Master. The first series, of two books, commenced in 1718 and was a direct plagiarism of the Playfords Country Dancing Master. Beginning in 1731 they issued a new second series, of four books of three hundred tunes each. In the 1740s they started a third series of six books, reusing many of the old plates in new sequences. He advertised them as a six book set in 1754.  (Information from Early American Secular Music and its European Sources) Wm Randall took over the business and advertised them as a seven book set after the middle of the century

George Henry Watson MS
A late 19thC manuscript from Norfolk

Thomas Westrop 120 Country Dances
pub. London, date uncertain, probably about 1900

Thomas Wilson, Companion to the Ballroom, pub London 1816
An influential dance instruction manual, with 303 tunes from the year of Waterloo. Facsimile available elsewhere. The tune selection includes many Scottish, Irish and French tunes of the period, alongside minuets, allemands, cotillions, hornpipes and country dances. Some of his annotations are dubious.

The Winder MSS
A collection of manuscripts and dance instruction books from Wyresdale in Lancashire

Lionel Winship MS
A manuscript from Wark, Northumberland, dated 1833

Three Extraordinary Collections
Thomas Marsden, "A Collection of Original Lancashire Hornpipes Old and New containing Divisions upon each for the treble Violin. Being the First if its Kind. London, 1705"
John Walsh "The Third Book of the most celebrated jiggs, lancashire Hornpipes, Scotch and highland lilts, Northern Frisks, Morris's and Cheshire Rounds, with Hornpipes the bagpipe manner, to which is added the Black joak, the White joak, the Brown, the Red and the yellow Joaks, with variety of Whims and Fancies of different humour, fitted to the genious and use of Publik Performers. London, 1731
Daniel Wright, "An Extraordinary Collection of Pleasant & merry Humours, never before Published Containing Hornpipes, Jiggs, North Cuntry Frisks, Morris's, Bagpipe Hornpipes, & Rounds, with Severall Additional fancis added, fit for all those that play Publick. London, 1713"

Yarker MS, 1797

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