Eric Foxley's Music Database
 
 
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We maintain a database of over 1000 traditional British related folk dance tunes. All are stored using the Nottingham ASCII format. They arose from an original core forming the repertoire of Freds Folks Ceilidh Band. The music is now available as PDF files.

The advantage of our storage technique is that the tunes can be searched and analysed by musical content. Try the music browser.

Classification

The tunes are stored under the following categories. The indexes for each category are permuted, each tune is indexed under each of the words in the title.
  • Jigs. This directory contains about 350 6/8 single (mostly "crochet-quaver" per half bar) and double jigs (mostly quavers).
  • Reels. 2/4 and 4/4. This includes about 460 marches, polkas, rants etc.
  • Hornpipes. These are played (but not written) dotted. We include about 70 hornpipes, schottisches and strathspeys. See the "Playing for Dancing" document for the distinction.
  • Waltzes. About 50 tunes with 3/4 time signature.
  • Slip jigs. These are jigs in 9 8 time.
  • Miscellaneous. This directory contains just a few tunes, which we play mainly for listening to, when dancers need a breather.
  • Morris. Just a sample few, about 30. They include some chosen for listening to, and some from the Foresters Morris Men's repertoire.
  • Some Christmas ones (15).
  • About 45 tunes from the Ashover collection, provided by Mick Peat (Woodland View, Kirkham Lane, Fritchley, DERBY DE5 2FS, phone 0973-696254). The IPR of these tunes resides with Mick Peat.

The above indexes have permuted title entries, and allow you to view the ASCII file or existing scores.

Sources

Most tunes have been collected over a lifetime of playing (which started when I sat in at the back of many bands in the London area and elsewhere from the age of 12 onwards), and the sources from whom I learnt the tunes are acknowledged. These are all collected "by ear", and details change over time. The arrangements, harmonies, simplifications are entirely mine. Where there is a known printed source, that is included. I apologise for any unknowing omissions of sources, and would be happy to add them.

Named printed sources referred to in the scores include

  • FTB 1, 2 : Fiddlers Tune Book 1, 2 [EFDSS]
  • CDM 1, ... : Community Dance Manuals 1, ... [EFDSS]
  • KCC : Kerr's Caledonian Collection
  • KMM 1, ... : Kerr's Merry Melodies
  • RSCDS : Royal Scottish Country Dancing Society manuals
  • NPTB : Northumbrian Pipers Tune Books
  • Athole : The Athole Collection of tunes
  • Chicago : 1000 Fiddle tunes
Personal sources include
  • Kevin Briggs : original Freds Folks leader (1960s)
  • Geoff Bocking : early Freds Folks player (1970s)
  • Les Dolman : recent Freds Folks player (1980s)
  • Michael Gorman : London based Irish fiddler (1960s)
  • John Jones : early Freds Folks player (1970s)
  • McCusker Brothers : Irish family (1960s)
  • Jimmy MacKay : Newcastle rapper fiddler (1960s)
  • PR : Phil Rowe, Nottingham accordion player, plays with the Knotted Chord band.
  • Patrick Shuldam-Shaw : Folk music and dance composer par excellence & academic researcher
  • Otto Wood : American fiddler (1960s)

Formats

The tunes displayed by the above links may be in one of three formats. Some are simple text files in our internal ASCII format. Others are displayed as standard music scores, either PDF (© Adobe Systems International) files (generated on a SUN using our programs fed into "psroff" and "Distiller"), or GIF files generated by converting our ASCII to PostScript using Phil Rowe's program, then converted to GIF format using "gs" and tweaked using "xv". Apologies for any loss of precision in caused by the conversion from PostScript to GIF. We are limited in the number of scores we can store at any time by disc space; each GIF score takes up much more space than the corresponding ASCII version, and PDF scores are even larger.

Score conventions

A typical score appears as in the example for Davy Davy Knick Knack (a super tune which no-one should underestimate, capable of endless variation and phrasing subtleties):


The harmonies shown below the staves in the music notation have significance as follows.

  • "G" : G major chord, etc.
  • "Am" : A minor chord, etc.
  • "G" over "Em" : G major the first time through, E minor the second time
  • "D/a" : D major chord with "a" base (an inversion)
  • "a" : just an "a" bass on its own.

Distribution

We are happy for others to use tunes from our repertoire; after all, the tunes the we use were picked up from others, and the traditional tunes are best! We just hope that you play them properly and carefully, not as streams of notes but as phrased music making folks want to dance. In the Davy Davy Knick Knack example shown above, bars 1 and 2 look like bars 5 and 6. They should however be played completely differently with no similarity of shape. Bars 1 and 2 are for setting the dancers down at the start of another figure, bars 5 and 6 are for starting the climax towards the end of the 8 bar phrase.

Warning!

The melodies as stored are my interpretation of the essence of the tune. Obviously no respectable folk musician actually plays anything remotely like what is written; it is the ornamentation and variation that gives the tune its lilt and style.

For a lengthy discussion on playing for dancing, see a document originally produced by an EFDSS working party on which I sat, with later modifications.

Other facilities

The original database files are all in an ASCII format which can be analysed for ethnic stylistics.

We have a preprocessor forming part of the printing system which converts the ASCII files into files of absolute notes with pitch and duration.

We would hope eventually to have sound samples and printing facilities on-line. Suggestions welcome!

See also The Mining Company Folk Music site, and the Digital Tradition Folk Song Database and a Spanish site and a directory of music scores on the WWW.

 
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Greenwood Clog Foresters Morris Freds Folks Music database
Site under development, see the earlier version. Latest update Thu 15-Mar-2001 13:53 , visits Site Meter