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Digital Tradition Search Patterns

See what AskSam says about search syntax.

A query supplied to the Digital Tradition server as a Search Keyword is used as a pattern to select songs that contain one or more words or phrases. Upper and lower case differences are ignored. The special characters used in Digital Tradition search queries are: SPACE,AND, OR, *

The simplest query contains a single word. For example, to find songs containing the word "diving", use the query:

Multiple Word Searches

A query can also be a list of word patterns separated by "AND" or "OR". The "AND" indicates that all of the words must occur in a song (in any order) for a match.

The "OR" character indicates that only one of the words need occur.

Use a space character between words to search for a phrase or sequence of words.


Wildcard word patterns may be specified by placing an asterisk "*" character anywhere within a word. The asterisk will match any sequence of letters or digits (useful for matching singular or plural endings).

Note that when "AND" and "OR" are both used, the "AND" terms are always grouped first (sorry, no parentheses).

When searching for a phrase, square brackets [] are use. For example "[wooden boats]".


Most songs in the database include one or more category keywords prefixed with an at "@" character, so you can use "@" to select from one or more categories. Make sure there is no space bewteen the "@" and the keyword. See the List of Keywords Used.

Ballads from the Child collection are marked with "Child #...", so to search for all Child ballads or a specific one, try searches like:

Beginning with the April 1996 version, new additions to the database are marked with a tag indicating the version date (e.g. "apr96"), so to search for all songs added in a particular version, try a search like:

The examples above are linked to the Digital Tradition server, so selecting them will perform the corresponding search. See also About The Digital Tradition.

updated 9/24/96 by The Bartender