General categories below:
Section 1:index of broadside ballads (sub-section, known early broadside
tunes in ABC format for play), tunes from many sources-Irish, Scots, English
(e.g. Ballad Operas).
Section 2, Old songs, poems, tunes (in ABC format):
Section 3, Tunes: Modes, Scales, Stressed note codes.
Section 4, Links, external URL's, for the excellent elsewhere:
Section 5, Links, Academic Societies and Archives, but mostly no direct
access to primary data:
Section 6, Sources of recordings of real traditional and music, my favorites
Section 7, Images
From Wm. Bruce Olson, email@example.com, (remove nospam-) amateur
snooper out of old songs and tunes, lovely when they're traditional too. Please
submit comments, additions, and corrections to address here.
Note: All but a few GIF files are text, so you can search fast for keywords
or text expressions in these files with the EDIT/ FIND command on your web
browser. Note also that the original spelling given in the files may not
be that currently favored.
The material in the Scarce songs files is primarily roots of traditional
songs. Some are early versions of traditional songs, but most material is
pre-folk 'popular style' (and some not 'popular'). Some pieces later became
traditional, but for others only the general theme shows up in later traditional
I'm learning more about HTML and ABC all the time, and this site
will be under practically continuous revision for some time in the future.
If you know about ABC skip this paragraph. Otherwise, you can play the
ABC tunes here, but you need some preparation. I only know how to use the
original ABC2WIN, which you can get to play tunes on your computer's
speaker for free. You must pay a little if you want to print out the music.
In order to use it you must have VBRUN300.DLL in a directory so
ABC2WIN can find it. It's available free at several internet software
sites, but will usually come zipped, so you also need PKUNZIP (look
to see if you already have it - I found a copy in my Windows/System directory)
ABC2WIN can be downloaded from 'ABC software' at the link following,
and get 'ABC standards' if you want to do your own ABC's.
ABC home page
To the best of my knowledge you can't play ABC's from web browsers and
must copy the xx.ABC file to your computer. Then use ABC2WIN in
WINDOWS , or PLAYQABC in DOS, to play them (no tune display from
the latter). Another option is to play through your sound card (through WINDOWS)
with ABCPLAY (find under 'ABC software' on site above). This program
also has the option of converting the files to MIDI format and storing the
latter. However, I've had gotten better MIDI's using the ABC2MIDI
program part of abcMIDI to convert to MIDI's and playing them on my
web browser or via Windows mediaplayer program.
All texts and tunes are believed to be in the public domain.
The notes, unless otherwise stated, are mine, whatever their merits or faults.
I will not be held liable, however, for any use to which they might be put.
I will also not guarantee exact accuracy in spelling, superscripts correct
in all places, or the like.
My goal is maximum of information in a minimum space. If you want
pictures and live music you're at the wrong place.
By and large I've tried to keep away from pieces that are well known,
no matter how popular they might be. Except for some recently reprinted broadside
ballads, I've tried not to duplicate much else that's been reprinted in this
century, unless I've found out some new information about it. There are overlaps
with several pieces in John Wardroper's 'Love and Drollery', but I have mostly,
if I remember correctly, used significantly different texts as my source.
What you won't find here is anything from the great books of Scots traditional
songs edited by Dr. Emily Lyle and others, The Greig-Duncan Folk Song
Collection, Andrew Crawfurd's Collection of Songs and Ballads
(from the 1820's, those with tunes on cassette tape STS 01. The Scottish
Text Society, 27 George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9LD), and others. I don't think
the songs are copyrighted, but these are not profitable publications, and
require financial support for publication. I will not jeopardize sales but
putting anything from them here, so sales can be used as an argument to get
Indicated file sizes below are rounded up to nearest 1K.
Click on subject heading for file to view it:
Section 1. INDEXES, and misc.
- Broadside Ballad Index
BRDNDRD.HTM, 831K. 16th & 17th Century. Mostly ASCII for easier browsing,
and fast keyword searching.
- Broadside Ballad Tunes in ABC format
All known ones for 16th & 17th century broadside ballads from C. M.
Simpson's The British Broadside Ballad and Its Music BMn.ABC are approx.
25K ea; last is smaller. Some now with 'click to play' MIDI's.
Additional Tunes and Histories
BMADD.HTM. Callino, Bragandary, Robin Cushee, Blind Beggar's Daughter,
- Country Dance Tunes, before 1730
- Country Dance Tunes, after 1730
CNTYDAN2.HTM, 224K. Including a few later printings of earlier tunes.
- Index of Tunes in Ballad Operas
BALOP.HTM, 101K. Those that printed the music, that is.
- List of tunes in some Scots MSS
- Scots Tunes
SCOTTUNS.HTM, 245K, Mostly up to c 1790, and notes on English, Irish and
some MS sources.
- Early Irish Tunes Title Index
See coded index, COMBCODE.TXT, below.
- Irish Traditional Songs in some journals
- Laurence Price's Ballads and Chapbooks
- Some Songbooks, mostly 18th century
- J. P. Collier's Song Forgeries
- Some old songs and tune titles, sexually oriented
- Proposed identifications for Andrew Blaikie's
Section 2, Old songs, poems, tunes:
- Scarce Songs 1
SONGTXT1.HTM, 982K. Irish, Scots, and English
- Tunes in ABC for Scarce Songs 1
- Scarce Songs 2
- Tunes in ABC for Scarce Songs 2
- The Marriage of Sir Gawaine
Ballad and tale about the ancient question, "What do women want", and the
ancient answer. Child ballad #31, for Sylvia B.
- The Boy and the Mantle
Child ballad #29.
- ABC's of Miscellaneous 18th Century English, Scots
and Irish Tunes
- More Miscellaneous ABCs
- Merry Muses tune sources
note that about 2 dozen ABCs of thse tunes can be found here among the
broadside ballad tunes and in files S1.ABC and S2.ABC.
Section 3, Tunes: Modes, Scales, Stressed note codes.
Trial version of ABC player and tune stressed note-keynote-mode and mode
number coder. Play just intonation or 12 tone equal temperament scale for
tunes in ABC notation in large files of ABCs. Requires MODETABL.TXT and .DLL
files below. New 08/14/02- Plot up to 8 tunes simultaneously, with adjustable
scale factors and origin, and see what the % of total time is used for each
note. Please report bugs you run into. Major and minor and diminished 7th
chords now listed for all key-mode combinations, under 'read scale' option.
[Octave corrected, 10/21/02]
Mode number description here, now in a separate file.
- The Greek Modes Domain
New- 08/16/02. 'Greek' modes extended to cover scales from 2 to 12 notes.
There are 66 of them, but there's lots more than that of non-'Greek' ones.
Tune Coding Method, by tune modes and stressed notes. With mode#, above,
for mode identification, used in 'Greek' mode table above, and in file COMBCOD3.TXT
Updated 08/17/02. Mode Code information. New format, with mode description,
number of notes in mode, mode#, and semitone sequence, so it can be used
as ASCII text reference file with or without the programs calling for it.
Tables for Scales of Modes, and their Key Signatures, MODES.HTM, 7K
Keynote-Key Signature-Scoring Mode Graph. Extensive, and much easier to
use than the table above. 05/02/02, Improved version- even simpler, and
easily extended to double sharps and double flats.
- JUST INTONATION Music Scales (5 limit)
for all normal 7-note 'Greek' modes.
- JUST INTONATION Scale
Program ( compiled True Basic) to give 7 or 21 note just scale frequencies
from choice of mode and key note.
Just Intonation Array, 5 limit. Common chord structures for any keynote
5 Limit, Just Intonation Circular Slide Rule
Chord Transposition Slide Rule for 12 Tone Equal Temperament Scale
Short note on using ABZWEB. J:spec to bypass normal K:spec.
Coded tunes, Scots, English, and Irish. Nearly 6600 tunes in 179 modes.
Revised to include new mode# identifier. Compiled True Basic program for
search and plot of file above. 739 Kbytes, most of which is helper applications
for string handling and sorting. Too bad, but I have to add another file that
has to be read into the program. It contains reference mode information. Unfortunately
the program requires the 3 .DLL files below. Option 11 has been replaced
with a more powerful one which allows search for all modes in the data file
with notes either in, out, or don't care. File editing added, 06/11/02. For
safety, back up the original, as it is replaced by the edited version in
the program after an edit.
- TB510.EXE (DLL)
.DLL here changed to .EXE so it will transfer as a binary file. Change
file extension back to .DLL after download.
- XNMBA420.EXE (DLL)
Change file extension back to .DLL after download
- XNMTE420.EXE (DLL)
Change file extension back to .DLL after download
Section 4, Links, external URL's:
- Bodleian Ballads
Printed Ballads in the Bodleian Library, Oxford
Early American Secular Music and Its European Sources
, 1589-1839. Click at top of page on chosen Subject (Sources, Gernres, Texts,
Incipits, Stressed Notes, Intervals, Names, Theater Works) to search. To
search for titles or first lines, chose 'Texts'. Texts are variable, so
after finding chosen one, note the stressed note code, and search for other
titles or first lines by the stressed note code option.
- Poems and Songs in 17th
century drolleries. Bibliography
Scottish Broadside Ballads, Murray collection, Glasgow.
Child Ballads, Concordance
James Madison Carpenter collection
The Dancing Master, 1651 - 1728
by Robert M. Keller
- Levy sheet
Incomparable collection of American 19th and early 20 century sheet music,
with GIFs of much of it (with some English and 18th century pieces).
Library of Congress 19th Century Song Sheets
Robertson Cowell Collection
Minstrel 16th century ballads page
Click back to SCA homepage at bottom for earlier material
- DIGITAL TRADITION
Songs and Tunes. Caution, always check the source at the end bottom. The
majority aren't from traditional singers.
ABCs: Web-wide ABC Index
Tunes in ABC notation that you can play, display, and (for a small price)
printout from your computer
ABC Tune Finder
from John Chambers. ABCs on web, but outputs from them available in several
formats, including standard musical notation ones in common graphical formats.
- Andrew Kuntz's 'Fiddler's
Companion' Tune Index
Caution: It seems some of Wm. Grattan-Flood's lies about early Irish provenance
of some tunes are mixed into some tune histories.
- Jack Campin's
ABC tunes, and file on tune
+ else [Sometimes known as 'bogus address']
ABCs of Scots tunes + much else, including contents list of B. Breathnach's
4 vols of Ceol Rince na hEireann
Toby Rider's collection of Scots Gaelic song and music in Scotland and
The Traditional Ballad Index
recently collected in Scotland, Ireland, and New Brunswick
Folk Music and Song on internet, Martin Nail's resources website
- Michael Robinson's
history of "Londonderry Air" & "Danny Boy"
and "The Young Man's Dream" (latter is also in Scarce Songs, above, with
early versions of tune in S1.ABC.) Irish Gaelic Songs and Tunes, use above
and click back to the site's homepage.
Air: Fact and Fiction
Cockburn's Gaelic Songs and Tunes
- Folklore Society of Greater Washington
Archives of the Ballad-L subscription newsgroup.
- JISC Ballad
Archives of the JISC Ballads subscription newsgroup.
Section 5, Academic Societies and Archives:
- English Folk Dance & Song Society,
- Traditional Song Forum
- Folk Music
Society of Ireland, FMSI, Dublin
- Irish Traditional Music Archive, ITMA,
- Irish World Music Centre, IWMC,
University of Limerick
- School of Scottish Studies,
- American Folklore Society, AFS
- American Folklife
Center, Library of Congress
- Country Dance and Song Society, CDSSA,
- Society for American Music,
formerly Sonneck Society
- Ozark Folk Songs
collected by Max Hunter
SONIC- Sound-on-line, Library
about 350,000 listings, but you've got to read the directions to find what
you want, or just browse
of Congress-American Memories
Too much to list by item. Click on Performing arts and enter key word-
California/Cowell, Florida/Reed, Lomax, folk songs, etc.
Section 6, Sources of recordings of real traditional and music:
Irish Traditional Songs and Music, from John Moulden
- CAMSCO Music
British Isles and American Traditional Songs and Music from Dick Greenhaus
[formerly from Wally Macnow]
- Folk Legacy Records
from Sandy and Caroline Paton
Peter Kennedy's comprehensive collection of traditional performers: Songs,
ballads and music.
- Margaret MacArthur
- Colonial Music Institute
Main Page. To search for sources and get information about specific tunes
see EASMES in Section 4.
Section 7, Images
- A. L. Lloyd
At Smithsonian Bicentennial Folk Festival, Washington, DC. 1976.
- Julia Bishop, Univ. of Sheffield, and Jennifer
Cutting, Library of Congress
holding dictaphone recordings of the James Madison Carpenter Collection,
Library of Congress. From photo by James Hardin in Folklife Center News, Fall
- Pretty Peggy and other Ballads, 1880
- Pretty Peggy, O, page 5 (only).
For the full text, and the original version, "Pretty Peggy of Derby, O",
see Scarce Songs 1.
- Landlady of France, Original
P. 40 of Wm. Dimond's The Foundling of the Forest, 1809, with
the first two verses of the song and a footnote identifying the author of
- Pretty Peg of Derby
Thomas Lyle's rewritten text in Ancient Ballads and Songs
- Merry Medley
Rare miscellany of 1744. A 2nd volume followed in 1745.
Motto: Keep at it; muddling through always works.
End of Page.