These web-pages are designed to provide access to otherwise-inaccessible early collections of Irish music. Most of what we now know as Irish traditional music had its origins – both repertoire and style – in the popular music of the 18th and 19th centuries, and the commercially published tune-books of that time contain hundreds of items that remain in the living tradition. They also contain hundreds more that have fallen out of fashion, but which could possibly prove again acceptable to modern ears.When preparing the material for placing online, our primary object was to provide easily readable settings of the tunes without alteration from the originals. This proved possible in the vast majority of cases. However a number of the original settings contain musical errors. In some cases these are obvious typographical mistakes and are corrected here. In other cases the correct reading could not be guessed at so the mistake is left un-corrected.
In some collections the use of bar-lines is completely inconsistent. Parts of tunes that would be repeated in modern practice are shown as single, and vice versa. Even within individual tunes there can be indications that some parts are repeated and others not. These inconsistencies have been left as they are, in accordance with our basic aim of providing un-edited access to the original versions. As it is not our intention to produce forensically-accurate editions of the original publications, the few editorial interventions we have made will not be listed here. We are confident that the settings have been reproduced to a high degree of accuracy, and that any mistake you may encounter will be one that is also in the original.
The entire body of tunes is listed alphabetically in the Full Index page of this site, along with such cross-references as occurred to us as we were preparing it. Should users identify information that would be of use – especially alternative tune titles – we would be delighted to receive it and incorporate it into the index.
Along with the alphabetic listing the Full Index contains a reference to the time signature of each tune. For want of a suitable symbol in commonly used fonts the ‘¢’ symbol has been used to indicate cut-time. Also included, under the heading ‘Fl’, is a reference to the number of the tune in Aloys Fleischmann’s Sources of Irish Traditional Music c. 1600-1855 (Garland Publishing, New York 1998), the standard reference work on this subject.
Please note that the toolbar options at the top of each tune screen allows the user to speed up or slow down the tune, to change the key and pitch and to save or print it out. Many of the tunes run to two or more pages. Playback of a tune can be started from any point by double-clicking the appropriate note.
It is intended to add additional material to this site on a regular basis.