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Welcome to the Traditional Tune Archive
The Semantic Index of North American, British and Irish traditional instrumental music with annotation, formerly known as
The Fiddler's Companion.

Featured Tunes

Dunnotar Castle

DUNNOTTAR CASTLE. Scottish, Slow Strathspey or Pastoral. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. The castle of Dunnottar is an ancient and impressive ruin which perches commandingly on the cliffs not far south of Stonehaven. The site has been fortified since the 12th century and rises some 160 feet above the sea. A single entrance is through a one doorway, protected by a portcullis and several rows of gunports, then up steps and finally through a tunnel to the main courtyard. Historical references to it abound: it was captured by William Wallace in his war against the English in 1296. Edward III gained the castle in the 1330's, only to be cast out my Moray. Later in the century it became the property of the Keiths, who exchanged a property in Fife for it. By the 16th century it was one of the most formidible fortresses in Scotland. In the 17th century it was besieged by Montrose in 1645 and by Cromwell in 1651, and was held for William and Mary in 1689. During the Jacobite era the Earl Marischal lost the castle in 1715 with the defeat of the Stewarts, and as a result the Duke of Argyll partially destroyed it the next year.
The tune was composed by either James Young (1815-1851) of Montrose, to whom it is often attributed {beginning with David Baptie in his Musical Scotland--Past and Present (1894)}, or by John Gunn (1813-1884) of Peterhead. J. Scott Skinner attributed the melody to Young in a hand written note on his manuscript copy of another Young tune, "The Brig o' Dee." Young led the band of the Theatre Royal, Aberdeen, for many years.

T:Dunnottar Castle
B:MacDonald - The Skye Collection  (1887)
Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion
A,|D<DF<A d>ef>e|d/c/B/A/ G/F/E/D/ C/D/E/D/ C<A,|D<DF<A d>ef>e|
d/c/B/A/ B/g/f/e/ f<dd:|f|a>b a<f  d'>c'ba|g>fe>d c/d/e/d/ c<A|
a>b a<f d'>c'BA|d'/c'/b/a/ b<c' d'2 d(3a/b/c'/|d'>dc'>d b>da>f|
g>fe>d c/d/e/d/ c<A|F<D A>F G>FE>e|d/c/B/A/ B<c d2d||

(DUNNOTTAR CASTLE full annotations and Past Featured Tunes)

Why there is a need for the Traditional Tune Archive

Although we are not trained musicologists and make no pretense to the profession, we have tried to apply such professional rigors to this Semantic Abc Web as we have internalized through our own formal and informal education.

This demands the gathering of as much information as possible about folk pieces to attempt to trace tune families, determine origins, influences and patterns of aural/oral transmittal, and to study individual and regional styles of performance.
Many musicians, like ourselves, are simply curious about titles, origins, sources and anecdotes regarding the music they play. Who, for example, can resist the urge to know where the title Blowzabella came from or what it means, or speculating on the motivations for naming a perfectly respectable tune Bloody Oul' Hag, is it Tay Ye Want?
Knowing the history of the melody we play, or at least to have a sense of its historical and social context, makes the tune 'present' in the here and now, and enhances our rendering of it.

Please register as a user to make the most of the many functions of the TTA, and enjoy the many ways that information about traditional tunes can be elicited and combined, from simple to complex situations. Users may make contributions, which, when reviewed by an editor, become part of this community project. Serious user/contributors may become editors through the TTA's autopromotion process, in which quantity and quality of entries allows increased levels of permission to edit and review the entire index.
Above all, the developers wish you joy in the use of the TTA.

Andrew Kuntz & Valerio Pelliccioni

Getting started


Navigation: Registered users can navigate the Traditiona Tune Archive for information in a number of ways.

  • Search. The Search function is located at the bottom of the SideBar on the left, and can be used to search the entire index for any key word.
  • Alphabetically by tune title. Under “The Index” on the SideBar on the left is “All Tunes”. Click on “All Tunes” to open up the list of tune titles in the TTA arranged in alphabetical order, 200 titles to a page. At the top of the page is an alphabetical breakdown that serves as a shortcut to pages. Clicking on any title will bring one to the music and tune fields. Once the tune appears, clicking “Tune Discussion” at the bottom of the page (below the notation) will open up the narrative information on the tune.
  • Query the Archive. The “Query the Archive” function under “The Index” in the sidebar can be used to draw down reports from the TTA in either in single items or in a number of combinations. One might, for example, use a single item query to run a report in the TTA for a particular composer/core source. Clicking on the arrow at the right of the bar draws down a list of composer/core sources, or one may be typed in. For example, clicking on “Bill Pigg” and then the “Run Query” tab at the bottom left will result in a list of all compositions listed in the TTA that the Northumbrian piper either composed or is the core source for. Reports may also be run in combinations, as, for example, by selecting “William Marshall” as a composer/core source, “Three Flats” for the number of accidentals, and “Major” for the Key/Mode. This will result in a report of all Eb Major compositions of Scottish fiddler/composer William Marshall that are indexed in the TTA.
  • Drill Down. Cumulative information about TTA entries can be found in the “Drill Down” under “The Index” in the SideBar on the left.
  • Tune Books/Magazines in the TTA can be accessed under “Issues” in the left side bar. These are reproductions of publications for which access has been granted to the TTA by the copyright holder, under the Creative Commons license.

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