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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

Listen to the featured tunes of the weekKNIVES AND FORKS.

16th century German travel utensils and case.

This upbeat melody dates to 1719 where it appears in the Second Book of the Compleat Country Dancing Master by London publisher J. Walsh. It is used for a longways country dance that appears (with the tune) in other collections as the "Merry Hop" (John Young's Second Volume of the Dancing Master [1], 3rd & 4th Ed's of 1718 and 1728) and "Three Case Knives" (Wright's c. 1720, An Extraordinary Collection of Pleasent and Merry Humours). In fact, the melody is one of numerous variants of a popular and seminal 3/2 time tune categorized as a Lancashire Hornpipe or, sometimes, Cheshire Round, associated with the northern English counties. It was danced to vigorous and unrestrained steps; Graham Christian (2015) notes that "their adoption into the country dance repertoire brought a touch of genuine rural jollity into the more controlled atmosphere of the assembly rooms of the 18th century."

The fork is a relative late-comer to the arsenal of table utensils. In the Middle Ages, most people ate off rounds of stale bread called trenchers, which could hold cooked meat and vegetables and which could be brought directly to the mouth, and anything else was transported to the mouth by knives and spoons. Forks were a Mediteranean invention, centuries slow to catch on, but was an affectation brought to France by Catherine de Medici, who traveled in 1533 from Italy to marry king Henry II. It was through their display at her public events, state banquets, and the like that the utensil came to be noticed as an addition to tabletop that required consideration. Early forks were two-tined, convenient for holding down a slab of meat for cutting, and often sported unique and carved handles. Use of the fork was long an affectation of the rich, however, and the knife sufficed for most people--as late as 1897 British sailors at with a knife, considering the fork to be unmanly. In the 17th century those well-off would bring their utensils with them in cases ("Three Case Knives"), as use of other utensils could be unsanitary if they could be found at all.

KNIVES AND FORKS full annotations and Past Featured Tunes

X: 1 % T: Knives and Forks M: 3/2 L: 1/8 F: K: A

Why TTA Who builds the 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.

Andrew Kuntz & Valerio Pelliccioni

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.

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Help Getting started


Navigation: Registered users can navigate the Traditional 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.
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  • 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.