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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

Albert Hash

HANGMAN'S REEL (1). Old-Time, Breakdown. USA, southwestern Va. A Major. AEae or AEac# tunings (fiddle). AABB: ABCD (Silberberg): AABCCDD (Songer): AABBCCDD (Kuntz): AABBCC'DD (Phillips). The origins of the tune are somewhat obscure. It was in the repertoire of Albert Hash, a traditional fiddler of Whitetop or Rugby, Va. and identified by him as originally a British Isles tune, though stylistically that provenance is doubtful. Susan Songer and Clyde Curley (1997) report that New York fiddler Judy Hyman (of the Horseflies) believes it originally derived from the Québecois tune "Reel du Pendu" (Hanged Man's Reel) and that it was rendered in a Southern old-time style by younger upstate New York fiddlers. According to Hash's nephew, Albert learned "Hangman's Reel" (and "Old Sport (2)") from a 1968 recording by Texas fiddler Bill Northcutt (1935-1992), still remembered as a top-notch musician. Whether the tune was a Southern traditional tune or a "revival" processing, it has since become a very popular "festival tune" among younger old-time fiddlers and frequently heard at square dances. See the related melody "

Source for notated version: Albert Hash via Liz Slade (Yorktown, New York) [Kuntz]; Tim O'Brien [Phillips].

Printed sources: Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes), vol. 1, 1994; p. 108. Silberberg (Tunes I Learned at Tractor Tavern), 2002; p. 58 (appears as "Hanged Man's Reel"). Songer (Portland Collection), 1997; p. 92.

Recorded sources: County CO-CD-2711, Kirk Sutphin - "Old Roots and New Branches" (1994). June Appal 014, John McCutcheon - "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" (1977. Learned from Albert Hash). Marimac 9040, The Heartbeats - "Living in Black and White" (1990). Stoneway STY 103; Bill Northcutt, Bill Clemmons, Doc Hamilton - "Old Time Hoedown" (1968).

T:Hangman's Reel
N:AEae Tuning
N:Notated as it would be fingered if played in standard tuning, not as it actually sounds
N:The second time through the last part may be played an octave lower.
Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion
(D/|A/)D/A/(A/ B/)A/B|c/B/c/(A/ B/)A/B|AA B/A/B/B/|c/B/c/c/ B>B|
AA BB|c/B/c/A/ B(A/B/|c/)B/c/A/ B/A/B|(D/A)(D/ A):|
|:(A/|e/)(A/c/)(A/|e/)(A/c/)(A/|B/)A/B/B/ c/B/A|ec ec|B/A/B/(B/ A:|
(A|:B>)(A B)(A|A/)B/c/A/ B/A/E|(A/B)(A/ B/)A/B|e/f/e/(d/ c/B/)A:|
|:c/B/c dd|cc/c/ d/c/d|cc d/c/d|c/B/c/A/ BB|
c/B/c d/c/d c/B/c d/c/d|c/B/c B/A/B|D/AD/ A2:||

(HANGMAN'S REEL 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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