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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

NORTHERN LASS (1), THE. AKA and see "Muirland Willie," "Lord Frog and Lady Mouse." English, Country Dance Tune (6/8 time). G Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. There are several 'Northern Lass' tunes. "Northern Lass (1)" is found in John Playford's Apollo's Banquet (1670, p. 124), The Pleasant Companion, or New Instructions for the Flageolet (1680), D'Urfey's Pills to Purge Melancholy, Walsh's New Country Dances for the year 1713 (1713) {where it appears as "Lord Frog"}, Wright's Country Dances {where it appears as "Muirland Willie"}, and The Merry Musician (1716). Chappell (1859) states it appears in several ballad operas, although in altered form. He explains:

The ballad is to be found in Roxburghe, ii. 161, and is there called "The Fickle Northern Lass, or the Wrong'd Shepherd's Resolution," &c. Tune of "There was a lass in the North Country." It begins:--
There was a lass in the North Country,
And she had lovers two or three
But she unkindly dealt by one
Who had to her great favour shewn.
Which made him this for to complain--
I never shall see my love again,
For since she had chang'd her mind,
I'll trust no more to womankind.

In Walsh's Country Dances, and in the ballad operas generally, the tune is called "Lord Frog", from a song written to it by D'Urfey, beginning, "Great Lord Frog to Lady Mouse," &c. (see "Pills, &c., 1719, vol. i., p. 14) and Silvia, p. 35); in Wright's Country Dances it is called "Muirland Willie." In Shield's opera The Farmer, it also appears, set to the song, "Look dear Madam, I'm quite the thing."

John Glen (Early Scottish Melodies, 1900) says Playford's version was arranged for the violin, "and seems to have been copied from some pipe-version of the air." He notes that the versions in ballad-operas differ considerably, as do the two versions contained in The Merry Musician, where one is a song by D'Urfey, while the other is from the ballad-opera Momus turn'd Fabulist. Glen is of the opinion that the Walsh, D'Urfey and other versions resemble the Scottish "Muirland Willie," but are much inferior.

X: 1
T:Northern Lass [1], The
B:Apollo's Banquet (1670), via Chappell (1859, pp. 21-22)
Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion
G2A B2c|d>cd f3|c2d f2d|c>AG F3|
G2A B2c|d>ef g>_ag|f d2 (f/d/c/A/B)|G3-G2||
d/e/|f2g _a2g|fd2 f3|c2d f2d|c>AG !fermata!F2d/e/|
f2g _a2g|fd2 f3|d2c de/f/g|f3-!fermata!f2 f|
g2g _a2g|fd2 f3|c2d f2d|c>AG F3|
G2A B2c|d>ef g>_ag|fd2 (f/d/c/A/B)|G6||

(THE NORTHERN LASS(1) 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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