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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 weekROBIN ADAIR.

Portrait of Robin Adair by Robert Hunter

The song was popularized in Scotland by the long-lived Irish harper Donnchadh a Haimpsuigh, also known as Denis O'Hampsey or Hempson (1697-1807), who had crossed over from Ireland a second time in 1745 to play for Bonnie Prince Charlie at Edinburgh (The collector Edward Bunting later noted several of Hempson's tunes). He played many Irish airs later claimed as Scottish, as this one was, according to Flood (1905, 1906). In fact, claims have been made by the Irish, Scots and English, for national origin of the piece.

The words of “Robin Adair,” set to the tune of "Eileen Aroon (1)," were written by Lady Caroline Keppel (1735-1769) in the early 1750's about her lover, an Irish surgeon named Robert (‘Robin’) Adair, whom she was permitted to marry only several years later, when she was twenty-one. He was a physician and her family thought him beneath her station. She died in 1769 at the age of thirty-two. The song was first published under the "Adair" title in 1793 in The Edinburgh Musical Miscellany, volume II, p. 304, and it was featured by Mr. Braham early in the 19th century. The words begin:

What's this dull town to me?
Robin's not near;
What was't I wish'd to see?
What wish'd to hear?
Where all the joy and mirth,
Made this town heav'n on earth,
Oh! they've all fled wi' thee,
Robin Adair.

ROBIN ADAIR full annotations and Past Featured Tunes

X: 1 % T:Robin Adair. HSJJ.190 M:3/4 L:1/8 Q:1/4=100 S:HSJ Jackson,Wyresdale,Lancs.1823 R:Air O:England A:Lancashire N:Finis Hujus? H:1823 Z:vmp.Chris Partington K:C G2A2B2|c3de2|G>c A>c B>d|c4z2| G2A2B2|c3de2|G<c A<c B<d|c4z2|! e2e2e2|g3GG2|e2e-g (3fdB|c3AG2| g2(gf ed)|=c3dHe2|G>c”^Finis Hujus” A>c B>d|c4|]

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.

Latest Tunes

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.
  • 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.