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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 weekTHE MISTLETOE BOUGH.


"The Mistletoe Bough" is a ballad [1] from c. 1830, by Thomas Haynes Bayley and Sir Henry Bishop, supposedly inspired by an event that occurred at Exton Hall, Rutland. One version of the story goes that Catherine Noel, the 18 year old daughter of the owner, hid in a large chest during a game of hide-and-seek. Unfortunately, she was unable to get the lid open and suffocated. In another version it is a newlywed bride who accidentally locks herself in the trunk and is not found until years later, in a much decayed state. Either way, the story was not new. In fact, Bayly was reportedly inspired by "Ginevra", from Italy, a Poem (1822) by Samuel Rogers. The story has entered "urban myth" status and versions are still told today.

The mistletoe hung in the castle hall The holly branch shone on the old oak wall. The Baron's retainers were blithe and gay, Keeping the Christmas holiday.
The Baron beheld with a father's pride His beautiful child, Lord Lovell's bride. And she, with her bright eyes seemed to be The star of that goodly company. Oh, the mistletoe bough. Oh, the mistletoe bough.

The ballad was quite popular in Victorian times.

THE MISTLETOE BOUGH full annotations and Past Featured Tunes

X: 1 T:Mistletoe Bough, The. ST.40 M:6/8 L:1/8 Q:3/8=100 S:Anonymous Staffordshire MS, Early 19thC. R:.Air O:England A:Staffordshire Z:vmp.Tim Willets K:C G|GGG GGG|G2G G2G|(AG).A (BA).B|(dc).c c2G|! GGG GGG|G2G G2G|AGA BAB| ecc c2||! c|cBc dcd|e2cc2E|FEF G2G|(c3c2)c|! (cB)c (dc)d|e2c c2E|FEF G2G|c2cc2z|! c2c dcd|(e3e2)E|F2A GAB|(c3c2)G|! c2c dcd|(e3e2)e|f2a gab|(c'3c'2)|]

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.