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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 weekRORY OF THE HILLS.

Rory of the Hills. Illustrated London News, January 22nd, 1881

The tune is usually known nowadays as "March of the Kings of Laois." The title is perhaps associated with the O'Moore/O’More family, states Johnson (1991), whose 16th century head of the family was Ruairí Óg Ó Mórdha. The O’More family lands were in the County Leix, and, when the English sought to usurp them by importing settlers, establishing a new government and renaming the county Queens, Rory and his followers waged a successful six year guerrilla war against them. Though Rory was killed while reconnoitering a force brought against him, his soldiers avenged his death and routed the enemy. O’More’s name became an inspiration and a rallying cry: “God, and Our Lady, and Rory O’More!” (Seamus MacManus). Rory of the Hills has since come to mean the eternal wanderer, the archetypical Irish homeless one. O’Neill (Irish Minstrels and Musicians, 1913), whose version seems identical to Bunting’s “Ruairidhe ua Mordha/March of the Kings of Laois,” printed in his collection of 1809, mentions this tune as a “splendid martial air.”

A story, told by Ann Heymann in her book Secrets of the Gaelic Harp (1988), describes an event in 1599 when the Earl of Essex, the Queen’s representative, visited one of the Lairds of Munster with his guide, a Mr. Delahide. They participated in a great feast at which a harper appeared at the door and asked to entertain the company, as was the custom. Delahide asked in Irish for a certain song he heard the bard perform before and when he the bard complies there was consternation in the audience. When Essex inquired as to the reason for the commotion he was told the the song requested was “The Lament of Ownry Rory O’More,” as Delahide was More’s seanachie. The natives are astonished to hear this tribute to a rebel played before the Queen's representative, and their is some fear of a riot breaking out, as the native Irish gather at both door and window to hear the harp.

"Rory of the Hills" is the name of a mid-19th century song attributed to Irish nationalist Charles J. Kickham (1828-1882), although there was at least one other unrelated song by that name as well. It was perhaps influenced by the signature 'Rory of the Hills' was a familiar invocation of agrarian pre-Land League agitators who sought redress when it was not meted out by official sources. During the land war numerous missives were sent in the names of Ned of the Hills, Captain Rock, and Captain Moonlight; all similar signatures.


RORY OF THE HILLS full annotations and Past Featured Tunes


% X:1 % T:Rory of the Hills M:6/8 L:1/8 R:March, Set-Dance B:O'Neill's Music of Ireland. 1850 Melodies, 1903, p. 340, no. 1810 Z:François-Emmanuel de Wasseige K:D {A/B/}A2F {A/B/}A2E|{A/B/}A2F {A/B/}A2D|{B/=c/}B2G {A/B/}A2E|{G/A/}G z F E2{F/E/}D| {A/B/}A2F {A/B/}A2D|{A/B/}A2F {A/B/}A2D|{B/=c/}B2d AdG|FdF E2 {F/E/}D|{F/G/}F2D {G/A/}G2E| A3 AGF|E<=cG E2 C|G<cG ECE|D>ED D>ED|D>ED D>ED|| {B/=c/}B2G B<dG|{B/=c/}B2G B<dG|{A/B/}A2e {A/B/}A2F|{A/B/}A2e {A/B/}A2F| {B/=c/}B2B A<dA|G<=cG E2C|{F/G/}F2D {G/A/}G2E|A3 AGF| E<=cG ECE|G<=cG ECE|D>ED D>ED|D>ED D>ED|]

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

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Navigation: Registered users can navigate the Traditional Tune Archive for information in a number of ways.

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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.