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Getting started


TTA Navigation: Registered users can navigate the TTA 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.

  • Theme Code Index. All tunes in the TTA have been theme coded [1] according to the format successfully employed by Charles Gore in his Scottish Fiddle Index, and by the Folk Archive of North East (FARNE) site. The theme code query can be found in the “Query the Archive” function of the TTA. The easy-to-learn theme coding reduces the first two measures of a melody to numeric codes and is particularly useful in searching for tunes where a title is not known. “Gan Anim” tunes or tunes listed simply as “Jig” or “Reel” in manuscripts may be found by typing the theme code in “Query the Archive”. Note to theme coders: 2/4 tune have been coded in 4/4 time when they are like reels i.e. "notey" and full. Conversely, 2/4 time tunes such as some polkas and airs have been theme coded in 2/4 time depending on their complement of quarter notes. Its a judgement call.

  • Drill Down. Cumulative information about TTA entries can be found in the “Drill Down” under “The Index” in the SideBar on the left. In addition to the cumulative information, the Drill Down feature is particularly useful in narrowing a search or for focused browsing. For example, you can click on "Ireland" (region), "Key of A" (key), "Hornpipe" (Meter/rhythm) and "Dorian" (mode), and the TTA will produce a list of those tunes that share the identified criteria.

  • 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.




The name of the tune being entered. Titles other than in English are to be entered in the original language, except where the translated title has been disseminated and has currency in English, in which case the English title is preferred. It is important not duplicate a tile that already exists (this will overwrite the first tune): instead, use parenthesis after the title to indicate a different version with the same name [e.g. "Knotted Cord (3)".]. Place articles "A", "An", "The", etc. in parenthesis at the end of the title, and after any version number [e.g. "Knotted Cord (3) (The)]. Other than this Tune naming convention there is some restriction and some rules to follow when we enter a tune title.
Please see the Tune title How To page for a complete list.

Also Known As   

The alternate titles associated with the tune, including alternate spellings and variants of the title under which the tune is entered (e.g. "Mrs. Brown" for "Miss Brown"). English translations of titles may be included in this field. Tunes cognate in only one strain, but not other strains, may be entered provided an explanation of the relatedness of the various strains is included in the annotations section.

Composer/Core Source

The name of the composer of the melody, if known. Tunes attributed to an individual, albeit composition credit not ascertained or disputed, may also be entered when there is ample indication in the historical record or a body of lore that links them. However, such attributions must be explained in the annotations section.  Reminder: you may only enter music notation in the Traditional Tunes Archive that is in the public domain. Original melodies or specific arrangements of traditional tunes under copyright are not to be entered without the permission of the composer/arranger. Any questions regarding copyrighted material should be immediately directed to the site directors for resolution.

You can also enter the name of a 'Core Source' if no composer is known. A core source would be the individual to whom the melody can be traced to whether or not they are composer, or, occasionally, the individual who is overwhelmingly credited with popularizing the melody.


Country of origin, and/or country where the melody has entered traditional repertoire.  Check all that apply. However, demonstrated dissemination of the melody in regional tradition must be established qualify for multiple checks. For example, the strathspey "Athole Brose" was originally composed in Scotland, but Canada may also be checked as it has been in dissemination among musicians in the Maritime provinces.


Sometimes called "genre" (the words are often used interchangably), and despite arguments for use of one or another of the terms, they are both popularly employed to identify the overarching characteristics of playing style of traditional musicians.  Although the majority of tunes will belong to one style or another, some will have "crossover" designation, and more than one style box may be checked. Thus, a tune may be a part of the core Irish repertory and played in an "Irish" style, but may also be played in "Québécois" style, as with the reel "Julia Delaney" and its stylistic counterpart "Reel des sorcieres," or by musicians for contra dancing.

Historical Geographical Allegiances

Traditional tunes are often extremely difficult to trace to an individual composer, although, of course, someone is always responsible for the original composition, despite the vicissitues rendered by the "folk processing" that comes afterward. It is sometimes less difficult to determine the "Historical Geographical Allegiance"; meaning a regional or subregion in which the tune has been absorbed into traditional repertoire. A great many tunes will have become so aged and so widely disseminated that they transcend attempts to assign a geographic allegience. Be judicious in your indentifications, and make a check only when you are sure a melody can be historically attributed to a regional repertoire (even though it may have since gained wider circulation). Multiple selections may be made, depending on the historical record. Widely disseminated tunes should not have geographical allegiances checked, as too many checks reduce the usefulness of the relational interface.


The organizing meter or rhythm of a melody is divided into two sections, duple time and triple time, then further identified by the name given to the characteristic rhythm. More than one meter/rhythm may be identified if the tune is rendered in various ways in the historical record. For example, it is common to find hornpipes played as reels, or jigs to be played as quickstep marches, and for older-form jigs to be rendered in 6/4 while modern versions are converted to 6/8.


There are three entries to be made in this section. The first is for the tonic note of the key or mode in which a melody is written. The second is to signify the number of accidentals that occur the majority of the time in a written melody. The third is to identify the correct mode of the tune. When entering the key of 'B Flat Major', for example, one would enter 'B' for the tonic note, 2 flats for the accidentals, and 'ionian/major' for the mode.

Caution: some abc's and abc writers have the unfortunate habit of a "shorthand" convention of naming a key that contains the correct number of sharps or flats for the tune, but that is not an accurate key/mode identification. For example, it is not uncommon to find in an abc-noted tune that the key is identified as 'D' major (two sharps), when the piece actually has the very different sound of 'E' dorian (two sharps). 

It is also not uncommon in traditional music to have melodies that shift between modes or tonal centers, and this may be identified in the annotations section. Similarly, quadrilles and other tunes that have difference keys for different strains/parts of the tune should have the opening key identified in the properties section, with an explanation in the annotations section of parts and key changes.

Form and Structure

The overwhelming majority of fiddle tunes are written in binary (two strain) form, often with a repeat of each section before the next is played. This is denoted by the letters AABB. It is quite common, however, for one or more parts to be played without repetition (form AB), or for multiple parts to be played in other ordered combinations. Thus, the forms AAB, AABC, AABBCCDD, ABCB or other combinations may also be appropriate in describing traditional tune strain combinations.  Occasionally a traditional tune will have different ending measure(s) on the second repetition, and that may be indicated by use of an apostrophe (AA'BB'). Strains which are musically identical except for introductory or 'pick-up' notes, synchopated ties ('anticipated notes'), or similar small differences do not meet the threshold for an apostrophal mark, which should be reserved for more significant melodic differences.  

Following the TUNE FIELDS section of the ADD TUNES tab is


As the name identifies, "Score" is the section for music notation. Tunes in the popular computer-based format called ABC notation may be "cut-and-pasted" into this section between the < pre > and < /pre > marks for translation into standard notation. If a abc is already entered and you would like to add an additional version, then leave the existing abc intact, but under the and the end you would insert another < pre > < /pre > pair and enter the new abc's in between. You will see that two tunes will then appear, one on top of the other. Scores are entered chronologically -- the oldest printed score is the one on top, the one that will appear first. Subsequent versions should be entered below the first, stacked, so that as one proceeds to scroll downward, the next oldest and so on will be displayed.


This tab identifies sources in print in which the tune may be found, either in manuscript or publication.

Book/Manuscript Title

The title of the book or manuscript in which the tune is contained. FIDELITY ALERT~ The book/manuscript entered is the oldest one that can be verified as containing the tune with the tune title you are entering. The abc should be entered in the 'Score' section so that it can be verified. Do not enter a publication/manuscript that has the tune if it appears under a different title (although this would be a welcome addition to the 'Annotations' section).


Denotes the individual(s) who compiled and edited a print collection, or assembled a music manuscript collection.

Page/Tune Number

Enter the page the tune can be found in the book or manuscript, and, if tunes are enumerated, the number of the tune in the collection.

Theme Code Index

Theme coding is a crucial function of the TTA, as it makes possible the matching of variants and the identification of un-named tunes. Tunes in the TTA are to be indexed using the numerical coding system for identifying initial musical themes as outlined by Charles Gore in The Scottish Fiddle Music Index (The Amaising Publishing House Ltd, Musselburgh, 1994). Mr. Gore acknowledges with gratitude the efficiency of the Numerical Representation system of Irish musical scholar Breandán Breathnach, upon which his own system is based. For best utility in the semantic environment, theme codes for each distinct strain need to be entered in the appropriate text box. An explanation of Gore's system can be found at the FARNE (Folk Archive Resource North East) site, item #6 on the "Search Tips" page.
You can also find the same explanation here in this site. Although the coding may seem superfluous or daunting at first, in actuality is is quite easy and produces reliable results.



Anecdotes, identifying or clarifying historical information, provenance, examples of associated lyrics and miscellaneous information regarding a melody may be entered, including information about sources, playing techniques and peculiarities, etc.  Every attempt should be made to separate information which is factual and verifiable from that which is speculative and unverified. Annotations and other entries will be assessed and reviewed by experienced TTA users, then approved, and a system for clarifying and resolving disputed information has been established (see section on "Edit Review" in the "Special Pages" in the left-hand toolbar of the TTA for more). Disputed elements of commentaries and identification of need for citation will be editorially inserted, and will follow established wiki processes until resolved.


Separate fields are available to enter the

1) name(s) of the primary musician(s) playing on the sound recording

2) title of the recording. FIDELITY ALERT~ The recording entered should be the earliest one that has the title of the tune entry. There may be earlier recordings of the tune under different names, but the recording entered here must match the title of the tune entry. If a recording is already entered, and you have an earlier instance of a sound recording with the tune title, you may substitute so that the earliest verifiable recording is reached.

3) record label and identification number of the recording (e.g. Rounder CD 0437, or Bluebird 89770)

4) year of the recording