Traditional Tunes

The intention here is to present a selection of tunes, in notation and TAB (fiddle/mandolin) with accompanying chords.

There are links to mp3 file recordings for most tunes

SCROLL DOWN for more tunes!
LISTEN to recordings by clicking the links!




'The Cheshire Waltz'

Came across this on Spiers and Boden's 'The Works'. Dots on TheSession web site have this tune in the key of D, though I understand it was originally in C and since S&B also play it in C, then C it will be. I took the dots off TheSession site, transposed them down to C and rearranged some bars to improve the flow.

Recording with English concertina and Mandola on the link below: 





'Midnight on the Water'

A Texas style old-time fiddle tune composed by Luke Thomasson, early 1900's. Made popular by Luke's son Benny(1909-84), who recorded it in 1970, was also recorded by Luke's grandson Will. Benny remembered the night his father and unlce Ed sat on their porch composing it. Various lyrics have been written for this tune, by John Croziat and Ron Kavana to name just two.

Photo: Luke Thomasson


'La Valse sous la Pluie'

This lovely waltz was collected in Paris by Pat Simmons, way back in 1969!

Pat was busking at the time and met an old French street musician who played it on an accordian. Pat picked it up, and for a while included it in his own busking set, played on whistle. Since then he had virtually forgotton about it, until now. We were chatting on the phone and I asked Pat if he knew any good French tunes? Then it suddenly came back to him!!

Pat picked up a whistle and played in to me down the phone!! Well here it is!

I hope you enjoy!


'A Trip to Galloway', yet another offering to be found on the Boat Band's 'Trip to the Lakes' album! This time beautifully played on treble and lowD whistles by David White and recorded at the Wormy Boards Studio. As aways, click the link to hear this recording!

'Stybarrow Crag' written by Hamiliton, a student of William Irwin, the famous Langdale fiddler. This sadly is all I could discover about the tune's composer. Again I found this on the Boat Bands 'Trip to the Lakes' CD. I play this with a cappo on the 7th fret of a tenor banjo, this makes it easier to finger and produces a more punchy sound. You can easily transpose the TAB by moving the fingering from strings 1 & 2, down to 3 & 4.

Stybarrow Crag, Ullswater.

photo courtesy of

'Keswick Bonny Lasses' and 'Stables' Grand', I have scored these two tunes from listening to the recording 'A Trip to the Lakes' by the Boat Band. Both are Hornpipes, which are usually scored in 4:4 or 2:4 timing. It seems I have gone 'slightly overboard' in attempting to score the first tune exactlty as I play it, with expression written in, by the time value of the notes! The only way I could do this was to use 6:8 time signature!

Please excuse me this indulgence!!! Have a listen! 


'Stables' Grand', it seems, has been renamed after Lakes fiddler Henry Stables (born 1810). Stables was a pupil of the legedary Cumbrian fiddler William Irwin (1822-1889). The tune most likely came from Wales where it is called 'Mympwy Portheinon', which translates as 'Portheinon's Whim'. It has also  been recorded by Eliza Carthy, as 'The Grand Hornpipe'





'Winster Gallop', according to my very brief bit of web research was 'collected' by one Cecil Sharp who visited Winster in Derbyshire in 1911. This is an English Dance tune. It comes in for some criticism in the comments page of the Session (www.thesession) web site, but is an excellent tune for beginners. It was the first tune I learnt to play on my recently acquired concertina! This is my first ever concertina recording.

If you go to the Concertina Tab page you will find tab for this tune....  again great for beginners!!


'Salmon Tails' (full title 'Salmon Tails up the Water')composed by Nothumrian Piper James Allen and is of a tune type known as a 'Rant', popular with Northubrian Pipers. James Allen is reputed to have died during  imprisonment under Elvet Bridge in Durham, for stealing a horse. Another Rant named 'Jimmy Allen' goes well with this one.










'Westmorland Waltz', it was during a trip to the Lake District in 2008, that I happened to buy a CD of traditional Cumbrian tunes entitled 'A Trip to the Lakes' by the Boat Band. This recording is a real gem! There are some absolutely fabulous tunes on it, including this most playable waltz!

Please note: I have re-recorded this tune because I played it incorrectly (and wanted to add concertina!)









I first heard this lovely tune on Hans Mohr's 1998 album 'Rainy Days', it's a great one for the tin whistle. Please excuse the slightly shaky whistle playing on this recording (I need to practice a bit more on this fantastic instrument!) Inisheer is the smallest of the Aran Islands which straddle the mouth of Galway Bay.

To listen to the recording as always, click on the link: 





After a weeks washed out camping in the Lake District last August (rained for 4 days and nights), we stayed under a proper roof, with friends in Lancaster. Pat Simons (our host and long time musician/song writer)taught me a couple of tunes during our brief stay, 'June Apple' and 'Over the Waterfall' (this title seemed particularly fitting, as we had just walked up to Stickle Tarn from the New Dungeon Ghyll and been over a few waterfalls en route!

















'Mazurka de Servant' was collected from Gordon Tyrrall's 'The Bridge Flows' album. He plays this tune followed immeadiately by a second, 'Mazurka Limousin'

Mazurkas are traditionally Polish dance tunes, though they have spread through Europe. These two tunes originate in the Massiff Central region of France.

These are my arrangements of the tune/guitar chords, based on listening to the recording. If you are learning to play Maz de S., don't be put off by the 'double notes'. The melody is always the top one! You can ignore the bottom note in each pair if you like, but they do add a bit of extra depth if you include them!

Listen to my recordings:













'Tenpenny Bit' and 'The Rakes of Kildare' are two popular Irish double jigs, and probably the first tunes I ever learnt to play. They are good beginners' tunes, but always enjoyed by more experienced players, who will usually play them much faster than I do on the recordings here!

These two tunes fit together well as a 'set', where the second tune continues directly on from the first, without a break. I have recorded them seperately for the web site for reasons of accessability.

The TAB accompanying the scores is for violin, mandolin, octave mandolin or tenor banjo, the numbers give the fingering position on each string.

These jigs, in 6:8 time use a 1 2 3, 1 2 3 rhythm, this can be played on the guitar by a down up down, down up down strum. However if the tune is played fast, this can be quite hard! So the other approach is to simpy play a down strum on the 'one', ie 2 down strums in each bar. It is good to vary your guitar playing and use both of the above in the same tune!

To hear my recordings, click on the links:

'The Rakes of Kildare', is also known as 'The Galbally Farmer' 










'Kitty's Wedding' was collected from Gordon Tyrrall's 'Irish Choice', 101 tunes selected by Gordon, and played by him on his two albums 'Five Mile Chase' and 'Banish Misfortune'.






Laride' 6. This French tune, goes really well with 'Bear Dance' and has been played at local sessions as a 'set', with Bear Dance following on directly after it! This is arrangement has a few extra quaver notes added to spice it up, most noteably(!) in the 4th bar, where the run of 4 quavers replces the single minim of the orgininal


'Bear Dance' is very popular tune in local sessions and quite easy to learn for beginners! But with some fast chord changes to challenge the guitar!





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