New Hampshire Country Dance Fiddle Tunes Website

Country Dance Tunes of New England & Related Traditions

NH Fiddle Tunes Home Page

Welcome to the NHCD Fiddle Tunes Website.There are over 400 fiddle tunes on the website. Tunes are mainly from the New England and Canadian repertoire, but there are also some Scandinavian tunes.
All tunes are available in three forms.

  • Playable tunes are in standard notation, and can be played by clicking on them.
  • There is a page in abc notation for each tune type. Tunes are available to download in abc notation and in standard notation as PDF documents.
  • There is a downloadable Tune Book and Chord Book as well.

  • The Fiddle Tunes website also looks at various issues in traditional fiddle music. We look at the development of a chordal accompaniment for a fiddle tune. There's discussion of different ways of learning tunes, and how learning style interacts with playing style. As the tunes on this website were transcribed using abc notation, I include a basic introduction to abc notation here, as well as some more detailed discussion.

On This Page

This page is intended to give you an introduction to and overview of the website. The basic topics are visible below so there's no need to introduce them.

  • Section Headers (horizontal bars) open to display their section contents. Click anywhere on any section header to switch it between open and closed.

The Website Highlights section gives you an idea of what's here. The Website Guide expands on this.

  • Website Highlights

    The NHCD Fiddle Tunes Collection features over 400 tunes from New England, English and French Canada, England Ireland and Scotland, and the Scandinavian countries.

    Site Map. There is a site map at the bottom of every page in the website, with links to all webite pages. There is also a Search box on every page at the top of the footer.

    • There is a searchable Tune Index. Each tune has links to three versions of the tune.
      • Tune are written out in abc format, described elsewhere on this website. The abc code, when pasted into a free abc reader, may be displayed as standard notation or played. One link takes you to the abc code for the tune of interest.
      • Tunes are also displayed in standard notation. Clicking on a tune plays it back for you. Playable Tunes may be viewed by themselves or on pages containing other tunes of the same type (e.g. Reels, Waltzes).
    • There is also a Downloads Page from which entire tune categories may be downloaded in abc format and in standard notation as PDFs.
      • Also available for download is the entire NHCD Tune Book and the accompanying Chord Book, both as PDFs.

    In addition to the Fiddle Tunes Collection there is also some discussion of a few topics related to the music in a section calledAbout the Music.

    • Currently there is a discussion of Choosing Chords for Fiddle Tunes. including some of the factors affecting chord choice, and an example considered in detail.
    • Coming up will be topics such as learning by ear vs. from written music, and how that affects what one learns; and there will be some comparisons of different versions of the same tunes.

    In the next section: A more detailed guide to what's on this website with links to some of the important pages.sss

  • Website Guide & Contact Info


    Please feel free to contact me if you have questions related to any website material, if you find any errors, typos, omissions, or if you want to know about music and/or dance in the Seacoast region of New Hampshire.

    The contact information is included in the footer of every page as well.

    Peter Yarensky
    email: peter dot yarensky at unh dot edu
    peterynh at icloud dot com
    usual substitutions apply
    web: or or

    Some of the tunes are from around here. Some are from Canada, England, Ireland, Scotland and the Scandinavian countries. Many of the tunes have been played at contra and square dances in New England for decades; some are more recently composed. A number of transcriptions are from older, historically important recordings. Some are from recordings I've made in various settings; and some are common repertoire versions. The tunes are described more fully in this section, including an attempt to describe the different types of tunes on the website.

    This section has all the tunes displayed in standard notation. Clicking on a tune causes it to start playing, with both melody and a basic accompaniment. This is great for those who prefer to learn by ear. In the Tune Index there are links to the Playable Tunes.

    This is the main page for downloading tunes and supplementary documents. It describes the download options and links to the Tune Index. There are two download highlights: the NHCD Tune Book, containing all the tunes on the website and the NHCD Chord Book, with chords to all tunes. Tunes are also downloadable by tune type (e.g. jigs, reels) in abc format and as standard notation. Finally there are several supplementary documents that some people might find useful (e.g. abc Help File, utility spreadsheets).

    There is a section on abc notation which was used to write out all the tunes on this website. It includes an introduction to abc notation, a more detailed look at the abc document, and sections on using abc software to produce standard notation, and to print out and play a tune from abc notation, and a few other topics.

    In this section (still in progress) I cover a variety of topics related to fiddle music. There is a section on choosing chords for a tune, including a few examples. It makes use of the playable tunes to illustrate how chord choices can affect how a tune sounds to us. This one is largely complete. There will be a fairly extensive section on learning tunes, and how the methods for learning tunes affect what is learned and how we play the tunes, and even our attitudes toward the music. This doesn't exist yet but will be given its own title.

  • Finding & Downloading Tunes

    Tunes are available to view and download in a few formats:

    • abc Notation. This is how all the tunes on this website were written out.
    • Playable Tunes. These are displayed as standard notation, and can be played by clicking on them.
    • Downloadable Tunes are available as abc files or as standard notation in PDF format.

    The Guide to the Website above has links to most of these, including the Intro to abc Notation, the Downloads Page and the Playable Tunes section.

    The Tune Index in the About the Tunes section is a searchable index with links to all the tunes as playable tunes and as abc notation that you can use.

    The Customizing Playable Tune Searches page in the same section describes a method for searching the Playable Tunes and getting a printable page of the tunes back rather than a list of tunes with links using the Tune Index.

    The Downloads Page is full of good stuff! Among the highlights are the NHCD Tune Book and the NHCD Chord Book which contain music and chords for all tunes on the website. Tunes can also be downloaded by tune type as abc or standard notation. There are some useful supplementary documents like an abc Help File, spreadsheets for sorting tunes, and lots more.

    In the Introduction to abc Notation there is a discussion of how to use free software to convert abc notation into standard notation, and to play the tunes back for you, which you can use as a learning tool.

  • Website News & Updates
    Major Website News

    Search the Website. I added a search button to each page. It's at the top of the page footer on every page.

    Improved Website News Section. The Website News section is improved. Each year's news can be viewed separately so it's easier to find and takes less space. I also added this section for Major Website News.

    Plans for the Future

    Here are some plans for future updates. This section is for my benefit; if it's written in here it's more likely to happen. But I make no promises.

    • I plan to include a section on learning by ear vs. learning by ear, to be updated from an earlier version of this website. It will look at how each produces different results and at some possibilities for using them together productively.
    • I will work on the explanations of using abc and playable tune pages, try to make them more compact, and try to make them into clones of a standard so I can update once and have every page using it update automatically.
    2022 Website News

    Sun. May 15. I renamed the section about choosing chords to About the Music. That allows me to put in a variety of topics related to the tunes. When the section on learning by ear vs. from music is finished I will give it a different section header. I also added the capability to do a search of the web site. The search is at the very top of the header on every page. The interface for this section is improved. Each year's news can be viewed separately so the section takes less room on the page. There's now a section for major website news.

    Wed. May 11. I announced the website on the Maine Fiddle Camp Facebook page. This was the first announcement to the New England music and dance community.

    Fri. May 6. Last-minute corrections and updates - the site is now reasonably ready to be made public.

    Sun. May 1. I'm finishing up repairing bugs in the menus and checking each page to makke sure it works.

    Tues. April 26. The menu system is largely finished and should be much easier to update in the future.There are a few more details and some checking, but mostly it's reached a presentable state.

    Sat. April 16. I just updatd the menu system to work somewhat better and to be more uniform across the website. All pages now have the same Main Menu. All pages in a section have the same section menu.

    Sun. April 3. I added a page on doing custom searches. The searches use regular expressions but aren't too complex, and can return tunes rather than tune titles as with the Tune Index.

    Wed. March 30. The Tune Index has been considerably enhanced. There are now three links for each tune. One goes to a page containing abc code for the tune. One goes to a page containing that tune in playable form. The third goes to a page contining all playable tunes for that type (e.g. Jigs, Reels). The single tune loads faster but the page of tunes is good for browsing.

    Mon. March 21. As of today the website has been made public! I announced on abcusers today, and will announce it in a few other places shortly.

    Mon. March 21. I finished checking things and correcting any problems I could find. I was able to partially implement a suggestion from Jean-François Moine to implement playable tune pages so the tunes could be viewed one at a time; that greatly speeds things up from loading the entire page at once.

    Sat. March 12. I completed the job of making menus more uniform, and solved some dificult problems related to why some just wouldn't cooperate. It turns out that my browser was misbehaving and once fxed it things went a whole lot better! I also corrected nearly every other iconsistency I could find, and figured out how to make the help pop-up windows work on Playable Tunes pages. I updated the abc Help File. I'm sure there are more changes but that's what I remember.

    Tues. Feb. 1. I've been working on making the menus more uniform and easy to use. Also doing various other things to polish up some of the pages and eliminate problems, etc. Almost ready!

    Sat. Jan. 15. I realized I could combine three pages into one and make it much easier to find things. Of course now I have to go through and make sure all my links and descriptions are correct.

    Thurs. Jan. 13. I liked my new spreadsheet for sortng tunes enough that I added it to the website for download.

    Wed. Jan. 12. I've been proofreading, spell checking and doing various other last-minute things. I keep finding miinor and occasionally more important things that need to be redone. But it's possible the time has come to put this online and startletting people know about it!

    2021 Website News

    Sun. Dec. 26. I think I've got the menus working on all pages now, and all writing for the first incarnation of this website are done. I revised the abc introduction and split it between several pages. Time for proofreading and editorial work.

    Mon. Dec. 20. The standard menus don't work on most pages containing playable tunes and sometimes other forms of custom HTML code. I've been working on replacing them with custom menus. I also replaced all the standard menus with a different style of menu that's more likely to work with a variety of different devices. I also redid the About abc Notation pages as they contain playable abc tunes which interfere with tabbed pages. I turned the tabs into separate pages.

    Sat. Dec. 11. The menus are completed for the abc pages as well as the Playable Tunes pages. I designed a spreadsheet to generate the menu HTML code from basic information about the links.

    Thurs. Dec. 2 The biggest development of the past few months is that I learned how to use abc notation to put tunes on web pages in standard notation. Furthermore those tunes can be played by clicking on them.

    • This makes it much easier to figure out which tunes you might be interested in learning, and helps you learn tunes even if you don't read music.
    • It's also useful for the section on chord development, as now you can hear directly how different chords result in the tune having very different sounds. It's also forced me to redo parts of the website as it changes the focus in some ways.

    I also figured out how to make up a searchable tune index, and to put links for each tune to the page it's on in the Playable Tunes section and in the abc category pages. This makes navigating the website much easier. And finally I learned how to make up menus linking to other pages and to tunes on the page in the Playable Tunes section, and possibly in the abc tune category pages. This is useful because the standard menus don't work on those pages.

    Mon. Aug. 23. I finished the reorganization of the website. There is now a clear home page and room for future development. I experimented with doing a version of the tunebook made with page layout software rather than in EasyABC. That would make it look a lot better and would let me put the tunes together much more efficiently. But it's a big effort and will at best take months to complete.

    February – August 2021. I started the website in early February. Much of it came together fairly quickly as I was able to borrow a lot from the Dance website.

    • The biggest issue was presentation of the tunes. The old website has a download page very similar to the current one and pages of abc code which hasn't changed much. It seemed like I should be able to present a page in which based on a user-defined search, the abc code for the resulting group of tunes would be presented.
    • I tried spreadsheets (Excel and Zoho; both can be embedded in a website). Everything was great except the resulting code would have two double quotation marks before and after ever chord, and lots of quotation marks where they weren't wanted. After much time spent on this approach I gave it up.
    • Then I tried using a database (Airtable). I had to learn the software and some of the tricks to get it to do things it doesn't normally do. Finally I got a workable database that I could embed into a website, although I made a major revision to it.
    • I discovered that in the process of using spreadsheets to get my abc code ready for the spreadsheets and then the database I had introduced errors into the code, so I spent time catching as many errors as I could (including some I'd made while writing out the abc code.
    • Finally when I thought I was nearly there I looked at the overall design of the website and decided it needed work, so I developed a better organization and filled in the parts that needed work. I also realized that most of the old website was now included in the new one, so I added in spaces to put the rest of the old website without needing further reorganization.
    The Interim Period

    July 2019 – January 2021. During this time very little was done with this website although I transcribed quite a few tunes. During much of this time I was working on the Dance website.

    2019 Website News

    Tues. July 2. I discovered that the links in the Tune List hadn't been updated when I had to change the URLs for all pages a while ago. Links are now updated and should work correctly.

    Sun. June 30. I updated the Sources listing to include the new tunes. I'm also including downloadable versions of the Sources listing in various formats.

    Wed. June 26. Lots of changes over the past three months. There are some new tunes on the main Tunes page. I added a footer to each page with an overview of the web site.

    Thurs. Mar. 6. Lots of minor changes. I updated the chord extraction spreadsheet, and updated and added in the chord book template.

    Sun. Feb. 16. Lots of internal details were updated and corrected. I also updated the Fiddle home page to have a more explicit site map to be more welcoming to new visitors.

    Thurs. Feb. 14. There was a problem with where the site was uploading to, which I figured out from the fact that some images weren't displaying. After working with MacHighway tech support (where it's hosted) that's straightened out. But the URL of all pages has changed and all links in the site to other pages listed as a URL had to be changed.

    Sat. Feb. 9. The site should be in generally good shape. I updated the LRB page, and added in the pages on choosing chords.

    Tues. Jan. 9. I've made some corrections to links that weren't working correctly, and updated the Lamprey River Band page concerning upcoming plans.

    2018 Website News

    Sun. Dec. 23. Uploaded the second version of the web site. There are still problems but they are decreased. Responsive font sizing of body fonts needs to be improved. Menus and links need to be checked.

    Sat. Dec. 22. All pages have been updated and the site is nearly ready to update online.

    Wed. Dec. 19. Nearly every page has been updated to improve formatting on smaller screens. I've also tightened up and edited contents of most pages and improved the discussion of headers. I've added a page for Lamprey River Band updates. I'll be uploading all these updates shortly.

    Wed. Nov. 14. Uploaded the web site for the first time! There are a number of problems to take care of over the next few days.

    Fri. Oct. 26. I added in this news section to have a record of changes made. I also added the Contact Form, and the PDF with all the tunes.

  • Website History

    The NH Old-Time Country Dance- website (NHCD) was started in August 2006. It had a combination of music and dance topics, with an online version of the Seacoast Country Dance Newsletter as a central part. I gradually started to cover a wider range of dance topics. It became the first official website of the Ralph Page Legacy Weekend for a number of years, and it was the official website of the Star Hampshire Traditional Music & Dance Weekend. It was also the website of the Wednesday Night Canadian Jam Session in Durham. I started putting up tunes on the website too in abc format and as PDFs in standard notation.

    The software I was using (iWeb) stopped being supported in 2011. Although it continued to function, most people abandoned it as we knew it wouldn't work indefinitely. The website was updated occasionally but not much for several years. Finally in April 2017 I started rebuilding the website using Adobe Muse. By then I was no longer doing the Newsletter, so the rebuilt website had a much heavier emphasis on fiddle tunes. Besides tunes it has discussion of learning by ear vs. from written notation and some of the differences in what is learned, and it has some discussion of other topics as well.

    In March 2020 Adobe discontinued support of Muse with substantial advance warning. After considerable research I decided to use RapidWeaver, as it had been in existence since 2004 and appeared likely to be around for a while. I also decided to start out by redoing the Dance portion of the website as there was already a functional Music website online. I got started in December 2019 and spent a good year and a half working on it. It's much more extensive than the original website although covering somewhat different topics.

    The new Dance website has sections on New England dance history, Seacoast New Hampshire dancing and dance history, reprinted articles from the Newsletter, historical coverage of the Ralph Page Weekend, discussion of dance programs of various callers, the development of some of the chestnut contras, general coverage of the issue of change and preservation in dance traditions and more.

    In February 2021 I began redoing the Fiddle Tunes website. So far it's mostly focussed on the tunes, with over 400 tunes available in abc and standard notation. I have put together a few ways of downloading tunes, suitable to different interests. I've also put together a fairly extensive section on abc notation.

    The biggest development was the discovery of playable abc tunes: tunes that could be displayed as standard notation and that would play when you click on them. This changed the whole focus of the website and it's used in several sections. For example the section on chord choice is much more convincing given the ability to hear how a tune sounds with different chord selections. It delayed putting the website online for a few months, but I think it improves the website enough to be worth it.

    Writing at the end of 2021 it looks like it should be ready to put online during the first couple months of 2022. (Writing in March 2022 I'm nearly there!)

  • About the Website Editor
    Who Am I, and Am I Really Qualified to Discuss All These Topics?

    Good question. Anyone can design (or pay someone to design) a web site that looks professional and impressive. But too much of the Internet is made up of material written by people who either don't know much about the topics they write about, or who deliberately distort the facts for their own purposes.

    So how am I qualified to discuss all this stuff?

    First, here's what I am not:

    • I'm not formally trained in music. I don't sight-read music very well.
    • I have no degrees in music, Folklore, Ethnomusicology or any related field.

    Having said that, I believe I do have some important positive qualifications to discuss all this stuff.

    • Although I don't read music well, I am good at writing out musical notation and have written out at least 500 fiddle tunes. I transcribe tunes very carefully, often in great detail. I can also use music to learn a tune.
    • I do have considerable training that's relevant to the topics at hand.
      • Although I don't read music well, I am good at writing out musical notation and have written out at least 500 fiddle tunes. I transcribe tunes very carefully, often in great detail. I can also use music to learn a tune.
      • I do have considerable training that's relevant to the topics at hand.
      • I have a degree in Psychology with an emphasis on behavioral psychology and learning.
      • I taught for my entire career, and put a lot of thought and work into finding better ways to teach.
    • I have played traditional New England fiddle tunes since about 1980, on hammered dulcimer, fiddle, piano and a couple other instruments.
      • I approach the issues involved in learning and playing as a behavioral psychologist; I don't pretend to be qualified to do so as a music instructor or as a member of one of the professions that might study traditional music.
      • I have played traditional New England fiddle tunes since about 1980, on hammered dulcimer, fiddle, piano and a couple other instruments.
      • I've also been contra and square dancing that entire time as well as calling both.
      • I've listened to, learned from and played with many of the old-timers in New Hampshire and Maine; both New England and French.

    I could go on at much greater length, but hopefully I've established that I'm reasonably qualified to talk about New England fiddle tunes and different ways to learn them.