HOW IT STARTED
During the mid 1990's While leaning the 5 string banjo in finger picking bluegrass style I became interested in playing a wide variety of tunes. However, I ran into various problems with this. The tunes I was interested in were mostly American traditional pieces that had become popular in bluegrass and old-time music circles. First I had problems tracking down any kind of music for many of these. Some were available in tablature form, only trouble was, I found I could not get on with tab. With most tab, not only do you have to struggle with a tune you don't know, but you are also supposed to play it in the style dictated by the tab - the style favoured by the writer of the tab who is probably a very expert player. Occasionally one would come across tab that gives only the main melody notes so allowing you to do your own thing for the rest of the bar, this is the type I favour and the tab you will find on this site is this melody only style.
LEARNING BY EAR and SIGHT READING
What seemed to work best for me was a combination of by-ear and a standard music score to help me find the right notes more easily. Those not familiar with bluegrass banjo might say "why not just sight read from a score?". Well this would be possible with some banjo styles but the bluegrass style usually involves splitting each bar into 8 note rolls, and at the same time some how fitting some appropriate melody notes at the right point in the bar, and this does not really lend itself to sight reading. In fact most of the bluegrass musicians I know do not read music much at all, and learn everything by ear.
This by-ear method also has problems, as finding a suitable recording to learn from can also be difficult. Many recordings are very stylised, so that figuring out what is the tune, and what is the style, can be a problem. Then there is the matter of "not quite on key recordings" requiring annoying instrument re tunes, and the often breakneck speeds on recordings.
As I was working in the computer field I though it worth while to see if applying some computer technology might help with learning tunes. I found it worked well and set out to put together my own traditional music library. Firstly this was to cover bluegrass and oldtimey (these being my favourites), but also to eventually cover a whole range of folk and traditional music.
The bluegrass collection was the first part to go on-line, followed by sections for Oldtimey, Session tunes, Irish, Scottish, Stephen Foster songs, cowboy songs, bawdy songs, folk songs popular in the 60's, well known traditional tunes, and Christmas carols. Since I started around 16 years ago the site has grown "organically" and now has more than 100,000+ files - hence you will find some old dusty neglected parts of the site in need of modernising - this is getting done but I tend to give precedence to adding new stuff.
THE MIDI MUSIC
Mostly I have provided a simple chord and bass line backing on the right channel and the melody on the left so you can set your balance control to suit your needs. Everything has been kept as simple as possible and I have chosen simpler versions of the tunes where options were available. In a few cases you will find more than one version of a tune where for some reason I felt this desirable.
KEEPING IT RUNNING
This on-line Traditional Music Library project started as just a minor hobby, costing nothing but my time, and using just the free web space provided by my ISP. However, somehow it got out of hand and kept growing, and encouraged by lot of positive feed back from users I took the plunge and got it a proper domain name and more expensive hosting. This is a labour of love and not a commercial enterprise - I hate to think how many 1000s of hours have gone into it - but I do need to try and offset my expenses somewhat hence the adverts and the fact that I do sell some "registered" versions.
It's a sad fact, that despite the huge growth of The Internet, the number of websites actually providing real content, is I think, if anything, reducing. Anyway, my object is to provide you with yet more useful content, and I have several projects lined up for the coming year. These new items like most of my content will be free, so please don't begrudge me the few chargeable items, and the adverts.
ADVERTISING ON TRADITIONALMUSIC.CO.UK
I may occasionally accept paid advertising for appropriate products and services, for more information please email to, "rod smith at rod smith .org .uk" (reformat as needed remove spaces in name etc). I have a page here which outlines terms & conditions for acceptance.
USING MIDI & GRAPHICS FILES FROM THIS SITE
Website owners are granted a free licence to use midi files and graphics files from this site on their personal websites providing an acknowledgement of source is given (one for each item used) and a link to my home page is include on each page where one or more items is used. This invitation is only extended to sites with content suitable all the family.
Suggested sample code:
"Example" is used by permission of
<a href="http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk">Traditional Music Library</a>
DON'T BE OFFENDED - DISCLAIMER
Books and song lyrics tend to reflect the cultural values and attitudes of their time and circumstance. Some of the attitudes and values expressed fall short of what we would today consider acceptable, and the fact of the existence of such on this site should not be construed as agreement with any such views. Rather, you should consider this site as what it is, a library, so please don't shoot the librarian if you don't like what you find in the books.
The materials on this site are provided for personal, non commercial, research and educational purposes. Some items e.g. books are covered by particular or public commons licensing. (see below)
To the best of my knowledge, unless otherwise stated, the music included mainly comes under the traditional category and is out of copyright* or otherwise within the public domain category or are personal transcriptions. My arrangements are intended to be generic, and do not represent the performance of any particular artist, band or version. The arrangements and midis are all my own work and my copyright. However, you are welcome to use these scores and midis to help with your personal music training and development, and you may pass them to your musician friends for their personal training purposes. I would also recommend that before using this material as the basis for any public performance or commercial exploitation check the copyright status with HFA, BMI, ASCAP and similar agencies. The other lists and information on this site have been generated by me from my own researches, and is my copyright material.
This site includes a number of original sound recordings provided in MP3 format. All these recordings are believed to be out of copyright (in the EU) but this may not be the case for all countries. Whenever possible I have provided the recording date and record company details so you can verify the status in your country. For a good explanation of sound recording copyright check out http://www.pagestore.net/mediarights.co.uk/ which states:
"As the law stands at present, it is fair to say that only those sound recordings first published in the UK before 31st December 1961 can safely be considered to be in the UK public domain. That is, the recording copyright term (50 years from the end of the year of actual making, or publication in the case of recordings released between 1st June 1957 and 31st December 1960) has expired, and any corresponding Performers'/Recording Rights no longer subsist."
See also http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/copyright/term-protection/index_en.htm for the relevant EU directives.
Many of the items on this site are transcriptions made by myself or others, of performances by known or unknown artists or simply from memory. These transcriptions remain the copyright of the person making the transcription. However, the song or music that has been transcribed may or may not be in the public domain, to ascertain the copyright status of the work check with the agencies as above. These transcriptions should be considered as the personal opinion or idea of the performance described by the transcriber who is sharing his research on this site, they are not necessarily an accurate representation of the original work or of any particular artistic performance. It is also common that transcriptions (written, performed, or oral) are then re transcribed and reinterpreted to suit other opinions and tastes, this process can occur many times, and constitutes what has been called "folk processing" which occurs to music and lyrics over time. Quite commonly folk processing can result in a "better" version, in which features considered undesirable in some way have been filtered out or changed, to produce a more generally agreed upon "traditional" version. Perhaps this is akin to the cultural processes that produce mythology, whatever it is traditional music and songs are felt by many to have an intrinsic feel of "rightness" about them which is hard to fin in other types of music.
Many of the performances described in these transcriptions are available online on sites such a YouTube where a title search will often reveal many different versions.
This site also includes many musical reference works, most of these are my OCR conversions of scanned image versions of PUBLIC DOMAIN status or out of copyright* books either from my own copies of the works or from various internet sources. Unfortunately, the scanning OCR process is far from perfect and I cannot guarantee them to be free from errors.
* The fact of items included on this site being out of copyright in the U.S.A. where this site is hosted does NOT mean they has the same status in other countries, you should check you local copyright laws before using these materials.
REMOVAL OF ITEMS FROM THIS SITE.
If you feel that any item on this site contravenes your copyright or has wrong attribution or similar problem with it, please email mail me with the details and I will remove it. However, I will require that you identify yourself properly to me, before I take any action.
What standards of content and advertising to expect on this site.
My general policy is to provide only family suitable material that is related to traditional music. This is not usually too much of a problem, as most of the material originates from the 19th century, a time when, arguable, in many respects, moral standards were higher than today. However, some common cultural values of that era, particularly in the area of ethnicity, would be considered unacceptable by today's standards.
Another potential problem area is that of bawdy songs, the lyrics of some of which may be found offensive. These too are part of our musical and cultural heritage, albeit one you may not want to know about. Most of them will be found in the Bawdy Songs section of the library which is easy to avoid, but beware there are a few scattered among the 3700 or so song lyrics in the in the Traditional & Folk Songs - Lyrics collection. There may also be a few in the Traditional & Folk Songs With Lyrics & Midi Music collection. These last two collections each contain 3000+ songs and the bawdy content is only a handful.
In general, I hope you will consider this site as you might a regular library, there may be some books here that you don't like, but don't blame your librarian too much. If you find an item on this site that you really think is unsuitable, and has no redeeming academic or historical value, let me know about if and I will seriously consider removing it.
This site does take paid advertising, the revenue from which helps to pay for site expenses such as web hosting and domain rental. Unfortunately, the amounts earned are tiny, but they do make it possible for me to continue with this hobby site, whereas I would be tempted to give it up if I had to pay for it entirely from my small retirement income.
I also suspect that many other excellent hobby sites may be in the same situation.
Most of my adverts are from Google, who on the whole, serve relevant, appropriate and non-aggresive adverts.
If you do see any inappropriate advert on this site (one that is too pushy or you would not be happy to let your child or granny see) please let me know the URL of the offending advertiser and I will block them.
Sadly, increasing numbers of visitors to this and other good sites are choosing to block ALL adverts. It may be something you have never even thought about, but your decision in this affects not only you, the site visitor, the site own ere who has made the material available to you. By blocking adverts while browsing this site you are effectively saying "I like to read your content, but screw you" Or perhaps you might think that a friendly site like this, that provide good content, deserve support; if so, please allow us one of the very few sources of income open to us and don't block our ads. This is your ethical choice.
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