Sussex Folk Orchestra

General Information about playing in the orchestra, general instrument positions.

SFO seating plan


Reading the music

Our original music distributed at rehearsals was hand written, and you may like to re-write it yourself, in the style you like best or put it into computer format. Or if you prefer you can print the scores from this web site. They are high definition 300dpi images optimised for printing so the printed version will look a lot better than you screen display. Those who learn by ear will need to note how a tune starts and any arrangements. Chords are only a guide but care will be needed to avoid any obvious clashes.

The music is non-transposed, that is it is produced for the fiddles, accordions, melodeons, flute and other non-transposing instruments. Those playing clarinet, saxophone etc who want to play from the music will need to do the necessary transposition by the required amount of notes.

Tuning Up

To avoid chaos each section of the orchestra will tune up in turn: strings, guitars, woodwind, brass. Violins carefully check open G. The whole orchestra will be asked to produce a scale in D and then G. A fixed tuned instrument such as an accordion which is not fully in concert pitch will need to be tuned by an expert.

Warm up

A few easy tunes will be played to get everyone going. Make sure you can hear yourself but at the same time not deafening all those around you. You may need to adjust seat positions in your area, playing angle, music stand etc.

The Leader

The leader is just there for the glory! No. The leader is there to get everyone started together and to co-ordinate the rhythm and dynamics of the music. More about arrangements, dynamics and harmony later.

The Tunes

The music, that is provided for a small charge, is arranged in sets with a theme such as Scottish, European, Animals, American etc. There will be a mix of reels, jigs, waltzes, polkas etc. The ‘slow jam’ method will be used to learn each tune. The smooth change between the tunes will take sometime to achieve.


Always bring a music stand and the music. Tune up your instrument beforehand and have a smile for everyone!

Happy playing.


E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III