Hardcore English Tunebook

Hardcore English Tunebook

At a recent session, a fellow musician recommended this tunebook to me (there are also passing references to it within various session.org discussions).

Well, I have a cupboard full of tunebooks (Irish, Scottish and English trad) which I have acquired over the years - not to mention my own personal tunebook containing 800+ tunes.

So my initial reaction was to say "thanks for the info, but I really already have enough tunebooks"

But my friend (whom I respect as a musician) persisted, advising me that it contained many good tunes not available elsewhere.

So I thought, well maybe I will buy it. When I got home though, and searched for it on the net I discovered the price: £32-60 (from the EFDSS).


To my mind this price is excessive for a soft-backed publication, especially when its being sold not by a commercial concern, but by a non-profit making organisation that is supposed to be promoting and encouraging traditional English music and dance.

What do you all think?

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Oops - just spotted that the price includes a couple of CDs, so maybe it is reasonable, after all.

Speaking personally, I wouldn’t want the CDs. Is this tunebook avialble on its own?

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"…presenting an overview of the current understanding of English traditional dance music" — whatever that means. Borrow your friend’s copy. I get all my books that way.

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Well gam, he might lend it to me, as you say.

But I wouldn’t really want to deprive an organisation of revenue by borrowing it instead of buying it - providing that the price is reasonable.

It’s nice that some public-spirited folks go to the trouble of researching old manuscripts, then posting them to trad music sites on the net for the benefit of all at no charge

Not so nice though when other folks research old manuscripts and market them paper form for silly prices.

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£32.60 for 300 tunes is roughly the same rate per tune as you’d pay if you got Mally’s 100 Irish Polkas book for £10.95 (well, it’s that price on the first online advert I looked up…).

Still sounds a lot. But you’ve got the CDs, and maybe (I don’t know) they’ve splashed out on the presentation, accompanying notes and such. There could well be instructions for dances.

The 300 tunes can’t *all* be the sort you pick up first time through and never want to hear again…(!)…A lot of good tunes have been discovered in manuscripts fairly recently, and some of them should have got in.

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Maybe you’re right Nicholas, and that’s the going rate for tunebooks …

But the prices of such things seem to have been rising faster than the rate of inflation in recent years.

Glancing quickly through it the pub, I spotted quite a few tunes that I knew already ….

And then there would bound be some tunes in the book that I wouldn’t like ….

…and perhaps quite a few that I could have downloaded FOC from the net ….

… and there might be also some good ones in there that I didn’t know, but never got around to learning….

If I bought it, the actual cost per tune might well turn out to be excessively high …. 🙁

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Sounds reasonable for a book and two CDs - for the 21st Century, anyway. But, personally, I’d rather choose to buy EITHER the book OR the CDs - and I’d err on the side of the latter, as you get to learn the tunes AND have good music to listen to.

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@ biggus dave - Thanks. Yes, I had heard of the Cheshire Way tunebook, though I’m not yet the proud owner of a copy of it …. :-

@CreadurMawnOrganig. Diolch yn fawr. You’re right! I’m probably still thinking in 20th century terms (the early part of it, in my case!)

Just been browsing though my accumulated collection of tunebooks, and looked at my copy of O’Neill’s 1001 Gems. It still carries its original price tag - £3.30.

Judging from the info above, it seems that the going rate for tunes in these recent tunebooks works out at about 10 pence per tune.

If that’s the going rate, a new copy of 1001 Gems should cost me 1001 x 10p - over a £100 !!!

But it doesn’t.

Looking on the Net, I find that I can buy a copy from Amazon for £14.32 with free delivery.

Just little more than a penny per tune … 🙂

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I won’t be spending on it, because I’d sooner (or rather, I have a compulsion to…) spend it on fags and gallons of Americano to achieve a dubious state of well-being.

I don’t *know* EFDSS, so what follows is speculative rumination:

I get the impression that its interior workings make those of a three-toed sloth seem hyperactive by comparison, and that trying to prod them, tweak them or in any way embroil oneself in them is one of those things best by-passed or left to particularly determined souls, such as trying to burgle North Korea, convert to Judaism, or penetrate a porcupine.

Anyway: operating in geological time - rather like the Catholic Church - it has evidently at last caught up with, digested and appropriated what was actually going on in EngTrad outside its walls decades back, to judge by the CD playlists.

God bless EFDSS and all who sail in her. Reader, if I slight overmuch this teeming womb of mysteries, then draw thy vorpal sword and call me varlet.

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I beg your pardon?

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Are hardcore tunes the ones you hear in the background during naughty movies? And is softcover the appropriate binding for a hardcore collection? And nicholas, what is it you are going on about?????

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A builder put an advert in his local paper: ‘Hardcore for sale’, One chap turned up with a rucksack on his back, and when the builder asked him where his truck was the light slowly penetrated. Maybe a dictionary would help, Al.

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I’m sure our copy didn’t cost anything like that - but we got the book without CDs, through friends who were peripherally involved in its production. Don’t know whether it’s normally available on its own. I can, though, heartily recommend it, there’s some cracking tunes in there…………….

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Albrown - I think that nicholas implying that EFDSS stands for English Faffing Dithering Staid Society, and he may well be right … 😉

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"The exchange of tunes is what keeps traditional Irish music alive. This website is one way of passing on jigs, reels and other dance tunes." ..

Just a thought but notice the word ‘Irish’ . Not my diktat. Why try and dilute that mandate and Irish tradition by trying to make an opposing culture relavant in this framework. Its just a dumb discussion which will be forgotten in a week, but its the wider principle of the thing. In this case exclusivity is a positive thing.

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While your musical egalitarianism may be the result of a positive and inquisitive attitude toward your own playing. I for one don’t welcome it’s implications for Irish Traditional music on the whole. Indeed it is one of the reason’s that the discussions section of this website has increasingly lacked lacked focus.

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fu( k me i’m so angry I even st st studdered.

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There had been so much cross-migration between Ireland, Scotland and Ireland over the centuries, it is impossible in many cases to ascertain the true origin of a tune.

Nonetheless, "Miss Mulligan", you seem to be advocating some kind of "etthnic cleansing" of this website. Strictly Irish material only. Fair enough.

But wait! But should you not be making some *positive* contribution towards this. Just checked out your profile.

User: Miss Mulligan
Number of tunes submitted: 0

Also looked at your session tunebook. Shock horror! The first tune on your list is 10th Bat Crossing Rhine - a Scottish tune!

"Why try and dilute that mandate and Irish tradition by trying to make an opposing culture relavant in this framework", you said.

If you persist in being a bigot, you should at least be consistent ….

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Consistently Bigoted perhaps? You say Bigot like its a bad thing. 10th batt crossing the Rhine was a tune I mistakenly sourced believing it to be a hornpipe. But top marks for stalking. You make personal attacks. I merely point to the mission statement of this website and suggest English traditional music is not conducive to that. I also advocated a degree of musical exclusivity , which you deem to be akin to "ethnic cleansing" do not forget that the very reason Irish music and culture had to "survive" or be kept "alive" on the first place (ref mission statement) was because of Ethnic cleansing and bigotry in the first place. Two guesses who the perpetrators were? .. I did give you credit for musical inquisitive in defining your own playing but If we are going to get personal I would suggest that your problem and people like you, is that you see all of this as folk music. I don’t and i’m not alone. Infact in terms of the tradition you are in the minority

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*being musically inquisitive*

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even if I dont proof read you get my point

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You’d better stop playing the Tarbolton, Rakish Paddy, Lord MacDonald’s, and a large number of other tunes then….

There’s rumour they may have been originally Scottish……..

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Scottish and Irish music are not mutually exclusive. Neither are the languages. That doesn’t mean that maintaining boundaries that do exist can’t be a positive thing for the integrity of both traditions.. I didn’t write the mission statement , I also didn’t post a discussion containing the words "Hardcore English". A cerebral argument is that English trad is irrelevant and misplaced and that certain musicians sourcing from a range of traditions regard them all as Folk music. I don’t and neither does the mission statement of this site. If I was to go out of my way to take offense I would say that the poster was ill advised to use such terminology as "Hardcore English".Like somthing straight out of a BNP leaflet In my mind mind the first language intolerance used in this discussion was used by him .

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Language of intolerance*

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While I agree that Scottish and Irish traditional music have more in common with each other than they do with English music, I don’t think Mix was out of line in posting his query here. Whether you like it or not, a lot of folk involved in Irish sessions and this website also play English music. Additionally there might well be people on this site, players of Irish music as well, who have opinions about how expensive this book appears to be, which is what Mix was whinging about in his initial post. In any case, he wasn’t using the word "Hardcore" to sound like a member of the BNP. It’s what the book in question is titled.

In case you haven’t noticed, these discussion boards have quite a lot of posts only tenuously connected to Irish music. I personally think it’s great, since you get some pretty funny and interesting off-topic ramblings. I haven’t noticed you jumping in on any of those discussions complaining about the "lack of focus" in the discussion section here. You even let yhaalhouse get way with his digressions about wig glue and hot water bottles. Only this one — because it asks about English music? I think that might be why the charge of intolerance has been leveled at you.

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Try looking in O’Neils 1001 tunes
It lists the Keel Row as an Irish tune .
Newcastle has been in England for some years now Tunes move get with it . My forbares came to the North East of England from Sligo tunes moved both ways .Whats the the problem? Maybe some tunes will move in the future . Who can tell. Song for Ireland was written by an Englishman is it ITM?

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Whoops cross posted there . That was in reply to Trucks post

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I figured, Dave. 🙂

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Hmm, I don’t know if quoting the old "The exchange of tunes is what keeps traditional Irish music alive" works here.
First of all it’s not some sort of gospel and also is that the exchange of only Irish tunes, the exchange of Irish and Scottish tunes, or just the exchange of tunes generally?
I can’t see the problem with people from other cultures using this as a tune or discussion base for trad in general but then I’m not Irish.

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To quote "Miss Mulligan":

"If I was to go out of my way to take offense I would say that the poster was ill advised to use such terminology as "Hardcore English".Like somthing straight out of a BNP leaflet In my mind mind the first language intolerance used in this discussion was used by him" .

Now, if you taken the trouble to click the link that I included with my initial post, you would have discovered that "Hardcore English" is merely the name of this tunebook.

Quoting the title of a tunebook hardly makes me a nationalist! I think that is you who comes across as being a nationalist - not me!

Neither did I make any mention of the merits/demerits of the tunes in the book - I only commented that the price of it seemed to be excessive, and later (as a comparison) went on to say that O’Neill’s 1001 gems (hooray, Irish!) appeared to offer better value per tune.

Irish music (as its heard and played today) has been subjected to many influences over the centuries from what you would presumably term "opposing cultures"


Fiddle - Italian invention
Tenor Banjo - Developed from banjo (of African origin)
Guitar - Spanish, developed from the rebec (of Arab origin)
Polkas - of Eastern European origin

Notwithsanding what you call the "site mission statement" this site contains a great many tunes that are not of Irish origin: Scottish tunes, English tunes, Welsh Tunes, others - not to mention the "own compositions"

So why does Jeremy (who vets every tune) allow these tunes in?

If you have some beefs to raise about the content of this site, I think that you should take it up directly with Jeremy, rather than hurling abuse at me via this thread.

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"Hardcore English" / "English Hardcore" (whichever it is) is pretty certainly not a compendium of English turbofolk devised to strike terror and to swell the chests of the BNP and similar groupuscles.

It seems pursue the more modest aim of proving that a body of English trad actually exists.

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In any case, Mix has been an intelligent and thoughtful contributor to this website for a few years now and hardly deserves to be accused of being a racist nationalist for merely quoting the name of a tune book.

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Cross-posting with you guys. 🙂

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Hmmm . perhaps it’s not wise to discuss the O’Neill collection either, as is was first published in the USA (not Ireland), and (as bazouki dave has noted) contains at least one non-Irish tune.

(bazouki dave - hey you’d better watch out - with a handle like that you might get accused of corrupting the Irish tradition with an instrument of Greek origin 😉 )

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Why thank you, Silver Spear!

I hadn’t realised that you considered me to be a "an intelligent and thoughtful contributor" 🙂

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That’s interesting Bazouki Dave, my ancestors also came to the North East of England from Ireland.

If you look at old maps of Northumberland before the Industrial Revolution you can see that the place was nearly empty. For example there wasn’t a single dwelling between the Green at Wallsend and the Grey Horse Inn at Shiremoor. It’s quite striking.

Very few people in the Newcastle area can trace their ancestry locally. And an awful lot of the people who moved into the area came from Ireland, as a glance in the local phone book will confirm even today.

Meanwhile the culture of the weak and unenterprising Irish people who remained in Ireland was corrupted by extensive contacts with America, leading ultimately to abhorrences like Frankie Gavin, whereas the culture in the North East of England remained pure, because nobody from outside the area could understand what we were saying, and we couldn’t understand them.

And of course the uilleann pipes were also invented up here, in the true authentic home of Irish Traditional Music.

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Thanks for that link, Toppish. Yes, £20 is a little closer to my budget. Maybe I will decide to buy one after all (notwithstanding the "controversial" title …. 😉

Having clicked the link, I clicked again to enlarge the picture of the front cover of the book ….

… I then noticed that it was "compiled and edited" by someone called Barry Callaghan!

Shock horror! Could that be an Irish name, I wonder?

And, if so, would that make it acceptable to Miss Mulligan? 😉

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"I hadn’t realised that you considered me to be a "an intelligent and thoughtful contributor"

Of course you are.

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The origins of the population of Newcastle are possibly mercifully obscure. But it was appreciably added to after the accession of James I / VI as follows:

After becoming King in 1603, James decided to sort out the Anglo-Scottish Border country. It had been a war zone for 300+ years. Civil life near the actual Border was impossible not only because of Anglo-Scottish wars pursued by the national armies, but because the locals lived chiefly by cattle-raiding and robbery, which affected a wider area round about. (Their circumstances didn’t exactly encourage more peaceful and constructive pursuits - these only stood to get trashed…)

As long as the Kingdoms remained separate, these ‘reivers’ were very hard to catch or control: they would evade one country’s lawmen by nipping over the Border and claiming, or at any rate taking, sanctuary on the other side. James’s accession ended this. It was all his, and he was going to comb the whole area and string up every reiver he caught.

He executed, transported and exiled, or at any rate scattered, many. The Border became the almost spookily quiet area it’s been ever since (well, some of it is…).

The survivors on the Northumberland side were left with nowt to do. So lots of them simply trooped down to Newcastle to take anything going. Their upland valleys had been if anything overpopulated, and there wasn’t a living there for all of them.

They are still there in Newcastle, their surnames (and those of their counterparts from the Scottish side) thickly peppering the phone book. Their unquestioning pursuit of questionable objectives now hall-marks the entire Geordie nation, which fairly succinctly explains why Newcastle is like it is.

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Ah, biggus, that explain that. Young Trucks has been away for a while, but did have a habit of flying off the handle from time to time. And Mix, don’t let that praise give you a swelled head! 😉

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I’m not understanding what this thread has to do with dangerous sports:


(How do you guys do those smiley faces?)


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LOL, wolfhul! 😀

It seems that when EDFSS purchased the edfss.org domain name they didn’t have the sense to buy edfss.com at the same time! Either that, or they were too penny-pinching to do it.

Yes, "dynamic" is not usually in one’s mind when thinking of an adjective to describe the EDFSS.

Still, things must be changing there. I don’t think that they would have considered producing a publication with "Hardcore" in the title twenty years ago.

As to those "smileys", wolfhul, strictly speaking they are called "emoticons"(not all of them smile!), and are achieved by typing in certain combinations of punctuation marks and letters into the text box.

If you Google "emoticons", you’ll find various lists of them, including here:


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Oops! Egg on face! 🙁

Retract the first part of my previous post!

- didn’t spot the EFDSS/EDFSS digit transposition …. 🙁

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Thanks! 😎

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As an avid tunebook/tune collector, if i get two or three new tunes out of a tunebook, I am happy.
I get great pleasure in opening a book and humming down the tunes on a page - there are always surprises or old tunes to revist.

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I get great pleasure in doing that with a book I am thumbing through in a shop, or have wrested (hopefully, temporarily and amicably…) from its owner.

But parting with £32.60 to do that would leave me with a leaden sense of duty to learn every damn tune in the book and top the charts with each, so as to get value for money.

This I feel unable to do.

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Barry Callaghan was a good friend and good musician, English though presumably with some Irish ancestry. He died just before he finished the book.

It contains about 300 tunes in the current English session repertoire, with notes on the history and origin of the tunes, referencing 18/19th century manuscript and published tunes books.

Yes, it shows tunes moved between England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales - and Canada, Australia, the USA, Scandinavia …

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Most touching that Barry came to our concertina club and showed us the tunes A to F as they were just going to the printers. He passed away within a fortnight, so the book is a marvellous memory and tribute.
Who else but BC would wear a Hawaiian shirt in Winter?

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Does anyone have a list of tunes in Hardcore English Tunebook?

I found a list of tunes on the CD, but searching for "Hardcore English" does seem a bit risky at work ;-O

Beatrice Hill’s 3 Hand Reel
THe Honeymoon / Oldham rant
Duke of Cornwall’s reel
The Triumph
Sir Phililip McHugh / Long Room of Scarborough
Silverton Polka
La Conservatoire / Ramah Droog / Speed the Plough
Albert Farmer’s Bonfire Tune / Foul Weather Call
East Bolden Jig / Ann Frazer McKenzie
Tom Tolley’s Hornpipe
The Weymouth Quickstep
Happy Hours
The Tin Gee Gee / Walter Bulwer’s Number 1
Trip to Highgate / Elsie Marley
London Hornpipe / Stoney Steps
Fourpence Halfpenny Farthing / The Flight
Sweeps / Redesdale Hornpipes
Sportsman’s Hornpipe
Old Lancaster Hornpipe
Nickley Hood / The Cream Pot
Trip to Brighton
Mountain Belle
The Sloe / Seamo’s Polka / Lichfield Tattoo
Queen of the May / Watson’s Hornpipe
Westmorland Waltz
Go Back to Berwick, Johnny / Our Cat has Kitted /If You WIll Not Have Me You May Let me Go
Church St / St Marys
Scan Tester’s No. 1 and 2 Polkas
Miss Baker’s / Miss Menager’s Hornpipes
New and Old Morpeth Rants
Waiting for the Waggon / Dennington Bell

Re: Hardcore English Tunebook

Hardcore English Tunebook available from Red Cow Music for £15 plus shipping.