tunebook 7 tunes.

I live in Durham City in North-East England. I play whistle and a two-and-a-half-row DG Saltarelle melodeon. No Celtic background that I’m aware of; got into going to folk clubs and sessions around 1972, when I was twenty. I’ve composed tunes, and access to these is given below.

Have mainly played Irish and Northumbrian. I take an interest in tunes from the English tradition that approximate to these in catchiness and ‘feel’, and old tunebooks and new compositions are rapidly increasing the number of these tunes in circulation. I’m deeply fond of Scottish music. Other music that has particularly engaged me has included Gilbert and Sullivan, The Incredible String Band, Greek music, and Classical works, mainly in the well-known bracket. More recently, Renaissance and Georgian/Corsican polyphony, John Tavener, and the world of Orthodox music. On the DG melodeon my first and I hope formative influence was Tony Hall’s playing on his album "Fieldvole Music", produced back in the Seventies: I say ‘I hope…’ because his pensive, lyrical style was/is a paragon of sensibility in the playing of this instrument. Another great source of inspiration here has been Phil Cunningham’s piano accordion playing - whose vast resources and powers I cannot hope to duplicate in my own playing - together with his marvellous output of own tunes.

I have submitted so far the following personal compositions to the Tunes database, and include other - mainly unsubmitted - personal compositions in abc notation below them. I don’t want to bother with copyright and protocol, so help yourselves if you like them, folks! Total number of tunes, submitted and unsubmitted, now stands at: 27. Additionally, I am starting to put some of these tunes up in YouTube videos. To date there are five of these, including a song (Centuries And Days) set to one of the tunes (Woodcroft Lane):

(1.) Nick Till Tunes 1

STOP PRESS! - I’ve uploaded an (IMO) improved version of the above, 30.10.2013.
Same tunes, same title. Its url is:

The tunes and their playing times on this video are as follows:

00.00 - 02.28 : Whitfield Brow (D), air in 3/4;
02.30 - 05.05 : Kenneth’s Bridge (D), tune in 3/2;
05.05 - 05.44 : Bridge End (D), tune in 3/2;
05.46 - 07.44 : The Browney Banks (D), hornpipe in 4/4;
07.44 - 09.43 : The Bishopley Hornpipe (G), hornpipe in 4/4;
09.44 - 12.20 : The Uplift (G), tune in 3/2.

(2.) Nick Till Tunes 2 (That’s a tag that ought to get it, if the url doesn’t…)

The tunes and their playing times on this video are as follows:

00.00 - 04.11 : Slitwood (A), air in 3/4;
04.12 - 06.53 : Katie’s Quickstep (D), tune in 2/4;
06.54 - 09.49 : The Strength Of The Hills (G), tune in 15/8 (or 3/4);
09.50 - 12.20 : Constitution Square (G), tune in 6/8.

(3.) Nick Till Tunes 3

No pics as yet. The tunes on this YouTube are as follows:

Bollihope Burn (D), reel;
Planxty Nick Taverner (G), brisk 3/4;
Forest-In-Teesdale (G), slip jig;
Woodcroft Lane (G), air;
Good Riddance To City Vision (G), tune in 3/2.

(4.) Nick Till Tunes 4

Finchale (here, in F Major);
Tees Head (D Major).

(5.) Nick Till CENTURIES AND DAYS (SONG) - Music with on-screen words

Own comps notated on The Session website:

Air in 4/4: Finchale
G Major, submitted on December 29th 2006

Jig/Slide?: The Blackcock
G Major, submitted on November 22nd 2006

Slip Jig: The Long Rocks
G Major, submitted on November 8th 2006

Hornpipe: The Browney Banks
D Major, submitted on November 2nd 2006

Reel: Bollihope Burn
D Major, submitted on November 14th 2006

Waltz: Planxty Nick Taverner
G Major, submitted on March 16 2007

Jig: Dan’s Castle
D Major, submitted on April 9th 2007

Hornpipe: The Crossgate Hornpipe
D Major, submitted on July 1st 2007

Hornpipe: The Bishopley Hornpipe
G Major, submitted on February 7th 2008

Three-Two: Kenneth’s Bridge
D Major, submitted on July 12th 2008

Three-Two: Bridge End
D Major, submitted on August 17th 2008

Polka: Katie’s Quickstep
D Major, submitted on February 15th 2009

Air in 3/4: Whitfield Brow
D Major, submitted on May 13th 2010

March in 6/8: Constitution Square
G Major, submitted on May 18 2012

If interested, check in Comments beneath the tunes for any notes trying to rectify submission mistakes!

The following are personal compositions in abc notation:

(Odd ones may be in the Tunes database also)


T:The Shincliffe Reel
R:4/4 (Reel)
de||:fedB AFAB|defg a2 fa|g2 eg f2 df|edcB A2 FA|BAGA BcdB|cBAB cdec|dcde fefg|addc d2 de:||

||:fgab agfe|dAFA d2ef|gaba gfed|cBcd e2 de|fgag fedB|AFAd f2 ef|gaba gfed|1 cABc d2 de:||2 cABc d4 ||

Shincliffe is a pretty village a mile or two upriver from Durham City (UK). It is Durham’s equivalent to Godstow near Oxford, or Grantchester near Cambridge.

(This tune is in the database, entered by ceolachan as a hornpipe - but the above ABCs are the original tune, which I prefer!)


This tune is set out below in three keys:

X: 1
T: Durham Market
L: 1/8
R: 2/4
K: D Major

|BA A2:||
||Bd AF|Bd d2|F A/F/ E D/E/|FE F/G/ A|Bd AF|Bd d>A|B/A/G/F/ E/F/G/A/|Bc BA|Bd AF|Bd d2|F A/F/ E D/E/|FE F/G/ A|Bd AF|Bd d>A|B/A/G/F/ E/F/G/A/|Bc d2||

X: 1
T: Durham Market
L: 1/8
R: 2/4
K: G Major

||:Bd ed|G>A BB|A B/A/ GA|BG GA|Bd ed|G>A BB|AB cd|ed d2:||
||eg dB|eg g2|B d/B/ A G/A/|BA B/c/ d|eg dB|eg g>d|e/d/c/B/ A/B/c/d/|ef ed|eg dB|eg g2|B d/B/ A G/A/|BA B/c/ d|eg dB|eg g>d|e/d/c/B/ A/B/c/d/|ef g2||

X: 1
T: Durham Market
L: 1/8
R: 2/4
K: A Major

||:ce fe|A>B cc|B c/B/ AB|cA AB|ce fe|A>B cc|Bc de|fe e2:||
||fa ec|fa a2|c e/c/ B A/B/|cB c/d/ e|fa ec|fa a>e|f/e/d/c/ B/c/d/e/|fg fe|fa ec|fa a2|c e/c/ B A/B/|cB c/d/ e|fa eB|fa a>e|f/e/d/c/ B/c/d/e/|fg a2||

This tune could work in any of the three mainstream keys used above; personally, I think A brings it out best. I can see it working well played quite fast as a Kerry-style polka, but it might also work as a 2/4 in the somewhat more measured NE England tradition. It is all in one major octave, so could go on primitive bagpipes having this range!

Durham Market is both a place (a Victorian covered market) and a weekly event (stalls in the Market Place on Saturdays). It is perhaps best enjoyed when there’s a visitation of food stalls from foreign parts, selling exotic if sometimes pricey takeaways. But annoyance at this gives way to pity as one contemplates huddled Mediterraneans behind the counters freezing and turning blue with the cold and damp, true martyrs to the European project.


X: 1
T: The Tower Of The Winds
L: 1/8
R: 4/4 (Reel)
K: D

||fd (3efg fdBA|GBdf ec (efg|fd (3gfe fdAF| GAdF GEEg|fd (efg fdBA|GBdf ec(3efg|fdec dBAF|GAdF GEE2||

It might work as a Schottische. My grasp of the dotting of this form is shaky, but it might go as follows:

||:F>A B>A G>A d>A|F>A B>A G<E G>A|F>A B>A G>A d>e|1 d>B A>F G<E G>A||2 d>B A>F G<E e>g||
||f>d (3efg f>d B>A|G>B d>f e>c (3efg|f>d (3gfe f>d A>F|G>A d>F G<E E>g|f>d (3efg f>d B>A | G>B d>f e>c (3efg|f>d e>c d>B A>F|G>A d>F G<E E2 ||

I wrote this while living in Athens in 1979: the Tower Of The Winds is a modestly-sized building which has survived from the ancient world, situated in the Plaka - the old quarter of narrow streets, restaurants and night-spots at the foot of the Acropolis. The TOTW originally carried sundials and contained a 24-hour water-clock for the populace to consult; eight winds are sculpted as personages on the eight sides, each on the side facing the direction it could be expected to come from.


X: 1
T: Good Riddance To City Vision
L: 1/8
R: 3/4
K: G

||:g/f/e/d/ B/A/G/A BG|g/f/e/d/ eb a2|g/f/e/d/ B/A/G/A/ B/d/c/e|1 d/B/A/G/ A/B/c/d/ ed:||2 d/B/A/G/ A/B/c/d/ e d/B/||

||:dg g/f/g/a/ gd|ea a/g/a/b/ a4 |g g/b/ a b/a/ g/f/e/d/|e/d/c/B/ A/B/c/d/ e d/B/:||

||:dG e/d/c/B/ dG|A g e/d/c/B/ cA|B d/g/ b/a/g/f/ g/G/B/d/|e/d/c/B/ A/B/c/d/ e d/B/:||

||:G B/c/ d/e/d/B d/e/d/B/|A c/d/ e/f/e/c e/f/e/c/|B d/e/ f/g/f/d f/g/a/f/|g G/B/ d/e/d/B/ cA:||

||Ee e d/c/ dG|E A/B/ c/d/B/c/ A G/F/|Ee e d/c/ d G/F/| E/F/G/B/ A G/F/ G G/F/|Ee e d/c/ dG| E A/B/ c/d/B/c/ A B/c/|dG e d/c/ d/B/A/G/| E/F/G/B/ A G/F/ G4||

This one’s rhythm is the same as the Northumbrian tune Lads Of Alnwick, normally notated in 3/4, which I have followed.

I renamed this one (previously Durham Castle) in disapprobation of the goon quango Durham City Vision which, in tandem with Durham County Council, forced through a horrible makeover of Durham City’s historic Market Place in the teeth of much public opposition. They disbanded in 2012. Unlike the Poll Tax, though, their disfiguring legacy remains.


K:D Major

||:dBF d2 B| F3 F2 F| BFF AFF| BFF A3 | dBF d2 B| F3 FGA| G2 B BGB|1 B2 A A3 :||2 B2 A A2 c|

||d3 fdd| gdd fdd| d2 f fdf| ecA A2 c| d3 fdd | gdd f2d| e2 B BdB| A3 A2 c| d3 fdd| gdd fdd| d2 f fdf | e2 d efg| aAA gAA| fAA e2c| dcB AFA| B2 A A3||

||:AcA cAc|G2 c A2 c| d2 A AFA| BAF A3| AcA cAc| G2 c A2 c| d2 f g2 f | f2 e e3 :||

|| fAd f2A | g2 A f 2 A | d2 f fdf | ecA A2 e | fAd f2 A | g2 A f2 A | B2 e e2 d| cAA A2 e| fAd f2 A| g2 A f2A| dcd fdf |gdg b3 | afd bgd | a2 f fga | gfe dcB | A3 A3 ||

This is a jig I worked out on the DG melodeon back in 1981 - the notes seemed to line up with various row-crossing sequences I was trying out at that time. On the occasions I’ve actually tried to play it, I’ve taken it at a slowish lollop, for a jig anyway.

Coldmartin is a hill outside Wooler in north Northumberland; one of my sisters lived on top of it at the time. It was certainly cold: it was opposite The Cheviot, and full in the teeth of all the wind and precipitation that mountain can generate.


T: The Swinhope Hornpipe
K:D Major

||: a>b a>f e>a f>e | d>B A>F B2 (3ABc | d>B A>F A>B d>e | f>d a>f e4 | a>b a>f e>a f>e | d>B A>F B2 (3ABc | d>B A>F E>A F>E |1 F2 D2 D4 :||2 F2 D2 D2 F>A |

||: B>G D>G B>d c>B | A>F D>E F3 A | B>G D>G B>d c>B | A>F d>F E2 (3FGA | B>G D>G B>d c>B | A>F D>E F2 (3ABc | d>B A>F E>A F>E |1 F2 D2 D2 (3FGA :|| 2 F2 D2 D4 |

Swinhope is a side-valley of Weardale, in the North Pennines in the west of County Durham (UK). It is the one most like a mountain valley, in that it has high steep slopes towards its head and hosts a ski-run. The tune has a long up-and-down range of notes as a result of my attempts to describe this in some initial noodlings!


X: 1
T: John And Rebecca
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
R: English Polka
K: G Major

|: D2 G2 | F2 G2 | AB cd | e4 | AG AB | cd ef | g2 b2 | a2 ga | b2 g2 | d2 B2 | cA BG | E4 | A3 B | AG E2 | G2 E2 | D4 :|

|: E2 G2 | B2 EG | FE FG | F2 E2 | c2 AF | DF Ac | e2 d^c | d2 d=c | Bd gb | af df | ge ce | dB G2 | c2 de | dB GA | B2 A2 |1 G3 F:|2 G4 |

In honour of the wedding of two people I know.

(This could be tweaked up into a rant or English-type reel.)


X: 1
T: Forest-in-Teesdale
M: 9/8
L: 1/8
R: Slip Jig
K: G Major

|:G2D G2A BAG | A2G ABd B2d | e2g edB d2e | g2e BAG E3 | G2D G2A BAG | A2G ABd B2d | e2g ede g2B | A2B AGE G3 :|

|:g2b agf g2e | d2g edB d2g | e2a a2b a2g | e2a a2b age | g2b agf g2e | d2g edB d3 | e2g ede g2B |1 A2B AGE G2d :|2 A2B AGE G3 |

There are bound to be Irish tunes similar to this one but I am not aware of actually replicating one here. I worked it out during a break in Upper Teesdale in the English North Pennines. Forest-in-Teesdale is the name of the parish that covers the upper valley. In fact it resembles a bit of Iceland if anything, and is largely bare of trees: "forest" in old terminology seems to have meant uncultivated ground in general.


X: 1
T: Five Bellies Gardner
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
R: Reel
K: D Major

||: d || cAAc BGGB | cAAc B3 d | cAAc BGGB | Acaf e3 d | cAAc BGGB | cAAc B3 d | cAAc BGGB | Acaf efga ||

|| fd ad fd ad | ad gd fdef | gB (3BBB GB (3BBB | Acaf efg_g | ad gd fd ad | ad gd fd ef |1 gB (3BBB GB (3BBB | Acaf e3 :||2 gB (3BBB GBdB | Acec d3 ||

Named after Jimmy ‘Five Bellies’ Gardner, Tyneside folk hero and bete noire known as the buddy of troubled footballer Paul Gascoigne. Not acquainted with him personally, I just thought the name itself deserved a tune of a suitably rumbustious nature!

This is a tune in the Highland or Border Bagpipes nine-note scale and will probably turn out to be very like others in this obsessively-explored range of notes. But a phrase occurred to me and when I followed it up, this was the type of tune that I got…possibly it owes a bit of inspiration to the pipe tune Little Wat Ye Wha’s Coming.

I can’t see me actually managing to play this one myself!


X: 1
T: Slitwood
M: 3/2
L: 1/8
R: 3/2 slow rhythmic air
K: A Major

||: c4 B2 c2 e2 c2 | A3 c B2 A2 F4 | E3 F E2 F2 A2 c2 | B2 A2 c2 A2 B4 | c4 B2 c2 e2 c2 | A3 c B2 A2 F4 | E3 F E2 C2 E2 F2 | A2 c2 B3 A A4 :||

||: F2 A2 A2 F2 E2 C2 | F2 A2 A2 d2 c4 | F2 A2 A2 F2 E2 A2 | B2 A2 c2 A2 B4 |
c4 B2 c2 e2 c2 | A3 c B2 A2 F4 | E3 F E2 C2 E2 F2 | A2 c2 B3 A A4 :||

Named after, yes, a wood up the valley of the Middlehope Burn in Weardale (County Durham, England), notable for its waterfalls, interesting flora and buildings etc. surviving from the days of the lead mining industry.


X: 1
T: Miss Isabel Fraser
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
R: Strathspey
K: D Major

(ABc |: d2 d2 (dfe (dcB | A < e c > A G3 F | (GFE (FED (EFG (ABc | d < A f > g e2 (ABc | d2 d2 (dfe (dcB | A > B G > A F3 F | (GFE (FED (EFG (ABc | 1 d > A F < E D2 (ABc :| 2 d > A F < E D2 f > g |

|: a > b a < f g2 (gef | g > a g < e f2 (fde | f > g f < d e2 e > d | (cBA G > B A2 f > g | a > b a < f g2 (gef | g > a g < e f4 | (GFE (FED (EFG (ABc | 1 d > A F < E D2 f > g :| 2 d > A F < E D4 |

Named for a fellow-sessioner who expressed a wish to have a strathspey made out to her maiden name, commemorating her Scottish tribal roots and affirming her status as a daughter of the neep and the still. (N.B. - I am not very well up on the dotting of notes in strathspeys…)


X: 1
T: The Uplift
M: 3/2
L: 1/8
R: Three-Two
K: G Major

|| B A/G/ A B G A | B A/G/ A d B2 | B A/G/ A B G g | d c/B/ c d A2 | B A/G/ A B G A | B A/G/ A d B2 | B A/G/ A B G d | d c/B/ c d e f ||

|| g2 f d B g | f d e2 g2 | f g a f d c/B/ | c d A d e f | g2 f d B g | f d e2 g2 | f g a f d c/B/ | c d A G/F/ G2 ||

Have enjoyed putting this on the Forte program, adding chords and playing it decidedly fast!


X: 1
T: Woodcroft Lane
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
R: Air in 4/4
K: G Major

D2 E2 || G4 E4 | A6 F2 | G4 A2 d2 | B4 e2 f2 | g2 e2 f2 d2 | e4 g2 e2 | d2 B2 A2 G2 | A4 E2 F2 | G4 E2 G2 | A4 G2 F2 | G4 A2 d2 | B4 e2 f2 | g2 e2 f2 d2 | e4 g2 e2 | d2 B2 A3 G | G4 D2 E2
||: G2 B2 A2 G2 | G4 G2 B2 | d2 g2 f2 d2 | e6 f2 | g2 e2 f2 d2 | e4 d2 B2 | c2 A2 B2 G2 | E4 D2 E2 | G2 B2 A2 G2 | G4 G2 B2 | d2 g2 f2 d2 | e6 f2 | g2 a2 f2 g2 | e4 d2 B2 | A2 G2 B3 A |1 G4 D2 E2 :||2 G6 |

This is an air or tune at the moderate pace of, say, the song ‘Loch Lomond’. I like to play it, as here notated, with the first part played once, the second part played twice. Others who might pick this tune up are free to differ.

The lane is not actually called ‘Woodcroft Lane’, but the bit I had in mind passes a farm called Woodcroft. It is a back road in Weardale, County Durham (Northern England), beside which my family lived and holidayed when I was a boy in the 1960s.


X: 1
T: The Strength Of The Hills
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
R: March in 6/8
K: G Major

||: d B G G B d | g2 a b a g | e2 g f e d | e d B d g e | d B G B2 A | d B G G B d | g2 a b a g | e2 g f e d | e d B d g e | d B G G3 :||

|| e A B c2 d | e g f e d B | d2 G e A B | c2 e d G A | B A G E3 | e A B c2 d | e g f e d B | d g f e d B | G B d e g f | e d B A3 ||

This isn’t a jig, though I’ve notated it for now in 6/8. It’s really in 15/8(!), the natural breaks in the tune coming after every five dotted crotchets, or the equivalent. It goes at a rather slower tempo than jigs in general - the term ‘March’ might cover it.

The name has a bit of pomp to it, so does (or could) the tune. Perhaps it is a pomp stomp.