Ashokan Farewell waltz

By Jay Ungar

Also known as Ashokan’s Farewell.

There are 40 recordings of this tune.

Ashokan Farewell appears in 1 other tune collection.

Ashokan Farewell has been added to 97 tune sets.

Ashokan Farewell has been added to 1,305 tunebooks.

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Seven settings

X: 1
T: Ashokan Farewell
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
Ac|d3 cBA|F4 EF|G3 FED|B,2D2B,2|
FG|A3FD2|d4A2|B3cd2|AF F2D2|
A3ED2|B,3G,G,2|G,6|A4 FE|
D2F2A2|=c4d2|B3cd2|AF F2D2|
X: 2
T: Ashokan Farewell
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
Ac|:d3 c BA|F4 EF|G3 F ED|B,2 D3 B,|A,2 D2 F2|A2 d2 f2|
1 f3 g f2|e4 Ac:|2 A2 c2 e2|d4 FG||A3 F D2|d4 A2|B3 c d2|
A F3 E2|F3 E D2|B,4 G,2|A,6|A4 FE|D2 F2 A2|=c6|
B3 c d2|A2 F3 D|A,2 D2 F2|A2 d2 F2|E2 D C2|D4 Ac:|
X: 3
T: Ashokan Farewell
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
|:AB/c/|d3 c BA|F4 EF|G2 GF ED|B2 d3 B|A2 d3 F|A2 d2 e2|f3 g f2|e4 fe|
d2 dc BA|F/G/F E2 F2|G3 F ED|B4 dB|A2 d3 F|A2 d2 f2|A2 c3 e|d4:|
|:FG|A3 F D2|d4 A2|B3 c dB|A2 F/G/F E2|F3 E D2|B4 G2|A6-|A4 FE|
D2 F3 A|=c4 d^c|B2 Bc dB|A2 F3 D|A2 d3 f|A2 d/e/d F2|E2 D3 D|D4:|
X: 4
T: Ashokan Farewell
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
Ac|:"D" d3 cBA|"D7" F4 EF|"G" G3 FED|"Em" B,2D3B,|
"D" A,2D2F2|"Bm" A2d2f2|"Em" f3gf2|"A7" e4Acj|
"D" d3 cBA|"F#m" F4 EF|"G" G3 FED|"Em" B,2D3B,|
"D" A,2D2F2|"Bm" A2d2f2|"A7" A2c2e2|1 "D" d4Ac:|2 "D" d4FG||
|:"D" A3FD2|"D7" d4A2|"G" B3cd2|"D" AF3E2|
"D" F3ED2|"Bm" B,4?G,2|"A" A,6|"A7" A4 FE|
"D" D2F2A2|"C" =c6|"G" B3cd2|"D" AF3D2|
"D" A,2D2F2|"Bm" A2d2F2|"Em" E3D"A7"C2|1 "D"D4FG:|2 "D" D6||
X: 5
T: Ashokan Farewell
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
df|:"G" g3 fed|"G7" B4 AB|"C" c3 BAG|"Am" E2G3E|
"G" D2G2B2|"Em" d2g2b2|"Am" b3c'b2|"D7" a4df|
"G" g3 fed|"Bm" B4 AB|"C" c3 BAG|"Am" E2G3E|
"G" D2G2B2|"Em" d2g2b2|"D7" d2f2a2|1 "G" g4df:|2 "G" g4Bc||
|:"G" d3BG2|"G7" g4d2|"C" e3fg2|"G" dB3A2|
"G" B3AG2|"Em" E4C2|"D" D6|"D7" d4 BA|
"G" G2B2d2|"F" =f6|"C" e3fg2|"G" dB3G2|
"G" D2G2B2|"Em" d2g2B2|"Am" A3G"D7"F2|1 "G"G4Bc:|2 "G" G6||
X: 6
T: Ashokan Farewell
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
|:Ac|d3 c BA|F4 EF|G3 F ED|B,2 D3 B,|
A,2 D2 F2|A2 d2 f2|1 f3 g f2|e4:|2 A2 c2 e2|d4||
FG|A3 F D2|d4 A2|B3 c d2|A F3 E2|
F3 E D2|B,4 G,2|A,6|A4 FE|
D2 F2 A2|=c6|B3 c d2|A2 F3 D|
A,2 D2 F2|A2 d2 F2|E3 D C2|D4||
X: 7
T: Ashokan Farewell
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
Ac|:d3 c BA|F4 EF|G3 F ED|B2 d3 B|
A2 d2 f2|A2 d2 f2|1 f3 g f2|e4 Ac:|2 e2 d2 c2|d4 FG||
A3 F D2|d4 A2|B3 c d2|A F3 E2|
F3 E D2|B4 G2|A6|A4 FE|D2 F2 A2|=c6|
B3 ^c d2|AF3 D2|A2 d2 f2|A2 d2 f2|e3d c2|d4 Ac:|

Thirty-eight comments

Composed by Jay Ungar

This waltz was composed by Jay Ungar. His website is

The copyright for Ashokan Farewell belongs to Jay Ungar. ©1983 by Swinging Door Music-BMI.

The tune has been allowed to appear on this site with the proviso that it is accompanied by this attribution of authorship and copyright.

About 10 years ago a student of mine, an older gentleman taught this song to me. He was rather hard of hearing, and mis-heard how the song came to be, hearing “supper club” instead of “summer camp”….for years I thought Jay Unger had written a song for a New York supper club, though for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why.

This is tune is featured on Ken Burn’s Civil War documentary. Very powerful.

2nd Ending to A Part?

Every time I’ve heard this tune played, the A part definitely has a bit of a 2nd ending to it that differs slightly from what is posted here. As I’ve seen it written (have had the sheet music for years) and played, the last two measures of the A part go:

A C e | d3

Definitely one of those tunes that I cringe when it’s played at a session as it usually turns into a bunch of people trying to play their own unique overly dramaticized version.

However, as a tune itself, I love it.

The first part is a bit constricted here, as it should be about twice as long repeating itself with a slightly different ending. This is a version off the net that is a lot closer to what I would play.

T:Ashokan Farewell
Ac|:d3 c BA|F4 EF|G3 F ED|B,2 D3 B,|A,2 D2 F2|A2 d2 f2|
|1 f3 g f2|e4 Ac :|2 A2 c2 e2|d4 FG ||A3 F D2|d4 A2|B3 c d2|
A F3 E2|F3 E D2|B,4 G,2|A,6|A4 FE|D2 F2 A2|=c6|
B3 c d2|A2 F3 D|A,2 D2 F2|A2 d2 F2|E2 D C2|D4 Ac :|

Just a short note. This tune first came on to site here on May 5th, 2002. That entry has gone kaput! I suspect it may have been because of the ‘copyright’ attached to this number by Jay Ungar ~ and that may catch up with us again in the future…

Hallehlujah! Bless TheSesh sprite, Jeremy has listed the ‘Copyright’ above and with respect has contacted Jay and recieved his OK on having it here on site ~ “he’s okay with the tune being listed as long as correct attribution is given.” ~ nice work and a lovely melody…

Just to remind us all, if we know the composer to give credit where credit is due, and if at all possible, seek permission before you contribute someone else’s inspiration…our of courtesy…

Inspiration for Ashokan Farewell

Someone I met at a session said that A F is like an Irish tune she had heard. Didn’t know its name or how it actually went!! I don’t know it either. Anyone got any ideas?

About copyrights

There have been a good few discussions in here regarding copyrights, and this particular case is the best example to illustrate the purpose of having one.

What happened here is very much in keeping with my experience regarding copyrights. Everyone I’ve ever had to contact to get permission to use their tunes was only interested in getting credit for authorship and had no interest in monetary compensation. I am neither a big-name recording artist or a big-name recording producer or filmmaker, so I didn’t have much, if any, compensation to offer.

In a case like the where the tune is written out for a tune database, no one is making enough money on it to concern the copyright holder. (Even though Jeremy receives a small amount of money through donations to this site -- it’s for site maintenance and probably represents little or no profit) On the other hand, if Jay Ungar hadn’t secured a copyright he might have been vulnerable to huge losses after Ken Burns picked up the tune as a theme for his groundbreaking documentary. In the same way, anyone would benefit from having a copyright, but it wouldn’t be aimed at websites such as this, or ITM musicians who are hobbyists or eking out a living playing music, but rather at any major recording or film company that might be interested.

Huge Losses?

Phantom said “…if Jay Ungar hadn’t secured a copyright he might have been vulnerable to huge losses after Ken Burns picked up the tune…”
“Huge losses” is not the same as “profits not realized.” I too have heard that the main melody in AF comes from an older Scottish air.
Whatever the case, I am all in favor of Jay Ungar making some money.

It’s a pity that you can’t play it on a tin whistle in D..

“Ashokan Farewell” ~ lots of folks do play it on a D flute or whistle

One of several possibilities:

K: D Major
|: AB/c/ |
d3 c BA | F4 EF | G2 GF ED | B2 d3 B | A2 d3 F | A2 d2 e2 | f3 g f2 | e4 fe |
d2 dc BA | F/G/F E2 F2 | G3 F ED | B4 dB | A2 d3 F | A2 d2 f2 | A2 c3 e | d4 :|
|: FG |
A3 F D2 | d4 A2 | B3 c dB |A2 F/G/F E2 | F3 E D2 | B4 G2 | A6- | A4 FE |
D2 F3 A | =c4 d^c | B2 Bc dB | A2 F3 D | A2 d3 f | A2 d/e/d F2 | E2 D3 D | D4 :|

I once had a whistler at a session try to accompany me on this, but she had a problem with the low part (and the high part). I’ll get her a copy of this variation.

It works the same way with viola, except the only thing changed from the original is the second arpeggio in each line (and the high notes following) are dropped.

AF on a D flute

I’ve been playing AF on a D flute for years. No problem. It’s a lot easier to play on a flute than, say, Greenfields of Glentown- which I also play and which also sounds great on a flute.

One way to kill a friendly ‘exchanging of tunes’ atmosphere is to be forced to slap a copyright on the tune. Where would we be if people like O’Keefe, Denis Murphy, or John Ryan copyrighted all their pieces? You’d think they’d want to release the tune to be recorded so it would enter the tradition.

ahh, but this is american… we yanks want every pence we can squeeze outa somethin’.

Just you wait - we’ll copyright Coyote one day

I think you can also play it on an A or G whistle with no problem.

Ashokan Farewell - Not a Waltz!

Although it is in 3/4 time, it is my understanding that ASHOKAN FAREWELL IS NOT A WALTZ! It is written in the style of a Scottish lament. I was at a fiddle contest today, and one contestant played AF as her waltz, and then another contestant played it as her TOC (which of course should not be a hoedown or waltz…) I heard the first contestant comment (as if to disqualify the 2nd contestant), that she was playing a waltz for her TOC…

I do not claim to be an expert on these matters, but I was told by someone who IS an expert that AF is not a waltz. If I’m out of line here, someone please let me know!

Version of the tune

the version that is here is very different to the one commonly played…I take it to be written out wrong, so it needs to be corrected!

If the version here is “wrong”, it would be more constructive to post your “correct” version, wouldn’t it ?

In the first series of Transatlantic Sessions, Jay talks to Aly Bain, saying how he was probably thinking of Aly when he wrote it. They then proceed to play it, Aly first and Jay second, and it certainly shows where the inspiration came from - Aly Bain is magical!

2nd Fiddle

This was one of my Dads favourites. I saw a YouTube video that mentions a melody for a second instrument to accompany the main tune. Has anybody heard it or know where I can get it?


Just posting paulj504’s version transposed to Gmaj. This allows it to be played (for the most part) on a D whistle. Its a shame that the high note isn’t in range.

Ashokan Farewell

As noted, Ashokan is a place, not somebody’s name. It is a music camp in upstate New York. Jay Ungar composed and named it, so it IS “Ashokan Farewell,” not some variant of that like “Ashokan’s Farewell.” Jay has graciously allowed the tune to be posted here with attribution, so the attribution to Jay Ungar should be in the C: field in the ABC header of every setting here. It should probably also have a Q: field, which would show it is really not a waltz, or if it is, the dancers are under sedation!

As to copyright, copyright is automatic - it can be relinquished by donating to the public domain, but otherwise the author / composer / creator has a copyright. The purpose of the copyright symbol and the year, and for most authors filing with the US Copyright Office in the United States, is to prove authorship and date of creation in order to bring a lawsuit for copyright infringement.

I play this one on the whistle. In the version in G, I play the high Cnat as a C# and keep it short like a grace note and half hole the Fnat. Sounds pretty good, I think.

Re: Ashokan Farewell

I suppose this is sacrilige on an ITM website but I prefer the version by the band of the Royal Marines. !

Re: Ashokan Farewell

It’s a very lovely version too, and for many in the UK, may be where they first heard it, as it was a big “hit” on the radio station “Classic FM”, about the time that the Ken Burns “American Civil War” TV series came out. Not sacrilege at all!
I much prefer it played as a slow air/lament rather than the swingy waltz: locally we have a set which consists of that, Margaret’s Waltz and Midnight on the Water. If you are not playing for dancing, where you need to keep the same tempo, it can be played with AF first, slow air tempo, followed by MW and MotW at a more waltzy speed. However others play MW/MotW/AF all at waltz tempo. It is much easier to go up a notch in speed when changing tunes than to come down one!

And Iain Bulloch (4 years ago) asked about a second fiddle tune for it. We have an arrangement by our own tutor, and I have seen a video of Jay Ungar and Paul Anderson playing together (can’t find it now!): I would guess that the harmony there is ad hoc/improvised, rather than written down, but I may be wrong!

Re: Ashokan Farewell

Being familiar with Scottish fiddling styles, when I first heard this tune, on the Civil War soundtrack, I assumed it was a traditional Scottish “slow strathspey”, albeit in 3/4 time.

None of the versions above capture the Scottish feel of the way it’s played on the Civil War soundtrack, which is full of “Scots snaps” and turns, in typical Slow Strathspey style. Clearly not a waltz, nor a song-air.

For example the first pair of notes, the pickup notes, are snapped.

Re: Ashokan Farewell

“Nor a song-air” - I have come across 2 sets of song words to it, including one sung by the great Cleo Laine. However, I prefer it as a tune,which doesn’t need words! (Don’t get me started on anyone who has dared to set words to Niel Gow’s Lament for his 2nd wife!!!)
Agree, it is a a slow air/lament, and deserves to be played SLOWLY! I cringe or leave the room when I hear it played as a swingy waltz….
Double rant over….

Re: Ashokan Farewell

About those “Scots snaps”: I just listened to the Civil War soundtrack version again, which is where many of us first heard this tune, and although the solo fiddle definitely plays it more like a lament -- too slowly and freely for a waltz and with “snaps” in the rhythm -- as soon as the guitar accompaniment comes in, they switch to a slow waltz rhythm. Most of the “snaps” are gone and don’t come back. Interesting.

Re: Ashokan Farewell

I manage to play the whole tune as it was written on my Moeck recorder in G major. Sounds good!