Cold Frosty Morning reel

Also known as Cold Frosty Morn, Frosty Morning.

There are 18 recordings of this tune.

This tune has been recorded together with

Cold Frosty Morning has been added to 14 tune sets.

Cold Frosty Morning has been added to 301 tunebooks.

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Six settings

X: 1
T: Cold Frosty Morning
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Ador
EDEGA2A2|ABcde2ed|cBAc BAGB|A4A4:|
edega2a2|abag e2ef|gfga gfef|gagfe2e2|
A2AAc2cc|d2dde2ee|cBAc BAGB|A4A4:|
X: 2
T: Cold Frosty Morning
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Ador
|:E2|A2 cB A2 A2|ABcd e2 D2|G2 BA G2 G2|GABc d2 E2|
A2 cB A2 A2|AB cd e2 AB|cBAc BAGB|1 A4 A2:|2 A4 A2 z2||
|:e2 a2 a2 a2|abag e2 e2|e2 f2 g2 g2|edcd e4|
A2 A2 c2 c2|d2 d2 e2 AB|cBAc BA GB|1 A4 A2 z2:|2 A4 A2||
X: 3
T: Cold Frosty Morning
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Ador
EGAB A2AB|cAcd e2A2|G2BA G2D2|GABc d4|
E2 ABA2AB|cAcd e2AB|cBAc BAG2|A8:|
ea2a a2ag|abag e2d2|edef g2f2|edcd e4|
A2A2c3c|dcd2 e2AB|cBAc BAG2|A8:|
X: 4
T: Cold Frosty Morning
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Ador
|:E2|EGAc A2 AB|cAcd e3 A|BABc BA GG|Bdde d2 E2|
EGAc A2 AB|cAcd e3 A|cBAc BAGB|1 A4 A2:|2 A4 A2 z2||
|:eg a2 a2 eg|abag edBd|eBfB g2 g2|edcd e4|
A2 A2 c2 c2|d2 d2 e3 B|cBAc BA GB|1 A4 A2 z2:|2 A4 A2||
X: 5
T: Cold Frosty Morning
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amin
|:EDEG A2A2|ABcd e2A2|B3A G4|GABc d3F|
EDEG A2A2|ABcd e2ed|cBAc BAG2|A4 A4:|
|:e2a2 a4|abag e2e2|ede^f g2g2|edcd e4|
A2A2 c4|d2d2 e4|cBAc BAG2|A4 A4:|
X: 6
T: Cold Frosty Morning
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Ador
|:E2 G2 A4|Bc d2 e4|G2 BA G2 D2|GABc d4|
E2 G2 A4|Bc d2 e2 ed|cBAc BA G2|A2 BA A4:|
e2 a2 a4|abag e4|edef g2 g2|edBd e2 e2|
A2 A2 c2 c2|d2 d2 e2 ed|cBAc BA G2|A2 AB A4||

Forty comments

This tune comemerates the defeat of the jacobites at Culloden Moor in 1746. I’ve heard it played up-tempo as a dance tune but I think it really should be played as a lament.


We play this, and a rather upbeat version, at my local session. I thought this was an American old-timey tune that had somehow snuck into our mostly Irish session reportoire. This is a mildly different setting. That ascending A C D E pattern in the B part is mighty.

I could be wrong. I’m not completeley sure.

A lovely tune and link… I can hear the Scotch in it (and the red spruce!). It would make a lovely march…

No!, stop that, I take it back, stop hitting me with that it smarts ~ you’ll regret it when you end up breakin’ it… 😏

Damn, some of you are ‘tender’… ‘SCOTCH’ is one of my drinks of choice, especially single malts from Islay…or was the ‘red spruce’ not enough of a hint? For those who choose to read it otherwise, please forgive my inclinations of madness, here it is rephrased for you:

I definitely get a sense of its Scottish roots… (Yes, of course there’s something else hiding in there ~ tubers… 😉 )

The Tune

Very common tune at USA old time and Irish sessions… its a great tune slow or fast but trad. versions collected always are at dance tempo… The history behind the tune listed on the Hetzlers site is curious to me… Ive read it before and havent found that info anywhere else… I always wondered if Hetzler was linking the tune to the history behind Johnny Cope which there are some USA versions of that are similar to Frosty Morn. Also it wasnt uncommon to begin the tune with the high part first among older players in the upper south…

Also true of the dance scene in the 1800s, at dance tempo, a lot of marches were used in amongst everything else, especially for the ‘Polonaise’ / ‘Grand March’, which later evolved into the ‘Big Circle’ dances… Not just the Scottish, but they were amongst those that carried these traditions with them from Europe to the ‘New World’…bless them one and all…

Marches were also used for the ‘sets’ of quadrilles…


I agree with you “c”… it’s very “marchy”. While you’re here, I’ve always wondered where the word “hornpipe” came from? Any idea?

“Hornpipe” ~ “Horn Pipe” ~ a musical instrument

Hey, I just answered this, what happened? ~ It went “POOF!”

Anyway, I’ve taken your question and started a ‘Discussion’ with it.

“Hornpipe” ~ way back when, and still in some places, the bell of a musical instrument or even the whole instrument could be made from horn ~ so a ‘woodwind’, the family, and as usual of a ‘pipe’ nature, and made from horn. There are good examples in ‘The Horniman Museum’ in London ~ HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!

This alone is enough to make me wish I lived in or closer to London… 🙁


On the first part last bars try…

gedB ABAG| A4A4:|

It gives it a nice BITE and that high “g” is many trad. versions Ive looked at… the phrase “cBAc BAGB|A4A4” is ok on the 2nd part, but again is probably “softer” than trad. versions I know

try- ccAc |BAGB| A4A4 :|

Your not wrong, just different… and I often vary it myself.

You tube

Interesting how he bluegrasses it up and it the same time simplifies the tune…

More on that from me the 36 year old catankerer

I know Im old fashioned for my age but the you tube clip sums up to me how much Ive grown to dislike the modern bluegrass movement… sure its fast and flshy but IMO the tune is slaughtered in comparison to what the older generation would do with a tune… check out this link of a transcription of Frosty Morn from a real old time fiddler Henry Reed of Va…

Real Appalachian music is subtle, complex, but simple at the same time….many think they have it licked - others drive themselves mad working on it and some can actually do it… sort of like the Irish music… or any good music.


Just wanted to say that I think this guy on you tube is a good player… it’s my respect for what came before that leads me to my comments… but that transcription just blows me away!

I prefer Henry Reed too. The link was ‘tongue-in-cheek’…
I found several and that one made me laugh… or was I crying?

Are you sure its scottish?

We have this from an American source and always understood it to be American. The version the Angels play is more busy and its definitely a reel but its undoubtedly the same tune.

How about a transcript Noel? I can only say what my bones make of it, and then I followed the link given above with some history, for which I try to keep a healthy skepticism… When I first came to it I found myself playing it as a march, but I wouldn’t bet my life on what my bones say, rattle as they may… Though, this rattling is despite my having been more familiar with it as an old-time piece…many of which do have Scottish and other Celtic roots… Sometimes style and technique in time cover up much, but there usually remains a hint of peat smoke in these things however many hands they may have passed through…

I used to play a version of this on clawhammer banjo. I learned it around thirty years ago from a friend who collected it from a family in…West Virginia, I think. Can’t remember the name. It has a crooked B part, with a couple of pickup notes that add an extra half measure. Next time I get out my banjo, I’ll try to conjure it up and notate it.

That would be nice, I’d like to see that and give it a try…


This tune as titled “Frosty Morn” or “Cold Frosty Morning” etc. is an American tune no doubt… but when discussing the roots of it, I’d agree that it “sounds” Scottish and sounds like a March in context with the past three hundred years of tunes and tune types. The Hetzler’s description that I commented on earlier eludes to a Scottish connection, but I don’t find any clear evidence of this documented other than the way the tune “sounds.” I agree with “c” that many marches were once played as dance tunes and it has a “hint of the peat.”. Hint of the Peat? Isn’t that a hornpipe?

Cold FRosty Morning

Try mixing this up with Drunken Sailor. Its a great match.

My favourite version of this one is on a bela fleck album which I forget the name of. It has sam bush on fiddle for this track and its phenomonal - totally bluegrassed but hey, thats not a bad thing right?

Re: Cold Frosty Morning

Always wonder about video links on this site where most of them are not there anymore, Delete the thing and links if you don’t want it watched.

Re: Cold Frosty Morning

There is a local fiddler who likes to play Cold Frosty Morning at the local Sessions. He also likes to play Kitchen Girl and Over The Waterfall but not always together as a set with Cold Frosty Morning. This man plays a lot of old time folk music with the local folk music group as well as playing fiddle for the dances of the local contra folk dance group. He can play fast enough to do bluegrass but he prefers to play anything but bluegrass. I have been playing music with this character for approximately twenty years now as a backup musician/sideman on either piano or bass.


I season Cold Frosty Morning with a Dm. Thoughts?

Hey folks! I frequently bring up Cold Frosty Morning at sessions. Sometimes I play the melody, ’cause I do like it an awful lot, but I also like doing the background chords. The normal progression goes like this:
Am - Am - Am - Am
G - G - G - G
Am - Am - Am - Am
Am - G - Am - Am
Am - Am - Am - Am
G - G - G - G
Am - Am - Am - Am
Am - G - Am - Am

But sometimes I throw in a Dm at the B part, like so:
Am - Am - Am - Am
G - G - G - G
Am - Am - Dm - Dm
Am - G - Am - Am

I usually do it for the last cycle, because it gives this feeling of finality and power. Try it out, and tell me what you think! It seems to have worked for me, nobody’s been complaining.

Re: I season Cold Frosty Morning with a Dm. Thoughts?

Hi Cal,
I think that you should re-read some of the comments made on your previous submission that suggested alternative chords to “The Butterfly”. A couple that I recall were that there are endless variations that can be made to chord backings, and also, that many people here have been doing this for years (and I doubt they would even think to mention something as ‘trivial’ as your Dm chord alteration. I am not attempting to curb your enthusiasm. Your enthusiasm is good and should be encouraged, but I would at least suggest that it would be better to post suggested alternatives to individual tunes in the tune section.

Posted by .

Re: I season Cold Frosty Morning with a Dm. Thoughts?

The tune does flicker onto a D note in in the sixth bar of the second part.
It’s rather like a suspended fourth.
So with a ‘standard’ A minor chord underneath, the melody implies a suspension (Am sus 4 spelt A, C, D, E).
A chord such as D minor (D, F, A) certainly matches the D in the melody but since the Dm chord is borrowed from a different mode to the mode that the tune’s in (A dorian), it sounds a bit heavy handed.
The trouble is that F nat. The Fs in A dorian are F sharp.
A Dmaj chord (D, F#, A) works better for me.
But as Gobby said, a tiny and trivial harmonic ornament such as this over two beats of a speeding reel is really unimportant!

Re: Cold Frosty Morning

Thanks guys! Don’t get me wrong, I understand how various and fluid chord progressions are. I just like throwing things out there. I’ll make sure to restrict specific things like this to the Tune section from now on.

Cold Frosty Morning, X:6

This version attempts to get a middle of the road setting of the many and variable settings across the internet and is very close to the one on “ Mando lesson ” and “ MandolinUK ” on youtube. I think it is also pretty close to how some of the “oldtimers” are playing it .

Re: Cold Frosty Morning

The version of this tune by NfldWhistler is closest to the version which we play at the local Irish Sessions and for the dances of the contra dance/folk dance society. Last year when the local contra dance/folk dance group felt it was safe to start dancing again, I was asked to play my acoustic string bass with the band for this society. Yes I am enjoying playing for the dances and yes the same fiddler whom I mentioned earlier plays this tune both at the local Sessions and for the dance society.