William Vickers Ms

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The William Vickers’ tune book was compiled in 1770, probably in Newcastle upon Tyne. It contained 580 tunes under the general heading ‘country dances’: jigs, reels, rants and common-time and triple-time hornpipes. The tunes come from England, Scotland and even France, but the emphasis in the collection is on the local fiddle and Northumbrian pipe tunes of north-east England. There is a mixture of old favourites, as well as obscure, high-quality tunes.

The Vickers’ collection served as a source for the book Northumbrian Minstrelsy in the nineteenth century, and also played a key part in the renaissance of traditional music on Tyneside in the twentieth century in the hands of The High Level Ranters, The Cut and Dry Band and Alistair Anderson. The tune book provides a unique insight into the traditional music repertoire 200 years ago, and shows that today’s musicians are part of a continuing tradition.


It was published in 3 parts by Dragonfly Music (1986-87) and republished in one volume, jointly by the English Folk Dance and Song Society and the Northumbrian Pipers Society in 2008.