The Great Northern Tune Book

The new edition of The Great Northern Tune Book, the William Vickers manuscript of 1770.

Jointly published by the English Folk Dance & Song Society

and the Northumbrian Pipers' Society

and can be ordered via their websites.


William Vickers' tune book is one of the largest and most interesting English fiddle manuscripts. Compiled in 1770, probably in Newcastle upon Tyne, it contains a surprising variety of tunes and gives us an intriguing window on an individual fiddler's world.

Under the compiler's simple heading 'Country Dances' are:

  • Jigs, Reels, Rants, common-time and triple-time Hornpipes
  • local fiddle and pipe tunes
  • tunes from other parts of England, Scotland, and even France
  • obscure but high quality tunes along with old favourites
  • the earliest appearances of some traditional classics

Vickers' collection served as a source for the Northumbrian Minstrelsy in the 19th Century, and also played a part in the renaissance of traditional music on Tyneside in the 20th Century in the hands of The High Level Ranters, The Cut & Dry Band and Alistair Anderson.

Edited by Matt Seattle and appearing as The Great Northern Tune Book under his Dragonfly Music imprint in 1986-7, Vickers' was the first fiddler's manuscript to be published in its entirety. This long awaited new edition, completely re-edited and in one volume, is an essential resource for every player and student of traditional music, whether serious or in Vickers' words, "half-witted, merry and mad".