The Great Northern Tune Book
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".