Sheet Music Books

Part of

Sources of Sheet Music Books (see below)

Some Important Books

The English Dancing Master by John Playford.

A historic book first published in 1651. A combination of dance instructions and the music for the dances. Some of the first ever printed music and uses a somewhat strange notation, but with similarities to that of the present day. It continued to be published for many years and in many editions with new tunes being added in the later editions.

One Thousand English Country Dance Tunes

by M. Raven.

In several sections and includes some facimiles taken from The English Dancing Master by Playford, and from elsewhere. Includes a section on Morris tunes.

O'Neill's Music of Ireland

Published in 1903 by Mel Bay. Compiled in Chicago by (police) Captain Francis O'Neill. It had 1850 tunes and is sometimes called "The 1850" which is notably not the date (but not far off). Since then other collections with the same name have been published, but have not usually contained all the tunes.

It is regarded as the greatest reference for traditional instrumental Irish music. A great many of the popular Irish session tunes are in O'Neill's.

Probably the most recent version of O'Neill's is by Miles Krassen. This book claims to have corrected many errors in previous versions, and attempts to show much of the ornamentation of the tunes as they are typically played. However this explicit ornamentation can make the music more difficult to read.

These books are both available from Amazon.

The Complete Works of O'Carolan

Over 200 tunes. O'Carolan, (1670-1738), sometimes called simply Carolan, was a blind harpist in Ireland. There is some controversy about exactly which tunes were actually composed by him, but many are accredited to him.

O'Carolan's tunes are indisputably Irish, whereas many other tunes generally considered Irish actually originated in England or Scotland.

Allan's Irish Fiddler

Containing 120 reels, jigs, hornpipes and set dances. Published by Mozart Allan of Glasgow. There is no date in the book but Cranford Publications say it has been in print for the best part of the 20th Century.

The Athole Collection

A large collection of approximately 1000 Scottish dance tunes by James Stewart Robertson, 1884.

A Handbook of Morris Dances, by Lionel Bacon.

Also known as "The Black Book".

The book is a highly respected authority on Cotswold morris dancing and tunes. Bacon himself collected much of the material from previous sources including books by Cecil Sharp. Some tunes exist in diverse versions, some of which are a bit quirky, and some are in odd keys, perhaps to suit the instruments being used at the time.

Many people regard the book as an absolute authority on particular versions of the tunes but Bacon himself says this in the book:

"The Advisory Council, myself among them, regard the continuing evolution of the morris as a most healthy and desirable phenomenon ... and it is hoped that no user of this book will treat it as holy writ."

Published by the Morris Ring, 1974, second edition 1986, and available from them.

Mally's Morris Books

There are two Cotswold morris books and these provide good standard versions of nearly all the common morris tunes, and represent the tunes currently played by morris musicians, without confusing us with weird variants. This is successfully achieved because of Dave Mallinson's practical experience as a musician in this field.

The North West Morris book contains tunes which many experienced musicans know, but (for this reason) have been previously difficult to find in sheet music form.

These books are especially suited for the melodeon and include chords.


Sources of Sheet Music Books

This page lists a number of sources of sheet music books for purchase in printed form. It gives sources of books which may be found in the search facility of this site, some of which may be hard to find.

The list is only small at the moment, but will be added to occasionally.

Dave Mallinson

Mally's Traditional Music Store

Supplies sheet music books by mail order with online ordering available. They also publish their own books which are also available from other sheet music suppliers specializing in folk music.

The Music Room

Based in Yorkshire. Instruments and music books for traditional music. Online ordering available.


Instruments and music books for traditional music. Online ordering available. Some shops around Britain.

The Highland Music Trust

A charitable trust based in Inverness and have collections of Scottish dance music available by mail order, especially those which are hard to find. Their range includes the Athole collection. (Perhaps this is "Highland" with a scottish accent).

Cranford Publications

Located at Cape Breton Island and specialize in Celtic fiddle music from Cape Breton, Ireland and Scotland.

Their range includes:


A range of E-Books from folk musician Dave Brown. Includes his original compositions and books on folk dance.

They say: "We are gradually making previously published books available on the web as e-books".