Instrumental music was of less interest to the early collectors, as it was usually functional music, to accompany dancing – either social dancing (“country” dancing) or step dancing. Some tunes are hundreds of years old, many from the nineteenth century, and even more recent song tunes were absorbed into the traditional repertoire in the twentieth century. Typical tune types are hornpipes, schottisches and waltzes, with a few jigs. Instrumentation was typically melodeon (from the 1840s) fiddle or dulcimer. The latter instrument had a distinctive regional style, popular between 1850-1930.
This set of instrumental medleys was produced for use as a community music resource in 2009. Together they make a good representation of traditional music from Suffolk, usually played on melodeon and dulcimer, with maybe a concertina or fiddle.
Gray’s Tune Book – 200 year old tunes from Bury St Edmunds
In November 2012 we published (on the website only) tune and dance instructions originally published in 1812, by J.Gray, including some tunes composed by local musicians. In April 2020 we amended and edited some of these tunes and there now is a new section on the website dedicated to old music collections, which you will find within the Archive section. We are working towards including more collections of tune books from East Anglia.
A new series started in 2011. Tracing Tunes No.1 is about “The Perfect Cure”. and No.2 is about “Starry Night for A Ramble”. You may also be interested in an older article by Mike Yates about the song “Oh Joe, the Boat is Going Over”.
A summary of research by us and others into the dulcimer in East Anglia. Instrument style and construction, makers and players.
Tunes from Cambridgeshire
An article about the poet and traditional musician John Clare, and a link to further tunes from the west of our region.