The Great Northern Tune Book
William Vickers’ The Great Northern 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”.