John Clare - poet and fiddler



John Clare

A Collection of Songs, Airs and Dances for the Violin (1818)

Book One (Northampton MS 12) CM100

tunes 1-83 (30 pages of music) - spiral bound with clear acetate covers


John Clare

Songs, Airs and Dances for the violin

Book Two (Northampton MS 13) CM130

tunes 84-263 (60 pages of music) - spiral bound with clear acetate covers


John Clare left behind him a fascinating insight into what it was like to be a village fiddler,

in his poems, his writings and his tune collections. The first book contains 74 different tunes, some in different versions, while the second book is much more extensive.

Following our publication of both books of his fiddle tune collection, I shall gradually add notes on this page on some of the tunes as they emerge from my investigations. One aspect that has particularly grabbed me is the way very similar, or indeed identical, versions of his tunes appear in other manuscript tune books of the time - same key, same slurs, even same note groupings, and I have tried to locate the common ancestor - presumably a printed source. What is remarkable is the range of music represented in his collection: songs his parents sang, popular songs from operas, tunes he learnt from the various Gypsy families that camped near Helpstone, as well as country dances, jigs, reels, folk songs of the time as well as Scottish and Irish tunes.

Here is a preview of the first page of music:

  1. *means slight editorial intervention, usually adjusting slight rhythmic inaccuracies to make the notes fit grammatically.

** means considerable editorial intervention, where Clare’s notation is so unclear that a certain amount of creative guesswork is needed to make the tune performable. There are very few instances of this: and my work can easily be checked though

George Deacon’s book, ‘John Clare and the folk tradition’

or at the village music project:

*** occurs only at the end of the 2nd book, where, just for 2 or 3 tunes, the editor has found his guesswork and intuition tested to the full! By looking at other versions of tunes with the same title, however, he has had clear hints about their interpretation.


1.  Possible printed sources for a group of tunes include:

Preston’s Twenty four Country Dances for the year 1793

In this volume, tunes 9 (Kempshot Hunt), 19 (Archers Dance) and 25 (Welsh Jigg) all appear pretty well exactly as Clare was to notate them and in the same order.

In Preston’s book they appear as tunes 209, 226 and 232. The slurs in Clare’s tune 9 are slightly changed, or may just be roughly notated.

To consult Preston’s volume follow this link:


Preston’s Twenty four Country Dances for the year 1800

In this volume, tunes 88 (Persian Ricardo), 92 (Bang Up), 93 (The O.P.), 94 (Lord Cathcart), and 97 (Italian Momfreda) all appear pretty well exactly as Clare notated them. 183 (Mozarts Waltz) also appears in this volume.

  1. 2.Another possible printed source is:

The Compleat Tutor for the Violin (published by John Preston in 1778, but claiming to be by Geminiani - available at IMSLP).

This contains tunes 51 (called ‘Turkish March’ rather than Clare’s ‘Quick Step in the Battle of Prague’), 56 (Tink a tink), 75 (Bugle Horn - a few differences however), 8 (Battle of Prague - some tiny differences of detail) and 19 (Archers Dance). 183 (Mozarts Waltz) also appears in this volume.

  1. 3.Another printed source could be:

Dale’s Selection of the most favorite country dances and reels (c. 1800 - available at IMSLP)

for tunes 13 (Morgan Rattler) and 14 (Highland Plaid even down to one of the dynamic marks!)

  1. 4.Surprising similarities in other manuscript sources occur in:

John Moore’s collection (18, 22, 24, 37, 81)

and the

Snow Hill Manuscript (41, 52, 54, 65)

5. In Wilson’s Companion to the Ballroom (published in 1816), there are about 40 tunes which occur in Clare’s collection, but this doesn’t appear to be a source. It does reveal, however, that Clare was quite up to date in his choice of part of his repertoire.

Further information will appear here as research progresses! If you know more than I do, do please get in touch! (Last updated February 2015)

List of Tunes in Book 1 (titles in italics are alternative titles not given by Clare)

Adieu my native Land Adieu (duet)

Archers Dance

Ashleys Hornpipe

Ashleys Rides (Astley’s Ride)

Battle of Prague

Bedfordshire March

Beggar Girl, The

Betty Brown

Bobbing Joan

Bugle Horn

Burdett, The

Captn Mackintosh

Cassano, The

Cherry Cheek’d Patty

Come to the Bower (Vandals of Hammerwich/Will you come to the Bower)

Coolan (The Coulin)

Corporal Cazy

Cuckoo, The

Disconsolate Sailor

Downs, The

Dull Care (duet)

Ere around the huge oak

Evening Hymn

Fal lal la

George 2nd

Green grows the rushes O

Hearts of Oak

Heaving of the Lead

Highland Plaid

Ita: Minefrida

Jem of Aberdeen

Jennys Bawbee

Jockey to the Fair

Kempshot Hunt

La Bel Jean

Ladys Breast Nott (Bonny Breast Knots)

Lass of Richmond Hill

Lincolnshire Rangers

Logerian Fancy, The

Lullaby, The

Maid of Skylight

March in Ladaiska (Ladoïska)

March in Scipio


Marquis Wellinton

Miss Crioux’s Reel

Miss Hills Favourite

Moll i’ the Wad

Money Musk

Montrose’s Reel

Morgan Rattler


Morgiana in Ireland

Mrs Cazy (Casey)

Oh dear what can the matter be

Opera Hat

Paddy Wack

Portuguese, The

Quick Step in the Battle of Prague

Rakes of Mellow (Rakes of Mallow)

Recovery, The

Red Petticoat Hornpipe

Rowley (Frog he would a wooing go)

Rule Britannia

Secilian, The

Self, The (The Sylph, or Plymouth Lasses)

Speed the Plough

Stopfords Reel

Storm, The

Tickeli (Tekeli)

Tink a tink

Welsh Jigg

White Cockade, The

Woodpecker (The Wood Picker)

List of Tunes in Book 2 (titles in italics are alternative titles not given by Clare)

All around the Maypole see how they trot


American Hornpipe

Ashley’s Flag

Ashleys Hornpipe

Bacons Hornpipe

Bang Up 

Bards Legacy 

Bath Waltz (1)

Bath Waltz (2)

Bedford Races 

Beef Stake Hornpipe

Bell, The

Black Ey’d Susan

Bonny Lasses

Briars, The

Brighton Camp 

Bugle Horn


Charley over the Water

Cheltenham Waltz

Christ Church Bells

Cleggs Hornpipe (Colledge Hornpipe)

Colledge Hornpipe

Coming through the Rye

Cornwallis March

Cuckoos Nest

Daniels Hornpipe

Dansomanic, La

Devils Dream Reel

Dorset Shire March

Downfall of Paris

Dukes Hornpipe

Dusky Night

Dusty Miller 

Egg Hornpipe (Fisher’s Hornpipe)

Englands Glory (May Day)

Fairy Dance

Favourite (?) Hornpipe

Female Drummer

Fisher’s Hornpipe

Flower of Edinbourough

Gardengate, the

Gary Owen

GeeO’Dobbin (How do you do)

Gloucestershire Miner’s Hornpipe

Green Grows the Rushes O’

Grinders, The

Handel’s Gavot (1)

Handel’s Gavott (2 - Sir Sydney Smith’s March)

Haste to the Wedding


Hornpipe (Ashley’s Flag)

Hornpipe, A (Jock Wilson’s Hornpipe)

How do you do

Ill be married on Sunday 

India Queen 

Irish Girl 

Irish Union

Irish Washerwoman 

Italian Momfreda 

Jack in the Green 

Jacksons Morning Brush 

Jockey to the Fair

Kingsbridge Assembly (Liberty for the Sailors)

Kiss my Lady 

Lady Comptons Whim

Ladys Breast Nott

Liberty for the Sailors

Lincolnshire March

Logerian Fancy

Lord Cathcart (Haydn)

Lord Fitz Williams March

Lord Vincents Hornpipe

Lovly Nancy

Marfull Hornpipe

Mary No more (My Dear Darling)

Michael Wiggins

Miss Bacons Hornpipe

Miss Douglas Moncrief

Miss Freres Delight

Mont Vida

Morgiana in Spain

Morning Fair Hornpipe, The

Mother Goose

Mozarts Waltz

Muses, The

My Dear Darling


New Drops of Brandy

New German March

New London Hornpipe

New May Day

New Rigg’d Ship

Nightingale, The

Nottingham Races

Novelty, The (March of the Men of Devon)

Novey Gallows (Stoney Steps)

O the Days that I was Young

O.P., The

off she goes

Old Through The Wood Lassie

Oyster Girl

Paddy Carey

Paties Mill

Peggy Band

Persian Ricardo

Ploughman, The

Plymouth Lasses

Polka (Redowa Polka)

Poor Soldier

Portugal Dance, The

Primo a Hornpipe

Queens March

Rakes of London


Red Lyon Hornpipe

Redowa Polka

Regents Fete

Richers/Ricker’s Hornpipe

Roast Beef of Old England

Roodalum Irish, The

Sadlor’s Baloon (Sadler’s Balloon)

Sailors Journal, The

Savage Hornpipe

Savourys Hornpipe (Saxons Hornpipe)

Saxe Coburg

Says Plato

Scarlet and Green

Sea, the open Sea, The

Self, The (Sylph, The)

Sham Peter (Champetre)

Shooters Hornpipe

Sicilian Dance, The

Sir Sydney Smith’s March

Sleepy Maggy

Smash the Windows

Soldiers Cloak

Speed the Plough

Sprig of Shillelah

St Davids Day

St Sebastion

Stoney Step Hornpipe

Stringers Hornpipe

Swiss alemand

Tank (The Tink)


The Devil among the Taylors

The Fowler

The Soldiers Life

Thro the Wood Laddy

Toast, The

Tommy Jenkins

Top sail Shivers

Trip to Holland

Turks March

Turnpike Gate

Tyrol Waltz

Valentines March

Valiant Soldier

Wandering Girl 

War Alarms 


Ways to Get Married 


When the Heart of a Man 

White Cockade

Woods Hornpipe

Wounded Huzzar, The

Yanky Doodle

Young Huzzar

Young Parker

sheet music for fiddle tunes by John Clare