Resources for Musicians

These materials will help you get started playing English dance music, and help you to develop your skills in this genre. 

Books

  • The Barnes Book of English Country Dance Tunes, Volume 1: The standard text of English country dance music compiled by Peter Barnes, including over 400 common ECD tunes. Released in 1986 and revised and expanded since then with more tunes, acompaniment tips, indices, and cross-references. Available in the CDSS catalog. Blue cover.
  • The Barnes Book of English Country Dance Tunes, Volume 2: Published in 2006 by Peter Barnes, this second volume adds over 400 more tunes that are commonly used for English dances. You can probably start with Volume 1, but if you play for a lot of English dances Volume 2 will become indispensable very quickly. Also available from CDSS. This one is red.
  • Marshall Barron Arrangements: Marshall Barron has published 9 volumes of written music for three-part arrangements of English country dance tunes, all of which are available in the CDSS catalog. The volumes cover repertoire including historical tunes, traditional melodies, Classical pieces, tunes by contemporary composers (Dave Wiesler, Jonathan Jensen, Gary Roodman, and others), and other selections. These arrangements help musicians become more comfortable playing melody, harmony and accompaniment for a range of ECD tunes.
  • Cecil Sharp Piano scores: Mickie Zekley has scanned many of Cecil Sharp's piano arrangements of country dance tunes, originally published in 1912, and made them available online in PDF format. These scores provide ideas for piano players about how to accompany many popular English country dance tunes. Note that the key signatures of some of the tunes differ from those most commonly used by contemporary musicians.

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