Common time

Reels, polkas, rants, Scotch measures etc. Not including hornpipes and schottishes.

3 Kerry polkas / Black Horse Polkas

Three polkas that I learned early on whilst learning to play the melodeon. They were popular in Coventry sessions at that time and were often known as “The Black Horse Polkas” after a session in the Black Horse pub.

One year in the late nineties I was at the Whitby Folk Week Festival, playing in the Elsinor, and someone led this set, and afterwards I eagerly asked him what the names of the tunes were. “Oh, I’m not sure”, he said, “I only know them as ‘The Black Horse Polkas’.”

A curenta

This is something that I remembered from a tape I was once given of a street performance of Italian music. The tape is long gone.

It gets played with Greenman Rising.

Albert Farmer’s fireside polka

As the tide was flowing

From the song of the same name. It was a vaguely familiar tune, until Jack Shuttleworth started playing it at sessions.

Astley’s Ride

Babes in the wood

Battle of Aughrim

Bear dance

Billy Harrison’s Father’s Polka

Blue eyed stranger

Bobby shaftoe (Sleights sword dance)

Bonny breast knots

Bonny Kate

Bottom of the punchbowl

Bricks and mortar

I think I learn this from John and Beryl Marriot’s book “Tunes for the band” in the late 1980s.

Brighton Camp

AKA “The girl I left behind me”. This is one of the most widely dispersed and well known of any English folk tunes. I really don’t know where I learnt this from, I always seem to have known Brighton Camp.

Brittania Nutters

Chain cotillon

Cochon Chine

Learnt whilst playing and dancing for a local border morris team in the 1990’s.


Cooley’s Reel


Cornish circle dance

This was one of the first (second or third) tunes that I learn on the melodeon. It was on a tape made by a dance band; I forget who they were.

Curley headed ploughboy

Dark girl dressed in blue

Davy davy knick knack

Donkey riding

The tune of the song. I learnt the song at junior school, and learnt the tune on melodeon for a ceilidh band in the mid 1990s.

Dorset four hand reel

A classic and very well known tune in the modern English tradition. It goes with a dance, also called Dorset four hand reel. The word “reel” may be confusing here since it is nothing like an Irish or Scottish reel, but is named after a movement in the dance (a hey, or reel). The tune is more of a southern English relation to the northern English rant.

Double lead through

Down the road

Duke of Perth

Durham rangers

ECMW reel


AKA “Jacob.” A tune from listening to and dancing to various dance bands. Said to be a favourite tune of Thomas Hardy’s; it’s in his notebooks.

Eunyssagh Vona

A tune from the Isle of Man

Far from home

Another tune picked up whilst playing sessions in Coventry. This one is Scottish.

Fairy Dance

Fireside Polka

Foul weather call

My playing of this tune has developed over a number the years. I first heard it played by “Flowers and Frolics” who, in their own words, forced it into a kind of hornpipe. The tune is a sort of hornpipe/scottishe/polka/summat or other. It’s peculiar tune that goes back at least to the first half of the 19th century. Saying it’s “peculiar” doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile; “Foul weather call” is a first class tune.

From night till morn


Learnt whilst dancing the dance of the same name.

Gaspe Reel, The


Ger the rigger

Picked up in Coventry sessions. A Shetland tune.

Grandpa’s polka

Harper’s Frolic

He played his ukulele as the ship went down.

Hesleyside reel

High reel, The


X: 1
T: The High
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amix
| :a2 fa ec A2 | cAeA fAeA | a2 fa ec A2 | Bcdc BG G2 |
a2 fa ec A2|cdef g2 fg|afge fdec|Bcdc BG G2:|
| :cAeA fAeA | cAaf ec A2 | cAeA fAeA | Bcdc BG G2 |
cAeA fAeA|cdef g2 fg|afge fdec|Bcdc BG G2:|

I have a bonnet trimmed in blue


I looked east and I looked west

In and out the windows

Jenny Lind

Johnny get your hair cut


An English 48 bar Polka (I think, though it does sound a bit American to my ear), learnt playing sessions in Coventry.

Jolly sheepskins


Keel row

Kempshott hunt


A tune from the John Clare manuscripts (it’s not clear whether he composed it, but probably not) that has been popularised more recently by fiddle players Mat Green and Pete Cooper (see video below).



La Bastrinque

La ganivelle

La Russe

Tune for the dance of the name.


Lads a bunchum

Lasses pisses brandy

Lichfield Tatoo

LNB Polka (La Roulante)

The original (“real”) name of this tune is La Roulante. It is a French tune that was made popular by the legendary dance band “The Late Night Band.” I picked it up from a mixture of hearing them play it and hearing it in sessions.

Mad moll of the Cheshire hunts

Learnt for a local border Morris team in the mid 1990s. “Gas Mark 5” played this on their eponymous “red album.”

Marmalade Polka

Mickey chewing bubblegum

Miss McLeod’s

Mount Hills

Not the Wiltshire six hand reel

Not the Wiltshire six hand reel … because it isn’t. I’ll track down the proper name of this tune one day.

Anyone who hears me playing and knows the proper name, feel free to tell me :-)

Oh Joe the boat is going over

Old Molly Oxford

Old Tom of Oxford

Over the hills

Pigeon on the gate

More of an idea than a tune it is said. The pigeon on the gate seems to have had as many versions as players.

My version is based on the one played by Scan Tester and is often known as “Scan Tester’s country step dance”.


Piper in the meadow


Princess Royal

A morris tune.

Prince William

Quaker, The

Rattlin’ bog

Redowa Polka??

Redwing (Union maid)

Rochdale coconut dance

Salmon tails

Scan Tester’s No.1 polka


Scan Tester’s No.1 step dance

Scan Tester’s No.2 polka


Serpentina och konfetti

Shepherd’s Hey, Fieldtown

Often referred to as “Signposts” from a move in the Fieldtown morris dance.


Shepherds’s hey

Silver Spear, The


Silverton Polka


Played by Peter Wyper.

Speed the plough

The English national anthem. Well … it should be! :-D

Buffoon, The

Fairy dance, The

Sloe, The

Tanner man, The

Teetotaller, The

Tipsy parson, The

Triumph, The

Three round three (Pleasures of the town)

Tin gee gee

Tip Top polka

Tralee Gaol


Turkey in the straw

Walter Bulwer’s No. 1

White Cockade

Whitehaven volunteers

Wiltshire six hand reel

Winster gallop

Woodland revels

Young Collins