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Read the information on this page before sending e-mail. I provided this page because I get tons of mail which I cannot keep up with. I will not respond to questions if the answer is here. I mean no personal affront by not responding, it's just that I don't have the time to do so. I hope you find the answer here. If it's not here, I don't have an answer.
A better name for this site would be "Traditional and Popular Songs of England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and America." Most of the songs are folk music, that is, music with a long oral tradition that has no known author (see the Folk Miniencyclopedia for a better definition). However, there are many that have a known author and therefore do not fit the academic definition of folk music. All of the songs are circa 1600 to 1922.
Accoustic music from the 1960s and later is also known as folk music. Anything created after 1922 is protected by the author's or publisher's copyright. Therefore I cannot put original songs by James Taylor; Peter, Paul and Mary; Andy Stewart; The Chieftans; The Clancy Brothers; Arlo Guthrie; Mary Black; etc. on my site. Unfortunately, World War II songs are also covered by copyrights. Popular songs such as Ashokan Farewell, Today, The Dark Isle, Kilkelly, The Queen of Argyll and many others are protected by current copyright. Although they sound as if they are old folk songs, they are not.
The quality of tunes varies. Part of this is the sequencer (the person who created the midi) and the state of technology when the midi was created. Unfortuneately, I don't have the ability to improve them.
I often get the midi files and lyrics from different sources, so the tune may not always fit the lyrics exactly, approximately, or sometimes, much at all.
If you distribute any of these tunes in a zip file (or any other compressed format) you must provide a text file which credits the sequencers and provide a copy of this information or a link to this information.
YOU MAY NOT ALTER ANY OF THE MIDIS ON THIS SITE and distribute them without permission from the person who created the midi - except for the single line melody tunes from the Carolan pages. That includes changing instruments, transposing or removing author credit and information from the midi file.
You may not publish any of the tunes by Lesley Nelson-Burns or information on this site in either digital or paper format.
If you are looking for a particular midi that is not here try doing a search first (read the instructions carefully) to make sure it isn't here. Then try some of the links to midi sites on my links page.
If you are looking for sheet music of the tunes you can try the Resource Center and choose Songbooks. Many of the resources I use that are in print are there with some information on the songbook so you aren't ordering blind.
Most people, however, are looking for free sheet music. I have no plans to include the sheet music at this site. It takes up too much space and there are copyright issues for anything dated after 1922. There are several excellent sources for public domain sheet music. They are:
I will not send sheet music to people, no matter how worthy the cause - education, a wedding, etc. I have listed the resources I use on each information page with a link for purchase if it is available. All of the print sources, including those that are not available at Amazon, are listed in the bibliography. You can order them from a local bookstore or from a traditional music site on the web.
If you are looking for recordings of music try the Resource Center and choose Music. You can also go directly to Amazon.com through the resource center. There you can do a search at Amazon for track titles to find albums with songs you are interested in.
The tunes on this site are traditional tunes. The songs have long passed into the public domain. However, arrangements of traditional tunes are copyrighted if they are dated after 1922 (see Professor Karjala's Website for an explanation). The vast majority of the midis on this page are based on arrangements in the public domain. The vast majority of midis I created are from songbooks from the 1800s and early 1900s. There are also a few based on the Library of Congress sheet music collection and the Lester Levy collection. I have altered these public domain arragements in various ways. A few midis are sequences based on single line melodies to which I added the accompaniment.
A very few arrangements are based on music from songbooks dated after 1922. If you are an author or company who owns rights to any of these arrangements and prefer they not be used on my site, please e-mail me and I will remove the arrangement from these pages immediately and create a midi from a public domain resource.
If you wish to use the midis that are based on arrangements not in the public domain you must be aware that I do not own the copyright to them and cannot give permission for you to do so. I have listed the source for ALL music that I have created so that you can determine if an arrangement is public domain or not.
Please note that the author of the midi file is credited on the lyrics page. I am not the author of all of the midi files on these pages. If the tune does not have a lyrics page the author is noted by the song. If a midi file has no credit it is only because I have no record of who sequenced the music.
If you are a musician or performer the midi files and information are here as a resource for you to use and I'm delighted to share them. Those arrangements that are based on public domain resources may be used freely. Those that are not from the public domain I can, obviously, give no permission for. If you have a doubt about a specific tune, please create your own arrangements.
The harp graphic on the Carolan pages is from Ossian Publications The Complete Works of O'Carolan, Copyright 1989. (ISBN 0 946005 26 8). I contacted Ossian for permission to use the graphic but did not receive an answer. If you choose to copy this graphic (and many sites have copied it from here - be aware that you should contact them for permission.)
For an excellent resource on what the current U.S. copyright law and what public domain means visit Professor Karjala's Website. It was created to oppose the copyright extension that was passed in 1998 but is still updated. It is an invaluable resource.
As I said, my links pages are not meant to be comprehensive. The links I add are now are only those I find educational or are historical. While I appreciate reciprocal links, I don't insist on them - if a site is of value it doesn't make it less valuable if my page isn't linked to it!