Note:  currently this site may not work well or at all on mobile devices.  I hope to have a mobile version up eventually.

This web site houses a collection of traditional Celtic melodies which I've gathered, notated as printed scores, and recorded into sound files.  I originally did this for my own use as a composer, but it's occurred to me that others might find these materials useful; hence this site.  Since these materials are offered as an aid to performers, composers, and fans of this music rather than to scholars or folklorists, I haven't annotated them with source information and commentary; I'll only say here that they have been taken from sources which seem to me of reliable authenticity, and that, to the best of my knowledge and belief, their inclusion in this web site doesn't violate any copyright restrictions.  Nothing has been taken from other internet sites, except for tunes taken from old books in the public domain which are available in free online collections.

This site isn't meant to be a complete and self-contained guide to Celtic folk songs.  The users I have in mind are people who have heard a recording or performance of a song, or have come across the text of one, and wished they had a simple score or sound file of the melody; composers looking for Celtic themes to incorporate in their own works; and performers who might find it productive to browse among these melodies.  The latter category may want to consult other sources for lyrics, variations, and more complete scores.
 
The songs are arranged alphabetically by title.  The index at right will link to the page with the indicated songs on it.  To find a melody, click on the letters (eg. ABC), not the song name. Song titles in English beginning with an article (a, an, the) are alphabetized under the the first word after the article.  Note that you can use the Search this site box at the top right to find all the songs of a given national tradition (e.g., you can do a search on Breton.)  Alternatively, if while you are looking at this page you use your browser's Find function (usually Control-f) and input a name, like Breton, most browsers will respond by highlighting all the title lines at right with that name in them.
 
Permission is hereby granted for use of these materials, though I would appreciate it if acknowledgement  for their usefulness  were made to Jon Corelis, if possible with a mention of the URL of this web site; for example,  "Traditional melody from Jon Corelis's Celtic Melody Library Web Site," with the URL or a link.  But this is optional:  I consider these materials common cultural property, and I don't want to create any obstacles to their use.
 
The rest of this section below goes into some detail about selection criteria and the nature of the songs.  Those interested in getting right to the music may want to skip now to the index at right.  If some of the score images don't appear, try reloading the page.  Please note also the link in the sidebar at left for problems with the player.

The selection of tunes follows no strict rule and makes no effort to be either comprehensive or accurately representative of the whole body of such music, but I've tried to include  a good number of songs that are a standard part of the Celtic folk repertory as well as more obscure songs which I felt were interesting.  I've tried, without making it a strict rule, to give preference to songs which reliable sources indicate have words in, or originally had words in, a Celtic national language rather than in English.   I've generally omitted songs such as Auld Lang Syne, which are so common that everyone knows them.  In the many cases where there are variant versions extant, I've given the oldest one that I've found, except in a few cases where a later version seemed clearly more attractive.  I've included only tunes which qualify as songs; that is, whether or not words are given in the source, the musical score exists as a simple monadic melody.   Thus I have excluded, for example, most Welsh harp music.  (I've made an exception of one or two Irish dance tunes which were probably never set to words but were too good to resist including.)  I've also excluded melodies which I could find only in harmonized versions, on the grounds that the harmonization in most cases takes the melody one step away from authenticity, and my deharmonization of it would take it another step.

The scores and sound files have been produced by me with the free musical notation software Musescore.   For the sound files, I've chosen rather arbitrarily what instruments to use to simulate voice; most often these are flute or violin.

Although in general I've used the earliest version of each melody that I could find, it should not be inferred that a melody as given here is the canonical, most common, or most authentic form.  I've sometimes simplified the melodies, usually leaving out grace notes, and I've standardized all melodies to G major/E minor (1 sharp)  or C major/A minor (no sharps or flats).  Tempo has usually been set in the sound file to an approximation of the tempo indicated in the source; if there is no such indication, I've chosen whatever tempo seems to suit.   Where the sources give several stanzas with only minor differences in the tune -- for instance, slurred/non-slurred notes or an individual quarter note being broken up into eighth notes -- I've usually given just the first stanza, though in some cases I've used dotted slurs to indicate variations. 

Anyone who studies Celtic traditional songs will soon realize that matching a given song title to a given melody is no simple matter.  Where variant titles occur in the source material, I've sometimes given them, but such listings don't attempt to be exhaustive.  I've given titles in English (or in an English translation of the French title in the case of some Breton songs), except in a few cases where the printed version of the song, even in English-language books, seems most often to be given its title in the original Celtic language.   In the many cases of songs that have more than one title, I've given the most common title, or, in some cases, two titles if both are common.  An exception are the titles of some Scottish, Welsh, and especially Irish songs, which are particularly often found in multiple versions with varying lyrics matched to the same air.  Even though some songs like this, such as those of Thomas Moore, have become well known under a particular popular title, I've usually given only what the sources indicate is the title of the original air. 
One result of all this is that the absence of a given title in the index at right  does not necessarily mean that the melody used for a song of that title is not in this melody library. 

Conversely, it's not uncommon, again especially with Irish airs, for a single title to be given in various sources to two totally different airs.  It hasn't been practical here to cross-match a given title to multiple airs it might have been applied to. 

As a further complication, it's not unusual (especially in the case of Breton songs) for the sources to give two or more regional variants of the same melody, the differences between which can range from marginal to drastic.  I've included a few such regional variations here, but I haven't tried to include every such variation I've come across.

The ethnic designations (e.g. "Irish" or "Scottish") are those to which the melodies are usually attributed in the sources I've consulted, but there is some overlap, and some originally, or probably originally, Celtic songs are given in some sources as English, American, or Canadian. 
 
Often an air appears in slightly variant or even identical form under the same or different names in more than one tradition.  If the air appears in the sources in more than one tradition in identical form, I only list it under one tradition.  If the airs are similar but significantly different, I list each separately; an example is the Welsh air Gwenllian, which is very similar to the Irish air I will raise my sail black.
 
The question, "Where are the lyrics?" likewise doesn't admit of a simple answer:  Celtic song melodies have always had a rather floating relationship to their lyrics.  For many of these melodies I found no lyrics in the sources, for others, lyrics only in Celtic languages, and for still others, lyrics in Celtic languages and in English (or in French for Breton songs), the the English (or French) versions being sometimes translations, sometimes totally new lyrics, and in either case too often being of dubious authenticity and embarrassing sentimentality.   Often these English (or French)  and Celtic lyrics are found in books which give only words, not music, and to complicate the issue further, many tunes are set to more than one set of lyrics, and one melody may have one traditional name as an instrumental air, and one or more other names as set to one or more sets of lyrics.  Those in search of lyrics will need to search through the current and earlier source material, keeping all these complications in mind.  On the internet, some form of lyrics can often be found by a phrase search on the title (e.g. a search on "The paisteen fionn") in Google or in Google Books; to focus the search it sometimes helps to add the ethnic designation (e.g. a search on "The paisteen fionn" Irish).  My web site Greek and Celtic Folk Music: a Google Books Bookshelf may be of some use in tracking down lyrics.  Free public access book data bases such as archive.org or the University of Rochester Sibley Music Library may also be worth searching for lyrics in old song books, and there are numerous folk music web sites with lyrics data bases.  And of course, there are also older and current printed books which can be consulted.

I've created arrangements or adaptations of some of these melodies myself in compositions on my web sites, for which links are given in the sidebar at left.

This web site is expected to grow over time.


All material on this web site copyright © 2013 by Jon Corelis

















ABC
The abduction (Breton)
Abergenny (Welsh)
Adam and Eve (Cornish) 
Ailean Donn (Scottish)
Alan the fox (Breton)
Annaig ar Bailh (Breton)
Annaig ar Bailh (alternate version) (Breton)
The ash grove (Welsh) 
The auburn maid (Scottish)
The back o' beyond (Scottish)
The ballad of MacNeil of Barra (Scottish)
Ballinderry (Irish)
Baron Jaouioz (Breton)
The bells of Aberdovey (Welsh)
Berry Dhone (Manx)
The black bird (Irish)
Blue devils (Welsh)
The blackthorn tree (Irish)
The braes o' Killicrankie (Scottish)
Bright lily (Welsh)
Bronwen (Welsh)
Brown-haired nymph (Scottish)
Brown William (Manx)
The bunch of rushes (Irish)
Cagaran, O! (Scottish)
Caitilin ni Uallachain (Irish)
Ceol-brutha (Scottish)
The Changeling (Breton) 
Cold and raw (Scottish)
The Cornish May Song (Cornish)
The coulin (Irish)
The Cradle Spell of Dunvegan (Scottish)
The cruel mother (Down by the greenwood sidie) (Scottish) 

Dark-Haired Alan (Scottish)
David of the white rock (Welsh)

Deirdre's lament (Irish)
The dimpled cheek (Welsh)
The dirge of Ossian (Irish)
The dowie dens o' Yarrow (Scottish)
A Dunvegab dirge (Scottish)
Eamonn an chnoic (Irish)
The Earl o' Murray (Scottish)
Eileen Aroon (Irish)
The embarrassed wife (Breton)
The evil tribute of Nomenor (Breton)
The exile's dream  (Scottish)
The falcon (Breton)
The fairy of Ben A' Vreek (Scottish)
Farewell to youth (Breton)
The farmer's daughter (Manx)
The Flying Cloud (attested from North America, but probably Irish)

GHI
Gathering sound (Irish)
The girl who was poorly clad (Irish)
Glenlogie (Scottish)
Grania Waile (Irish)

Gwenllian (Welsh)
Heman dubh (Scottish)
Hen Sibyl (Welsh)
Hob y deri dando (Away my herd)
 (South Wales version)
How can ye gang lassie (Scottish)
Hungry for the sea (Scottish)
Hunt the wren (Manx) 
Iannik le b0n-garçon (Breton)
I chose my love (Breton)
I early awoke (Scottish)
I love the highlands (Scottish)
I'm a poor stranger and far from my own (Irish)
Inconsolable turtledove (Breton) 
I will raise my sail black (Irish)


















Janed ar Wern (Haute-Cornuaille version) (Breton)
Janed ar Wern (Trégor version) (Breton)
Janedig ar zorserez (Breton)
The jealous woman  (Scottish) 
Jenny's mantle (Welsh)
Jenovefa Rustefan (Breton)
Jessie I loved well (Alasdair nan stop) (Scottish)
Jimmy Movela Sthore (Irish)
John the Braggart (Scottish)
Joy of my heart (Scottish)
Katherine's hen is dead (Manx) 
The keenly load (Cornish) 
King Gradlon (Breton)
Kirsty Forsyth (Scottish)
Lament (Breton)
Lament for Owen Roe O'Neill (Irish)
The land of youth (Scottish)
Lassie wi' the yellow coatie (Scottish)
The lay of Diarmad (Scottish)
Llandovery (Welsh)
The last rose (Irish)
Leezie Lindsay (Scottish)
Lord Nann and the Corrigan (Breton)
Love of my heart (Manx)

MacPherson's lament (Scottish)
The maiden and the huntsman (Breton)
The maid of Sker (Welsh)
Mallie Dhonn (Scottish)
Manx courting song (Manx)
Manx lullaby (Manx)
Maro Pontkalek (Marv Pontkalleg) (Breton)
May Day Carol (Cornish)
Merlin in the cradle (Breton)
The merry old woman (Irish)
Milk soup (Breton)
The misty mountain (Scottish)
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday (Irish)
Morag (Scottish) 
My faithful fair one (Scottish)
Mylecharaine (Manx)
Mylecharaine (alternate version)  (Manx) 
My love's an arbutus (Irish)
Nora of the amber hair (Irish)
Now I am lamenting (Manx)
O  Arranmore (Irish)
O can ye sew cushions? (Scottish)
O'Connor's lament (Irish) 
O dear mother, what shall I do (Scottish) 
The old man and the little bird (Breton)
The opening of the key (Welsh)
The orphan (Breton)

PQR
The paisteen fionn (Irish)
Paradise (Breton)
Penn-herez keroulaz (Breton)
The prophecy of Gwenc'hlan (Breton) 
Raasay lament (Scottish)
Roisin dubh (Irish) 
Roisin dubh (Munster version) (Irish) 

STU
The seal woman's croon (Scottish) 
The sheep under the snow (Manx)
The shepherd's call (Breton)
The sheriff's conceit (Welsh)
The shoemaker (Breton)
Silver mirrors (Breton)
Silverstrik (Breton)
Sing, birdie in a bower (Scottish)
The sinking of Ys (Breton)
The slender boy (Welsh)
The soft deal board (Irish)
The song of Oonagh (Irish) 
The Sweet Nightingale (Cornish) 
Sweet water in the common (Manx) 
Take my farewell over Gunna  (Scottish)
The tarrin' o' the yoll (Scottish) 
The twa corbies (Scottish)
Twixt Ian and me's a stretch of water (Scottish)

VWXYZ
Were you at Carrick (Irish)

Willie's gane to Melville Castle (Scottish)
Wine of the Gauls (Breton)
Where be going (Cornish) 
The white wort (Manx)
Woe's my heart that we should sunder (Scottish)
Young Donald (Scottish)