Music and Sources
All Morris sides have their own musicians. We know that some four hundred years ago the common instruments were the pipe and tabor, but now these have been joined by the fiddle, concertina, melodeon and accordion and a host of other instruments. While the Cotswold and Sword dances are often only accompanied by one musician, the Border and North West teams will often have a band. In the North West this may even be the local brass band, but even if there is not a full complement of instruments there will nearly always be a bass drum and a side drum. The tunes are drawn from many sources. Some of the Cotswold tunes are very old - for example 'Trunkles' - while others come from the music hall era ('Getting Upstairs' and 'Old Black Joe'). It is probably true to say that they were generally popular tunes of the day adapted to fit the dances. The North West dances use many march tunes and the bands accompanying the Border dances may even break into variants of modern songs.
- A Handbook of Morris Dances by Lionel Bacon - The "Black Book", now all in ABC, 'dots' and mp3 thanks to the editorial team and the original abc files created by Vaughan Hully of Shakespeare MM. The "real thing" is available from The Morris Shop
- An ABC Library of Morris Tunes 140 tunes from Steve Allen's Morris site. See CD ROM. 'ABC for Morris', from the Morris Shop.
- A wide selection of morris tunes, with past and present musicians, can now be found on the compilation CDs "The Magic of Morris". In addition many morris sides have produced CDs of their music and are even known to sing. See the Morris Shop again.
- Many morris dances have an associated song - indeed there are sides who dance to a solo singer! A list of Morris Songs can be found via John Lippincott's Mianus River Morris Song Page. The subject is not a new one, Percy Manning* collected song's in the 1890s, and many other collectors after this noted that morris men sang, sometimes alongside their dances.
*See: Some Oxfordshire Seasonal Festivals: With Notes on Morris-Dancing in Oxfordshire, Percy Manning Folklore, Vol. 8, No. 4 (Dec., 1897), pp. 307-324