Folk Music Indexes:
Electronic and Print Resources
Resources on the Web
- Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle. The Traditional Ballad Index,
www.csufresno.edu/folklore/BalladSearch.html - A biblio-discography of
the Folk Songs of the English-Speaking World. Includes a brief description
of the song along with listings of both older recordings and scholarly printed sources,
with a focus on ballads.
- Steve Roud. The Roud Folk Song and Broadside Index,
library.efdss.org/cgi-bin/query.cgi?. A massive database of
traditional songs and broadsides from a wide variety of English language sources,
produced by Steve Roud, the librarian for Local Studies for Vaughn Williams
Memorial Library . It is also available in an Access database format
directly from Roud.
- American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, American Memory Catalogs
www.loc.gov/folklife - Home
to more than 18,000 field recordings and other folk material of all kinds, this
is our national archive of traditional musics as sung by many different native and
immigrant cultures. A searchable index of the original card catalog of
field recordings made from 1933-1955 is now available online at
- Plymouth Library Song Index
www.webopac.plymouth.gov.uk/cgi-bin/plymouth-cat.sh?. Search the index of over 60,000 song
titles in nearly 2,000 songbooks held in the Plymouth, England Library. Covers all types of songs.
- Charley Pennell, Discography of Bluegrass Sound Recordings,
Includes listings for
78, 45, and 33 rpm disks, as well as cassettes and CD. Pennell, a library cataloger at
North Carolina State Univ. has been working on the discography for more than 10 years, and the
website includes numerous tables arranged by label, performer, and song titles. A keyword
searching feature is also available. Scanned images of various recordings are also displayed.
- Banjo Newsletter, Cummulative Tablature Index.
www.banjonews.com/BNlhtml/tab_index.html, Annapolis MD, 1973--.
An index to 35 years of 5 string banjo tablature for all styles.
Includes many fiddle tunes.
- Sing Out Magazine Index,
www.singout.org/ - Sing Out!, the premier folk music magazine, now more than 50 years old,
has a complete listing of all songs published during this time. The
magazine also maintains the Sing Out Resource Center, which houses
thousands of items and this resource is available to members. An Index to more
than 2500 books with some 48,000 song entries in this collection are now
available thru a database developed at Oberlin College. This Folk Song Index,
is now available at
Tunes - Primarily Indexes
Songs and Ballads: Lyrics, Broadsides and other Digital Resources
- Andrew Kuntz's The Fiddler's Companion www.ibiblio.org/fiddlers/. An index with more than
30,000 entries to tunes from Celtic, British and American traditions.
Includes both print and recorded sources, along with ABC notation files
for more than 3,000 of the tunes. A CD-ROM version is also available.
- Alan Ng's Tunography,
www.irishtune.info. An impressive website that indexes both books and
recordings of Irish tunes. Includes extensive information on alternate
titles and provides details on many recordings for which the titles of
tunes are problematic, such as medleys that often do not give full
listing of the individual tunes played.
- James Stewart, An Index to Traditional Instrumental Tunes,
digital index to traditional instrumental music collections contains
some 55,000 entries and covers all the major tune collections, such as
O'Neills, Cole, etc. as well as many lesser known collections. Includes
type of tune (jig, hornpipe, etc.), keys and timings of titles.
Tunes - digital images, transcriptions, and audio files
- Greenhaus, Dick, et.al. The Digital Tradition, www.mudcat.org. A collection of lyrics and
digitized music files for more than 8000 folk songs. Both keyword
searching and title browsing is possible.
- Alan Lomax, The Alan Lomax Collection, research.culturalequity.org, aims to provide both searching and
browsable indexes for all of his many recording trips around the world. Currently
about ten trips are now available with digital sound files, including his 1959-61 Southern
United States collecting
- The Bodleian Library,Broadside Ballads Project,
www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/ballads/ballads.htm. The Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads
project makes digitised images of more than 30,000 broadsheets and
ballads available to the research community.
- Lesley Nelson, The Comtemplator's Website, www.contemplator.com. A great site with historical information
and lyrics for most of the Child Ballads, as well as many other Anglo-American folk
genres. Midi files are also available for many songs.
- Bruce Olson, Roots of Folk: Old English, Scots, and Irish Songs and Tunes,
www.csufresno.edu/folklore/Olson. - A massive and fascinating tour through the early
publications and manuscripts that are the sources for many of the
ballads and tunes that we now sing and play.
- The Virtual Gramophone; Canadian Historical Sound Recordings,
www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/gramophone - Documents all 78 rpm recordings of
Canadian performers, including folk and traditional artists, such as Quebec fiddler,
Joseph Allard. sound files in mp3 or wav format are available for most titles.
- Stefan Wirz's American Music Illustrated Discography
www.wirz.de/music/american.htm - Provides complete listing for selected labels
of albums with scanned images, complete track listings, and information on reissues. Labels
include Arhoolie, Biograph, JEMF, Kicking Mule, Piedmont, and many others.
- National Library of Scotland, Broadsides Index
www.nls.uk/broadsides/search.html - Searchable index to the more than 1000
broadsides in this Scottish collection, with scanned images available
for all entries.
- Levy Sheet Music Collection,
www.levysheetmusic.mse.jhu.edu/ - A massive sheet music collection with much
turn of the century and earlier material now searchable on line to
retrieve complete bibliographic information, including words to first
lines. Most titles allow viewing of the original sheet music images.
- Sheet Music Consortium,
digital2.library.ucla.edu/sheetmusic - As more and more old sheet music collections become
digitised, this website now allows you to search nine different collection, including the Levy
collection noted above, along with collections from Duke University, Indiana University and others.
- Rod Smith's Traditional Music Library,
www.traditionalmusic.co.uk - Has web reprints of some
classic collections such as the Lomaxes' American Ballads and Folk Songs.
- Cowpie Song Corral,
www.roughstock.com/cowpie/songs/ - Provides search engine and lyrics for country songs.
- Country Music Lyrics,
www.hit-country-music-lyrics.com - Has Lyrics for more modern country performers.
- Harry's Blues Lyrics and Tabs Online,
blueslyrics.tripod.com . Has lyrics to more than 2800 Blues titles.
- Song Texts of the Original Carter Family,
www.bluegrasswest.com/ideas/carter.htm - Look here to find lyrics for many of the
songs found in the vast repertoire of the Carter Family.
- Fred Parcells, The Reel Book, www.thereelbook.com.
A collection of more than 1700 performances of Irish tunes
transcribed in standard notation from a variety of sources including
published recordings from the 20's thru the early 90's, pub sessions,
and other venues. A small one time fee of $10. provides you with
lifetime access to the scanned immages.
- Robert M. Keller. The Dancing Master, 1651-1728: An Illustrated Compendium. www.izaak.unh.edu/nhltmd/indexes/dancingmaster/ -
This website is a browsable and searchable database with page
images and display of John Playford's complete works.
- FolkLib Index, www.folklib.net
- From the original FolkBook discographies for individual folk performers.
- Folkmusic.org Artist Listings, www.folkmusic.org/artists/browse.html - An index to Folk Music Artists sites.
Print & Microform Indexes
These print reference resources can be found in many libraries worldwide, using
the Worldcat search engine,
and can often provide a wide variety of information on both older and more
- Brunnings, Florence, The Folk Song Index. Garland
Publications, 1981. A comprehensive index to all the major folk song
collections published prior to 1980. Includes recordings and folk song
magazines such as Sing Out, as well as print anthologies.
- Cohen, Norm. Traditional Anglo-American Folk Music: An
Annotated Discography of Published Sound Recordings. New York,
Garland Pub., 1994. A topically organized discography focusing on
recordings that feature traditional Anglo-American material from both
commericial and field recordings issued on LP's, Cassettes and CD's.
Includes indexes to performers, titles with some cross-referencing, Laws
and Child Ballad ID's, and record labels.
- Dichter, Harry; and Elliott Shapiro. Handbook of Early American
Sheet Music, 1768-1889. New York, Dover Publ. 1977/1941. Provides
listings for all the major sheet music publishers, along with reproductions
of some 75 pieces. Includes an index to titles, topics, authors, and
- Dixon, Robert M. W. et.al. Blues & gospel records,
1890-1943. Oxford, England. 4th ed., Oxford Univ. Press, 1997. More
than a 1000 pages of discographic information organized by performer and
ordered by date of recording sessions, with each listing including
matrix numbers and orig. issue info. Appearance of artists as
accompanyists or side performers is also listed, both for with other
blues performers and also for side performer appearances with non blues
groups. A title and side performer index is also included.
- Luchinsky, Ellen, The Song Index of the Enoch Pratt Free
Library. New York, Garland Publishing, 1998. A two volume index to
all the song folios in the Enoch Pratt Collection.
- An Index to Printed Sources of Folk Dance Tunes from the
United States & the British Isles. Berea, KY, North American
- Keller, Kate Van Winkle, & Carolyn Rabson, The National
Tune Index, New York, University Music Editions, 1980. This
microfiche index to mostly 18th century and earlier publications
includes titles, first line text, and several forms of incipit indexes.
Most major research Universities will have copies of this massive index
to early British & American music material. It is now available on
the web at
as part of a larger index to early American musics.
- Meade, Guthrie T.; with Dick Spottswood and Douglas S. Meade Country
Music Sources: A Biblio-discography of Commercially Recorded
Traditional Music. Chapel Hill, NC, Univ. of North Carolina Press,
2002. A massive index to both recordings and printed material that
focuses on traditional and older material. Organized into four broad
sections (Ballads, Songs, Religious Songs, and Instrumental Music) with
numerious sub-sections listing titles, each of which provides a uniqued
Discographic ID, similar to the Laws Bibliographic IDs published.
Recording information includes dates, location recorded, original
matrix, and records issued. Additional info is available on composer
copyrights, different labels issued along with references to print
sources and some recent reissues.
- Russell, Tony; with Bob Pinson. Country Music Records; a
Discography, 1921-1942. Nashville, TN, Country Music Hall of Fame and
Museum 2004. Covers similar material to Meade's book, but is
organized by performer, rather than type of material, including an
index to music titles as well.
revised & updated, May 28, 2011. Jane Keefer
Folk Index Home Page