BackInstructions & Music

There are also dance instructions in my set of Training sessions and other odd pages, but there are links to these in the above pages.

Dances:  Leave blank to list all dances on website.            

Click    to see a list of dances and tunes I've recently added or updated.         Search for tunes

To search for a dance, enter a few letters of the dance title you're looking for: the search is not case-sensitive.  The program will look for these characters anywhere within the title.  If there's just one match you'll be taken straight to it.  If there are several you'll be given the list (alphabetical or in order of composition/publication depending on which button you clicked), and you can click on the one you want.  Leave the box blank to list all the dances.

Similarly you can search for a tune.  Many of these tie up with the dances, but there are plenty which are just there because I've needed to send them to a band.  This won't work if you search for a character which is accented in my ABC file such as “Adèle's Delight”.

There's also a page listing All my Dances — published or not — with filtering and links to recordings.

Most of my earlier dances are available in my books.  I'm not going to publish any more books, so my new dances and interpretations will be published here on the website.  There are also a number of dances by other people: in some cases the dances have connections with me; in others they're just good dances that I wanted to put before a wider audience.  Some of these were published in English Dance and Song magazine when I was writing my “Dance Matters” column there.

Feel free to call any of the dances listed here, but please get them right and don't forget to tell the dancers who they're by!

I've categorised them the way I would the dance cards in my briefcase, so I separate the various formations and in some cases I separate Playford-style from American-style or General.  A note for Americans: we say “Playford”  rather than “English”, so you will find waltz dances under General.  I've also included many of my interpretations (reconstructions) of dances from Playford and other publishers of that period.

As always, I've written the dances out as I would call them, rather than in a technical language which each caller will then have to translate into English.  I've tried to make the instructions clear without being too pedantic.  Unless otherwise stated, each paragraph is eight bars (measures) long.  A full stop (period) marks the end of a four- or eight-bar phrase; a semicolon marks the end of a two-bar phrase.  I find this very helpful when I'm calling a dance, but some people think I'm going out of my way to be difficult.  All turns, circles and stars are once around unless otherwise noted.

Each dance has a [Print] button, so you can print out just the dances you want, instead of needing Print Preview to work out which page or pages to print.


All the dances with non-copyright own tunes have music notation available.  Just click the treble clef button.

The music is held in ABC format, which you can learn all about from the ABC Home Page.  When you click the button the ABC is processed by programs on my server: ABCM2PS, ABC2MIDI, ABC2ABC, GhostScript, Timidity and Lame.

At this point you can listen to it as a MIDI or MP3 file — this gives you a chance to hear the tune without needing to be a musician.  You can display the PDF output and then print or save it — you will need Adobe Reader which you can download here free of charge or you might prefer Nitro Reader or Sumatra PDF.  Don't send anybody the address of the PDF file — that's generated dynamically and will not be kept on the server.  You can see the ABC which produced all this.  And you can switch from chords above the staff (American style) to chords below the stave (English style), transpose the tune into a different key, switch to a cello or viola version of the notation, and print the music in larger type with fewer bars to the line in case your eyes are getting old.  There is now a Multi-Play option so that you can generate a recording of the tune a specified number of times through, with an introduction and a final chord, so if you call to recorded music and there isn't a recording of the tune you want, this is your best bet — you can even specify what instrumental sounds you want and change these each time through the tune.

If you want to edit lots of tunes and print out the modified musical notation (I can't think why you would!) you can pick up all the Tunes from and start from that.  There's also a very nice way to see and hear all these tunes at  If you're searching for tunes in ABC format, the two search engines I use are and ~jc/cgi/abc/tunefind


Some people will tell you that MIDI sounds awful, but that's not fair.  A MIDI file just says things like “Play this note with this volume on this instrument”, and what the instrument actually sounds like depends on a thing called a SoundFont bank.  The one that comes with Windows is small and therefore not very good, but there are two other options.

Option 1

In addition to [Play MIDI] there's a [Play MP3] button, which uses the SoundFont bank I'm about to recommend to create an MP3 file which (unlike MIDI) can also be played on an Apple Mac or a smartphone.  It takes longer to produce the MP3 file but it sounds much better.

Option 2

If you get serious about ABC music and want to process it on your own PC, I first recommend that you download my WebEdit program to edit, reformat, print and play your tunes.  There's a video explaining how to use WebEdit with ABC here and the script of this is here.

Browse to and download the current version, which is a zip file.

Copy some of the contents to a folder of your choice — the only file you need is GeneralUser---.sf2 but you might want to listen to the demo MIDIs — if you have good speakers they sound amazing.

Browse to and download the current version of VirtualMIDISynth — just accept all the defaults and run the program once it's installed.

Click the + button, navigate to the folder of your choice and select GeneralUser---.sf2

You also need to click the MIDI Mapper tab and select VirtualMIDISynth #1 for both boxes.

Click “OK”.  Your MIDI files will now sound so much better.


Input your own ABC   Click here to input your own ABC or ABC you've picked up from somewhere else, and play it or print it using my styling.