Buttrey Harmony & Melody

Yes, going above and beyond, The Village Music Project has brought the transcribed Buttrey Melodies and Harmonies together in an abc file, sometimes needing to massage, but in a feat we never thought would happen, they are available at Chris Partington’s website (scroll to the bottom).

Here’s what Buttrey #70, “the Duke’s March” or “Bodmin Riding March” or “The Count Brown’s March” looks like with melody and harmony together:

EasyABC Melody & Harmony Page Buttrey MS

Thank you again Village Music Project and Chris Partington in particular.


Reading the Transcribed Files

For those of you not familiar with the abc files that the Village Music Project has created, here is a screenshot of Buttrey Melody #218, “Quick Step to the Scotch Royals”, once it has been transcribed into an abc file and opened in EasyABC.

EasyABC Sample Page Buttrey MS

On the left you see part of the list of melodies in the file. At the top right you see the printed music and below the coding for the abc file. The coding often includes lots of really interesting information about the tune.

At the top left, you can see a green “Play” arrow so you can listen to the tune as you look at the music.

Isn’t that incredible ??

And all from a 200 year old handwritten manuscript. Modern technology is really something.

Sandy Cameron

Buttrey MS Completely Transcribed !

It’s done !! The Village Music Project musicians have transcribed the entire 1,061 melodies and harmonies in the Buttrey Manuscript !!

They have made them available to you as both printed music in PDF files and as abc files that you can listen to. Where possible, there are also sources, alternate titles for the tunes, notes on suggested changes, oddities …

It’s hard to believe that these dedicated and extremely knowledgeable musicians have taken this on by the goodness of their hearts. We owe them such a tremendous of debt of gratitude.

You can now do a search for any tune here on the “Complete Listing of Melodies” page to determine it’s number, then look up that number on the Village Music website or do a search directly in their abc file.

To all the many people involved in bringing us on this incredible journey – Thank You.

Buttrey MS Presentation by Tracy Macdonnell

The Drum of the Crown Forces were very privileged to hear Tracy Macdonnell repeat his London, Ontario, Buttrey Manuscript presentation at Fort York on Saturday. It was a delight to hear.

Tracy Macdonnell - Buttrey Presentation

Tracy is the person responsible for creating a list of all 1,061 tunes in the manuscript. Without that list to work from, this website would not have been created, Eamonn O’Keeffe would not have commented on it and told me about Ross Flowers, Drum Major of the Drums of the Crown Forces. Ross would not have taken photos of all the melodies and encouraged me to keep uploading them to this website and the Village Music Project people would not have found the photos and transcribed the entire manuscript !!  Now how’s that for serendipity !!

When asked why this manuscript was special, Tracy says, “Simply because it exists ! The sheer number of tunes and that it was signed.”

So Many Tunes, So Little Time

The UK Village Music Project group has been diligently transcribing the 1,061 tunes in the Buttrey ms. The vast majority are now posted as both PDFs (written music) and ABC files (sound clips, comments and written music). It is just so incredible that these folks have been willing to do all this work incl. researching other sources of the tunes, other titles, discrepancies … All available here:

Thank you again and again to the Village Music Project people.

Clearer Harmonies

There are 49 Harmonies (Seconds) in the Buttrey manuscript starting at the opposite end of the manuscript to the Melodies. They appear after the Indexes for the Melodies and the Index for the Harmonies.

It looks like space was left to list more harmonies but the person creating the index stopped at #43. The extra space was then was used for more melodies.

Previously the photos of the Harmonies were a bit blurry. They have been replaced so you can read them more easily.

Buttrey Harmony Index & Unnumbered Tunes SC

References on the Melody Pages

For those of you who have wondered who Aird and Carroll are (because they are often listed beside the melodies), here’s a quick introduction:


Publisher & Bookseller with a music shop at the corner of Gibson’s Wynd and New Street, Glasgow.  Published: “A Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs. Adapted to the Fife, Violin, or German Flute” in Glasgow in 6 volumes between 1778 and 1801.


An Irish-American military musician stationed at Fort Niagara at the time he wrote his manuscript. He apparently played both fife and fiddle. His manuscript is thought to be held at the Newberry library in Chicago. There is a copy in the Fort York, Toronto library. There are about 250 tunes, many of which overlap with the Buttrey manuscript, plus a few of his own compositions.

Other Listings

K. Purvis, I. Bell and all the folks at the Village Music Project have donated many hours of their time researching and/or transcribing tunes in the Buttrey Manuscript for us. Please give them a round of applause !