Buttrey Presentation at Fort York July 21

Tracy Macdonnell will be giving his presentation on the Buttrey Manuscript at Fort York, in Toronto, on Sunday July 21st at 1:45 pm.

Tracy Macdonnell - Buttrey PresentationBack in the 1980’s, while working at Fort York, Tracy learned the fife from images of the Buttrey manuscript and painstakingly created a list of all 1,061 tunes. This was a major step in allowing the manuscript to be accessible to others. He undoubtedly knows more Buttrey tunes than anyone anywhere and truly enjoys playing them.

His presentation will help you understand more about military and social music of that period and more about the Buttrey Manuscript.

Tracy, thank you for doing this.

– Sandy Cameron



Eamonn O’Keeffe – Researcher

Eamonn John Cairns PhotoSimply amazing what the universe can bring together. I’ve just learned that one of the contributors to the Buttrey Music website, Eamonn O’Keeffe, a PhD student at the University of Oxford, is currently researching British military drummers and musicians during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Who knew there people out there that knew about these things ?  And how fortunate for us !

Eamonn’s going to give a presentation that includes the Buttrey ms and will share with us his findings on the dating of the manuscript once the presentation is done.

Really glad I built this website. It has brought such fabulous people together.  🙂

Buttrey Manuscript to Toronto Archives

At this time, the tentative date for donating the Buttrey Manuscript to Fort York as part of the Toronto Archives is July 17, 2019.

If you have been thinking of looking at anything in the manuscript and just haven’t gotten around to it, now would be a good time to do that while I can still take close-ups etc. for you.

This week I was asked to take a close-up of the writing on the leather wrapper that covers the leather bound manuscript and lo and behold, Eamonn O’Keeffe was able to decipher it. It says, “i wish you would hold your bother” (as in hold your tongue). Now doesn’t that add new mystery to the manuscript ?

Buttrey MS Open First Page

– Sandy Cameron

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.”