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The Forde Collection
Irish Traditional Music from the William Forde Manuscripts

Edited by Nicholas Carolan & Caitlín Uí Éigeartaigh.  Published 2021 by the Irish Traditional Music Archive / Taisce Cheol Dúchais Éireann

A collection of 922 pieces of pre-Famine Irish traditional music noted in the 1840s by the Cork classical musician William Forde. With essays on the collector and the editorial procedures of the edition, appendices and indexes. (Hardback only)

William Forde (1797–1850), a native of Cork city, divided his professional life between Cork and London. As a performer he specialised in concert flute and piano, and he was also a composer and arranger, a promoter and musical director of concerts and festivals, a teacher of music and singing, an editor of numerous collections of classical and popular music for London publishers, and the author of a range of instructional manuals and theoretical works on music. But from 1840 Forde was increasingly attracted to the collection and study of Irish traditional music. Collecting at first in Munster, he later wrote music from Irish singers and musicians in London, and undertook a major collecting trip to Connacht during the Famine year of 1846. His collection of Irish melodies, the largest made until his time, remained unpublished at his death.

This edition of Forde’s Irish collection comprises the melodies he noted from live performance and the manuscripts of friends, arranged by source and chronologically to the extent possible. About two-thirds of the melodies are the airs of songs in Irish and English; the remainder are mainly jigs, harp tunes, marches, work-tunes and keens. A unique feature of the collection is Forde’s deliberate collecting of all the versions of a tune he could find.