abc tune search : copyright

Copyright policy

Folk and traditional music - the genre that abc music notation was originally devised for and the main one that has adopted it - exists largely as an aural tradition.

Tunes and songs are freely shared at sessions, festivals and informal gatherings all over the world. Many contemporary musicians are prolific tune composers and song-writers and are happy for others to play and enjoy their music.

Nonetheless, here at the abc tune search, copyright is taken very seriously and the policy is that:

Copyright music is never knowingly returned in search results unless the composer gives their explicit consent.

Excluded / included tunes

This means that the score and sound files for any abc tune with a C:composer field (i.e. where the composer is indicated) are usually excluded.

Exceptions are those tunes:

  • where the composer is recorded as traditional or anonymous
  • where the copyright has now expired - for example
  • where the C:composer field has been used to record some other information (e.g. country of origin or tune type: jig, reel, etc.)
  • where the composer has given their consent to have tunes listed in the tune search - see below

Making corrections

Please contact me if you:

  • find a copyright tune (e.g. one of yours) which should have score and sound files excluded, perhaps because the composer is incorrectly attributed in the original abc file
  • find an out of copyright tune which should have score and sound files included (e.g. one where the composer died more than 70 years ago)
  • are a composer who is happy to have their tunes included in the tune search

I am also happy to remove any reference to a tune if the composer requests it - just let me know.

Composers who have given copyright consent

The following composers, or their representatives, have given consent for their tunes to appear on Please enjoy their music!

IMPORTANT NOTE: the copyright of these tunes still rests with the composer and if you wish to use them in any commercial context (for example on stage or on a recording or in a book) you should contact the composer directly.

Please contact me if you would like to be added to the list above.

Note that for technical reasons, it's more difficult to add individual tunes to the copyright consent list, so it's easiest if you can give consent for all of your tunes. However, I can subsequently exclude individual tunes from having copyright consent.

(In other words, if you're happy for most of your tunes to appear on this site, it shouldn't be a problem; if you have a lot but want most to be excluded, the only way I can realistically accommodate that is to exclude all of them).