Bob McQuillen was a prolific composer who played a pivotal role in the contra dance revival of the last fifty years. He self-published fifteen Note Books with 1,554 tunes, the last one in 2012. 

All these tunes are now available via a single app in the Apple App Store.

Where to start? 

Curated Lists

If you are unfamiliar with Bob McQuillen’s tunes, perhaps 1,554 tunes are too many to sort through. You could start at the beginning with Scotty O’Neil, Bob’s first tune (composed in 1973) and work your way through all of them. As an alternative, we have provided a few lists that might be more manageable. 

In this Google sheet, you will find 6 tabs: McQuillen Classics, Easier Tunes, Hidden Gems, Recorded, Old New England, and Links.  

  • Classics are tunes that have become well-known in the traditional dance and music community.  
  • Easier Tunes are just that. 
  • Hidden Gems are great tunes that deserve more attention. 
  • Recorded includes tunes recorded by several bands and individuals, except for tunes recorded by ‘Old New England’.  
  • Old New England (O.N.E.): a separate list of 82 of Bob’s tunes recorded by O.N.E. 
  • Links includes links to various YouTube videos featuring Bob or his tunes; articles and interviews; and other collections of note. 

Many of the recordings can be found on YouTube; some are available on Spotify and other streaming services. You can hear Bob himself playing piano on recordings with Old New England (with Deanna Stiles and Jane Orzechowsk), the Rhythm Rollers (with Laurie Andres, Cathie Whitesides, and WB Reid), Applejack, and others.  

These choices are “in the eye of the beholder”—you may have a different set of tunes you consider “easier” or “gems.”  I encourage you to explore and enjoy this great collection of tunes.

–Laurie Indenbaum