Papers of John David Main

Scope and Content

Volume of fiddle tunes composed by John David Main, 1926 - 1928, containing Strathspeys, Reels, Hornpipes, Jigs, etc., arranged in alphabetical order with sundry reference notes - anecdotal, topographical and personal (e.g. Aul' Molie was a figure that came with the daffodils every year to trap moles on the farm. He was clad in ribbed moleskins, and, hating noise, wore a cap with flaps buttoned over his ears ).

Volume of poems, The Antrim Rhyme: by John David Main; in Scots, English, Latin and Greek (unpublished), mostly written during active service in Palestine with the 17th Highland Light Infantry in 1917.

Volume of music compiled by John David Main, entitled The Banffshire Repository of Fiddle Tunes, comprising 552 pages and over 5,000 fiddle tunes (Strathspeys, Reels, Jigs, Marches, Airs and Hornpipes) collected by Main over the course of his life, from natives of Fordyce, Aberdeen, Turriff and Rutherglen. The volume, which was begun in 1897, records the name, composer and source of each tune; some of his own compositions are also included. It is prefaced by two short printed papers, date and source unknown, Biographical Sketches of Early Scottish Musicians and Musicsellers and an Analytical Table of all the known collections of Scottish Dance Music Published in Scotland to the Year 1784.

Administrative / Biographical History

John David Main, son of David Main, gardener, was born in Fordyce, Aberdeenshire, on 23 March 1878, and graduated MA from the University of Aberdeen in 1901. He taught at Macdonald Primary School, Rutherglen, Glasgow, and was a gifted violinist and composer, though his works, which number more than 550 were never published.


None observed

Access Information

Open, subject to signature accepting conditions of use at reader registration sheet

Acquisition Information

Deposited in the University in Jun 1991, by John David Main's nephew, David M.G. Main.

Other Finding Aids

Very brief collection level description available on Aberdeen University Library Catalogue, accessible online

Alternative Form Available

No copies known

Conditions Governing Use

Subject to the condition of the original, copies may be supplied for private research use only on receipt of a signed undertaking to comply with current copyright legislation.

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Head of Special Libraries and Archives (e-mail: and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. Where possible, assistance will be given in identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with normal procedures


No accruals expected

Related Material

The University holds a rich collection of Scottish manuscript music collections, with a particular strength in the area of traditional ballads and fiddle music. Further details are available from Aberdeen University Library Catalogue, accessible online


No known publications using this material

Additional Information

Not known