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Dutch Song Database

        - stanza search
        - melody search by keyboard        
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How can I search in the Database of Songs?

To find songs in the Dutch Song Database is an art in itself. The more you know about the way songs are structured and transmitted the better searches you can make.

1. Searching Songs

All words. The easiest way is to enter one or more words into the field "all words".

You don't need to type complete words: you can use asterisks, e.g. amsterd* for "Amsterdam", "Amsterdamse", "Amsterdamsch" etc. You can also enter two or more words. If you use double quotes, e.g. "wilhelmus van nassouwen", the word order is fixed in a string.

You may enter words in their original spelling, e.g. "maeght" of "maacht" (two of the numerous 17th century forms of "maiden") , but also in modern spelling ("maagd"). Click for more details about modernized spelling.

By using the standard option "all words" you may find too many hits. You can limit your results by choosing single fields like "title", "first line", "tune indication" and so on.

Title is the designation of the genre of the song, or its contents as written above the proper text. E.g. "Een oudt liedeken" (An Old Song), or "Herders-klacht van Philander en zijne liefste Dorinde" (Shepherd's Complaint Of Philander And His Beloved Dorinde), or "De Zilvervloot" (The Silver Fleet), of "Mamma's ziekbed" (Mother's Sickbed), or "Goal! die zit" (Goal! The Ball Is In).

First line is the first verse or line of the first stanza of the song text. Often the second line is also included in this field.

Tune indication (or wijsaanduiding in Dutch): the expression above the song text proper, in which the tune is mentioned to which the song text is to be sung. Usually in the form "To the tune of: Wilhelmus".

Author: this may be the writer of the text, but also the composer of the melody, the arranger or translator. In the case of 16th and 17th century songs you may also find here the motto of the author or of the Chamber of Rhetoric. In the case of contemporary popular music you may also find the name of the singer.

Keyword. For most of the songs at least one keyword is given: the genre, type or sort of song in question. Only Dutch terms have been used, like liefdeslied (love song), klaaglied (lament song), voetballied (soccer song) etc. Often personal names and geographical names have been added. Many songs have also free keywords, always in Dutch.

Stanza form. One may search on the basis of the form of the stanza, which consists of the number of accents per line, the rhyme scheme and the gender of the rhymes, whether masculine (capitals) or feminine (minuscules). Thus one may find forms which are identical in shape and may be sung to the same tune. An easy search possibility is present in the full description of a song, at the right side of the stanza form (link:'all songs with this stanza form').

Next to the title 'Dutch Song Database' there is another link 'stanza search'. When clicking this, one starts a free search for stanza forms. On this search form one can find some examples as well.

Searching all versions of a song text . You may find all versions of a song text by pressing just one button. In the description of a song this is indicated as "all songs with this text". Pressing the red number below yields a list of identical or similar song texts.

Searching all versions of a melody. You may also find all versions of a melody by pressing one button. In the description of a song you may find a red number below the expression "all songs sung to this melody". Pressing this number yields a list of song texts, which according to our best knowledge are or have been sung to the same melody. Some of these song texts may have music notation, but most of them do not. Instrumental tunes may also be included. We based our identifications on tune indications, strophic similarity, melodic similarity, concordances and so on.

2. Searching Sources

One can also search sources, i.e. songbooks, manuscripts, broadsides, field recordings, CDs. Here one can only use the options "all words" and "title", which are situated at the bottom of the pop-up field "all words" (of songs). Using "all words" (of sources) one can also enter the year of publication or the library siglum of a source. One can get a list of all songs in a source (provided that these have been entered, of course. The database also contains titles of sources which have not been excerpted).