Archivi categoria: Musica scozzese/ Scottish music

“The two sisters” ballad: Binnorie

Leggi in italiano

The murder ballad “The two sisters” originates from Sweden or more generally from the Scandinavian countries (see “De två systrarna), but has spread widely also in some Eastern countries and in the British Isles

The variants in which it is present are many as well as the titles: The Twa Sisters, The Cruel Sister, The Bonnie Milldams of Binnorie, The Bonny Bows o’ London, Binnorie and Sister, Binnorie, Minnorie, Dear Sister, The Jealous Sister (Minorie), Bonnie Broom, Swan Swims Sae Bonny O, The Bonny Swans, Bow Your Bend to Me.

IL TRIANGOLO AMOROSO

It tells the story of a love triangle with two sisters who contend for the attentions of a handsome young man, once his choice falls on the blonde one, the other (by chance with black hair) to have him all for herself, she kills her sister, pushing her down a cliff (or from the bank of a river).

20121002205259a31
John Faed: Cruel Sister

A dear theme to many pre-Raphaelite painters and more generally a recurring theme in 19th century painters (thanks to Sir Walter Scott’s good offices); in the painting of the Scot John Faed (1851) entitled “Cruel Sister” it is summarized the whole drama of jealousy at the center of history (read motive); a prince with an exotic charm (what a feathered hat!) holds a blond girl dressed in white satin by the hand, not only does the prince look at her and tenderly shakes her hand, but also points to a little dog in the foreground, to say, “here I am faithful”. What a grace and sweetness is suffused in the girl who, with modesty, turns her gaze to the ground, but her cheeks are colorated, a sign of a profound emotion that disturbs her. The other girl is slightly backward compared to the two lovers and , afflicted by dark thoughts, she looks at the prince; even if she grasps to his arm she is clearly the third wheel. (note that while the two lovers move with the same step the black lady moves in forward the left foot).

To understand the whole story, here is a Scottish fairy tale called “The Singing Breastbone” (from Fair is Fair: World Folktales of Justice of Sharon Creeden see) that already in the title announces a “gothic” story.

 

 The Singing Breastbone (Binnorie)

ONCE upon a time there were two king’s daughters who lived in a bower near the bonny mill-dams of Binnorie. And Sir William came wooing the elder and won her love, and plighted troth with glove and with ring. But after a time he looked upon the younger sister, with her cherry cheeks and golden hair, and his love went out to her till he cared no longer for the elder one. So she hated her sister for taking away Sir William’s love, and day by day her hate grew and grew and she plotted add she planned how to get rid of her.

Katharine Cameron (scot, 1874–1965): She has taken her by the lily white hand binnorie o binnorie

So one fine morning, fair and clear, she said to her sister, ‘Let us go and see our father’s boats come in at the bonny mill-stream of Binnorie.’ So they went there hand in hand. And when they came to the river’s bank, the younger one got upon a stone to watch for the beaching of the boats. And her sister, coming behind her, caught her round the waist and dashed her into the rushing mill-stream of Binnorie.
‘O sister, sister, reach me your hand !’ she cried, as she floated away, ‘and you shall have half of all I’ve got or shall get.’
‘No, sister, I’ll reach you no hand of mine, for I am the heir to all your land. Shame on me if I touch her hand that has come ‘twixt me and my own heart’s love.’
‘O sister, O sister, then reach me your glove !’ she cried, as she floated further away, ‘and you shall have your William again.’
Sink on,’ cried the cruel princess, ‘no hand or glove of mine you’ll touch. Sweet William will be all mine when you are sunk beneath the bonny mill-stream of Binnorie.’ And she turned and went home to the king’s castle.
And the princess floated down the mill-stream, sometimes swimming and sometimes sinking, till she came near the mill. Now, the miller’s daughter was cooking that day, and needed water for her cooking. And as she went to draw it from the stream, she saw something floating towards the mill-dam, and she called out, ‘Father ! father ! draw your dam. There’s something white–a merrymaid or a milk-white swan–coming down the stream.’ So the miller hastened to the dam and stopped the heavy, cruel mill-wheels. And then they took out the princess and laid her on the bank.
Fair and beautiful she looked as she lay there. In her golden hair were pearls and precious stones; you could not see her waist for her golden girdle, and the golden fringe of her white dress came down over her lily feet. But she was drowned, drowned !

And as she lay there in her beauty a famous harper passed by the mill-dam of Binnorie, and saw her sweet pale face. And though he travelled on far away, he never forgot that face, and after many days he came back to the bonny mill-stream of Binnorie. But then all he could find of her where they had put her to rest were her bones and her golden hair. So he made a harp out of her breast-bone and her hair, and travelled on up the hill from the mill-dam of Binnorie till he came to the castle of the king her father.
binnorie_2_by_tanmorna-d5fxw2h

That night they were all gathered in the castle hall to hear the great harper–king and queen, their daughter and son, Sir William, and all their Court. And first the harper sang to his old harp, making them joy and be glad, or sorrow and weep, just as he liked. But while he sang, he put the harp he had made that day on a stone in the hall. And presently it began to sing by itself, low and clear, and the harper stopped and all were hushed.
And this is what the harp sung:
‘O yonder sits my father, the king,
Binnorie, O Binnorie;
And yonder sits my mother, the queen;
By the bonny mill-dams o’ Binnorie.

‘And yonder stands my brother Hugh,
Binnorie, O Binnone;
And by him my William, false and true;
By the bonny mill-dams o’ Binnorie.’

Then they all wondered, and the harper told them how he had seen the princess lying drowned on the bank near the bonny mill-dams o’ Binnorie, and how he had afterwards made his harp out of her hair and breast-bone. Just then the harp began singing again, and this is what it sang out loud and clear:
‘And there sits my sister who drowned me
By the bonny mill-dams o’ Binnorie.’

And the harp snapped and broke, and never sang more.

Giordano Dall’Armellina writes in his essay: “Summing up the English and the Scandinavian versions a hundred texts have been calculated: it is as if every singer had fun inventing something different to distinguish himself from the others. In some Norwegian variants the harp crash into many pieces and the blond princess returns to life while her black-haired sister is either burned alive or buried alive as a punishment for the crime committed.
In another, always Norwegian, the bones of the girl are used to make a flute that is brought to her family to make it play by everyone. When the cruel sister plays it, the blood gushes from it, thus denouncing her guilt. It follows a punishment: the sister is condemned to be tied to four horses that leave in four distinct directions and that will cut her to pieces. In a Swedish version the miller saves the girl and brings her back to her family. In the end the blond princess will forgive her sister for the attempted murder” (translated from Giordano  Dell’Armellina: “Ballate Europee da Boccaccio a Bob Dylan”.)

As usual, the fairy tale lends itself to multiple readings outside the text, symbolism focuses on the meaning of the bones, the swan and the water element (see) and yet in the American version the ballad becomes a more typical murder ballad

FIRST VERSION: BINNORIE

In Scotland the ballad was printed in 1656 under the title “The Miller and the King’s Daughter” (see) and then ended in the Child Ballads, (# 10), in his “The English and Scottish Popular Ballads”: the versions in Child are about twenty to underline the wide popularity and diffusion of the story (and also for the melodies there are many versions).

The version analyzed, however is that of Sir Walter Scott (in “Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border” 1802 see ) who with his books helped to reawaken the interest of contemporaries towards Medievalism.
The text is rich in Scottish terms, the plot is very similar to the fairy tale “The Singing Breastbone” of which the ballad seems to be the sung version, the tragic epilogue is tinged with magic with the bones of the girl become musical instrument to unmask the killer.

Custer LaRue&Baltimore Consort in The Daemon Lover, 1993 a medieval version


There were twa sisters sat in a bow’r(1)
Binnorie, O Binnorie (2)
There cam a knight to be their wooer.

By the bonnie mill-dams of Binnorie .
He courted the eldest wi’ glove and ring (3)/But he lo’ed the youngest aboon a’thing.
The eldest she was vexed sair
And sore envied her sister fair.
The eldest said to the youngest ane:
“Will you go and see our father’s ships come in”
She’s ta’en her by the lily hand
And led her down to the river strand.
The youngest stude upon a stane
The eldest cam’ and pushed her in.
“Oh sister, sister reach your hand
And ye shall be heir of half my land”
“Oh sister, I’ll not reach my hand
And I’ll be heir of all your land.”
“Oh sister, reach me but your glove
And sweet William shall be your love.”
“Sink on, nor hope for hand or glove
And sweet William shall better be my love.”
Sometimes she sunk, sometimes she swam
Until she cam to the miller’s dam.
The miller’s daughter was baking bread
And gaed for water as she had need.
“O father, father, draw your dam!
There’s either a mermaid or a milk-white swan (4).”
The miller hasted and drew his dam
And there he found a drown’d woman.
Ye couldna see her yellow hair
For gowd and pearls that were sae rare.
Ye coldna see her middle sma’
Her gowden girdle was sae braw.
Ye couldna see her lily feet
Her gowden fringes were sae deep.
A famous harper passing by
The sweet pale face he chanced to spy.
And when he looked that lady on
He sighed, and made a heavy moan.
He made a harp (5) o’ her breast bone
Whose sounds would melt a heart of stone.
The strings he framed of her yellow hair,/Their notes made sad the listening ear.
He brought it to her father’s ha’
There was the court assembled there.
He layed the harp upon a stane (6)
And straight it began to play alane.
“O yonder sits my father the King
And yonder sits my mother, the queen.”
“And yonder stands my brother Hugh
And by him, my William, sweet and true.”
But the last tune that the harp played then
Was: “Woe to my sister, false Helen”
NOTE
1) in the Middle Ages, bower indicated the private room of the lady of the castle, not exactly the bedroom when the room in which she stayed with her maidservants.
2) Scott replaces the refrain “Edinburgh, Edinburgh” inspired by the battle of Binnorie (to commemorate the Scottish wars of independence)
3) Giving the ring and the glove in medieval times was a promise of marriage. To be courted was the older sister, it was a matter of a arranged marriage. in which however the young falls in love with the younger sister
4)  The comparison emphasizes the purity and innocence of the girl who is presumed not to have encouraged the advances of the suitor.
5)  a magical harp, in fact, as soon as it is placed on a stone, it begins to sing alone. Here we refer to the Viking belief that the soul resides in the bones (the bones of the dead accuse their murderers). The killer sister who was about to marry, is unmasked by her sister’s ghost and will surely be punished as she deserves.
It is reasonable to assume that in the Scandinavian versions the instrument was in reality an arched crwth or lyra: also called “Germanic crwth” – to underline its northern origin – the instrument can also be equipped with a central keyboard and you play with the bow being probably the ancestor of the violin. In Wales it is called crwth (while in Ireland it is called cruith) and the central keyboard bears six strings, two of which the drone strings (“loafer string”). This instrument, which scholars are uncertain if they consider it to be completely indigenous and attributed to the Scandinavian area, (see)
6) referring to the ability of the harp to soften a heart of stone (black heart) so its magic song begins only when they placed it on a stone

Dorothy Carter with hammer dulcimer

LINK
Giordano  Dell’Armellina in “Racconti comuni in ballate italiane, svedesi e  britanniche: un confronto” see
Giordano  Dell’Armellina: “Ballate Europee da Boccaccio a Bob Dylan”.
http://members.chello.nl/r.vandijk2/ChildBallads010-019.html
http://www.antiwarsongs.org/canzone.php?id=49269&lang=it
http://walterscott.eu/education/ballads/supernatural-ballads/the-cruel-sister/

Corn Rigs are bonnie

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Corn Rigs  (Rigs o’Barley) was written entirely by Robert Burns in 1782 adapting it to an old Scottish dance air entitled “Corn Rigs are bonnie“. It seems to be particularly dear to the poet: it tells of the night of love with a beautiful girl among the sheaves of wheat, a magical full moon night…

The Annie of the song has been identified in Anne Rankie, the youngest daughter of a tenant farmer, John Rankine of Adamhill, of the farm that was a short distance from the Burns in Lochlea. In 1782, in September, the woman married a innkeeper, John Merry of Cumnock, so some doubt that in August she was among the sheaves of barley with the handsome Robert; others, however, point out that after 4 years (and once again in August) the poet, being in the neighborhood, was staying right at the inn of the two!
Burns gave Anne Rankie a lock of his hair and his portrait, which she kept together with the song.
Very bravely Burns, however, is silent on the identity of the beautiful Annie.

William Adolphe Bouguereau 1865
William Adolphe Bouguereau 1865

LAMMAS NIGHT

rigsThe analysis of the text unravels the dynamics of the relationship between the two lovers (according to my point of view): the night of Lammas, as usual in the Celtic tradition, is the night of August 1, a day of celebration for the farmers of the Scotland, day of rest and party before the beginning of the harvest.
Among the young it was customary to spend the night in the fields of wheat (or barley) but our Robert at first keeps away from such custom, the beautiful Annie is promised to another …
However, the youthful ardor finally wins and even the girl (without even being asked too much, reveals the bard) consents: the two meet in the fields of barley, at dusk, on a warm summer evening with the moon full to illuminate the night, and what a “happy night”!
The final verse takes up a concept dear to the poet: the best time is spent to love! And on that magical night it seems that the young Robert did it three times!

Ossian from Seal Song 1981 with the traditional Corn Rigs Are Bonnie melody, the video is very well done with the scrolling text, movies and vintage photos as well as “portraits” of the bard, all well structured in the evocation for images of the text

Paul Giovanni from The Wicker Man but with another melody

I
It was upon a Lammas(1) night,
When the corn rigs(2) were bonnie,
Beneath the moon’s unclouded light,
I held awa’ to Annie;
The time flew by wi’ tentless heed,
‘Til ‘tween the late and early,
Wi’ small persuasion she agreed
To see me thro’ the barley.
chorus
Corn Rigs and barley rigs,
Corn rigs are bonny:
I’ll ne’eer forget that happy night,
Amang the rigs wi’ Annie.
II
The sky was blue (3), the wind was still,
The moon was shining clearly;
I set her down wi’ right good will,
Amang the rigs o’ barley:
I ken’t(4) her heart, was a’ my ain(5);
I loved her most sincerely;
I kissed her o’er and o’er again,
Amang the rigs o’ barley.
III
I locked her in my fond embrace;
Her heart was beatin’ rarely:
My blessing on that happy place,
Amang the rigs o’ barley!
But by the moon and stars so bright,
That shone that hour so clearly!
She aye shall bless that happy night
Amang the rigs of barley.
IV
I hae been blythe(6) wi’ comrades dear;
I hae been merry drinking;
I hae been joyful gath’rin’ gear(7);
I hae been happy thinking:
But a’ the pleasures e’er I saw,
Tho’ three times doubled fairly,
That happy night was worth them a’,
Amang the rigs wi’ Annie.

NOTES
1) Lammas is the harvest festival that is celebrated on the first of August, whose origins date back to the Celtic festival of Lugnasad, a festival that marks the beginning of the first harvest (wheat and barley). In the Scottish country tradition it is like our day in San Martino, when the land is rented and the contracts are renewed.(see more)
2) The term Rigs describes an old cultivation technique that involves working the land in long and narrow strips of raised land (the traditional drainage system of the past): the fields were divided into earthen banks raised, so that the excess water drained further down the deep side furrows.
3) the indicated hour is that of twilight
4) knew
5) own
6) joyous
7) earning money

MELODY

Alasdair Fraser · Paul Machlis · Barry Phillips · Martin Hayes

SCOTTISH COUNTRY DANCE

This song is best known with the title of Corn Rigs or Corn Rigs Are Bonnie and it is also a scottish country dance (see more) taken from the old traditions. During the harvest it was customary to dance among the sheaves of wheat, as shown in this vintage movie by the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society.
VIDEO

LINK
http://ontanomagico.altervista.org/lugnasad.html
https://giulsass.wordpress.com/istruzione/esperienza-antica/gest_terra_p_s/

I’ll meet thee on the lea-rig by Robert Burns

ritratto di Robert Burns
Robert Burns – by Alexander Nasmyth 1787

Leggi in italiano

The lea-rig (The Meadow-ridge) is a traditional Scottish song rewritten by Robert Burns in 1792 under the title “I’ll Meet Thee On The Lea Rig“.
The term Rigs describes an old cultivation technique that involves working the land in long and narrow strips of raised land (the traditional drainage system of the past): the fields were divided into earthen banks raised, so that the excess water drained further down the deep side furrows. These bumps could reach up to the knee and hand sowing was greatly facilitated: the grass grew in the lea rigs.

THE TUNE

We find the beautiful melody in many eighteenth-century manuscripts, known by various names such as An Oidhche A Bha Bhainis Ann, The Caledonian Laddy, I’ll Meet Thee On The Lea-rig, The Lea Rigg, The Lea Rigges, My Ain Kind Dearie, My Ain Kind Deary O

Tony McManusAlasdair Fraser & Jody Stecher in Driven Bow 1988

John Carnie

Julian Lloyd Webber

THE LYRICS

rigsA “romantic” meeting in the summer camps declined in many text versions with a single melody (albeit with many different arrangements) that has known, like so many other Scottish eighteenth-century songs, a notable fame among the musicians of German romanticism and in good living rooms over England, France and Germany.

The oldest text can be found in the manuscript of Thomas D’Urfey, “Wit and Mirth, or Pills to Purge Melancholy” 1698, by anonymous author who starts like this:
I’ll lay(rowe) thee o’er the lea rig,
My ain kind dearie O.
Although the night were ne’er sae wat,
And I were ne’er sae weary, O,
I’ll rowe thee o’er the lea-rig,
My ain kind dearie, O;

With the title “My Ain Kind Dearie O” it is published later in the Scots Musical Museum vol I (1787) (see here) on Robert Burns’ dispatch to James Johnson with the note that it was the version originally written by the edinburgh poet Robert Fergusson ( 1750-74).
‘Will ye gang o’er the leerigg, my ain kind deary-o! And cuddle there sae kindly wi’ me, my kind deary-o!
220px-Alexander_Runciman_-_Robert_Fergusson,_1750_-_1774__Poet_-_Google_Art_ProjectRobert Fergusson died only 24 years old in the grip of madness while he was hospitalized in the Edinburgh Asylum because subject to a strong existential depression (and yet there are those who insinuate it was syphilis); he had just enough time to write about eighty poems (published between 1771 and 1773) and was the first poet to use the Scottish dialect as a poetic language; he lived for the most part a bohemian life, sharing the intellectual ferment of Edinburgh in the period known as the Scottish Enlightenment, always in contact with musicians, actors and editors; in 1772 it joined the “Edinburgh Cape Club”, not a Masonic lodge but a club for men only for convivial purposes (in which tables were laid out with tasty dishes and above all large drinks); for Robert Burns he was ‘my elder brother in Misfortune, By far my elder brother in the muse’.

Burn rewrote the poem in October 1792 for the publisher George Thomson, to be published in the “Selected Collection of Original Scottish Air” (in what will be the most commonly known version of The Lea Rig) published with the musical arrangement of Joseph Haydn (who also arranged the traditional My Ain Kind Deary version); and he also wrote a more bawdy version published in “The Merry Muses of Caledonia” (1799) under the title My Ain Kind Deary (page 98) (text here)
I’ll lay thee o’er the lea rig, Lovely Mary, deary O

Andy M. Stewart 1991, live

Roddy Woomble

Paul McKenna Band

and in the classic version on arrangement by Joseph Haydn
ASCOLTA Jamie MacDougall & Haydn Eisenstadt Trio JHW. XXXII/5 no. 372, Hob. XXXIa no. 31ter

Robert Burns
I
When o’er the hill the eastern star(1)
Tells bughtin time(2) is near, my jo,
And owsen frae the furrow’d field
Return sae dowf and weary, O,
Down by the burn, where scented birks(3)
Wi’ dew are hangin clear, my jo,
I’ll meet thee on the lea-rig,
My ain kind dearie, O.
II
At midnight hour in mirkest glen
I’d rove, and ne’er be eerie(4), O,
If thro’ that glen I gaed to thee,
My ain kind dearie, O!
Altho’ the night were ne’er sae wild(5),
And I were ne’er sae weary, O,
I’ll(6) meet thee on the lea-rig,
My ain kind dearie, O.
III
The hunter lo’es the morning sun
To rouse the mountain deer, my jo;
At noon the fisher takes the glen
Adown the burn to steer, my jo:
Gie me the hour o’ gloamin grey –
It maks my heart sae cheery, O,
To meet thee on the lea-rig,
My ain kind dearie, O.
english translation
I
When over the hill the eastern star
Tells the time of milking the ewes is near, my dear,
And oxes from the furrowed field
Return so lethargic and weary O:
Down by the burn where scented birch trees
With dew are hanging clear, my dear, I’ll meet thee on the grassy ridge, My own kind dear, O!
II
At midnight hour, in darkest glen,
I’d rove and never be frightened O, If thro’ that glen I go to thee,
My own kind dear, O:
Altho’ the night were  never so wild,
And I were never so weary O,
I’ll meet thee on the grassy ridge, My own kind dear, O!
III
The hunter loves the morning sun,
To rouse the mountain deer, my dear,
At noon the fisher takes the glen,
down the burn to steer, my dear;
Give me the hour o’ gloamin grey,
It maks my heart so cheary O
on the grassy ridge, My own kind dear, O!

NOTES
1) the morning star
2) milking time is early in the morning
3) or “birken buds”
4) or irie
5) in the copy sent to Thomson Robert Burns wrote “wet” then corrected with wild: a summer night with severe air with lightning in the distance
6) or “I’d”

Compare with the version attributed to the poet Robert Fergusson

SMM 1787
I
‘Will ye gang o’er the leerigg(1),
my ain kind deary-o!
And cuddle there sae kindly
wi’ me, my kind deary-o!
At thornie dike(2), and birken tree,
we’ll daff(3), and ne’er be weary-o;
They’ll scug(4) ill een(5) frae you and me,
mine ain kind deary o!’
II
Nae herds, wi’ kent(6) or colly(7) there,
shall ever come to fear ye, O!
But lav’rocks(8), whistling in the air,
shall woo, like me, their deary, O!
While others herd their lambs and ewes,
and toil for warld’s gear(9), my jo(10),
Upon the lee my pleasure grows,
wi’ you, my kind deary, O!
english translation
I
Will you go the over the lea rigg,
My own kind dear, O
And cuddle there so kindly
with me, my kind deary-o!
At thorn dry-stone wall and birche tree,
we will make merry, and never be weary-o;
They’ll screen unfriendly eyes from you and me,
My own kind dear, O!
II
No herds, with sheep-dogs there,
shall ever come to fear ye, O!
But larks whistling in the air,
shall woo, like me, their deary, O!
While others herd their lambs and ewes,
and toil for world’s riches, my sweetheart,
Upon the lee my pleasure grows,
with you, my kind deary, O!

NOTES
1) lea rigg = grassy ridge
2) thornie-dike= a thorn-fenced dike along the stream below the ridge
3) Daff = Make merry
4) ‘Scug’ is to shelter or take refuge. It can also refer to crouching or stooping to avoid being seen.
5) Een = evil eyes
6) Kent = sheperd’s crook
7) Colly = Schottisch sheep-dog
8) Lav’rocks =larks
9) Gear = riches, goods of any kind
10) Jo = sweetheart, my dear

Scottish country dance: “My own kind deary”

The Scottish Country dance entitled “My own kind deary” with music and dance instructions appears in John Walsh’s Caledonian Country Dances (vol I 1735)


for dance explanation see

LINK
http://www.tunearch.org/wiki/Annotation:Lea_Rig_(The) http://www.tunearch.org/wiki/Lea_Rig_(The) http://www.cobbler.plus.com/wbc/poems/translations/497.htm http://www.burnsscotland.com/items/v/volume-i,-song-049,-page-50-my-ain-kind-deary-o.aspx http://www.electricscotland.com/burns/songs/14MyAinKindDearieO.jpg http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/robertburns/works/my_ain_kind_dearie/ http://www.forgottenbooks.com/readbook_text/ The_Poetical_Works_of_Robert_Fergusson_With_Biographical_1000304352/187 https://thesession.org/tunes/13977 http://www.recmusic.org/lieder/get_text.html?TextId=3380 http://www.recmusic.org/lieder/get_text.html?TextId=90757
http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/w/103940/Franz-Joseph-Haydn-The-lea-rig

John Barleycorn must die!

Leggi in italiano

John Barleycorn (in Italian Giovanni Chicco d’Orzo) is a traditional song spread in England and Scotland, focused on this popular character, embodiment of the spirit of beer and whiskey. (see)
There are several text versions collected at different times; the oldest known is from 1460.
As often happens with the most popular ballads we talk about family in reference to a set of texts and melodies connected to each other or related.

The plot traced by Pete Wood is well documented and we refer you to his John Barleycorn revisited for the deepening: the first ballad that identifies a man as the spirit of barley is Allan-a-Maut (Allan del Malto) and it comes from Scotland .
The first ballad that bears the name John Barleycorn is instead of 1624, printed in London “A Pleasant new Ballad.To be sung evening and morn, of the bloody murder of Sir John Barleycorn” shortened in The Pleasant Ballad: as Pete Wood points out, all the elements that characterize the current version of the ballad are already present, the oath of the knights to kill John, the rain that quenches him, and the sun that warms him to give him energy, the miller who grinds him between two stones.

Originale screenprint by Paul Bommer (da qui)

THE DEATH-REBIRTH OF KING BARLEY

spirito-granoIt is narrated the death of the King of Barley according to myths and beliefs that date back to the beginning of the peasant culture, customs that were followed in England in these forms until the early decades of the ‘900.
According to James George Frazier in “The Golden Bough“, anciently “John” was chosen among the youth of the tribe and treated like a king for a year; at the appointed time, however, he was killed, following a macabre ritual: his body was dragged across the fields so that the blood soaked the earth and fed the barley.

More recently in the Celtic peasant tradition the spirit of the wheat entered the reaper who cut the last sheaf (who symbolically killed the god) and he had to be sacrificed just as described in the song (or at least figuratively and symbolically). see more

However, the spirit of the Wheat-Barley never dies because it is reborn the following year with the new crop, its strength and its ardor are contained in the whiskey that is obtained from the distillation of barley malt!

JOHN BARLEYCORN

“The Pleasant ballad” was set to the tune “Shall I Lie Beyond Thee?” on the broadside.63  This tune is quoted by a number of sources by a variety of very similar titles, including “Lie Lulling Beyond Thee” .  It is this writer’s belief from a variety of considerations, including Simpson 64 that these are one and the same tune.  There has been some confusion regarding the use of the tune “Stingo” for various members of the family.  Several publications say that John Barleycorn should be sung to this tune, (including Dixon), and some people have assumed this was the tune for “The Pleasant Ballad.”  These impressions seem to have originated from Chappell 65, who meant that “Stingo” was the tune for another member of the family “The Little Barleycorne”, a view which accords with his own comments on the version in the Roxburghe Ballads 66, with Simpson, and Baring-Gould who says ‘[Stingo] is not the air used in the broadsides nor in the west of England’ 67.  Two further tunes, “The Friar & the Nun” and “Twas when the seas were roaring”, are mentioned by Simpson.  Mas Mault has been suggested to be set to the tune “Triumph and Joy”, the original title of “Greensleeves”. 68 (Pete Wood)

In fact, as many as 45 different melodies have been used for centuries for this ballad, and Pete Wood analyzes the four most common melodies.

 MELODY 1

The 1906 version of John Stafford published by Sharp in English Folk Songs is probably the melody that comes closest to the time of James I
The Young Tradition

MELODY DIVES AND LAZARUS

The Shepherd Haden version became “standard” for being included in The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs.T

Traffic (Learned by Mike Waterson)

Traffic lyrics
I
There was three men come out of the West
Their fortunes for to try
And these three men made a solemn vow
John Barleycorn(1) must die.
II
They ploughed, they sowed, they harrowed him in
Throwing clods all on his head
And these three men made a solemn vow
John barleycorn was Dead.
III
They’ve left him in the ground for a very long time
Till the rains from heaven did fall
Then little Sir John’s sprung up his head
And so amazed them all
IV
They’ve left him in the ground till the Midsummer
Till he’s grown both pale and wan
Then little Sir John’s grown a long, long beard
And so become a man.
V
They hire’d men with their scythes so sharp
To cut him off at the knee.
They’ve bound him and tied him around the waist
Serving him most barb’rously
VI
They hire’d men with their sharp pitch-forks
To prick him to the heart
But the drover he served him worse than that
For he’s bound him to the cart.
VII
They’ve rolled him around and around the field
Till they came unto a barn
And there they made a solemn mow
Of Little Sir John Barleycorn
VIII
They’ve hire’d men with their crab-tree sticks
To strip him skin from bone
But the miller, he served him worse than that,
For he’s ground him between two stones.
IX
Here’s Little sir John in the nut-brown bowl(2)
And brandy in the glass
But Little Sir John in the nut-brown bowl’s
Proved the stronger man at last
X
For the hunts man he can’t hunt the fox
Nor so loudly blow his horn
And the tinker, he can’t mend Kettles or pots
Without a little of Sir John Barleycorn.
NOTES
1)  the spirit of beer and whiskey
2) The cask of walnut or oak used today to age the whiskey

Jetro Tull live


Damh The Bard from The Hills They Are Hollow

JOHN BARLEYCORN, MELODY 3

The version of Robert Pope taken by Vaughan Williams in his Folk Song Suite
version for choir and orchestra

JOHN BARLEYCORN, MELODY 4

from Shropshire
Fred Jordan live

Jean-François Millet - Buckwheat Harvest Summer 1868
Jean-François Millet – Buckwheat Harvest Summer 1868

JOHN BARLEYCORN BY ROBERT BURNS

The version published by Robert Burns in 1782, reworks the ancient folk song and becomes the basis of subsequent versions

The first 3 stanzas are similar to the standard version, apart from the three kings coming from the east to make the solemn oath to kill John Barleycorn, in fact in the English version the three men arrive from the West: to me personally the hypothesis that Burnes he wanted to point out the 3 Magi Kings … it does not seem pertinent to the deep pagan substratum of history: Christianity (or the cult of the God of Light) doesnt want to kill the King of the Wheat, unless you identify the king of the Grain with the Christ (a “blasphemous” comparison that was immediately removed from subsequent versions).

History is the detailed transformation of the grain spirit, grown strong and healthy during the summer, reaped and threshed as soon as autumn arrives, and turned into alcohol; and the much more detailed description (always compared to the standard version) of the pleasures that it provides to men, so that they can draw from the drink, intoxication and inspiration. Burns was notoriously a great connoisseur of whiskey and the last verse is right in his style!

The indicated melody is Lull [e] Me Beyond Thee; other melodies that fit the lyrics are “Stingo” (John Playford, 1650) and “Up in the Morning Early”
The version of the Tickawinda takes up part of the text by singing the stanzas I, II, III, V, VII, XV

Robert Burns
I
There was three kings into the east,
Three kings both great and high,
And they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn should die.
II
They took a  plough and plough’d him down,
Put clods upon his head,
And they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn was dead
III
But the cheerful Spring came kindly on,
And show’rs began to fall;
John Barleycorn got up again,
And sore surpris’d them all
IV
The sultry suns  of Summer came,
And he grew  thick and strong,
His head weel   arm’d wi’ pointed spears,
That no one  should him wrong.
V
The sober Autumn enter’d mild,
When he grew wan and pale;
His bending joints and drooping head
Show’d he began to fail.
VI
His coulour sicken’d more and more,
He faded into age;
And then his enemies began
To show their deadly rage.
VII
They’ve taen a weapon, long and sharp,
And cut him by the knee;
Then ty’d him fast upon a cart,
Like a rogue for forgerie(1).
VIII
They laid him down upon his back,
And cudgell’d him full sore;
They hung him up before the storm,
And turn’d him o’er and o’er.
IX
They filled up a darksome pit
With water to the brim,
They heaved in John Barleycorn,
There let him sink or swim
X
They laid him out upon the floor,
To work him farther woe,
And still, as signs of life appear’d,
They toss’d him to and fro.
XI
They wasted, o’er a scorching flame,
The marrow of his bones;
But a Miller us’d him worst of all,
For he crush’d him between two stones.
XII
And they hae taen his very heart’s blood,
And drank it round and round;
And still the more and more they drank,
Their joy did more abound.
XIII
John Barleycorn was a hero bold,
Of noble enterprise,
For if you do but taste his blood,
‘Twill make your courage rise.
XIV
‘Twill make a man forget his woe;
‘Twill heighten all his joy:
‘Twill make the widow’s heart to sing,
Tho’ the tear were in her eye.
XV
Then let us toast John Barleycorn,
Each man a glass in hand;
And may his great posterity
Ne’er fail in old Scotland!
NOTES
1) the condemned to death were transported to the place of the gallows on a cart for the public mockery

Steeleye Span from Below the Salt 1972


I (Spoken)
There were three men
Came from the west
Their fortunes for to tell,
And the life of John Barleycorn as well.
II
They laid him in three furrows deep,
Laid clods upon his head,
Then these three man made a solemn vow
John Barleycorn was dead.
III
The let him die for a very long time
Till the rain from heaven did fall,
Then little Sir John sprang up his head
And he did amaze them all.
IV
They let him stand till the midsummer day,
Till he looked both pale and wan.
The little Sir John he grew a long beard
And so became a man.
CHORUS:
Fa la la la, it’s a lovely day
Fa la la la lay o
Fa la la la, it’s a lovely day
Sing fa la la la lay
V
They have hired men with the scythes so sharp,
To cut him off at the knee,
The rolled him and they tied him around the waist,
They served him barbarously.
VI
They have hired men with the crab-tree sticks,
To cut him skin from bone,
And the miller has served him worse than that,
For he’s ground him between two stones.
VII
They’ve wheeled him here,
they’ve wheeled him there,
They’ve wheeled him to a barn,
And thy have served him worse than that,
They’ve bunged him in a vat.
VIII
They have worked their will on John Barleycorn
But he lived to tell the tale,
For they pour him out of an old brown jug
And they call him home brewed ale(1).
NOTES
1) The oldest drink in the world obtained from the fermentation of various cereals. The beer originally was classified out as “beer” (with hops) and “ale” (without hops) . Its processing processes start with a spontaneous fermentation of the starch (ie the sugar) that is the main component in cereals, when they come into contact with water, due to wild yeasts contained in the air. And just as in bread, female food, EARTH, WATER, AIR and FIRE combine magically to give life to a divine food that strengthens and inebriates.
The English term of homebrewing or the art of home-made beer translates into Italian with an abstruse word: domozimurgia and domozimurgo is the producer of homemade beer in which domo, is the Latin root for “home”; zimurgo is the one who practices “zimurgy”, or the science of fermentation processes. The domozimurgo is therefore the one who, within his own home, studies, applies and experiments the alchemy of fermentation. Making beer for your own consumption (including that of the inevitable friends and relatives) is absolutely legal as well as fun and relatively simple although you never stop learning through the exchange of experiences and experimentati
on
see more

And finally the COLLAGE of the versions of Tickawinda, Avalon Rising, John Renbourn, Lanterna Lucis Viriditatis, Xenis Emputae, Travelling Band, Louis Killen, Traffic

LINK
http://ontanomagico.altervista.org/barleycorn.htm
http://www.musicaememoria.com/JohnBarleycorn2.htm
http://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/j_barley.htm
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=14888
http://www.omniscrit.com/2013/01/who-was-john-barleycorn-folk-song-and.html

The Gallant Shearers

Leggi in italiano

The “shearers” of the song are not sheep shearers but seasonal reapers pouring into the Lowlands from the North of Scotland for harvest, grouped by families, or groups of men and women. When a large group of workers was in the pay of only one factor, it was sometimes called a piper to play during the harvest to boost productivity.

George Hemming Mason - The Harvest Moon

The work was tiring though monotonous but the harvest season was also an occasion for courtship as this song reminds us! For women to go to the reap was a way of emancipation from rigid social conventions. With the potato famine, seasonal workers were replaced by the Irish who came mainly from Donegal.
The author is anonymous, even if the text was attributed to Robert Hogg; Gavin Greig is more inclined to place the ballad in an antecedent age, at least at the eighteenth century given the numerous versions and arrangements that have come down to us.

The Tannahill Weaversfrom Alchemy 2000  The Gallant Shearers
The traditionally matched melody is “Johnnie Cope

Heritage

Robin James Hurt from ‘The Tallyman’s Lament, 2008. (paintings by Samuel Palmer -1805 – 1881) (I,  III, II, IV, V)

GALLANT SHEARERS
I
Adam’s vine (1) and heather bells
Come rattlin’ (2)  ower yon high high hills/There’s corn rigs (3) in yonder fields/And autumn brings the shearin’
CHORUS
Bonnie lassie will ye gang

And shear wi’ me the hale day lang(5)
And love will cheer us as we gang
Tae jine (6) yon band o’ shearers
II
And if the thistle it be strang
And pierce your bonnie milk white hand (7)
It’s wi’ my hook  I’ll lay it lang (8)
When we gang tae ( jine) the shearin’
III
And if the weather be ower hot
I’ll cast my gravat(9) and my coat
And shear wi’ ye amang the lot
When we gang tae ( jine) the shearin’
IV
And if the weather it be (over) dry
They’ll say there’s love ‘tween you and I/ We’ll slyly pass each ither by (10)
When we gang tae ( jine) the shearin’
V
And when the shearin’ it is done
And slowly sets the wintry sun (11)
Ye’ll be my ain till life is run
Nae mair tae jine the shearers

NOTES
1) it is usually written “Oh summer days” are the Tannies to say Adam’s wine (a euphemism to say rainwater)
2) Come blooming
3) now “yellow corn”  originally it was  corn rigs ; a cultivation technique that involved working the land in long and narrow strips of raised ground, and was the traditional drainage system of the time: the fields were divided into raised ground banks, so that the excess water flowed lower in the deep side furrows.
4) In Scotland the first harvest is made in August with the festival of Lammas (see”Corn Rigs Are Bonnie“) which continues throughout August (see “Now westlin winds“) considered as the month in which the autumn season begins and finally Harvest moon harvest, the full moon next to the autumn equinox
5) hale day lang = whole day long; men cut ripe wheat with a long sickle and women made sheaves with smaller sickles. The missile sickle was introduced only in 1810, before there were only sickles and the reaping work was carried out mainly by women.
6) jine= join
7) or “your lily milk white hand”
8) Hook, heuk: a reaping-hook; or “I’ll cut them down”
9) Gravat: scarf but in the sense of a neck tie. Corresponds to the Scottish owerlay used in the eighteenth century around the neck as a tie or a wide strip of linen: at the beginning (around 1600) was a kind of pledge that the girlfriends gave to their lover who was leaving for the war, and it was worn to protect themself from the cold and even like a sign of affection. The nobles preferred the Jabot to the neck, that is, a curled lace bib with a high collar. The tie more similar to ours dates back to 800 instead.
10) or we will proudly pass them by
11) or evenin’ sun
12) alternative line
We’ll have some rantin’roarin’ fun
And gang nae more to the shearin’
rantin’ roarin’ they are two adjectives often coupled by Robert Burns and synonyms. Rantin: uproarious

LINKS
http://www.tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/59962/4;jsessionid=5195DAE5CA230FF771267AD7EB4F44B1
http://www.ramshornstudio.com/band_o_shearers.htm
http://www.tannahillweavers.com/lyrics/1210lyr4.htm
http://ingeb.org/songs/noosumme.html
http://sangstories.webs.com/bandoshearers.htm

My Boatman (“Fear a’ bhàta”)

Leggi in italiano

“Fear a’ bhàta” is a Scottish Gaelic song probably from the end of the 18th century which was also poured into English under the title “O Boatman” (My Boatman) while maintaining the chorus in Gaelic.
Of all the versions in English (see), the most precious from the point of view of writing is certainly that of 1849 with the words translated from Gaelic by Thomas Pattison and the melodic arrangement of Malcolm Lawson (published in “Songs of the North “, MacLeod and Harold Boulton, 1895)

The girl is waiting for a visit of the handsome boatman who seems instead to prefer other girls!
Silly Wizard from Caledonia’s Hardy Sons 1978, Andy Stewart – voice, Bob Thomas – guitar; Johnny Cunningham – mandola, Phil Cunningham – synthesizer


Sandy Denny 

North Sea Gas from The Fire and the Passion of Scotland 2013


Thomas Pattison version
I
How often haunting the highest hilltop
I scan the ocean I sail tae sea/wilt come tonight love wilt come tomorrow?
Wilt ever come, love, to comfort me?
CHORUS
Fhir a bhata no horo eil’e(1)
Fhir a bhata no horo eil’e
Fhir a bhata no horo eil’e
o fare ye well(2), love, where e’er ye be
II
They call thee fickle, they call thee false one,
and seek tae change me, but all in vain;
no, thou art my dream yet throughout the dark night
and every morn yet I watch the main

III
There’s not a hamlet -too well I know it-
where you go wandering or stay(3) awhile
but all its old folks you win wi’ talking
and charm its maidens with song and smile
IV
Dost thou remember the promise made me
the tartan plaidie, the silken gown,
the ring of gold with thy hair and portrait(4)?
That gown and ring I will never own

NOTES
1) basically a non-sense phrase that some want to translate “and no one else” ie as “mine and no other”
2) it is both a greeting and a wish for good luck: My greeting to you wherever you go
3) or “sits”
4) It is a small medallion with the lid inside which there was a lover’s miniature and a lock of his/her hair

gaelic version
LINK
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=4

Oh, are ye sleepin’ Maggie?

Leggi in italiano

From the tradition of “night visiting songs” the text is attributed to the Scottish poet Robert Tannahill and in fact various findings place the story in the woods of Paisley. ( in ‘The Poems and Songs of Robert Tannahill’ – 1874  assigned as a “Sleeping Maggie” melody.)
The heroine of this song was Margaret Pollock, a cousin of the Author by the mother’s side. She was the eldest daughter of Matthew Pollock (3rd) of Boghall, by his second marriage (mentioned in the Memoir of the Tannahills); and it is very probable the Poet beheld such an evening as he had described, in walking from Paisley over the high road to his uncle’s farm steading in Beith Parish. Margaret Pollock afterwards lived in family with William Lochhead, Ryveraes, and she and Mrs. Lochhead frequently sang that song together. Miss Pollock died unmarried (from here)

NIGHT VISITING IN DARK STYLE

The scene described is not really autobiographical (pheraps more in keeping with Robert Burns‘s temperament): the protagonist arrives at Maggy’s house in a dark and stormy night (the picture is rather gothic: an icy winter wind raging in the woods , a night of new moon without stars, the disturbing moaning of the owl, the iron gate that slams against the hinges) and he hopes that in the meantime the lover has not fallen asleep, letting come him in secret! And then no more worries or fears in the arms of Maggy every gloomy thought is dissolved!

http://www.jinua.com/movie/Sleepy-Hollow/
http://www.jinua.com/movie/Sleepy-Hollow/

I must mention the version collected by Hamish Henderson from the voice of Jeannie Robertson (see fragment of 1960) which shows a different melody from that later made famous by Tannahill Weavers.

The song was made known to the general public by the Tannahill Weavers, the good “weavers” of Robert Tannahill, also by Paisley,
At the moment you can find several live versions on you tube, but the best performances of the group are two: one in Mermaid’s Song 1992 (listen from Spotify) a faster version integrated with the reel “The Noose In The Ghillies” (with Roy Gullane , Phil Smillie, Iain MacInnes, Kenny Forsyth) and the first in Are Ye Sleeping Maggie 1976 with Roy Gullane, Phil Smillie, Hudson Swan, and Dougie MacLean (fiddle). In this first version the melody is slower and full of atmosphere (with hunder, wind and the rain effect)

Tannahill Weavers from Are Ye Sleeping Maggie 1976

Dougie Maclean (who collaborated with Tannahill Weavers from 1974 and until 1977 and then toured with them in 1980) in Real Estate -1988 and also in Tribute 1995


I
Mirk and rainy is the nicht,
there’s no’ a starn in a’ the carry(1)
Lichtnin’s gleam athwart the lift,
and (cauld) winds dive wi’ winter’s fury.
CHORUS
Oh, are ye sleepin’ Maggie
Oh, are ye sleepin’ Maggie
let me in, for loud the linn
is roarin'(2) o’er the Warlock Craigie(3).
II
Fearfu’ soughs the boortree(4) bank
The rifted wood roars wild an’ dreary.
Loud the iron yett(5) does clank,
An’ cry o’ howlets mak’s me eerie.
III
Aboon my breath I daurna’ speak
For fear I rouse your waukrif’ daddie;
Cauld’s the blast upon my cheek,
O rise, rise my bonnie ladie.
IV
She op’d the door, she let him in
I cuist aside my dreepin’ plaidie(6).
‘Blaw your warst, ye rain and win’
Since, Maggie, now I’m in aside ye.
V
Now, since ye’re waukin’, Maggie,
Now, since ye’re waukin’, Maggie,
What care I for howlet’s cry,
For boortree bank or warlock craigie?
English translation
I
Dark and rainy is the night
there’s no star in all the carry
lightning flashes gleam across the sky
and cold winds drive with winters fury.
CHORUS
Oh, are you sleeping Maggie
Oh, are you sleeping Maggie
let me in, for the loud the waterfall
is roaring over the warlock crag.
II
Fearful sighs on the elder tree bank
The rifted wood roars wild and dreary
Loud the iron gate does clank,
And cry of owls makes me fearful.
III
Above my breath I dare not speak
For fear I rouse your wakeful father
Cold is the blast upon my cheek
O rise, rise my pretty lady.
IV
She opened the door, she let him in
I cast aside my dripping cloak
“Blow your worst, you rain and wind
Since, Maggie, now I’m beside you.”
V
Now, since you’re woken, Maggie
Now, since you’re woken, Maggie
What care I for owl’s cry,
For elder tree bank or warlock crag?

NOTES
1) carry is for sky, “the direction in which clouds are carried by the wind”
2) howling
3) warlock crag is the name of a waterfall at Lochwinnoch that forms a large pool or a small pond
4) elder tree in which the fairies prefer to dwell
5) yett is gett according to the ancient custom of writing the two vowels interchangeably
6) plaidie  see more

Great horned owl and chicks. Image size 5.6 by 7.9 inches @ 300 dpi. Photo credit: © Scott Copeland

SLEEPY & DROWSY MAGGY REELS

“Sleepy Maggie” is a reel in two-part and is often paired with the “Drowsy Maggie” reel, sometimes the two melodies are, mistakenly, confused. In the version of Francis O’Neill and James O’Neill (in O’Neill’s Music of Ireland) it is in 3 parts.

Sleepy Maggie as reported by Fidder’s Companion is a traditional Scottish melody whose oldest transcribed source is in Duke of Perth Manuscript or Drummond Castle Manuscript (1734)

Sleepy Maggie is also known in Ireland under different names “Lough Isle Castle,” “Seán sa Cheo” or “Tullaghan Lassies” and is the model for “Jenny’s Chickens”.

Samuel Melton Fisher, Asleep, (1902)
Samuel Melton Fisher, Asleep, (1902)

“Drowsy Maggie” is instead a traditional Irish tune in 2, 3 or 4 parts, but much more popular at least at the recording level (it will be for its appearance in the movie “Titanic”!)

Gaelic Storm  (Titanic Set) – of course there is also the Scottish version: usually slow part and then it gets faster and faster so the title between in deception because there is nothing “sleepy” in the melody that comes to a final paroxysm .

SLEEPY MAGGIE

Sleepy Maggie Alasdair Fraser on fiddle
Sleepy Maggie
Gabriele Possenti  on a Mcilroy AS 65c (C)
Tullaghan Lassies Fidil Irish Fiddle trio
Jenny’s Chickens Shanon Corr on fiddle

DROWSY MAGGIE
John Simie Doherty Donegal fiddle master
Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann live

The Chieftains  

Driftwood (Joe Nunn on fiddle)
Jake Wise live

Rock versions
Dancing Willow an Irish folk band from Münster (Germany)
DNA Strings from Cape Town ( South Africa)
Lack of limits faster more and more

LINKS
http://archive.org/details/poemssongsofrobe00tannrich
http://www.tobarandualchais.co.uk/fullrecord/64522/1;
jsessionid=B312B09442ED31BB18C4FDA5E2E2BB59

http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=59687
http://members.aol.com/tannahillweavers/
http://www.lochwinnoch.info/tales/warlock-craigie.php
http://thesession.org/tunes/787
http://thesession.org/tunes/27
http://www.ibiblio.org/fiddlers/SLA_SLE.htm#SLEEPY_MAGGY/MAGGIE

My Bonnie Highland Lassie sea shanty

Leggi in italiano

Under the title Hieland laddie (Highland lassie) a series of texts are grouped with the same melody (a traditional Scottish air) entitled “If thou’t play me fair play” or “The Lass of Livingston””The melody appears in the Drummond Castle Manuscript inscribed “A Collection of Country Dances written for the use of his Grace the Duke of Perth by Dav. Young, 1734.” However the earliest printing of the tune is in Robert Bremner’s 1757 collection. A variant appears under the title “Cockleshell’s” in Playford’s Apollo’s Banquet (London, 1690) and the Dancing Master of 1701.” (from here)

MILITARY MARCH

In Scotland, the “marcing song” is synonymous with bagpipes! “Hieland laddie” was the march of all Scottish regiments before “Scotland the Brave”.

THE SCOTTISH DANCE

A particularly energetic dance competition

SEA SHANTY: Bonny Laddie, Heiland Laddie (My Bonnie Highland Lassie)

The melody was also used as a capstan and a “stamp and go” shanty, and (without the grand chorus) as a halyard shanty. It was popular on the Dundee Whalers, then later used (c. 1830’s and 40’s) as a work song for stowing lumber and cotton in the Southeastern and Gulf ports of the United States. Highland Laddie was used for long and slow maneuvers: hoisting sails above (2 pulls per chorus) or hauling up the anchor. It was sung in two voices: a solo asking the question (Where have been ye all the day, my Bonnie Laddie Hieland?) and the answer given in chorus by the crew (Way hay and away we go, Bonnie Laddie, Laddie Hieland). (from here)

Pete Seeger live

I
Was you ever in Quebec?
Bonny laddie, Highland laddie,
Stowing timber on the deck,
My bonny Highland laddie.
CHORUS
High-ho, and away we goes,
Bonny laddie, Highland laddie,
High-ho, and away we goes,
My bonny Highland laddie.

II
Was you ever in Aberdeen
Prettiest girls that you’ve ever seen(1).
III
Was you ever in Baltimore
Dancing on the sanded floor?
IV
Was you ever in Callao(2)
Where the girls are never slow?
V
Was you ever in Merasheen(3)
Where you stayed fast to tree(4)?

NOTES
1) scottish song and scottish beauty
2) large port of Peru
3) or Merrimashee: there is an island of Merasheen in Newfoundland (Canada), but more likely is Miramichi, a small town in Canada, located in the province of New Brunswick; Merrimashee is also a large river that gives its name to the bay where flows into the Gulf of San Lorenzo. Often the sailors crippled the names of the places that they  did not know.
Italo Ottonello found this note: Merasheen, located on the southwestern tip of Merasheen Island in Placentia Bay, was one of the larger and more prosperous communities resettled. Settled by English, Irish and Scottish in the late 18th century, the community eventually became predominantly Roman Catholic with families of Irish descent. In an ideal location to prosecute the inshore cod fishery along with the herring and lobster fisheries in the ice-free harbour during winter and spring, it appeared that Merasheen would not succumb to the same fate as other small resettled communities.
This is how Ottonello observes: “it seems to hint at a generic stormy place, rather than a particular site”.
4) or “you tie up to a tree”, “Where you make fast to a tree”;

The Kingston Trio.
The checked stanzas are an addition of the group

Was you ever in Quebec
Bonny Laddie, Hielan’ laddie
Stowing timber on the deck
Bonny Hielan’ Laddie

Was you ever in Dundee
There some pretty ships you’ll see
“This Boston town don’t suit my notion
And I’m bound for far away
So, I’ll pack my bag and sail the ocean
And I’ll see you on another day”
Was you ever in Mobile Bay
Loading cotton by the day
Was you ever ‘round Cape Horn
With the Lion and the Unicorn (1)
“One of these days and it won’t be long
And I’m bound for far away
You’ll take a look around and find me gone
And I’ll see you on another day”
Was you ever in Monterey
On that town with three months pay
Was you ever in Aberdeen
Prettiest girls that you’ve ever seen
“Farewell, dear friends, I’m leaving soon
And I’m bound for far away
We’ll meet again this coming June
And I’ll see you on another day”

NOTES
1) it is the royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom, the lion symbolizes England and the unicorn of Scotland;

Bonnie Highland Lassie

Nils Brown, Sean Dagher, Clayton Kennedy, John Giffen, David Gossage from Assassin’s Creed Rogue (sea shanty edition)

I
Were you ever in Roundstone Town (1)?
Bonnie Lassie Hieland Lassie,
Were you ever in Roundstone Town?
My bonnie hieland lassie-o
I was often in Roundstone Town
Drinking milk and eating flour
Although I am a young maid
Come lately from my mammy-o
II
Were you ever in Bombay
Bonnie Lassie Hieland Lassie,
Were you ever in Bombay
My bonnie hieland lassie-o
I was often in old Bombay
Drinking coffee and bohay (2)
Although I am a young maid
Come lately from my mammy-o

III
Were you ever in Quebec?
Bonnie Lassie Hieland Lassie,
Were you ever in Quebec?
My bonnie hieland lassie-o
I was often in Quebec
Stowing timber up on deck
Although I am a young maid
Come lately from my mammy-o
IV
Are you fit to sweep the floor?
Bonnie Lassie Hieland Lassie,
Are you fit to sweep the floor?
My bonnie hieland lassie-o
I am fit to sweep the floor
As the lock is for the door
Although I am a young maid
Come lately from my mammy-o

NOTE
1) Roundstone is a small fishing village near Connemara (County Galway)
2) Roundstone is a small fishing village near Connemara (County Galway)
2) bohea is a blend of black tea originating in the Wuyi mountain region of southeastern China; in practice it was once synonymous with tea

second part

LINK
http://ontanomagico.altervista.org/danze-scozzesi.html
http://www.shanty.org.uk/archive_songs/bonnie-hieland-lassie.html
http://www.musicanet.org/robokopp/shanty/wasuever.htm
http://cornemusique.free.fr/ukhighlandladdie.php
https://thesession.org/tunes/1524
http://www.rampantscotland.com/songs/blsongs_laddiegone.htm
http://compvid101.blogspot.it/2009/11/ktpete-seegertommy-makemludwig-von.html
http://cornemusique.free.fr/ukhighlandladdie.php
http://www.shanty.org.uk/archive_songs/donkey-riding.html
https://mainlynorfolk.info/folk/songs/donkeyriding.html
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=41062
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=54643
http://mysongbook.de/msb/songs/h/hielandl.html
http://www.tannahillweavers.com/lyrics/3031lyr5.htm

Pulling the dulse

Leggi in italiano

For centuries people living along the coasts have learned to collect, for habitual consumption, different qualities of algae.
In particular in Scotland and Ireland, dulse algae and Irish moss have always been part of the diet of coastal inhabitants.

dulse_3276643cSimilar to a little hand with the open fingers of a purple red, the dulse algae grows along the coasts of the North Atlantic and the North-Western Pacific and it is a superfood, rich iron, calcium, potassium vitamins, amino acids (high quality protein ) and mineral salts. Eaten raw it has an elastic consistency like chewingum and as such was consumed by the English sailors of the seventeenth century who chewed it instead of tobacco. It has a very salty taste, also called spicy and is a very versatile food.

DULSING

The dulse algae are harvested mainly in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Scandinavia, Iceland and Brittany in the months between June and October during the low tide and they are sold in leaves or minced: the harvesters (in danger of extinction) leave the first hours of morning at high tide, when the sea withdraw they hand-picked dulse from rocks. For self-consumption, the collection of small quantities is done directly on the shore, among the rocks. The algae are then laid out on the beach to dry, at the end they are rolled up in large bales and are brought to the production plants for treatment and packaging.
It is essential that the waters of the sea where the harvest takes place are unpolluted (algae absorb large amounts of pollutants -fertilizers and heavy metals, so they are also good sweepers from the sea ..) and that the production chain guarantees high quality standards .

ADÓ, ADÉ

“Pulling the sea-dulse” is a worker song from the Hebrides collected by Marjorie Kennedy-Fraser and translated into English for her “Songs of the Hebrides”

Quadriga Consort (solist voice Elisabeth Kaplan)

The Salt Flats from The Salt Flats 2011  ♪
Same melody but new arrangement, from Northern Ireland (Belfast) in the notes they wrote: “Pulling the Sea Dulse is a working tune detailing the harvest seaweed at the shore. It is surprisingly upbeat and the Dulse in question resonated with childhood memories of Dulse and Yellow Man at the Auld Lammas Fair in Northern Ireland.” (see more)


CHORUS
Adó, Adé
Clings dulse to the sea rock
Clings heart to the loved one
Be’t high tide or low tide
Adó, Adé.
I
Pulling the dulse
by the sea rocks at low tide,
Ne’er pull I thy love(1), lad,
be’t high tide or low.
II
Shoreward the sea mew
comes flying at low tide,
But seaward my heart flies out
seaward to thee(2).

NOTES
1) she keeps loyalty to his lover
2) probably emigrated to America or embarked on some ship as a sailor (for example on a whaling boat).

THE SEAWEED-GATHERER IN IRISH BALLADRY

LINK
http://www.fondazioneslowfood.com/it/arca-del-gusto-slow-food/alga-duileasg/
http://www.materiarinnovabile.it/art/100/Alghe_meno_raccolta_piu_produzione

Tiree love song: the green island of Tiree

Leggi in italiano

The Isle of Tiree of the Inner Hebrides is a stretch of green machair in which myriads of yellow buttercups emerge, a land almost completely flat that houses seem to rise from the sea; the island is always sunny and the strong winds assist windsurfers and kitesurfers, even keeping mosquitoes away!
In the nineteenth century Tiree counted 4500 ab definitely too much for its resources, so the duke of Argyll implemented assisted migration (in fact a typical maneuver by Highland Clearances) and between 1841 and 1881 more than 3600 people emigrated to Canada, United States, Australia and New Zealand.
In Gaelic it is called “tir-lodh” – ‘the land of corn’ from the days of the 6th century Celtic missionary and abbot St Columba. Tiree provided the monastic community on the island of Iona, south east of the island, with grain, and it seems that several monks settled there at St Patrick’s Chapel, Ceann a ‘Mhara and Soroby.

THE SOUND OF ANCIENT SCOTLAND

The Kilmartin Sessions The Sounds Of Ancient Scotland, 1997

Tiree is an island with ancient settlements, renowned for its Clach a’Choire (the stone cauldron) or even Choire Fhionn MhicChumhail (the cauldron of Finn mac Cumaill). The name identifies a natural amphitheater near the village of Balephetrish (Vaul), a probable mythical center in prehistoric and medieval times, where the Ringing Stone is found, which emits a sharp and metallic sound similar to that of the gong or the bells when it is hit: the stone looks like a big egg on the spoon, legend has it that the boulder was thrown by a giant of Mull and if ever it was split the island would sink into the sea.
...a ‘rock gong’ similar to Clach a’ Choire, listed by John MacKenzie (1845, p8) as one of the seven wonders of Scotland – a huge granite erratic covered with 53 cupmarks, the deepest of which are at the most resonant parts of the stone…According to Fagg (1997 p86), Clach a’ Choire was ‘said to contain a crock of gold – but if it ever split Tiree will disappear beneath the waves.’ If true (Mrs Fagg mistakenly attributes the staement to SHIS) the legend thus contains both a motive for destroying such stones and a warning against doing so…Compare Newton 1992 p145 where it is claimed that if Clach a’ Choire ‘ever shatters or falls off the pedestal of small stones on which it rests, Tiree will sink beneath the waves.’  (from The Gaelic Otherworld, ed Ronald Black, here)

The Kilmartin Sessions: The Sounds of Ancient Scotland 

Clach a'Choire
Clach a’Choire (the stone cauldron) or the Singing Stone of the Isle of Tiree, the first xylophone of prehistory

 

Photographic reportage from The Crow Clan here

The island is dedicated a love song of the late nineteenth century titled Tiree love song, a song originally written in Gaelic by Alexander Sinclair (Alasdair Neaill Oig), a wine and spirits merchant  in Glasgow but a devoted “Tireeman”, being his family originally from the island.

SCOTTISH GAELIC VERSION: Am Falbh Thu Leam a Rìbhinn Òg (Will you come and go with me?)

In the song, he asks a young maiden to come with him over the sea where she will see everything she could desire in the isle of the west that once was his home: geese and white swans, views over the ocean to the neighbouring isles, the green meadows and the tranquillity of St Patrick’s chapel.He tells her of the songbirds, the bumble bees and the blaze on the cattle, the cormorants and ducks, the marram grass growing on the dunes and the fragrance of the machair flowers, all to be found on his favourite part of Argyll – the green island of Tiree.
The island abounds with ancient prehistoric remains or dating back to the time of St. Columba, next to the temple of St. Patrick we also find an ancient well with healing waters. Click on names on the interactive map in http://www.tireeplacenames.org/ to visit them all!!

Kenevara hill in Tiree Isle

Effie MacDonald of Middleton

(at the moment I did not find an English translation)
Séist
Am falbh thu leam a rìbhinn òg
No’n téid thu leam thar saile
Gum faic thu ann gach nì gu d’ mhiann
‘S an eilean shiar a dh’fhàg mi.
1
Ged nach faic thu coill’ no fiadh
Tha gèadh is eala bhàn ann
Cait’ bheil sealladh a chuain shiar
Nuair bhios na liadhan traighte.
2
Chì thu uiseag agus smeòrach
Lon dubh agus luachran
Seillean ruadh le mhil ‘s a ghàradh
‘S blàrag air gach buallan.
3
Chì thu sgairbh ‘tigh’nn ort o’n chuan;
Tha lachaidh ruadh a’ snamh ann;
Muran gorm a’ fàs m’ a bhruaich
Gach ceum mu ‘n cuairt d’ a’ thraighean
4
Cha ‘n fhaic thu nathair ann air grunnd
Ach luibhean ‘s cùbhraidh faileadh
A’ cinntinn ann bho linn gu linn
‘S an tìr ‘s an d’fhuair mi m’ àrach

 

ENGLISH “VERSION” Tiree love song

The transposition in English is by Hugh S. Roberton, already the author of the very popular songsThe Mingulay Boat SongWestering Home and Mairi’s Wedding, who makes a text re-elaboration rather than a translation and publishes it in his book Songs of the Isles (1950)

The Corries
Ryan’s Fancy (II, I, III)


CHORUS
He-ree he-ro my bonnie wee girl
He-ree he-ro my fair one
Will you come away my love
To be my own my rare one
I
Smiling the land! Smiling the sea!
Sweet is the scent(1) of the heather.
Would we were yonder,
just you and me,
The two of us together!
II
All the day long, out on the peat (2)
Then by the shore (3) in the gloaming
Stepping it lightly with dancing feet
And we together roaming
III
Laughter o’ love! Singing galore!
Tripping it lightsome and airy:
Could we be asking of life for more,
My own, my darling Mary?

NOTES
1) or “smell”
2) or “All together down by the sea”,
3) or “Down by the sea”

LINK
http://www.tireeplacenames.org/
http://www.tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/69928/1/LuckyDip
https://www.calmac.co.uk/article/6138/An-island-dream-discovering-Tiree-by-bike
http://www.aniodhlann.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016.14.1.pdf
http://www.aniodhlann.org.uk/sounds-clips/
http://www.aniodhlann.org.uk/object/1997-232-10/
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=10536
http://gestsongs.com/11/tiree.htm