Complete Songs Of Robert Burns - online book

360+ songs with lyrics, sheet music, historical notes & glossary.

Home Main Menu Singing & Playing Order & Order Info Support Search Voucher Codes



Share page  Visit Us On FB



Previous Contents Next
I. LOVE-SONGS : PERSONAL                 357
The tune To the weaver's gin ye go is in Aird's Airs, 1782, ii. No. 16. It is a good melody, with considerable variety; the chorus starts in a merry strain, but gets back to the half-querulous mood of the verse, and ends in the minor.' It is named in a broadside of the middle of the eighteenth century.
No. 20. How long and dreary is the night. Scots Musical Museum, 1788, No. ijj. Tune, ' A Galick air.' This is the first of two versions. The second was a recast for George Thomson, who Importuned Burns to write for Cauld Kail, a tune he disliked. Burns tried three songs for the air, and his middle one, How long and dreary, is the best. In a letter on the subject he said, 'I met with some such words in a collection of songs somewhere, which I altered and enlarged ; and to please you, and to suit your favourite air of Cauld Kail, have arranged it anew. In the Herd MS. there are nine stanzas in a different measure, with some similar ideas to Burns, beginning:— ' The day begins to peep,
And the birds sing sweet and cheery, But I maun rise and greet And think upon my deary.' The beautiful Gaelic air originally published in the Museum is very little known. To the student of folk-music all the Celtic airs selected by Burns are well worth particular attention. They are chiefly sad, and redolent of a race living ' on the shores of a melancholy ocean.'
ETo. 21. Yon wild mossy mountains. Scots Musical Museum, 1792, No. jji. Signed ' X,' to the tune Phoebe. In the Interleaved Museum Burns refers to the song as belonging to a part of his private history, which was of no consequence to the public. Nothing certain is known of the origin of the verses; but Chambers and Scott-Douglas both agree in thinking that the incident which prompted them occurred during his first journey to Edinburgh in 1786. Burns passed close to Tinto or ' Tintock,' the highest isolated peak of the district. ' Yon wild mossy mountains' are the natural ramparts which flank the upper Clyde.
Burns recommended George Thomson to republish his song, and set it to the Jacobite air, There'll never be peace till Jamie comes hame tnot the original melody of the song), of which he writes, ' It is a little irregular in the flow of the lines, but where two short syllables, that is to say, one syllable more than the regular feet—if these two syllables fall to the space of one (crotchet time), composed of two different quavers under a slur, it has, I think, no bad effect to divide them' {Letter, July, 1793). The explanation, although a little clumsily expressed, is very interesting, as it shows that Burns carefully studied his verses from a musical basis, and that he was sensitive to minute differences in musical sound. Johnson had published the song with the proper melody, and Thomson doubtless suggested another tune.
The tune Phoebe, here reprinted, is the composition of James Oswald, musician and publisher of much Scottish music in the middle of the eighteenth century. I find the air in Universal Harmony, 1745,119, and in his Caledonian Pocket Companion, 1752, iv. 29.
No. 22. Anna, thy charms my bosom fire. Edinburgh edition, 1793, ii. 226; and with music in Scots Musical Museum, 1803, No. jjo, and a foot-cote, 'written for this work by Robert Bnrns.' According to the Centenary Burns, the lines were first printed in the Star newspaper, April 18, 1789. Scott-Douglas identified ' Anna' as Miss Ann Stewart, who was engaged to be married to the poet's friend, Alexander Cunningham. Burns knew the lady, but not intimately, and the verses were written on account of his friend.
The tune Bonny Mary is the composition of James Oswald, and is in his Curious Collection Scots Tunes, 1740, 1$; also in the Caledonian Pocket Com­panion, 1743, i. 24. It is a good melody of the professional style of the






E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III