THE PLAY-PARTY IN INDIANA - online book

Folk-Songs and Games with Descriptive Introduction, Notes, Sheeet music & Lyrics

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70                         The Play-Party in Indiana.
tune.49 Yet even lacking as it does the final cadence, many of the intervals are the same as the other tunes.
The numerous variants coming as they do from such widely separated localities show remarkable likeness not only in melody but in words and in theme. I think we may easily account for this. The theme of the miller who so wel could "stelen corn and tollen thryes"50 has never ceased to be of interest. The farmers have always known his trickery only too well. The satire on the miller has been modern for centuries and it is retained in the Cin­cinnati version which Mr. Newell prints:
Happy is the Miller, that lives in the mill, While the wheel goes round he works with a will, One hand in the hopper, and one in the bag, The mill goes round, and he cries out "grab."
The phrasing in the early versions was concise, and it was also adapted to the playing of the game as well. These facts probably account for the slight changes in words.
Mrs. Gorame (Trad. Games, i.'p. 292) gives an interesting inter­pretation to the game: "It is probable that the custom which formerly prevailed at some of the public festivals, of catching or 'grabbing' for sweethearts and wives is shown in this game."51
49  C. J. Sharp. English Folk Songs, pp. 64 ff.
50  G.Chaucer. Prol. to Canterbury Ta.'es. Vol. II, p. 562.
51   Guthrie (Scottish Customs, p. 168) tells of a Scottish annual solemnity (at Campbeltown) at which all unhappy couples were blindfolded and at the word, "Cab-bay" (seize quickly) every man laid hold of the first woman he met and she was his wife Until the next year's anniversary of the custom. (Quoted by Mrs. Gomme. Trad. Games, vol. I, pp. 292-3.)
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