Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 1

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REIGN OF ELIZABETH.                                                109
And in John Heywood's The FourP's, one of our earliest plays, the Apothecary, having first asked the Pedler -whether he can sing at sight, says, " Who that lyste sing after me." In neither case are the -words of the Round given.
Tinkers, tailors, blacksmiths, servants, clowns, and others, are so constantly mentioned as singing music in parts, and by so many -writers, as to leave no doubt of the ability of at least many among them to do so.
Perhaps the form of Catch, or Round, was more generally in favour, because, as each would sing the same notes, there would be but one part to remember, and the tune would guide those who learnt by ear.
"We find Roundelays generally termed " merry," and cheerfulness was the common attribute of country songs.
In Peele's Arraignment of Paris, 1584:—
" Some Rounds, or merry-Roundelays,—we sing no other songs; Your melancholic notes not to our country mirth belongs." And in his King Edward I., the Friar says :—
" And let our lips and voices meet in a merry country song." In Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale, when Autolycus says that the song is a merry one, and that " there's scarce a maid westward but she sings it," Mopsa 'answers, " We can both sing it: if thou wilt bear a part, thou shalt hear—'tis in three parts."
Tradesmen and artificers had evidently not retrograded in their love of music since the time of Chaucer, whose admirable descriptions have been before quoted. (p. 33, et seq.) Occleve, a somewhat later poet, has also remarked the different effect produced by the labour of the hand and of the head. He says:— " These artificers see I, day by day, In the hottest of all their business, Talken and sing, and make game and play, And forth their labour passeth with gladness; But we labour in travailous stillness ; We stoop and stare upon the sheep-skin, And keep most our song and our words in."
From the numerous allusions to their singing in parts, I have selected the following. Peele, in his Old Wive's Tale, 1595, says, " This smith leads a life as merry as a king. Sirrah Frolic, I am sure you are not without some Round or other; no doubt but Clunch (the smith) can bear his part;" which he accordingly does. In Damon and Pithias, 1571, Grimme the collier sings " a bussing base," and Jack and Will, two of his fellows, " quiddell upon it," that is, they sing the tune and words of the song whilst he buzzes the burden or under-song. In Ben Jonson's Silent Woman, we find, " We got this cold sitting up late and singing Catches with cloth-ivorkers." In Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, Sir Toby says, " Shall we rouse the night-owl in a Catch that will draw three souls out of one weaver ?" and, in the same play, Malvolio says, "Do you make an ale-house of my lady's house that ye squeak out your cosier''s Catches, without any mitigation or remorse of voice?" Dr. Johnson says cozier means a tailor, from "coudre,"

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