Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 1

Ancient Songs, Ballads, & Dance Tunes, Sheet Music & Lyrics - online book

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The Carmen of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries appear to have been singularly famous for their musical abilities; but especially for whistling their tunes. Falstaff's description of Justice Shallow is, that " he came ever in the . rear-ward of the fashion," and " sang the tunes he heard the carmen whistle, and swave they were his Fancies, or his Good-nights."a{Henry IV., Part ii., act 3.) In Ben Jonson's Bartholomew Fair, Waspe says, " I dare not let him walk alone, for fear of learning vile tunes, which he will sing at supper, and in the sermon times ! If he meet but a carman in the street, and I find him not ' talk to keep him off on him, he will whistle him all his tunes over at night, in his sleep."—(Act i., sc. 1.) In the tract called "The World runnes on Whccles," b by Taylor, the Water-poet, he says, "If the carman's horse be melancholy or dull with hard and heavy labour, then will he, like a kind piper, whistle him a fit of mirth to any tune, from above Eela to below Gammoth;c of which gene­rosity and courtesy your coachman is altogether ignorant, for he never whistles, but all his music is to rap out an oath." And again he says, "The word carmen, as I find it in the [Latin] dictionary, doth signify a verse, or a song; and betwixt carmen and carman, there is some good correspondence, for versing, singing, and whistling, are all three musical." Burton, in his Anatomy of Melancholy, says, " A carman's whistle, or a boy singing some ballad early in the street, many times alters, revives, recreates a restless patient that cannot sleep ;" and again, " As carmen, boys, and prentices, when a new song is published with us, go sing­ing that new tune still in the streets." Henry Chettle, in his Kind-hart's Dreame, says, " It would be thought the carman, that was wont to whistle to his beasts a comfortable note, might as well continue his old course, whereby his sound served for a musical harmony in God's ear, as now to follow profane jigging vanity." In The Pleasant Historie of the two angrie Wiymert of Abington, quarto, 1599, Mall Barnes asks, " But are ye cunning in the carman's lash, and can ye whistle well? " In The Hog hath lost its Pearl, Haddit, the poet, tells the player shortly to expect " a notable piece of matter; such a jig, whose tunc, with the natural whistle of a carman, shall be more ravishing to the ears of shop­keepers than a whole concert of barbers at midnight."—(Dodsley's Old Plays, vol. vi.) So in Lyly's Midas, " A carter with his whistle and his whip, in true ears, moves as much as Phoebus with his fiery chariot and winged horses." In Heywood's A Woman kill'd with Kindness, although all others are sad, the stage direction is, " Exeunt, except .Wendall and Jenkin; the carters whistling." And Playford, in his Introduction to the skill of Music, 1679, says, " Nay, the poor labouring beasts at plough and cart are cheered by the sound of music, though it be but their master's whistle."
» Good-nights are "Last ^ying speeches" made into ballads. See Essex's last Good-night.
b Taylor's tract was written against coaches, which in­jured his trade as a waterman. He says, "In the year 1564, one William Boonen, a Dutchman, Drought first the use of coaches hither, and the said Boonen was Queen Elizabeth's coachman, for indeed a coach was a strange monster in those days, and the sight of them put both horse and man into amazement. Some said it was a great
erab-shell, brought out of China, and some imagined it to be one of the Pagan temples, In which the cannibals adored the devil." He argues that the cart-horse is a more learned beast than a coach-horse, "for scarce any coach-horse in the world doth know any letter in the book; when as every cart-horse doth know the letter G most understandingly."
e Gamut, then the lowest note of the scale, as Eela was the highest.

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