Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 2

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

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This ballad, and the tune (noted down in common time, and without bars), are found among Ashmole's Manuscripts, at Oxford (36 and 37, fol. 194, b).
There are two versions in The Dancing Master of 1686,—the first in common, and the second in % time: the first entitled Under the Greenwood Tree,—the second (in the additional sheet), Oh! how they frisk it, or Leather Apron.
I have only observed one other copy in common time, and that is in The Dancing Master of 1690. In all later editions, and in Pills to purge Melancholy, it is in | time, which the words seem to require.
The popularity of the tune may be inferred from the great number of ballad-operas in which it was introduced. Among these may be reckoned The Devil to pay, The Jovial Crew, The Village Opera, The Cobblers' Opera, The Mad Captain, The Court Legacy, The Devil of a Duke, and The Woman of Taste.
Ashmole's copy of the words differs somewhat from the black-letter ballads ; and, if written at the time when he is stated to have been intent upon music,— soon after his father's death, in 1634,—it may be from forty to fifty years older than any printed copy that I have observed, the earliest of which was published by Brooksby.a'
Ashmole noted down the tune without bars, and bars were in general use in the reign of Charles II., but not so in that of Charles I.b The words in his copy begin thus:—
" In summertime, when leaves grow green, There's Jeffry and Tom, there's Ursula and And birds sit on the tree,                       With Eoger and bonny Bettee; [John,
Let all the lords say what they can,          Oh! how they do firk it, caper and jerk it,
There's none so merry as we.                 Under the Greenwood Tree.
The ballads of "King Edward the Fourth and the Tanner of Tamworth," and " Robin Hood and the Curtal Friar," commence precisely as in Ashmole's copy, and, the metre of all being the same, it appears very probable that they were sung to one tune, and therefore, that this air may yet be traced back to the reign of Elizabeth. Another ancient ballad, " Robin Hood and the Monk," begins in a similar manner, and the eighth line corresponds with the burden of this ballad.
The tune is sometimes entitled Caper and firk it (i.e., caper and frisk it) as in " The fair Maid of Islington; or, The London Vintner over-reach'd: To the tune of Sellinger's Round, or Caper and firk it." (Bagford 643 m. 10, p. 113.) Commencing—
" There was a fair Maid of Islington, And she would to fair London go, As I heard many tell,                           Pine apples and pears to sell," &c.
It; is included among the tunes of Christmas Carols in " A Cabinet of Choice Jewels; or, The Christian's Joy and -Gladness, set forth in sundry pleasant new
* The earliest date that I have noted to any ballad piinted by Brooksby, is April 12, 1677, when Sir Roger I Estrange licensed to him, "A Kind Husband; or, Advice for Married Men. To the tune of The Ladies' lielight, or Never let a man take heavily." A copy in the Rawlineon Collection of " Olde Balades," Bodleian Library.
b Bars were used to music in score in the fifteenth
century; but, in England, each part was usually printed separately, and then barB were thought unnecessary. The Dancing Matters of 1651 and 1652, being for one instrument, have no bars; but the score in the moral play, The four Elements, printed by Rastell (to which Dr. DIbdin assigns the date of 1510), is barred. So far as I have observed, all music in the ordinary notation, even for one voice or one instrument, was barred after 1660.

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