From The Traditional Tune Archive
The song was popularized in Scotland by the long-lived Irish harper Donnchadh a Haimpsuigh, also known as Denis O'Hampsey or Hempson (1697-1807), who had crossed over from Ireland a second time in 1745 to play for Bonnie Prince Charlie at Edinburgh (The collector Edward Bunting later noted several of Hempson's tunes). He played many Irish airs later claimed as Scottish, as this one was, according to Flood (1905, 1906). In fact, claims have been made by the Irish, Scots and English, for national origin of the piece.
The words of “Robin Adair,” set to the tune of "Eileen Aroon (1)," were written by Lady Caroline Keppel (1735-1769) in the early 1750's about her lover, an Irish surgeon named Robert (‘Robin’) Adair, whom she was permitted to marry only several years later, when she was twenty-one. He was a physician and her family thought him beneath her station. She died in 1769 at the age of thirty-two. The song was first published under the "Adair" title in 1793 in The Edinburgh Musical Miscellany, volume II, p. 304, and it was featured by Mr. Braham early in the 19th century. The words begin:
What's this dull town to me?
Robin's not near;
What was't I wish'd to see?
What wish'd to hear?
Where all the joy and mirth,
Made this town heav'n on earth,
Oh! they've all fled wi' thee,
ROBIN ADAIR full annotations and Past Featured Tunes
T:Robin Adair. HSJJ.190
G2A2B2|c3de2|G>c A>c B>d|c4z2|
G2A2B2|c3de2|G<c A<c B<d|c4z2|!
g2(gf ed)|=c3dHe2|G>c”^Finis Hujus” A>c B>d|c4|]
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| |Although we are not trained musicologists and make no pretense to the profession, we have tried to apply such professional rigors to this Semantic Abc Web as we have internalized through our own formal and informal education.
This demands the gathering of as much information as possible about folk pieces to attempt to trace tune families, determine origins, influences and patterns of aural/oral transmittal, and to study individual and regional styles of performance.
Many musicians, like ourselves, are simply curious about titles, origins, sources and anecdotes regarding the music they play. Who, for example, can resist the urge to know where the title Blowzabella came from or what it means, or speculating on the motivations for naming a perfectly respectable tune Bloody Oul' Hag, is it Tay Ye Want?
Knowing the history of the melody we play, or at least to have a sense of its historical and social context, makes the tune 'present' in the here and now, and enhances our rendering of it.
Andrew Kuntz & Valerio Pelliccioni
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