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There are conflicting assertions about the both the provenance and antiquity of "The Girl I Left Behind Me," a popular traditional melody claimed vociferously by both the English and Irish. It does appear to date to the 18th century, but that general date is almost all that can be said for certainty at this time. Irish claims revolve around the melodies appearance under the title "The S(p)ailpin Fanach" (or "The Rambling Laborer), words and music printed in Dublin in 1791, although Bunting (1840) asserts it was known much earlier. Bunting himself collected the tune from an elderly Irish harper, Arthur O'Neill, in the year 1800. Several authors (Moffat) have noted its resemblance to the Irish melody Rose Tree in Full Bearing (The), accompanied by suggestions that "The Girl I Left Behind Me" is a derivative tune. Alfred Moffat, in his Minstrelsy of Ireland (1897, p. 14), was perhaps the first to recognize the connection, although others (such as Samuel Bayard) finds little relationship between the two. Moffat thought it was also true that the British knew the melody as "Brighton Camp," dating from the 1758–1759 encampments of Admirals Rodney and Hawke, but that the original Irish provenance still held, citing its "Irish flavour" as well as the "Rose Tree" resemblance. In Moffat's view, the version of the air that Bunting printed was "a mere parody on the genuine (Irish) air," an opinion that early 20th century English musicologist Frank Kidson (writing in Groves, 1910) agreed with. Bunting instructs the tune be played as an air, "with tender expression," a much different styling than the original British march. Bunting's version, stated Kidson, along with the version of the melody employed by Moore, "quite destroy the strongly marked rhythm of the simple marching form." The latter named person refers to Thomas Moore and his song "As Slow Our Ship," published in Irish Melodies (1818), which used "The Girl I Left Behind Me" as the vehicle for his words. 20th century music writer Sigmund Spaeth simply called it an Irish folk-tune, "first written down in 1800."
Claims of English provenance are just as forceful, although occasionally vague. For example, Linscott (Folk Songs of Old New England, 1939), maintained that was derived from an old British marching song, and that "in Queen Elizabeth's time it was very popular and was played when a man-of-war weighed anchor or when a regiment moved in or out of town." The assertion is perhaps apocryphal, for the same is said of a few other melodies ("Off She Goes (1)," for example). Although "The Girl I Left Behind Me's" employment as a military leave-taking is a persistent and repeated assertion, there is little actual evidence that it was employed for that purpose, at least before the American Civil War. English musicologist William Chappell (1859) dated the song "Brighton Camp" (which employs the "Girl I Left Behind Me" melody) to 1758, associating the title with the encampments at Brighton established there and at other locations on the coast of England to watch for the French fleet, which had been threatening an invasion of the island. When the English navy defeated the French later in 1759, the fears that established the watch camps dissipated and then were ridiculed in pantomime and farce in London. Parenthetically, the once fishing-village of Brighton, in east Sussex, became very popular in the next decade riding on the growing fashion for bathing. While still a prince, George IV visited the spa starting in 1783 and purchased an estate nearby, engaging famous architect John Nash to transform it into the elegant oriental Pavilion that is today a tourist attraction. Brighton was again the location of a military encampment of many thousands of men in the summers of 1793–1795, again in response to fears of a French invasion....
... see: THE GIRL I LEFT BEHIND ME full Score(s) and Annotations
X:1 T:The Girl I Left Behind Me  M:2/4 L:1/8 S:Hime's Pocket Book for the German Flute or Violin, vol. III (c. 1810) [from Fleischmann, no. 5244] K:G g/f/|ec BA|BG EF|G3/2A/ G/A/B/c/|d3/2B/ gf/g/| ec BA|BE E/F/G/A/|B/A/G/F/ EF|G2G:|] |:e|ef gf/e/|fB Bd|ef g/f/e/d/|e3/2f/ gf/g/| ec BA|BE E/F/G/>A/|B/A/G/F/ EF|G2G|| B/c/|dB gf/g/|dB ba/g/|f/e/d/c/ B/A/G/F/|E/G/F/A/ G:|]
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