Bath Medley

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X:1 T:Bath Medley M:6/4 L:1/8 N:”Longways for as many as will.” B:John Walsh – Complete Country Dancing-Master, Volume the Fourth B: (London, 1740, No. 22) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:G G4g2 Tf3ed2|e2f2g2 d2c2B2|e2c2A2 d2B2G2|F4G2 A2F2D2| G4g2Tf3ed2|e2f2g2 d2c2B2|e2c2A2 d2B2G2|A2D2F2 G6:| |:f4g2 a2f2d2|e4gf g6|B4c2d2B2G2|F4 G2 A2F2D2| G4g2Tf3ed2|e2f2g2d2c2B2|e2c2A2d2B2G2|A2D2F2 G6:|]



BATH MEDLEY. AKA and see "Humors of the Bath," "Spring's a-Coming (The)," "Trip to Bath (2)." English, Irish; Country Dance Tune (6/4 time). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. O'Farrell (c. 1806) gives its provenance as "Irish," perhaps because of its appearance in Neal's A Choice Collection of Country Dances, printed in Dublin in c. 1726. However, it has also been printed in Scottish collections and is sometimes recorded as originating in that country. English printings seem to predate all, however. Some of the earliest appearances of the tune are in Watt's Musical Miscellany (vol. 1, 1729), and the ballad operas The Country Wedding (1729), The Wedding (1729), Charles Coffey's The Devil to Pay, or the Wives Metamorphos'd (1731) and Anthony Aston's Fools Opera (1731). It appears in several musician's commonplace books on both sides of the Atlantic from the mid-18th century on. The title may have derived from a song by Anthony Aston entitled "Pleasures of the Bath (The)," one version of which was published in 1721. Bruce Olson finds evidence of a song by Aston called "The Bath Medley" published on single sheets dating from 1715, which begins: "The spring's a coming," often an alternate title. Aston, who died in 1731, was an actor and dramatist who came to the stage after attempting law and other professions with little success. His writing for the stage, however, met with some success in the early 18th century, especially Love in a Hurry (performed in Dublin, c. 1709), and the opera Pastora, or the Coy Shepherdess (1712). Aston toured the English provinces with his family (and even visited America in 1702), producing his own plays or medleys from various plays fitted together with songs and dialogues of his own. Wiley Housewright of Florida State University, in his article "Music and Change in Florida" records:

Anthony Aston, alias Mat Medley, a notable English musician, came to join English Governor James Moore of South Carolina in his pillage of St. Augustine in 1702. He remained in the ancient city for fifty-four days, returned to Charleston, then joined opera and theatrical companies in New York and Boston. He sang bass, danced, and acted. He returned to England, where he wrote The Fool's Opera; or the Taste of an Age. He wrote a drama about Florida, but the script has never been found. Aston achieved renown in England as a songwriter for singers who performed on the leading stages of London. In 1743 he advertised his collection of "Negro Songs" at Goodman's Fields. It is a collection of tunes that he probably heard in Florida and South Carolina. He may have heard some of them in Jamaica or the Bahamas, where he visited in his early days. These songs, along with those of Charles Dibdin, were forerunners of the American Minstrel show songs, which would appear more than a hundred years later.

Elsewhere it is recorded that Aston played just enough performances in Charleston and New York to earn his passage back home.

The title honors Bath, England, an ancient town popular as a resort in the early-to-mid 18th century. The Roman name for Bath was Aquae Sulis, the 'waters of Sulis' (Sulis was a Celtic goddess with affinities to the Roman Minerva), referring to the hot springs found there, but when the English conquered the territory they called it simply 'the baths,' later simply Bath (Matthews, 1972). For many years it was part of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia, and its abbey was chosen by Dunstan as the site of the first major coronation in 973 when Edgar was crowned King of the English with his queen Elfrida. Bath regained notoriety as a spa in the 18th century when much of the town center was rebuilt. It received patronage from George III and his queen, Charlotte, and after, George IV. The Assembly Rooms at Bath, part of the spa, were built in the 1740's and were in the form of a long, rectangular space to accommodate country dancing. Allison Thompson, in her forward to an excerpt on fashionable dancing from Tobias Smollet's (1721-1771) picaresque novel The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker [1] (1771), explains:

Tobias Smollet (1721-1771) was a practicing physician but found the time to write a number of popular novels, including Roderick Random (1748) and Peregrine Pickle (1751). His epistolary novel, The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker, appeared in 1771 and describes Bath in its early phase of popularity as a social hot spot of eighteenth century England. A sleepy, run-down spa frequented only by valetudinarians in the early part of the century, it had been brought to prominence by Richard 'Beau' Nash (1674-1762), who arrived in Bath in 1705. There he took over the management of the Assembly Rooms and drew up a strict code of etiquette and dress, becoming the unquestioned autocrat of fashionable society. Assemblies began at six p.m. with minuets. These ran until eight o'clock, and were followed by country dances from eight until tea was announced at nine. More country dances followed the tea and, under Beau Nash's autocratic rule, dances in the Rooms concluded at eleven sharp-even if the musicians were in the middle of a tune. Nash's popularity waned after 1745, but his influence lingered throughout the century.

American War of Independence office George Bush entered the tune into his c 1775 music manuscript collection as "Trip to Bath (2)", confusing the names of two popular Bath-named tunes. (Allison Thompson, Dancing Through Time: Western Social Dance in Literature, 1400-1918: Selections, p. 103. 1998)


Additional notes



Printed sources : - Aird (Selection of English, Irish, Scotch and Foreign Airs, vol. 1), 1782; No. 29, p. 11. Barnes (English Country Dance Tunes), 1989. Breathnach (CRÉ V), 1999; No. 22, p. 13 (untitled jig). O'Farrell (Pocket Companion, vol. II), c. 1806; p. 128. Walsh (Complete Country Dancing-Master, Volume the Fourth), London, 1740; No. 22.






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