Big Bow Wow

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BIG BOW WOW, THE. AKA and see "Beardless Boy (The)," "Dissipated Youth (1) (The)," "Giolla na Scriob," "Kate Kearney," "Priest Avourneen," "Seanbhean Chrion an Drantain," "Stagger the Buck," "Ta an Coileach ag Fogairt an Lae (2)," "When the cock crows it is day (3)." Scottish, Jig (6/8 time). G Major (Ross): G Mixolydian/Major (Aird). Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The tune's earliest appearance in print is in Robert Ross's (d. 1808) 1780 collection (p. 32), according to John Glen. The exact meaning of "Big Bow Wow" has not been determined, however Webster's Third New International Dictionary gives one of the meanings of 'bowwow' to be "arrogance or dogmatism of manner," which may conceivably have some relation to the title. Breathnach (1976) finds the first part of Aird's "Big Bow Wow" (Selections of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. I, 1782, 104) to be the same as that of "An Cailín Deas Donn (1) (An)/The Pretty Brown Girl," and, in fact, Irish variants are numerous. Aird printed a "Big Bowwow, The New Set" (a different tune) in vol. 3 of his Selections of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs (1788).

The "Bowwow" tune appears in the music manuscript collection of Simsbury, Conn., musician Ira Clark, identical to the version printed by Aird (vol. 1). Musically different 'Bowwow' tunes (jigs) appear in a few other American musicians' manuscripts dating to the 1790's.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Aird (Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 1), 1782; No. 104, p. 37. Clinton (Gems of Ireland: 200 Airs), 1841; No. 180, p. 92. Robert Ross (Choice Collection of Scots Reels or Country Dances B:& Strathspeys), Edinburgh, 1780; p. 32.

Recorded sources:

See also listings at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]
Alan Ng's Irishtune.info [2]




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