Blowzabella

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X:1 T:Blowzabella M:6/8 L:1/8 R:Country Dance B:Wright's Compleat Collection of Celebrated Country Dances (1740, p. 56) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:G d2c BA>G|c2A B2G|d2c B>AG|A3D G3|| g2d BGB|cAc B>AG|g2d BGB|ADF G3|| G/A/|BAB cBc|d3-d2c|B>cB A>BA|G3-G2|| g2G g2G|A>BA B2G|g2G g2G|A>BA G2|| G/A/|BAB cBc|d3-d2c|B>cB A>BA|G3-G2||



BLOWZABELLA. AKA - Blouzabella, Blousy Bella. English, Jig and Air. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AA'BB'CC'DD (Merryweather): AABBCCDDEE (Aird, Vickers). The song "Blowzabella, My Bouncing Doxie" tells of a bagpiper and his wife, who is affectionately known as Blowzabella but who nonetheless is employed as a prostitute. They banter about their respective livelihoods but come to agreement in the end, confirming their marital bliss. The song was apparently an 18th century elaboration of a 16th century Italian popular theme, according to Merryweather, and appears in Thomas D'Urfy's 1719 work called Wit & Mirth or Pills To Purge Melancholy under the title "The Italian Song Call'd Pastorella; made into an English Dialogue." D'Urfy was by that time thoroughly familiar with the character of the Blowzabella, who was a principle character in his 1699 play The Rise and Fall of Massaniello. D'Urfy's song begins:

He. Blowzabella my bouncing Doxie,
Come let's trudge it to Kirkham Fair,
There's stout Liquor enough to Fox me,
And young Cullies to buy thy Ware.
She. Mind your Matters ye Sot without medling
How I manage the sale of my Toys,
Get by Piping as I do by Pedling,
You need never want me for supplies.

The air that D'Urfy printed is not the one later associated with the title "Blowzabella" as it appears in dance and country musicians' manuscripts later in the 18th century. However, "Blowzabella" proved a popular, and songs under the title found their way into ballad operas such as Ebenezer Forrest's Momus Turn'd Fabulist, or Vulcan's Wedding (London, 1729), Henry Potter's The Decoy (London, 1733), Robert Drury's The Mad Captain (London, 1733) and his later The Rival Milliners, or the Humours of Covent Garden (1737), and Matthew Gardiner's The Sharpers (Dublin, 1740). It appears that the country dance version of "Blowzabella" derives from the air that Forrest employed in his 1729 stage work.

As "Blousy Bella" it appears in a c.1708 manuscript in the British Museum by G. B. Buononcini, for unaccompanied flute. Later, the jig appears in the music manuscripts of H.S.J. Jackson (Wyresdale, Lancashire, 1820), William Vickers (Northumberland, 1770) and Thomas Hammersley (London, 1790, as "Blousa Bella"). John Walsh, who published the melody in his Caledonian Country Dance volumes of the mid-18th century (beginning 1735), identifies the melody as "Scotch." The jig also appears in print in Daniel Wright's Compleat Collection of celebrated country Dances (published by Johnson in London, around 1740), Robert Bremner's Delightful Pocket Companion for the German Flute (London, 1763), John Simpson's Compleat Tutor for the Flute (London, 1745), An air called "Blouzibel" also appears in print in Watts' Musical Miscellany, vol. 4 (London, 1730), set in 3/4 time, but this appears to be an unrelated tune.

Blowzabella was taken as a band name by a Northumbrian "revival" musical group of the late 20th century, one of the more successful touring groups of the era.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Aird (Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 2), 1785; No. 123, p. 45. Callaghan (Hardcore English), 2007; p. 57. Merryweather (Tunes for English Bagpipes), 1989; p. 49. Seattle/Vickers (Great Northern Tune Book, part 2), 1987; No. 392. Offord (John of the Greeny Cheshire Way), 1985; p. 99. Walsh (Caledonian Country Dances), c. 1745; p. 26. Wright (Compleat Collection of Celebrated Country Dances, vol. 1), 1740; p. 55.

Recorded sources:



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