Bonny Dundee (3)

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BONNY DUNDEE [3]. AKA and see "Jockey's Escape from Dundee," "Adew Dundee." Scottish, English; Jig (6/8) or Air (6/4 time). A Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). This popular tune appears in several early 18th century ballad operas, according to Pulver (1923), such as John Gay's ballad opera The Beggar's Opera (1729), where it is parodied under the title "The charge is prepared." The ballad's subject is "The Jockey's Escape from Dundee," but the title is taken from the ending line, which runs "Adieu to bonny Dundee." The original song appears in the various editions of D'Urfy's Pills to Purge Melancholy, however, the air itself was first published in the second appendix to the 7th edition of 1686 (printed in 1688) of Playford's Dancing Master, the first edition of the series to by published by John's son Henry'. Kidson (1922) identifies the air as Scottish (but not the "Bonnets of Bonny Dundee" in Orpheus Caledonius, 1725-6); he earlier wrote for Grove's that he thought it likely a version of "Adew Dundie" of the Scottish Skene Manuscript. Chappell believed the melody was English, or "at least a spurious Scottish one," as John Glen in Early Scottish Melodies, 1900, writes, basing the claim on the appearance of the tune in Playford, "and because of some absurd and indelicate verses which had been written to the tune by some Grub Street scribbler, and inserted in D'Urfey's Pills to Purge Melancholy." Glen himself is of the opinion that the melody is truly Scottish, and conjectures it was brought south by courtiers of James II, who resided in Scotland prior to 1682, when he was Duke of York.

At the end of the 18th century the air was generally used for Hector MacNiel's song "Mary of Castlecary," which begins: "Saw ye my wee thing." See also the related jig version "Bonnie Dundee (1)" --curiously, O'Farrell prints the tune with the time signature in 6/8, but the notation in 6/4 time. A jig version appears in the music manuscript book of James Findlay, dated 1841. Findlay was originally from Penpont, Dumfrieshire, Scotland, but emigrated with his brothers to Australia, where he settled on a farm in the Upper Murray at Towong Upper. His manuscript was found in an old sea chest at the family homestead by his grand-daughter, Ada Findlay.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Chappell (Popular Music of the Olden Time), 1859; p. 611. McGibbon (Scots Tunes, book II), c. 1746; p. 39. O'Farrell (Pocket Companion, vol. II), c. 1806; p. 114. Oswald (Caledonian Pocket Companion, Book 3), 1760; p. 4. Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; p. 68.

Recorded sources:




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