Braes of Balquidder (The)

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X:1 T:Braes of Balwhither, The M:C L:1/8 R:Air Q:"Very Slow" B:Robert Petrie – Third Collection of Strathspey Reels (1802, p. 9) N:Dedicated to Francis Garden Esq. Junior of Troup by N:Robert Petrie at Kirkmichael. Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:F c|d2 F>c {B}A2 A>B|dF/d/ c>F A(GG)A/c/|dF/d/ cF/c/ {B}A2 A>c|d(f/e/) (g/f/)(e/d/) cAA:| c|d>ef>d c<Aa>g|f(d/f/) (d/c/)(B/A/) B>GG>c|d(f/e/) (g/f/)(e/d/) c<Aa>g|(a/g/f/e/) f>d c<AA>c| d>ef>d c<Aa>g|f(d/f/) (d/c/)(B/A/) B<GG>A|F<DC>D F>GA>c|(d/f/e/)f/ (g/f/e/d/) cAA|| A/B/|c<Fd>F A2 AB|(c/f/e/f/) (d/c/B/A/) B<GG>c|d<Fc>F A2 Ac|(d/f/e/f/) (g/f/e/d/) cAA:| c|d>ef>d c<ATa>g|f(d/f/) (d/c/)(B/A/) B>GG>c|(d/f/e/f/) (g/f/e/d/) (d/c/)(B/A/) (a/g/)(a/g/)|(a/g/f/e/) f>d c<AA>c| (d/c/d/)e/ (f/e/f/d/) (d/c/B/A/) Ta>g|f(d/f/) (d/c/)(B/A/) B<GG>A|F>DC>D F>GA>c|(d/f/e/f/) (g/f/e/d/) cAA||

BRAES OF BALQUIDDER, THE. AKA - "Braes of Balquhither," "Braes of Balqyheder," "Braes of Balquhidder," "Braes of Balquithin (The)." AKA and see "Black Cock o' Whickham (2) (The)," "Lowp over amang the Elders." Scottish; Air, Strathspey and Country Dance Tune (4/4 time). G Major (Aird, Kerr): F Major (Athole, Bremner, Lowe): D Major (Howe). Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB (Aird, Bremner, Howe): AABCC (Gow, Kerr): ABCD (McGlashan): AABCCD (Athole, Lowe, Petrie). No matter which spelling is used the name 'Balquhither' is pronounced 'Balwhither'. The tune appears in both air and dance versions. John Glen (1891) finds the piece first published in Bremner's 1757 Scots Reels (p. 37), however, the tune (and dance instructions) appear in The Bodleian Manuscript (1740), inscribed "A Collection of the Newest Country Dances Performed in Scotland at Edinburgh by D.A. Young, W.M. 1740" (the MS is named for the Bodleian Library, Oxford, where it is housed). Robert Tannahill (1774-1810), bard and weaver of Paisley, wrote a song by this name which appeared twice in R.A. Smith's Scottish Minstrel (1821-1824), vol. 1, p. 49 and vol. IV, p. 89 (the latter air is a modification of the first and is called "The Three Carles o' Buchanan"). The song text appears in Henry W. Shoemaker's Mountain Minstrelsy of Pennsylvania (1931), with the following note:

Potter County: This very ancient ballad was furnished by Mr. Myron Hill, 70 years old. It was sung to my grandfather when a child, soon after the War of Revolution, by veterans of that war, and he sang it to me in 1876, in memory of our family soldiers of 100 years before.- John C. French, 1919.

Mr. French's account predates the Tannahill publication by some forty years, and perhaps he was a victim of the human penchant for subscribing increased antiquity to already old items, though it is possible that an older song text to the country dance tune predated the Tannahill publication. Tannahill's words begin:

Will ye go, lassie, go,
To the braes o' Balquhidder?
Where the blaeberries grow,
'Mang the bonnie bloomin' heather;
Where the deer and the roe,
Lightly bounding together,
Sport the lang summer day
'Mang the braes o' Balquhidder.

Chorus: Will ye go, lassie, go,
To the braes o' Balquhidder?
Where the blaeberries grow,
'Mang the bonnie bloomin' heather.

The song "Wild Mountain Thyme" is derived from "Braes of Balquidder," as is "Will You Go, Lassie, Go," reworked by Frank McPeake of Belfast. When the melody was employed in an advertisement for Irish television the McPeakes threatened legal action for coypright infringement. After some public discussion in the press, followed by a bit of research, the conclusion was that the McPeakes did not compose either the words or the music. The threat of a suit never materialized and the matter was quickly forgotten, according to Harry O'Prey. Gow notes the tune "may be play'd very Slow."

The air was entered into the large music manuscript collections of multi-instrumentalist John Rook (1840) of Waverton, near Wigton, Cumbria, and of John Buttery (early 19th century), a fifer with the British army's 37th Regiment.

Additional notes

Printed sources : - Aird (Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. II), 1785; No. 181, p. 67 (appears as "Braes of Balwhedar"). Bremner (Scots Reels), c. 1757; p. 37. David Glen (The Edinburgh Collection, Book 2), c. 1910; No. 46, p. 23. Gow (Complete Repository, Part 1), 1799; p. 27. Howe (Second Part of the Musician's Companion), 1843/1850; p. 9. Kerr (Merry Melodies, vol. 1), c. 1880; Set 16, No. 1, p. 11. Joseph Lowe (Lowe's Collection of Reels, Strathspeys and Jigs, book 1), 1844–1845; p. 21. McGlashan (A Collection of Reels), c. 1786; p. 37. Petrie (Third Collection of Strathspey Reels), 1802; p. 9. Stewart-Robertson (The Athole Collection), 1884; p. 212.

Recorded sources : - Folk Lyric FL-116, Betsy Miller (Ewan MacColl's mother). Green Linnett GLCD 1146, The Tannahill Weavers - "Capernaum" (1994. Tannahill's song).

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