Annotation:Ca the Ewes to the Knows

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X:1 T:Ca the Ewes to the Knows M:2/4 L:1/8 R:Air S:O'Farrell - Pocket Companion, vol. III (c. 1808) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:Bmin E>F B2 | A<F A2 | F>E Dd | c>d e2 | f>B B>B | A>d F2 | E2 F>A | B2 B || E>F B>B | A>F A2 | F>E D>d | c>d e2 | f<f B/BB/ | A>d F2 | E>EF>A | B2B2 ||

CA' THE EWES TO THE KNOWS. AKA - "Ca' the Yowes, "Ca' the Yowes to the Knowes." Scottish, Air (2/4 time). B Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. The title means 'drive the ewes to the knolls'. The tune is composed virtually on a pentatonic or hexatonic scale (except for a passing note or two). As "Ca' the Yowes" it is the title of a Robert Burns (1759-1796) song, first published in Johnson's Scots Musical Museum (1790), although he adapted it from an older song and claimed only the second and last verse as his own. The chorus goes:

Ca'the yowes to the knowes,
Ca' them where the heather grows,
Ca' them where the burnie rowes,
My bonie Dearie.

The original song (upon which Burns' based his adaptation) was attributed to Isobel 'Tibbie' Pagan (c. 1741-1821), an old woman from Muirkirk, East Ayrshire, who bartered in unlicensed whiskey (and smuggled it to!), and who was known for the stories she told as she dispensed her wares to her customers from her private ale-house. In fact, Pagan, is said to have been illiterate and to have dictated her poems to an amanuensis, a tailor named William Gemmell (who, along with transcribing them probably altered their reputedly characteristic bawdiness for public consumption.) When her collection of poems and songs was published in Glasgow in 1805, however, "Ca' the Yowes" was not included. Local lore has it that she was a friend of Burns'. The melody also appears in the 1820 music manuscript collection of Highland piper Robert Millar (1789-1861), inscribed "Forfar Reg. and Piper to the Aberdeen Highland Society, 1820". See note for "annotation:Maid that Tends the Goats (The)."

In the 20th century the tune was arranged by composers Vaughan Williams and Benjamin Britten.

Additional notes

Printed sources : - O'Farrell (Pocket Companion, vol. III), c. 1808; p. 66.

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