Cuckoo's Nest (4) (The)

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X:1 T:Cuckoo’s Nest [4], The M:C| L:1/8 R:Reel S:John Sutherland manuscript collection, “Music for the Bagpipe” (late 18th century) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:G GA|BABG babg|fdcB cedc|cBAG ABcA|f2c2 cedc| BABG babg|fdcB cedc|cBAG FGAc|B2G2G4:| |:d4|g2g2 gbag|f2d2d2e2|fefg fagf|gdcB cedc| BABG babg|fdcB c2 d|cBAG FGAc|B2G2G4:| |:Bc|dBGB dBGB|dcBA G2 AB|cAFA cAFA|cBAG F2 GA| BABG babg|fdcB c2e2|cBAG FGAc|B2G2 G4:|]



CUCKOO'S NEST [4] (Nead na Cuaiche" or "Nead an Cuaic"). See "Cuckoo Hornpipe." AKA and see "All Around," "Captain Moss," "Come Ashore," "Come Ashore Jolly Tar with Your Trousers On," "Coo Coo's Nest," "Cuckold's Nest," "I do confess thou(gh) art sae fair," "Jack a' Tar," "Jacky Tar" (Hornpipe), "Mower (The)," "Mountain Top (3) (The)," "Showman's Fancy," "Spealadoir (An)" (The Mower), "Trousers On (The)," "Yellow Heifer (1) (The)." Irish, English, Scottish, Old-Time, Bluegrass; Hornpipe, Reel, Breakdown. D Major (Barnes, Brody, Carlin {setting #1}, Kerr, Moylan, Phillips/1995 {setting #1}, Silberberg): D Dorian (Roche, 1st setting): G Major (Harding, Harker/Rafferty, Merryweather & Seattle, Mulvihill, O'Neill/Krassen & 1001, Phillips/1995 {setting #2}, Roche {setting 2}: E Aeolian (O'Neill/Krassen -1st setting): A Dorian (Phillips): A Major (Carlin/setting #2, O'Malley). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Begin, Silberberg): AABB (Brody, Harding, Kerr, Moylan, Phillips, Roche, O'Neill, Phillips and Carlin {1st settings}): AABC (Mulvihill): AABBCC (Barnes, Kennedy, Merryweather & Seattle, O'Neill/Krassen, 1001 & 1915, Roche, and Carlin {2nd settings}): AA'BBCC' (Harker/Rafferty): AA'BB'CC' (O'Malley).

An extremely popular English melody known throughout the British Isles and British North America whose title, the 'cuckoo's nest,' commonly referred to female pubic hair and accompanying anatomy. It dates to at least the early 18th century. James Aird's printing in his Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 1 (1782, p. 66) includes an interesting fourth strain, not found in other sources. Matt Seattle (1987, 1994) believes the tune to originally have been a Scots Measure in D Minor with the title "Come Ashore Jolly Tar (with) Your Trousers On," but notes that many versions of this tune exist, with quite substantial variation between them, in major and minor keys (he remarks that the Northumbrian William Vicker's late 18th century setting is evidently minor, despite the key signature). The title appears in numerous 18th and 19th century dance collections, and made Henry Robson's list of popular Northumbrian song and dance tunes, which he published c. 1800. In Jacobite Relics (1819) James Hogg prints a song to the melody, commenting: "It must have been a great favourite in the last age, for about the time when I first began to know one tune from another, all the old people that could sing at all, could sing "The cuckoo is a bonny bird." He prints the following words to the tune:

The cuckoo's a bonny bird when he comes home,
The cuckoo's a bonny bird when he comes home;
He'll fley away the wild birds that hank about the throne,
My bonny cuckoo when he comes home.

Poet John Clare (1793–1864) is highly regarded for his body of work inspired by the English countryside and rural life of the early 18th century. He was born in the village of Helpston, Northamptonshire, the son of an agricultural laborer and singer of local reputation, and became a fiddler and collector of songs and tunes of southern England. He recalled, "Both my parents was illiterate to the last degree. [My father] was likewise fond of Ballads, & I have heard him make a boast of it over his horn of ale with his merry companions, that he could sing or recite above a hundred; he had a tolerable good voice, & was often calld upon to sing at those convivials of bacchanalian merry makings." Clare collected:

Now some likes a girl that is pretty in the face,
And others likes a girl that is slender in the waist
But give me the girl with a wriggle and twist
That is pleasant and good-tempered with a cuckoo's nest.

The Cuckoo's Nest is also the name of a Scottish country dance, which, though increasingly rare, was danced in parts of the country (e.g. West Berwickshire) through the 19th century.

The 18th century Munster poet Eoghan Rua O Suilleabhain used the tune for his poem "An Spealadoir." Doolin, north County Clare tin whistle player Micho Russell also associated the tune with a 'spailpin,' or wandering harvest laborer (he called the tune "The Man that cuts the hay with the Scythe"). Bayard (1944) and Breathnach (1985) both cite the collector Father Henebry (A Handbook of Irish Music, pp. 170–1) who was convinced that the third part of the Irish versions was modern (i.e. in his time, c. 1900), and "was tastelessly added to the original two parts or the air." Breathnach (1985) also notes that many songs were written to the air, and gives a verse from Seán Ó Dálaigh's collection of a rural love ballad popular in Munster:

Tá páircín bheag agamsa
de bhán, mhín, réidh;
Gan claí, gan fál, gan falla léi,
ach a haghaidh ar an saol;
Spealodóir do ghlacfainnse,
Ar task na d'réir an acara,
Bé acu sud do b'fhearr leis,
nó páigh in aghaidh an lae.

(Literal translation by Paul de Grae:) I have a small little field
white, smooth, ready;
without fence, without hedge, without wall,
but its face to the world:
I'd take a mower
on a task or by the acre,
whichever he'd prefer,
or paid by the day.

Breathnach thinks the "An Spealdoir" (by which it is commonly known in Ireland) title stems from this verse. See also the Irish variant "Éamonn McGivney's" AKA "McGibbney's Fancy," "McGivney's Fancy."

In America, the melody was included in New Windsor, Connecticut, musician Giles Gibbs' MS collection of 1777, Henry Beck's flute manuscript of 1785 (pg. 56), and Clement Weeks' collection of dances made in 1783. It was even preserved in a chime clock of the period manufactured by New Windsor, Connecticut, clockmaker Daniel Burnap. The tune remains a popular staple at New England contra dances to this day. In other American traditions, the title appears in a list of traditional Ozark Mountain fiddle tunes compiled by musicologist/folklorist Vance Randolph, published in 1954. Similarly, in modern times in the United States the tune has been assumed into Texas fiddling tradition, probably derived from Canadian or Midwestern sources (Guthrie Meade & Mark Wilson). In a 1906 letter to Alfred Percival Graves in 1906 (printed in "A Few Gossipy Notes" in the Journal of the Irish Folk Song Society, London, Irish collector Francis O'Neill wrote that he obtained his No. 1734 "rather odd setting of the Cuckoo's Nest" from listening to a pianist play it while attending a Chicago theater. Montreal fiddler-composer Isidore Soucy's (1899-1962), Jean Duval, proposes that his "Gigue indienne" is a derivative of "Cuckoo's Nest [4]." If so, it is quite distanced; unrecognizable in the first strain and barely recognizable in the second. It may be more accurate to say that melodic material from "Cuckoo's Nest" influenced Soucy's creation.


Additional notes



Printed sources : - Aird (Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 1), No. 190 (appears as "Come ashore Jolly Tar"). Barnes (English Country Dance Tunes), 1986; p. 81. Barnes (English Country Dance Tunes, vol. 2), 2005; p. 25. Blackman (A Selection of the most favorite Hornpipes for the Violin), c. 1810-22; No. 32. Bunting (Ancient Music of Ireland), 1840; No. 110, p. 81. Carlin (Master Collection), 1984; pp. 163–164, No.'s 291–292 (arrangements by John Kimmel). Harding's All Round Collection, 1905; No. 52, p. 16. Fiddler Magazine, vol. 8, No. 2, Summer, 2001; p. 19 (a bluegrass version, transcribed by Jack Tuttle). Harker (300 Tunes from Mike Rafferty), 2005; No. 261, p. 80. Jarman, Old Time Fiddlin' Tunes; No. or p. 23. Kennedy (Fiddler's Tune-Book, vol. 1), 1951; No. 27, p. 14 (note for note the same as Raven's version). Kerr (Merry Melodies, vol. 4); No. 282, p. 30. The Joseph Kershaw Manuscript, 1993; No. 11 (appears as "Cuckold's Nest"). Merryweather & Seattle (Lawrence Leadley, the Fiddler of Helperby), 1994; No. 28, p. 35. Mulvihill (1st Collection), 1986; No. 26, p. 96 (appears as "Cuckoo's Nest No. 1," identical to O'Neill's 1850 2nd setting). O'Malley (Luke O'Malley's Collection of Irish Music), 1976; No. 115, p. 58. O'Neill (1915 ed.), 1987; No. 321, p. 158. O'Neill (Krassen), 1976; p. 205 (two settings). O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; Nos. 1733 & 1734, p. 322. O'Neill (Dance Music of Ireland: 1001 Gems), 1907; No. 913, p. 156. O'Sullivan/Bunting (Bunting's Ancient Music of Ireland), 1983; No. 110, pp. 157–158. Phillips (Fiddle Case Tunebook: British Isles), 1989; p. 14. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes, vol. 2), 1995; p. 188. Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; p. 177 (appears as "The Cuckoo's Nest {New}" and is the same version as O'Neill's second setting). Roche (Collection of Traditional Irish Music, vol. 2), 1927; no. 238, p. 19 ([1]). Roche (Collection of Traditional Irish Music, vol. 3), 1927; no. 170, p. 60 ([2]). Russell (The Piper's Chair), 1989; p. 26 (appears as "The Man that cuts the Hay with the Scythe"). Sannella (Balance and Swing), 1982. Stanford/Petrie (Complete Collection), 1905; No. 1206. Seattle/Vickers (Great Northern Tune Book, part 2), 1987; No. 289. Silberberg (Fiddle Tunes I Learned at the Tractor Tavern), 2002; p. 30.

Recorded sources : - Folkways FS 3809, Dan White and John Summers – "Fine Times at Our House." Fretless 103, "Clem Myers: Northeast Regional Old Time Fiddle Champion 1967 & 1970." Fretless 201, Jerry Robichaud – "Maritime Dance Party" (1978). Front Hall 017, Michael and McCreesh – "Dance, Like a Wave of the Sea" (1978. Learned from the playing of Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick). Kicking Mule 204, Pat Dunford – "The Old-Time Banjo In America." Rounder 0046, Mark O'Conner – "National Junior Fiddle Champion." Rounder 0060, Brother Oswald and Charlie Collins – "Oz and Charlie." Sonet SNTF 764, Dave Swarbrick and Friends – "The Ceilidh Album." Sugarhill SUG-3909, Nickel Creek - "Nickel Creek". Tara Records 1009, Seamus Ennis – "The Fox Chase" (1977).

See also listing at :
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [3]
Alan Ng's Irishtune.info [4]



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