Day Dawn (1) (Da)

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DAY DAWN(S) [1], THE. AKA and see "The Day Daywen," "The Day o' Dawie." Shetland, Air (4/4 time). A Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). AA. Cooke (1986) informs us that it was the custom of certain Shetland fiddlers to play this tune in the house early on New Year's morning. He finds that records of tunes with names similar to 'Day Dawns' go back to the beginning of the 16th century in Scotland and the reign of James IV with Dunbar's mention of 'Now the Day Dawis' and 'the jolly day now dawns' in his poem 'To the Merchants of Edinburgh' (see Dick, The Songs of Robert Burns, 1903, p. 450 for notes on early records of this tune), also mentioned in Robert Sempill’s “The Life and Death of the Piper of Kilbarchan.” Several versions of the early ballads beginning with the words 'the day dawns' and closing with each stanza with–'the night is near gone' exist, and the structure was "well-known to common minstrels" [John Mackintosh, The History of Civilization in Scotland, vol. 2, 1893, p. 342, who further remarks:

Alexander Montgomery, who wrote in the reign of James VI, composed a short lyric poem which opened with, 'haw the day dawns,' and adopted the refrain—'the night is near gone.' The fine plaintive air called 'Hey tuttie tuitie' was from a very early period sung with the foregoing words; but it is best known from Burns's address, 'Scots wah hae wi' Wallace bled.'

Settings of music to "Day Dawns" were published in 1822 by Hibbert (ex. 36a) {apparently the source for a number of printed versions since then} and in a manuscript by Hoseason (Ex. 36b). In contrast to several folk fiddle traditions in which oral transmittal transcends written music, Cooke believes it is unlikely that tunes of this name would have survived without the aid of notation. John Irvine, he notes, has recounted how he learned 'The Day o'Dawie' from the singing of an old friend and said that it was the custom for parties of men to go around the island singing the tune (though he never heard words to it—presumably his informant 'diddled' it over to him). This custom of singing around the houses is still strong in Whalsay, and Cooke himself said he experienced some of the musical merrymaking that traditionally takes place in Cullivoe (island of Yell) on the night of Old New Year (Jan. 6th?). He concludes his notes on "Day Dawns" by remarking that the playing of a melody of this name as part of a winter solstice ritual in the Shetlands seems to have passed long ago.

Source for notated version: Tom Anderson and Aly Bain (Shetland) [Brody].

Printed sources: Brody (Fiddler's Fakebook), 1983; p. 84. Cooke (The Fiddle Tradition of the Shetland Isles), 1986; Ex. 36, pp. 89-90 (two versions). Martin (Traditional Scottish Fiddling), 2002; p. 92.

Recorded sources: Philo 219, Tom Anderson and Aly Bain – "The Silver Bow." Philo 1026, Boys of the Lough – "Live."




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