Destruction of the Bastile

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X:1 T:Destruction of the Bastile M:2/4 L:1/8 R:Country Dance Tune N:"Performed by Mr. King" Q:"Allegro" B:John Watlen - The Celebrated Circus Tunes (Edinburgh, 1791, p. 19) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:G gg dd|B3d|GG AA|B/A/B/c/ B/A/B/c/|gg dd|B3d| GG AF|G2G2::dd BB|cc A2|dd BB|d/c/B/c/ A2| Bd/B/ A/B/c/A/|Bd/B/ A/B/c/A/|GG AF |G2 G2!End!:|| K:Gmin B2 AG|d3G|^FFGG|A^F D2| c3A|B3G|A2^F2|G2G2!D.C.!||



DESTRUCTION OF THE BASTILE. Scottish, March (2/4 time). G major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABBCAABB. The Bastille [1] was the hated state prison used by the Kings of France that was stormed by an aroused populace in July, 1789. It's capture and eventual destruction became a potent symbol of the French Revolution. It was also the source of some considerable anxiety among the nobility of other countries in Europe, Britain included, lest the 'popular contagion' spread to their lands.
Storming the Bastille
Watlen notes it was "Perform'd by Mr. King," referring to a member of the equestrian company at the Edinburgh circus in the 1791 season who specialized in dancing on horseback[1].


Additional notes

Source for notated version: - Aird obtained the tune--in fact he 'borrowed' the whole collection--from Watlen's Celebrated Circus Tunes, without attributing the source.

Printed sources : - Aird (Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 4), 1796; No. 115, p. 45. Watlen (The Celebrated Circus Tunes), 1791; p. 19.

Recorded sources: -



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  1. Kim Baston, "The Celebrated Circus Tunes: Music and Musicians in an Eighteenth-Century Circus", Popular Entertainment Studies, Vol. 9, Issue 1-2, 2018, p. 9.