Dibdin's Ploughboy

Find traditional instrumental music
Jump to: navigation, search

X:1 T:Dibdin's Plough Boy. A Retreat M:C| L:1/8 S:The Buttery Manuscript (c. 1784-1820, No. 38, p. 8) N:John Buttery (1784-1854) joined the 34th Regiment in Lincoln, N:Lincolnshire, England, in 1797 and served as a fifer until discharged in N:1814. His large ms. contains marches, duty calls, dance tunes and airs. N:EASMES identifies this as the Fife MS. and suggests a date of 1780, see N:https://www.cdss.org/elibrary/Easmes/Index.htm Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:G (G/A/)|B2 B>B B2 cB|BABc d2 ef|gdcB cBAG|TB4 cB A2 GA| B2 B>B B2 cB|BABc d2 ef|geag|fedc|d2 z2 AG| FAdf ged^c|d2 d>d d2z2 B4|{d}d2 ef gdcB|edcB c2 cd| edcB cBAG|F2 AF D2 d>d|g2 fe d2 (3efg|dedc B2 cd| e2 E>E A2 B>c|d2 D>D G2 A>B|cABc BGFG|FGAF D2 D>D| G>ABB G>ABB|BABc d2 D>D|G>ABB G>ABB|BABc d2 ef| g>eee f>ddd|ecBA d2 BB|cBAG Gedc|TB2 A2 GA|G4:|]



DIBDIN'S PLOUGHBOY. English, Air (cut time). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). One part. The title refers to a song by English songwriter Charles Dibdin (1745-1814) who also wrote operas and who was particularly associated with "table-entertainments" in which he was the author, composer, narrator, singer and accompanist. His songs were extremely popular, and he was quite successful, particularly with his patriotic sea-songs for which he is best remembered.

The melody is contained in the music copybook [1] of John Buttery (1784-1854), a fifer with British army's 37th (North Hampshire) Regiment of Foot (so designated in the army reorganization of 1782), who served from 1797-1814. Later in life Buttery emigrated to Canada, where he died. In his manuscript Buttery identifies the tune as "A Retreat", which in military use represents the musical announcement of the end of the day's activities and a time for rest. The operant condition for a retreat was a specific drum roll, over which a melody--any melody--could be played, and it was the drum roll (not the tune) that was the musical signal for a retreat. The Buttery manuscript, as well as other period military manuscripts, often include a variety tunes that are labelled 'Retreats', which were selections the musician employed for the duty. Buttery's manuscript collection has also been identified as belonging to John Fife [1], with a suggested date of 1780. Fife was a family name, like Buttery, identified with the manuscript.

Additional notes

Source for notated version: -

Printed sources : -

Recorded sources: -



Back to Dibdin's Ploughboy


  1. Early American Secular Music and Its European Sources, https://www.cdss.org/elibrary/Easmes/Index.htm