Doon da Rooth

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DOON DA ROOTH. Shetland, Air or Jig (21/8 time!). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. This tune, which is probably a spinning tune, according to Shetland composer and teacher Tom Anderson in Da Mirrie Dancers (1970), has abrupt changes in metre that are perhaps better notated broken down into 12/8 and 9/8 portions. "The rooth is an Unst (island) word for the leather part that holds the 'flee', where the thread goes in, on a spinning wheel" (Anderson & Georgeson, 1970), although Pat Shuldham-Shaw says a rooth is a strip of hardwood on the gunwale of a Shetland rowing boat, where the oar rests[1]. Jack Campin [2] identifies the tune as one of many variants of "The Rock and a Wee Pickle Tow," a Lowland Scots tune which also coincidentally was originally a women's spinning song. Nigel Gatherer, however, maintains "Doon da Rooth" is a Shetland version of Gow's "Drown Drouth," and that the Shetland title has less to do with a spinning connection than it does with a particular pronunciation of Gow's title. Anderson himself, in his spoken introduction to his 1958 recording (which can be heard at Tobar an Dualchais) at the time related that "opinion varied" about whether the tune had words to it at one time, and whether it might have been a boating song. Pat Shuldham Shaw agreed with the boating conjecture, and said a similarly structured tune was John Stickle's "Maut Man (Da)."

Source for notated version: J.J. Stickle (Shetland) [Anderson & Georgeson].

Printed sources: Anderson & Georgeson (Da Mirrie Dancers), 1970; p. 16.

Recorded sources: Folktrax Records FTX-068, John Sticke - "Da Mirrie Boys: Shetland Fiddle Music (various artists, from early 1950's field recordings by Pat Shuldham-Shaw). Topic Records TSCD499, Tom Anderson & Aly Bain - "The Silver Bow." Whirlie Records, Aly Bain & Ale Möller - "Beyond the Stacks" (2008).

See also listing at:
Hear the tune played by the Gaugers in 1973 on youtube.com [1]
Hear the tune played in 1958 by fiddler and collector Tom Anderson at Tobar an Dualchais [2] [3]




Back to Doon da Rooth[edit]

  1. Pat Shuldham-Shaw, "A Shetland Fiddler and His Repertoire: John Stickle 1875-1957", Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, vol. 9, No. 3, Dec. 1962; p. 138.
  2. jc@purr.demon.co.uk