Annotation:Down the Burn Davie (2)

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X:1 T:Down the Burn Davie [2] M:C L:1/8 B:Alexander Stuart – “Musick for Allan Ramsay’s Collection part 4” B:(Edinburgh, c. 1720, pp. 92-93) F: Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:F V:1 FG|AGFD CDFG|A2 (GF) F3c|Acdf cAGF|A2 G2G3c| AGFD CDFG|A2 GF f3c|defc fgac|A2 (GF) F2 ag| Fcfg afgd|cAcd f3g|(ag)(fd) (fd)(cA)|c2 (GA) G3c| AGFD CDFG|A2 (GF) f3c|defc fgac|A3B A2|| V:2 clef = bass z2|F,2D,2A,,2B,,2|C,2C,,2F,2z2|F,2B,2A,2C2|F,2C,2G,,2 z2| F,2B,2A,2A,,2|F,2C,2A,,2F,2|B,2A,2G,2F,2|C2C,,2F,2z2| A,2G,2F,2B,2|A,2F,2A,,2B,,2|F,,2B,,2A,,2F,,2|A,,2C,2G,,2z2| F,2B,2A,2F,2|C2C,,2F,2z2|B,2A,2G,2F,2|C2C,2F,2||

DOWN THE BURN DAVIE LAD [2]. Scottish, Slow Air (4/4 time). F Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. Poet Robert Burns wrote: "I have been informed[1], that the tune of Doun the burn, Davie, was the composition of David Maigh, keeper of the blood slouth hounds, belonging to the laird of Riddell in Tweeddale." The song air was printed in Alexander Stuart's Musick for Allan Ramsay’s Collection part 4 (c. 1724), William Thompson's Orpheus Caledonius, 2nd Ed, vol. 1 (1733), James Oswald's Caledonian Pocket Companion (vol. IV, 1760, pp. 18-19), Francis Peacock's Fifty Favourite Scotch Airs (1762, p. 3), Calliope, or the Musical Miscellany (London, 1788, pp. 10-11), and other volumes. The tune was included in Seabrook, New Hampshire, musician Jeremiah Brown's c. 1782 music commonplace book.

The love song "Down the Burn Davie" was printed in poet Allan Ramsay's Tea Table Miscellany (1724, p. 345[1]). The first two stanzas[2] begin:

When Trees did bud and Fields were green
And Broom bloom’d fair so see;
When Mary was complete fifteen,
And Love laugh’d in her Eye,
Blyth Davie’s Blinks her Heart did move
To speak her Mind thus free,
Gang down the Burn Davie, Love,
And I shall follow thee.

Now Davie did each Lad surpass
That dwelt on this Burnside,
And Mary was the bonniest Lass,v Just meet to be a Bride;
Her Cheeks were rosie red and white,
Her Een were bonny blue;
Her Looks were like Aurora bright,
Her Lips like dropping Dew.

Scottish poets Robert Crawford and Robert Burns each wrote verses to this version of the air. Burns' version was written in 1793 for George Thomson who liked the song, but balked at publishing even at the pared-down version. He commissioned Burns to write ‘a single elegant stanza’ so that, ‘this most exquisite song may no longer be excluded from good company’. Burns' version goes:

As down the burn they took their way,
And thro' the flowery dale;
His cheek to hers he aft did lay,
And love was ay the tale.

With 'Mary, when shall we return,
Sic pleasure to renew;'
Quoth Mary, Love, I like the burn,
And ay shall follow you.

Composer Joseph Haydn set the song (XXXIa:152) as one of his Scottish and Welsh Songs.

Additional notes

Printed sources : - Manson (Hamilton's Universal Tune Book), 1846; p. 2. McGibbon (Scots Tunes, book II), c. 1746; p. 36. Oswald (Caledonian Pocket Companion, vol. 4), 1760; pp. 18-19. Alexander Stuart (Musick for Allan Ramsay’s Collection part 4), Edinburgh, c. 1720; pp. 92-93.

Back to Down the Burn Davie (2)

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  1. By fiddler-composer Robert Riddell's father.
  2. Originally there were supposed to have been four stanzas. Ramsay printed three, the last and most explicit being edited out considering that the songs in the Miscellany were meant to be sung by young women over the tea table.