Dusty Miller (10)

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DUSTY MILLER [10]. English, Irish; Air (3/4, 6/4 or 12/8 time). F Major: G Major (Buttery). Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. Unknown provenance. It was published in Hamilton's Universal Tune Book (Glasgow, 1846) with the note: "The air is at least as old as 1700." 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.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Manson (Hamilton’s Universal Tune Book, vol. 2), 1846; p. 20. Stanford/Petrie (Complete Collection), 1905; Nos. 343 & 344, p. 87.

Recorded sources:




Back to Dusty Miller (10)[edit]

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