Dusty Miller (6)

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DUSTY MILLER [6]. AKA and see "Binny's Jig," "Binny's Jigg," "Hey the Dusty Miller." English, Scottish; Old or Triple Hornpipe (3/2 time) or Country Dance Tune (versions in 3/4 and 6/8 time). F Major (Chappell, Raven): C Major (Alburger): G Major (Ashman, Bremner, Callaghan, Hime, Johnson, Kershaw, O'Farrell, Preston, Walsh). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Chappell): AAB (Bremner, Johnson): AABB (Alburger, Ashman, Callaghan, Hime, Kershaw, Raven): AABBCCDDEE (O'Farrell). A popular and widespread late 17th century tune in the old triple-time hornpipe metre, published in Scotland in 1730 in a volume labelled Dances, Marches, in Robert Bremner's Scots Reel's (c. 1765, p. 43), in the McFarlane Manuscript (1740), and in the Gillespie Manuscript of Perth (1768). O'Farrell (1808) gives the tune's provenance as Irish, but dancing master Thomas Wilson said it was "Very Old English" in his 1816 Companion. Nearly all researchers seem to think the Scots and English have a much greater claim of provenance. William Chappell (Popular Music of the Olden Time, 1859) identifies the tune not as Scottish but as English, and it in fact can be found in the first volume of Walsh's Compleat Country Dancing Master (1718), Walsh's The Lady's Banquet, Wright's collection of Country Dances (London, c. 1742), and Thompson's 200 Country Dances, volume II (London, 1765) – all, save Walsh's 1718 collection, later than the 1730 Scottish Dances, Marches. "Dusty Miller," maintained Chappell, is cognate with a melody from the Blaikie Manuscript (1692) for the lyra-viol entitled "Binny's Jigg," which has a similar first strain and is nearly identical melodic contour. John Glen (Early Scottish Melodies, 1900) thought Chappell mistaken, ("his [Chappell's] examination had been very superficial and his translation of it wrong") and determined that it was questionable whether "Binny's Jigg" was really meant for the same tune, pointing out the manuscript is not barred properly and does not clearly indicate what measure the melody should be played. David Johnson (1983) supports Chappell's contention that the tune may well have been English in origin, but, if it was, it was "well established in Scotland by the late 18th century" and had acquired local words (probably rude or risqué) which, around 1790, the Scots poet Robert Burns rewrote, basing his charming scherzando on a fragment in Herd's MS (1776). It was first printed, unsigned, in Johnson's The Scots Musical Museum in 1788, accompanied with a note by Stenhouse that this "cheerful old air is inserted in Mrs. Crockat's Collection in 1709, and was, in former times, frequently played as a single hornpipe in the dancing-schools of Scotland. The verses to which it is adapted in the Museum, beginning 'Hey the dusty miller, and his dusty coat', are a fragment of the old ballad, with a few verbal alterations by Burns." It begins:

Hey, the dusty millar and his dusty coat,
He will win a shilling e're he spend a groat,
Dusty was the coat, dusty was the colour,
Dusty was the kiss that I gat frae the millar.

Hey the dusty miller an' his dusty sack,
Leeze me on the callin fills the dusty peck,
Fills the dusty peck, brings the dusty siller,
I wid gie my coatie for the dusty miller.

Anne Gilchrist, writing in her article "Old Fiddlers' Tune Books of the Georgian Period" (JEFDSS, vol. 4, No. 1, Dec. 1940), says: "'The Dusty Miller' seems to have been a very popular tune, and in its later form many verses were sung to it which may have provided "mouth music" for the dancers in the absence of a fiddler. Here are a few examples, collected from fiddlers' books and various traditional sources. It will be seen how easily they sing to the tune."

O the little rusty, dusty, rusty miller,
I'll not change my wife for either gold or siller.

Dusty was his coat, dusty was his siller,
Dusty was the kiss that I gat from the miller.

Hey, the dusty miller and his dusty coat,
He will win a shilling or he ware a groat. [ere, spend]

O the dusty miller, O the jovial carrier,
First he came to woo her, then he came to marry her.

Gilchrist goes on to say:

The miller, according to the character he bears in Scots folk-song, was greedy and dishonest, a miser, and a libertine. [pp. 16–17]….It may be observed that most if not all of these early triple-time hornpipe—such as "Go to Berwick, Johnnie," "Jockey said to Jeanie," and the Scots or Northumbrian "Dance to your daddy—have, or have had, rhymes attached to them, which a former generation of editors was apt to deem too "silly" to print. Unlike English, Scots vernacular has a store of affectionate or derogatory name-diminutives for persons, animals, and things, fitting the falling accent of the terminal pair of quavers or crotchet-and-quaver of a host of Scots tunes. Cf. wearie, dearie; ready, leddy; daddy, laddy; fishie, dishie. Compare this facility of choice with English rhyming to the old dance-tune popularly known as "Pop goes the weasel," where "treacle," "Eagle," and "table" are, in a familiar phrase, "the nearest we can do" to match the "weasel" with a rhyme." [p. 17]

Examples of the tune appear in numerous fiddlers' manuscripts from the 18th and 19th centuries, attesting to the universal popularity of the tune in the British Isles. Emmerson takes his example from the Joseph Kershaw MS, Lancashire, c. 1820. East Midlands fiddler and poet John Clare gives a version in his c. 1818 ms. which is identical to that printed in Preston's 1797 collection. Shropshire fiddler John Moore included a 6/8 time version in his mid-19th century copybook, as did the Rev. Robert Harrison (Brampton, Cumbria, 1820), John Clare (Helpston, Northants, 1820), the Welch family (Bosham, Sussex), Winder, the Tiller ms., William Clarke (Feltwell, Norfolk, 1858), John Moore (referenced below), and Thomas Hammersley (London, 1790). Northumbrian musician William Vickers (about whom little is known) included it in his 1770 music manuscript book, as did Waverton, Cumbria, multi-instrumentalist John Rook in his 1840 music manuscript collection (p. 118). The title "Dusty Miller" appears in Henry Robson's list of popular Northumbrian song and dance tunes, which he published c. 1800). Dance directions appear in the Holmain Manuscript from Dumfries-shire (dated between 1710 and 1750). Van Cleef and Keller (1980) find three different country dances to the tune "Dusty Miller" existed in both England and America in the 18th century. The first dance appears in England in both Wrights and Thompson's, previously cited, with essentially the same dance appearing in Clement Weeks' Greenland, New Hampshire dance MS (1783), while the second dance by the same title appears in "Longman and Broderip's 5th Selection of the Most Admired Country Dances, Reels, Minuets and Cotillions (London, c. 1784). Nearly the same dance as version #2 was printed by Longman & Broderip can be found in the American publication Select Collection (Otsego, N.Y., c. 1808). A third dance appears on page 15 of another Thompson's volume, Thompson's Twenty-Four Country Dances for the Year 1798.

See also the similar "Rusty Gulley/Punchinello" tunes. Finally, the "Dusty Miller" appears in the Oxford Book of Nursery Rhymes as a children's song.

Sources for notated versions: the Gillespie Manuscript, 1768, p. 98 [Johnson]; a c. 1837–1840 MS by Shropshire musician John Moore [Ashman]; contained in the 19th century Joseph Kershaw Manuscript-Kershaw was a fiddle player who lived in the remote area of Slackcote, Saddleworth, North West England, who compiled his manuscript from 1820 onwards, according to Jamie Knowles [Kershaw].

Printed sources: Alburger (Scottish Fiddlers and Their Music), 1983; Ex. 6d, p. 22. Ashman (Ironbridge Hornpipe), 1991; No. 114b, p. 48. Barnes (English Country Dance Tunes, vol. 1), 1996 (added in 2nd edition). Bremner (Scots Reels), 1757; p. 43. Callaghan (Hardcore English), 2007; p. 76. Chappell (Popular Music of the Olden Time, vol. 2), 1859; p. 166. Christian (The Playford Assembly), 2015; p. 27. Hime (Forty Eight Original Irish Dances Never Before Printed with Basses, vol. 1), Dublin, 1804; No. 4. Johnson (Scottish Fiddle Music in the 18th Century), 1984; No. 76, p. 225. Knowles (Joseph Kershaw Manuscript), 1993; No's. 60a & 60b. Neal (A Choice Collection of Country Dances), c. 1726; p. 15. O'Farrell (Pocket Companion, vol. 3), c. 1808; p. 16 (includes variations). Preston (Twenty Four Country Dances for the Year 1797). Preston (Collection of Scots Reels or Country Dances), 1790; p. 27. Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; p. 14. Stanford/Petrie (Complete Collection), 1905; Nos. 343 & 344, p. 87. Thompson (Compleat Collection of 200 Favourite Country Dances, vol. 2), 1765; No. 190. Walsh (Caledonian Country Dances), c. 1745; p. 32. Walsh (The Compleat Country Dancing Master), 1731 & 1754; p. 24. Walsh (Complete Country Dancing-Master, Volume the Fourth), London, 1740; No. 47. Wilson (A Companion to the Ballroom), 1816; p. 21.

Recorded sources: Peter Barnes et al – "BLT."




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