Back to Ettrick Banks
ETTRICK BANKS. AKA - "Etrick Banks." Scottish, Air (4/4 time). G Major (O'Farrell): F Major (McGibbon). Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB (O'Farrell): AABB (McGibbon). James Oswald used the tune as the second section of his sonata which appears in Curious Collection of Scots Tunes (c. 1739), although it had been first published in Orpheus Caledonuis in 1725 as the tune of a song by poet Allan Ramsay. It also appears in the 1768 (James) Gillespie Manuscript of Perth. Robin Williamson thinks it was "undoubtedly old in its day." Robert Burns wrote his love song "The Bonnie Lass of Ballochmyle" to the tune, an ode to Wilhelmina Alexander (1750-1843), the fourth daughter of the laird of the estate of Ballochmyle of Ayr, whom he spied walking one day in 1786. He sent a copy of the song to her along with a pandering letter, and asked her permission to use it in a second edition of his poems, but the lass declined to even answer him. Rebuffed, Burns sniffed that Wilhelmina was 'too fine a lass to notice so plain a compliment', but the truth is that Wilhelmina never married, and it is said the love poem became her most prized possession later in life. It is included, along with other Scots songs and dance melodies, in the music manuscripts of Setauket, Long Island, painter and fiddler William Sidney Mount  (1807-1868). Mount played a good amount of music for dancing and his own pleasure, and had access to both printed and local sources.
Source for notated version:
Printed sources: Aird (Sixth and Last Volume of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs), 1803; No. 115, p. 45. O'Farrell (Pocket Companion, vol. II), c. 1806; p. 86 (appears as "Etrick Banks"). McGibbon (Scots Tunes, Book 1) c. 1746; p. 13. Oswald (Caledonian Pocket Companion Book 3), 1760; p. 16.
Recorded sources: Flying Fish, Robin Williamson - "Legacy of the Scottish Harpers, vol. 2" (1986)