Fortune My Foe (1)

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X:1 T:Fortune My Foe [1] M:3/4 L:1/8 R:Slow Air K:Emin D|G2A2B2|d4 ed|BA G2A2|G4g2| e2e2g2|G2 A2 BA|A4::cd|e2d2c2| c3d ed|d2 cB AG|F2 (3EFG AF|G3 BGE| AB AG FD|GA GE DE|G4:||



FORTUNE MY FOE [1]. AKA - "Hanging Tune (The)." Irish, English; Slow Air (3/4 time). E Minor (Williamson): F Major (Flood). Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. This 16th century Irish tune was used, according to Flood (1906), in 1576 for a ballad on the death of a great patron of music, Walter Devereux, Earl of Essex, in Dublin, entitled "Welladay, or Essex's Last Goodnight." The tune appears in several early collections, including William Ballet's Lute Book (1593), Fitzwilliam Virginal Book (where the setting is by the famous English composer William Byrde {1528-1625}), and William Foster's Virginal Book (1624). It was licensed as a ballad in 1565-6 and is mentioned in Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor (Act II, Scene 3, where Falstaff says, "I see what thou wert, if Fortune thy foe were not, Nature thy friend."). In fact, various songs and ballads came to be sung to the tune, including an early ballad "Titus Andronicus Complaint," on which Shakespeare founded his play, and most of these songs seem to have been about themes of gloom, misery, and death; Chappell (1859) says "Indeed, its mournful character was so thoroughly established that none but the most lugubrious matter seems ever to have been sung to it." The tune appears as "Farewell, Fair Armelia" which appears in Luke Wadding's (the Bishop of Ferns) A Pious Garland of Godly Songs for the Solace of his Friends and Neighbors in their Afflictions, 1680. Early references, according to Flood, also date from 1649-50 from a "contemporary chronicle" which described Irish pipers attached to Lord Inchiquin's army which drew off from Naas to the march of "Fortune My Foe." In 1676 the tune (as it appears in Playford's Choice Airs and Songs) was used by Irishman Thomas Duffet for (one) setting of his lyric "Since Coelias/Since Celia's My Foe" (another setting is set to "Limerick's Lamentation"). "'Fortune My Foe' was sung and played so frequently at public executions that it became known as 'The Hanging Tune'...'Fortune My Foe' originated in Ireland. The setting written here is believed to be the earliest version" (Williamson, 1976).

Additional notes

Source for notated version: - Playford [Flood].

Printed sources : - Flood (A History of Irish Music), 1906; pp. 218-219. Williamson (English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish Fiddle Tunes), 1976; p. 39.

Recorded sources: -



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