Fortune My Foe (2)

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FORTUNE MY FOE [2]. AKA and see "Aim not too high," "Dr. Faustus." English, Slow Air (4/4 time). G Minor (Merryweather): G Dorian (Chappell): E Minor (Kines). Standard tuning (fiddle). One part (Kines): AAB (Merryweather): ABCD (Chappell). See notes for version #1. A different tune than "Fortune My Foe (1)", it appears in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book (in a setting by Byrd), W. Corkine's Instruction Book for the Lute (1610), Dorothy Welde's Lute Book, William Ballet's Lute Book, Dallis' Pupil's Lute Book, University Library of Cambridge Lute MSS, Secret des Muses" (1615), Bellerophon (1622), Nederlandtsche Gedenck-clanck (1626), Stichtelycke Rymen (1652) and other texts. The tune was well-regarded and quite popular for many, many years; as such, it was the vehicle to numerous sets of lyrics. In the "Fortune My Foe" lyric the singer laments sad fortune that has stolen his love away, and prays for heart's-ease.

Fortune my foe why doest thou frown on me,
And will thy favour never better be?
Wilt thou, I say, for ever bred my pain,
And wilt thou not restore my joys again.

The tune was alluded to by Shakespeare, discovers Chappell, in The Merry Wives of Windsor (act ii, sc. 3), and by Ben Jonson in The Case is Altered and in his masque The Gipsies of Metamorphosed. Chappell, in fact, gives numerous literary references to "Fortune My Foe" from throughout the latter 16th and the entire 17th centuries. Grattan-Flood, in his History of Irish Music (1906), says: "In February, 1649-50, we read in a contemporary chronicle that the Irish pipers attached to Lord Inchiquin's army drew off from Naas to the march of 'Fortune my Foe'."

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Chappell (Popular Music of the Olden Times), vol. 1, 1859; pp. 76-77 (appears as "Fortune"). Kines (Songs From Shakespeare's Plays and Popular Songs of Shakespeare's Time), 1964; p. 22. Merryweather (Merryweather's Tunes for English Bagpipes), 1989; p. 33. Thomas & Leeder (The Singin' Gatherin'), 1939; p. 64.

Recorded sources: Dorian DOR-93182, Les Witches - "Fortune My Foe: Music of Shaekespeare's Time." Harmonia Mundi 907101, The King's Noyse - "The King's Delight: 17c. Ballads for Voice and Violin" (1992).

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