Foula Reel

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FOULA REEL. AKA and see "Auld Foula Reel (Da)," "Shaalds O Foula (Da)," "Aald Reel (The)." Shetland, Jig. E Minor (sometimes G Major). Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. Hunter (1979) states the tune popularly used for country dances is known today as "Da Shaalds O Foula" or "Da Foula Shalds," but "The Foula Reel" is another tune altogether whose dance has been lost. Anderson & Georgeson (1970), however, assert there are many variations of both melody and dance (though most versions are in jig time, with only a few in reel time) that go by all four titles mentioned above. John Purser says the Foula Reel is still danced as a country dance in jig time. He thinks the tune had its origins on the Scottish mainland.

A note in Old-lore Miscellany of Orkney, Shetland, Caithness and Sutherland (Vol. VI, Part 1, Jan., 1913, p. 6) explains:

"Da Shaalds o' Foula" is also named from a fishing bank near Foula. "Da Shaalds" simply means the shallow water. The music is known as "The Foula Reel." The fishing ground known as the "Shaalds," was very productive and furnished the chief source of income of the hardy islanders. This fact is expressed in the following lines:

Weel, since we are a' welcome to Yule,
Up wi't light-foot, link it awa' boys;
Send for a fiddler, play up Foula reel.
We'll skip as light as a maw boys.

Chorus:
Da Shaalds o' Foula will pay for a',
Up wi't light-foot, link it awa' boys.
Da Shaald o' Foula will pay for a',
Da Shaalds will pay for a' boys.

Da aans are among da Kye i' da byre,
Up wi't light-foot, link it awa' boys;
Link up da pat, and put on a gude fire,
An' we'll sit till Cocks do crow boys.

Chorus: Da Shaalds o' Foula will pay for a', etc.

Noo for a light and a pot o' gude beer,
Up wi't light-foot, link it awa';
We'll drink a gude fishing against da Neist year,
An' da Shaalds will pay for a' boys.

Chorus: Da Shaalds o' Foula will pay for a', etc.

See also "Boanie Tammie Scollay."

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Anderson & Georgeson (Da Mirrie Dancers), 1970; p. 15. Barnes (English Country Dance Tunes, vol. 2), 2005; p. 45. Hunter (Fiddle Music of Scotland), 1988; No. 288.

Recorded sources: Redwing Music RWMCD 5410, Abby Newton - "Castles, Kirks and Caves" (2001).




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