Gelding of the Devil
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GELDING OF THE DEVIL, THE. English, Country Dance Tune (6/4 or 6/8 time). C Minor (Merryweather): A Dorian (Sharp): G Dorian (Playford). Standard tuning (fiddle). AA' (Merryweather): ABB (Sharp). "Gelding of the Devil" was printed on broadsheet ballads, and was also known as "The Prettiest Jest That E'r Was Known" or "The Card Players." The dance version of the tune was first published with country dance directions by John Playford in 1657 in his Dancing Master, third edition. It was retained in the series through the sixth edition of the volume (1679), but in the next two editions the melody was replaced by another tune, albeit with the same title. A different melody called "Gelding of the Devil" appears in Thomas D'Urfey's Pills to Purge Melancholy (1719), where the words begin:
Now listen a while, and I will tell,
Of the Gelding of the Devil of Hell;
And Dick the Baker of Mansfield Town,
To Manchester Market he was bound,
And under a Grove of Willows clear,
This Baker rid on with a merry Cheer:
Beneath the Willows there was a Hill,
And there he met the Devil of Hell.
However, the ballad in considerably older than D'Urfey's volume, and can be found in the Pepys ballad collection of 1656.
Source for notated version:
Printed sources: Barlow (Complete Country Dance Tunes from Playford's Dancing Master), 1985; No. 120, p. 39. Merryweather (Merryweather's Tunes for the English Bagpipe), 1989; p. 42. Sharp (Country Dance Tunes), 1909; p. 40.