Annotation:Greensleeves (4)

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X:1 T:Green Sleeves M:6/8 L:1/8 B:Alexander Stuart – “Musick for Allan Ramsay’s Collection part 4” B:(Edinburgh, c. 1720, pp. 82-83) F: Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:Gmin V:1 G|B2B Bcd|c2A FGA|B2G GAG|^F2D D2B| BFB (Bg)d|c2A FGA|BAG A^FD|G3 G2:| |:d|f2f fed|c2A F2 ^f|gdg gab|^f2=e d2 d/_e/| fgf fed|c2A FGA|BAG A^FD|G3 G2:|| V:2 clef = bass z|B,3 B,,3|F,3 F,,3|G,3G,,3|D,3 D,,2z| B,2F, D,2B,,|F,2C, A,2F,,|G,,2B,, D,2D,,|G,,3G,,2:| |:z|B,3B,,3|F,3F,,2z|G,3G,,3|D,3D,,3| B,3G,,3|F,3F,,3|G,,2B,, D,2D,,|G,D,B,, G,,2:|

GREEN SLEEVES/SLIEVS AND PUDDING PIES/PYS [4] ("Muincilli Uaitne" or "Muintide Glas"). AKA and see "Christmas Comes but Once a Year," "Green Sleeves," "Green Sleeves and Yellow Lace," "I'm a Silly Old Man," "Little Bogtrotter," "Hèn Eög Lewys (Yr)." English, Scottish, Irish; Double Jig and Country Dance Tune (6/8 time). G Dorian (Raven): G Minor (Barnes, Raven): A Minor (Cole, O'Neill): E Minor (Kines). Standard tuning (fiddle). One part (Kines): AABB (Barnes, O'Neill, Raven): AABB' (Alburger): AABBCC (Johnson). From the Margaret Sinkler MS., 1710. It "was registered with the Stationer's Company in 1580 (an early method of trying to secure a publication so that no one could copy it) as 'A new Northern Dittye'. To Shakespeare, as well as to Margaret Sinkler, it was a sprightly tune, not at all like the slow version popularized in the 20th century by Vaughan Williams in Sir John in Love" (Alburger, 1983). The Bard mentions it twice in his Merry Wives of Windsor (Act II, Scene 1 & Act V, Scene 5) – "They do no more keep pace together," said Mrs. Ford, "than the Hundredth Psalm to the tune of Green Sleeves." According to Johnson (1984) the Gillespie version follows 'passamezzo antico' form, a stock chord progression which evolved in Italy in the 16th century and spread to the rest of Europe in the next century; the tunes composed to this form were nearly always in the key of G Minor. A variation on the well-known "Greensleeves" melody, published by under this title by Playford in his Dancing Master of 1716 and later editions (prior to this, from his 7th edition of 1686, John Playford had called it "Green Sleeves and Pudding Pies"). Kidson (1915) calls this version a "degraded" variant of the original, yet an almost identical version was used by Burns when he set the words for Johnson's Scots Musical Museum. Boswell notes in his Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides that Old Kingsburgh in the far-off Isle of Skye habitually sang the song while drinking merry:

Green sleeves and pudding pies;
Tell me where my true love lies,
And I'll be with her before she rise,
Fiddle and aw' together.

As with may popular airs, the melody was repurposed for numerous broadside ballads and songs. In particular, many of the guild ballads, "The Blacksmith," "The Brewer," "The Trimmer", etc. were set to "Greensleeves"[1]. Gow (1817) records: "The two first Strains of this Old Tune were chosen by the Author of the Beggar's Opera (1729) for one of Captain Macheath's songs beginning 'Since Laws were made for every Degree' & c."

"Greensleeves" is contained in the Joseph Kershaw manuscript. Kershaw was a fiddler who lived in Slackcote, Saddleworth, North West England, in the 19th century, and his manuscript dates from around 1820 onwards. One of the earliest recordings of this tune is by English musician John Locke, Leominster, Hereford, described as a "gipsy fiddler"; recorded by Cecil Sharp in 1909 on a cylinder machine. See also the related single jig "(Bonny) Bunch of Roses (3)," and the Shetland variant, "Whalsey." Boston music publisher Elias Howe printed the tune in the mid-19th century as "Christmas Comes but Once a Year." See also Irish versions under note to "Annotation:I'm a Silly Old Man."

Additional notes
Source for notated version : - Gillespie Manuscript, 1768, p. 96 [Johnson].

Printed sources : - Alburger (Scottish Fiddlers and Their Music), 1983; Ex. 14, p. 35. Barnes (English Country Dance Tunes), 1986 (appears as "Green Sleeves and Yellow Lace"). Chappell (Popular Music of the Olden Time, vol. 1), 1859; p. 242. Cole (1000 Fiddle Tunes), 1940; p. 75 (appears as "Green Sleeves' Jig"). Emmerson (Rantin' Pipe and Tremblin' String), 1971; Nos. 6 & 7, p. 20. Gow (Complete Repository, Part 4), 1817; p. 7. Johnson (Scots Musical Museum, vol. 4), 1792; No. 388, p. 402. Johnson (Scottish Fiddle Music in the 18th Century), 1984; No. 84, pp. 228 & 229. The Joseph Kershaw Manuscript, 1993; No. 32. Kines (Songs from Shakespeare's Plays and Popular Songs of Shakespeare's Time), 1964; p. 23. O'Neill (Krassen), 1976; p. 50 (appears as "Green Sleeves"). O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 994, p. 185 (appears as "Green Sleeves"). O'Neill (Dance Music of Ireland: 1001 Gems), 1907; No. 209, p. 49 (appears as "Green Sleeves"). Oswald (Caledonian Pocket Companion, vol. 8), 1760; p. 4. Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; p. 18. Ryan's Mammoth Collection, 1883; p. 108. Alexander Stuart (Musick for Allan Ramsay’s Collection part 4), Edinburgh, c. 1720; pp. 82-83. David Young (A Collection of Scotch Airs with the latest Variations, AKA - The McFarlane Manuscript), c. 1741; 212, p. 258.

Recorded sources : - Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]

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  1. Evelyn K. Wells, "Playford Tunes and Broadside Ballads", Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, Vol. 3, No. 2 (Dec., 1937), p. 88.