Health to Betty (A)

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X: 1 T:A Health To Betty. (p)1651.PLFD.037 T:Health To Betty. (p)1651.PLFD.037 M:6/4 L:1/4 Q:3/4=70 S:Playford, Dancing Master,1st Ed.,1651. O:England H:1651. Z:Chris Partington. K:F G|G>AGF2D|B3A2d|d>edc2A|fd2-d2e| fd2B>cd|cA2F2F|G>AG^F2D|B3A2:|



HEALTH TO BETTY, A. English, Scottish; Air and Country Dance ("Longways for as many as will."). G Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). One part. The tune was published by John Playford in his English Dancing Master (1651) and was retained in the long-running Dancing Master series through the 10th edition of 1698 (p. 55), published at the time by John's son, Henry Playford. The tune was supplanted in later Dancing Master editions (albeit still called "Health to Betty') and is the same one used in D'Urfey's Pills to Purge Melancholy (1719). Chappell (1859) asserts the Scots appropriated this tune for their "My Minnie's Aye Glowren O'er Me," which is the opening line of Allan Ramsay's song set to the tune. John Glen (Early Scottish Melodies, 1900) believes the provenance is just the other way round, and that the English captured the tune as a country dance, to which the words had become detached. Glen points out the tune is in the Scottish Blaikie Manuscript (c. 1695). Stenhouse, in his notes to Johnson's Scots Musical Museum (Illustrations, 1853), writes that playwright and poet Allan Ramsay's (1686-1758) words were adapted to an ancient tune, in triple time, called "A Health to Betty," which originally consisted of one strain (which is printed in Thomson's Orpheus Caledonius, 1725). Ramsay's song was titled "Katy's Answer" and was a sequel to "The Young Laird and Edinburgh Katy." Researcher Anne Gilchrist says Ramsay's first verse seems different that the rest, and suspects it was the remnant of an older song that Ramsay fashioned new stanzas for (they "are more sophisticated and do not fit the tune as neatly"[1]).

Thomas D'Urfey also wrote a song to the melody called "Female Quarrel (The)," according to Glen (1900), a lampoon upon Phillida and Chloris. It was printed in Pills to Purge Melancholy (1715).


Additional notes



Printed sources : - Chappell (Popular Music of the Olden Times), 1859; p. 320. Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; p. 39.






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  1. Anne G. Gilchrist, "Some Additional Notes on the Traditional History of Certain Ballad-Tunes in the Dancing Master", Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, vol. 3, No. 4, Dec., 1939, p. 276).