Joan's Placket

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JOAN'S PLACKET (IS TORN). AKA and see "Jumping Joan (1)," "Jumping John," "Cock of the North (1)" (Scottish), "Aunty/Auntie Mary" (Irish), "When I Followed a Lass." English, Country Dance Tune (6/8 or 6/4 time): Scottish, Scottish Jig. A Major (Kennedy, Watson): G Major (Emmerson, Merryweather, Wilson): F Major (Scott). Standard tuning (fiddle). One part (Scott): AAB (Emmerson, Kennedy, Wilson): AABBAAB'B' (Merryweather). In conventional usage the word placket is a slit at the top of a skirt or petticoat which makes it easier for the wearer to put it on and take off. The word also refers to petticoats themselves and aprons, and also for women in general. From at least 1598 (Munday, Downfall of Huntington) it referenced the vagina itself; "flatter these times With panderism base, And lust do uncase From the placket to the pap." In the political ballad song, Joan's placket has been "rent and torn."

The earliest mention of a piece of music called "Joan's Placket" was in Samuel Pepys' diary for June, 1667, but it has been persistently rumored (without any verification) that a trumpet version of the tune was played at the execution of Mary Queen of Scots in 1587. Chappell (1859) cites the Rev. G.R. Greig's Family History of England and Miss Strickland's Mary Stuart (which also says the tune was "sung, with appropriate words, to brutalize the rabble at the burning of witch") as reporting the tale but the story has never been substantiated, and Kidson (1915), for one, scoffs at it. He does think the tune originally a trumpet tune, by reason of its structure, which had the odd fortune to "have been used in defiance or ridicule". Kidson and Winstock both cite Pepys who recorded that it was played in derision by the Dutch whose fleet sailed up the Medway in 1667, burned the English men-o-war lying there, and towed off the Royal Charles (which the English had deserted) with a Dutch trumpeter playing the tune from the captured vessel. The wit is apparent when 'placket' is taken in the sense of a woman--the Dutch have stolen her from under the noses of the English. Political lampoons thereafter were attached to the melody.

"Joan's Placket" first appeared in the 1st supplement to the 7th edition of John Playford's Dancing Master (1687) [1] and was continued in all subsequent editions (through the 18th and last edition of 1728), as well as the ballad operas of Achilles, The Bays' Opera, and Colley Cibber's Love in a Riddle (as the air "When I Followed a Lass" which was translated {or stolen, as Scott asserts} by Bickerstaff for "Love in a Village" in the early 18th century). In Loyal Songs (1685 & 1694) it is entitled "The Plot cram'd into Jone's Placket." At some point the tune was transformed into the Scottish "Cock of the North (1)" (although Emmerson {1971} thinks the English tune a version of the Scotch one), which is very similar, if not nearly identical in some versions. The phrases of the tune are punctuated in the manner of the Scotch Measure, though, since it is in 6/8 time, the form is called a 'Scotch Jig'.

When I followed a lass who was froward and shy
I stuck to her, stuff
Til I mad her comply.
I took her so lovingly round the waist,
And hugged her tight and held her fast;
When hugged and hauled,
She screamed and squalled.
But, tho' she vowed all that I did was in vain,
I pleased her so well, that she bore it again.
I pleased her so well, that she bore it again.
Hoighty toity, whisking frisking,
Green was her gown upon the grass,

Oh, those were the joys of our dancing days,
Oh, those were the joys of our dancing days.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Emmerson (Rantin' Pipe and Tremblin' String), 1971; No. 84, p. 161. Kennedy (Fiddler's Tune-Book, vol. 2); p. 36. Kerr (Merry Melodies, vol. 2), No. 311 ("Cock of the North"). Kidson (English Folk Song and Dance), 1915; p. 32. Merryweather (Merryweather's Tunes for English Bagpipes), 1989; p. 42. Playford (Dancing Master, 13th edition), 1706; p. 30. Scott (English Song Book), 1926; p. 28. Simpson (British Broadside Ballad), 1966; p. 389. Thompson (Compleat Collection of 200 Favourite Country Dances, vol. 2), 1765; No. 182. Walsh (The Compleat Country Dancing Master), vol. 1, 1718; No. 30. Watson (A Rollick of Recorders or Other Instruments), 1975; No. 9, p. 10. Wilson (A Companion to the Ballroom), 1817; p. 106.

Recorded sources:




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