John of Paris

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X:1 T:John of Paris T:Ninety-Five L:1/8 M:6/8 K:G d/c/|:B2B BAB|d2B BAB|c2e g2e|d2B BAB| c2A AGA|1 B2G G2B|A2B A2B|A2d d2c:| |2 B2G G2F|Eed cBA|B2G G2|| B|d2c Bcd|e2f g2a|b2a gfe|d2c Bcd| e2e ecA|d2d dBG|c2A B2G|FGF D2||



JOHN OF PARIS. AKA - "Jean de Paris." AKA and see "I'm Ninety-Five," "Ladies Club (The)," "95, "Needles and Pins." Scottish, English, Jig and Morris Dance Tune (6/8 time). G Major (Harding's, Kennedy, Raven, Sumner, Wade): A Major (Kerr): C Major (Manson). Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB (Kerr): AABB (Hardings, Manson, Sumner): AA'BA' (Kennedy, Raven, Wade). Jean de Paris is the title of a French comic opera with music by François Adrien Boieldieu (1775-1834), 'The French Mozart', first performed in Paris in 1812, and the connection between the march and the opera was recently uncovered in a masterly job of sluthing, recorded the 2/95 Rifles Forum [1], from which the following information is derived.

In 1814 Europe was finally at peace; Napoleon had been exiled to Elba, and the English once again could enjoy French culture. The opera "Jean de Paris" was exported to London, where an adaptation, with music composed by Charles Horn and Samuel Arnold, was staged at Drury Lane Theatre. It was not a success, despite prodigious talents of the composers. The New Monthly Magazine (vol. 1, 1814, p. 443), warned its readers:

If the success of this piece is adduced as an instance of public taste, we shall be under the necessity of wishing that our theatres were completely closed, and their companies disbanded to follow a better occupation.

However, a rival adaptation of the French opera was being performed at the same time at the Theatre Royal Covent Garden (Nov., 1814), a two-act comic opera "composed and partly selected from the original...by Isaac Pocock, composed and adapted for the English stage by Henry R. Bishop, Composer and Director of music to the Theatre Royal." The march was found in Act ii, as a "Pastoral Dance." Pocock's and Bishop's version of "John of Paris" did not fare particularly well, either, with the Works of Sir Henry Bishop reporting that Boieldieu's "pretty Overture is omitted, which a dozen uninteresting numbers by Bishop are inserted...", the exception being the tune that became known in England as "John of Paris."

"John of Paris" is not a melody from Boieldieu, but rather was the work of Henry Bishop who composed it for the English adaptation of the French opera, staged in London as "John of Paris". Bishop took credit for it in a letter published in The Harmonicon: A Journal of Music, vol. 7 p. 299 (Dec., 1829), replying to a critique by M. Petis, editor of the Revue Miscale. He wrote:

What M Metis means by my “finishing obligato accompaniments to some popular airs” in the opera of John of Paris, I am at a loss to conjecture; and as he, of course, understands the signification of the term ‘obligato’, I am almost entitled to believe that he has criticized by arrangement of the work without having seen it: for not an obligato accompaniment of any kind does it contain, nor was there an “popular air”, by which probably M. Fetis means some Scotch or Irish melody (“a sort of seasoning,” which he has facetiously asserted to be “indispensable” in the formation of an English opera (introduced through the work). The airs of the lighter kind, including the trifling dance with has since obtained some popularity, and is generally known by the name of “John of Paris”, being bona fide composed, without the necessity of “pillaging” from any scores, either “foreign” or otherwise, by myself.

The melody has been used for a single step dance in the North-West England morris dance tradition where it is popular under the title "Ninety-Five." Revealing that alternate title, this is sung by morris dancers:

The girls go by and they wink one eye,
It's will you marry me? No, not I;
I'm ninety-five, I'm ninety five,
And to stay single I'll contrive.

The tune is contained in the 19th century Joseph Kershaw Manuscript. Kershaw was a fiddle player who lived in the remote area of Slackcote, Saddleworth, North West England, who compiled his manuscript from 1820 onwards, according to Jamie Knowles. A note in Hamilton's Universal Tune Book (1840, p. 3) says: "The popular song of 'The Ladies Club' is sung to this air."


Additional notes
Source for notated version : - the 1823-26 music mss of papermaker and musician Joshua Gibbons (1778-1871, of Tealby, near Market Rasen, Lincolnshire Wolds) [Sumner].

Printed sources : - Hardings All-Round Collection, 1905; No. 131, p. 41. Knowles (The Joseph Kershaw Manuscript), 1993; No. 52 (appears as "Jean de Paris"). Kennedy (Fiddlers Tune Book, vol. 2), 1954; p. 44. Kerr (Merry Melodies, vol. 1), c. 1880; No. 3, p. 27. Manson (Hamilton's Universal Tune Book vol. 2), 1846; p. 3. Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; p. 100. Sumner (Lincolnshire Collections, vol. 1: The Joshua Gibbons Manuscript), 1997; p. 68. Wade (Mally's North West Morris Book), 1988; p. 30.

Recorded sources : - Cottey Light Industries CLI-903, Dexter et al - "Over the Water" (1993. The tune appears as "95")




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