Lady of the Desert (The)

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X:1 T:Lady of the Desart, The M:3/4 L:1/8 Q:"Slow" O:"Irish Air" B:Manson - Hamilton's Universal Tune Book, vol. 1 (1844, p. 33) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:G d/e/f|g2d2 g>a|{g}f2 edef|g2 gbag|{g}f4 (ed)|e2 egfe|\ L:1/16 d8 e/f/g3|\ L:1/8 {g}fedcBA|G4:| |:G/A/B|d2d2 e/d/B/d/|{d}e2 d/B/G G2|g2 g2 b/a/g|{g}f4 ed|{d}e2e2 e/d/B| {B}d4 B>d|{d}e2 dB A>G|G4:||:G/A/B|d2d2 e/d/B/c/|B/d/e e/d/B/G/ G2| g2g2 b/a/g|f2f2 ed|e2e2 e/d/B|d2d2 Bd|\ L:1/16 B/d/e3 {e}d2B2 A3G|G12:| L:1/8 |:"Quick"g>dgba>g|{g}Tfedefd|Tgdgbag|Tfefgfg|Tedefge|TdBABde| TgedBA>G|G6:||:{e}TdcBcde|TdcBcdG|Tgdgbag| Tfefgfg|Tedefgf|TdBABde|TgedBA>G|G6:|

LADY OF THE DESERT, THE. Irish, Air (3/4 time). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABBCDEFGHIJK (O'Neill): AABBCCDDEEFFGGHHIIJJKKLL (Bowie). A version of the tune titled "The Lady in the Desert, By O’Conilan & improved by Lyons," can be found in the MacLean-Clephane ms. (Trinity College Dublin MS 10615), 1816, p.10, set for harp or pianoforte in a section of tunes with the note" "The foregoing airs are all taken from the playing of O’Kain by Mr. MacDonald". Harper and and researcher Simon Chadwick[1] also finds variants of the tune in the Edward Bunting manuscripts: one c. 1796 that appears to transcribed by Bunting from the harp playing of Denis O’Hampsey, albeit with extensive overwriting by Bunting, and another that does not have the tune but rather some of the variations found in the Bowie setting. Variation sets are attributed by Bunting to harper Cornelius Lyons c. 1700. Bunting also has several published and unpublished versions of the melody and variations under the title "Coolin/Coolun (The)."

Chadwick traces the conflation of the "The Coolin" and "Lady of the Desert", both music and titles, in musical and non-musical (i.e. textual) examples. However, he concludes "I still don’t know if we have two similar tunes which Bunting has muddled up, or if we have variants of one tune with variant titles, with the correlation between tune-form and title being a co-incidental artefact of the print editions copying each other"[2].

Additional notes

Printed sources : - John Bowie (Collection of strathspey reels & country dances &c.), Edinburgh, c. 1789; pp. 30-31. Manson (Hamilton's Universal Tune Book, vol. 1), 1844; p. 33. O'Neill (O'Neill's Irish Music), 1915; No. 47, pp. 31-32.

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  1. Simon Chadwick, "The Coolin, or Lady of the Desert," Blog, "Old Irish Harp Transcriptions Project," 6th August 2022 [1]
  2. ibid. See Chadwick's well researched article (including extensive source citations) for considerable more detail regarding the intricacies of the intertwining tunes.