Leader Haughs and Yarrow

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X:1 T:Leader Haughs and Yarrow M:3/4 L:1/8 R:Air B:William Thomson - Orpheus Caledoniusm vol. 2 (1733, p. 38) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:G G2|B>c d2 =f2|e>d c3A|B>c d2D2|E2D3c| B>c d2 {de}=f2|e d c3 {B}A|B>c d3 (c/B/A/G/)|E2 D2|| d2|B A/G/ G2 g2|e d/c/ c3 B/A/|B c d3d|ef g3 c| B A/G/ (G2A) B|c d =f2 ed|e/^f/ g d3 (c/B/A/G/)|E2 D2||

LEADER HAUGHS AND YARROW. Scottish, Air (3/4 time). F Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. 'Haugh' (rhymes with loch) means the low ground by a river. The composition is attributed to the 17th century Border minstrel Nichol Burne (born c. 1650 according to Stenhouse, and c. 1750 by Laing), also called 'Minstrel Burne' or 'Burne the Violer', whose portrait once hung in Thirlestane Castle, "a douce old man leading a cow by a straw rope". Burne is reputed to have been a foundling brought back to Scotland by the warrior, Wat O' Harden, after a raid on Northumberland. Collinson (1966) quantifies the melody as a "pleasant and innocuous song air" that has no particular characteristics that would identify it as fiddle music. Some of the words of the song are but place-names, although he opines "these fall as music on the Border ear – 'Wanton-wa's', 'Whitslaid Shaws', "Braidwoodshiel', "Kaidslie Birds', etc." Williamson [liner notes, Flying Fish] relates the tune's attached tale:

A beauty named Midside Maggie lived with her husband, Thomas Hardie, on their sheep farm high in the hills of Lauder parish. Tollishill the farm was called. So Beautiful was she that their landlord, the Laird of Thirlestane Castle, known as a hard hearted blackguard, was willing to forego their rent, one year of terrible hardship, in exchange for a kiss. This she spiritedly refused him, and he with a guffaw, suggested instead that if the winters up in Tollishill were as cold as she claimed, let her bring him a snowball next June for her rent. She packed snow in a high cleft in the hills and brought it to him the following June, and he was as good as his word. But Thirlestane, a Royalist, lost his lands after the Civil War and found himself prisoned in the Tower of London. During those years, Maggie and her husband set aside all rent due him. They baked it into a bannock and set off to walk the 400 miles to London, Maggie disguised as a man. Arriving at the Tower, they were admitted as simple ballad singers, and sang beneath the gaol bars an air their landlord would be sure to recognize. When he peered through the bars, they tossed him the bannock full of money, with which he was able to purchase his freedom. This gave rise to the saying "every bannock has its maik (equal) but the bannock of Tollishill." The air they whistled was Leader Haughs and Yarrow.

The poem's date of origin is unknown, but surviving copies in the National Library of Scotland are from c. 1690–1701, where the lines are to be "set to its own tune." The first stanza goes:

The morn was fair, saft was the air,
All nature's sweets were springing,
The buds did bow with silver dew,
Tenthousand birds were singing;
When on the bent, with blyth content,
Young Jamie sang his marrow, .... ['marrow' = lover]
Nae bonnier lass e'er trod the grass,
On Leader haughs and Yarrow.

Additional notes

Source for notated version: -

Printed sources : - Johnson (Scots Musical Museum, vol. 3), 1790; No. 211, p. 220. Thomson (Orpheus Caledonius, vol. 2), 1733; no. 11, pp. 21–25.

Recorded sources: -Flying Fish, Robin Williamson – "Legacy of the Scottish Harpers, vol. 2."

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