My Wife's a Wanton Wee Thing (1)

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X:1 T:My Wife's a Whore and a Drunkard M:6/4 L:1/8 R:Air B:The Jovial Crew, 1731, Air XLVI Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:D d4A2 (Bc)d2A2|d6 A4B2|=c3dc2 c2G2E2|c6 C4c2| d4A2 Bc d2A2|d6 A4G2|F2D2F2 E2C2E2|D6-D4|| FG|A3B A2F2D2F2|A6 F4 EF|G3AA2 E2C2E2|G6 E4 FG| A3B A2 F2D2F2|A6 a4g2|f2d2f2 e2c2e2|d6-d4||



MY WIFE'S A WANTON WEE THING [1]. AKA – "My Wife's a Whore and a Drunkard," "My Wife's a Winsome Wee Thing." AKA and see "Bride Next," "Giggling Young Thing (The)," "Hexham Quadrille," "I'll Get Wedded in My Auld Claes." Scottish, Air and Jig (6/8 time). D Mixolydian (most versions): A Mixolydian (Kerr/vol. 3): G Mixolydian (Cranford). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Howe): AAB (S. Johnson, Kennedy, Kerr, Raven, Sweet): AABCCD (Athole, Gow, Lowe, Hall & Stafford, Hardie). The melody was published in London by Henry Playford as "Bride Next" in his 1700 collection of Scottish dance music. John Glen (1891) finds the earliest printing of the tune under the above title in Neil Stewart's 1761 collection (p. 30), and also notes its inclusion [as "My Wife..."] in the [James] Gillespie Manuscript of Perth (1768), however, it slightly earlier was printed in James Oswald's Caledonian Pocket Companion (Book 6, p. 12) of 1760, and yet earlier in John Johnson's Wright's Compleat Collection of Celebrated Country Dances, vol. 2 (London, 1740, p. 11, as "My Wife is a Wee Wanton Thing"). "My Wife's a Wanton Wee Thing" is the indicated melody for songs in several early 18th century ballad operas, including Jovial Crew (1731, Air 46, where the indicated tune title is given as "My Wife's a Whore and a Drunkard" [1]), The Highland Fair, or the Union of the Clans (1731, Air 41), and The Merry Cobbler, or the Second Part of the Devil to Pay (1735, Air 16).

Directions for the country dance were written down in 1752 by John McGill, a dancing master in Girvan, for his students. The tune was adapted by Robert Burns for one of his songs, called "My Wife's a Winsome Wee Thing," and although fond of "the light horse gallop of the air," he complained that its peculiar rhythms presented the poet with "almost insuperable difficulties," like many Scottish tunes. The tune was employed by Robert Burns for one of his songs, the completely sanitized "My Wife's a Winsome Wee Thing" (indicated air, "My Wife's a Wanton Wee Thing"). Burns, although he was fond of "the light horse gallop of the air," complained that its peculiar rhythms presented the poet with "almost insuperable difficulties," like many Scottish tunes. The lyric to the 'wanton' version, from the Merry Muses of Caledonia (1799), begins:

My wife's a wanton, wee thing,
My wife's a wanton, wee thing,
My wife's a wanton, wee thing,
She winna be guided by me.

She play'd the loon or she was married,
She play'd the loon or she was married,
She glar'd the loon or she was married,
She'll do it again or she die.

Variations appeared to the tune in the two-part melody by the Gow's, who printed it as a four-part piece. The tune has long been popular in the Borders region of England and Scotland (it appears, for example, in the mid-18th century Dixon manuscript, with numerous variations, in keeping with Northumbrian style). See also Northumbrian versions under titles "Hexham Quadrille" and "I'll Get Wedded in My Auld Claes." Most Cape Breton fiddler's play the melody in a two-part setting in the key of 'D', according to editor Paul Cranford, though the Confiant/Stubbert setting is in 'G'. See also the Irish variant "McCarthy's Favorite."


Additional notes
Source for notated version : - Northside Cape Breton fiddler Joe Confiant (c. 1900–1980) via fiddler Robert Stubbert via his daughter, Brenda Stubbert (b. 1959, Point Aconi, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia) [Cranford].

Printed sources : - Aird (Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 1), 1782, No. 41, p. 15. Anonymous (A Companion to the Reticule), 1833; p. 7. Cranford (Brenda Stubbert's Collection of Fiddle Tunes), 1994; No. 127, p. 44. G.H. Davidson (Davidson's Gems of Scottish Melody), n.d.; p. 15 (c. 1830's?). Gow (Complete Repository), Part 1, 1799; p. 35. Hall & Stafford (Charlton Memorial Tune Book), 1956; p. 32. Hardie (Caledonian Companion), 1992; p. 41. Howe (1000 Jigs and Reels), c. 1867; p. 125. S. Johnson (Kitchen Musician No. 6: Jigs), 1982 (revised 1989, 2001); p. 14. Kennedy (Fiddler's Tune-Book, vol. 2), 1954; p. 41. Kerr (Merry Melodies, vol. 2), c. 1880's; No. 318, p. 35. Kerr (Merry Melodies, vol. 3), c. 1880's; No. 227, p. 26. Joseph Lowe (Lowe's Collection of Reels, Strathspeys and Jigs, book 6), 1844-45; p. 8. MacKenzie (National Dance Music of Scotland), 1859; book 2, p. 5. Manson (Hamilton's Universal Tune Book, vol. 1), 1853; No. 1, p. 1. Oswald (Caledonian Pocket Companion, vol. 6), 1760; p. 12. Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; p. 107. Stewart-Robertson (The Athole Collection), 1884; p. 135. Sweet (Fifer's Delight), 1964/1981; p. 25. Wilson (Companion to the Ballroom), 1816; p. 52.

Recorded sources : - Culburnie Records, Alasdair Fraser – "Legacy of the Scottish Fiddle, vol. 2" (2004). EMI Records, Jimmy Shand – "King of the Melodeon Men" (1994). Legacy 03CD, Donald Stewart – "The Fiddler's Companion" (1980. Various artisits). Temple Records COMD 2052, Battlefield Band – "Stand Easy and Preview" (1994. Re-release of the 1979 Topic album).

See also listing at :
Alan Snyder's Cape Breton Fiddle Recording Index [2]
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [3]
Alan Ng's Irishtune.info [4]



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