New Claret

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X:1 T:New Claret M:9/8 L:1/8 R:Jig S:MacDonald - Skye Collection (1887) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:G G2G B2G (B/c/)dB|G>AG B2G (B/c/)dB|E2E C2C (E/F/)GE| D>ED F2D (F/G/)AF:||:G2G g2d (B/c/)dB|G>AG g2d (B/c/)dB| c2c e2c (e/f/)ge|d>fd f2d (f/g/)af:||:gdB GAB gdB| gdB GAB gdB|ece ece (e/f/)ge|fdf fdf (f/g/)af:|]



NEW CLARET. Scottish, Country Dance Tune and (Slip) Jig (9/8 time). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABBCC. Claret was a general term for any light red wine. John Glen (1891) finds the earliest appearance of this tune in print in Robert Bremner's 1757 collection (p. 70), although it can be found in a manuscript version, with variations, in Scottish musician and dancing master David Young's MacFarlane Manuscript of c. 1740. The melody is founded, however, on a chord progression that was centuries old in Bremner's time. It is, for example, very similar to a ground employed by the English composer Henry Purcell, which was itself derived from a popular bawdy song of the day, "Sir Symon the King." Scots writer and broadcaster Billy Kay, in his article "Claret: Bloodstream of the Auld Alliance" [1] gives the following verse, from poet Alan Ramsay:

Guid claret best keeps out the cauld,
An drives awa the winter soon;
It maks a man baith gash an bauld,
An heaves his saul ayont the mune.

Claret, says Kay, was "the dark, powerful, purple-red liquid that linked Scotland and France so closely it was known as the Bloodstream of the Auld Alliance.... In the 18th century, when Ramsay wrote, claret was a staple beverage in the Scottish capital, with claret carts as common as milk floats today." Lord Cockburn, in his posthumous autobiography Memorials of His Own Time recalled:

I have heard Henry MacKenzie and other old people say that when a cargo of claret came to Leith, the common way of proclaiming its arrival was by sending a hogshead of it through the town on a cart with a horn; and that anybody who wanted a sample or a drink under pretense of a sample, had only to go to the cart with a jug, which without much nicety about its size was filled for a sixpence.

In an attempt to raise the general standard of education about vintages The Gentleman's Magazine of 1832 published an article on the "History of Wines", explaining that some Claret was not to be trusted:

The cheap Claret sold in London is from a wretched French wine sold at a few sous a bottle, mingled with rought cider, and coloured with cochineal, and turnsole. New Claret is baked in the oven to make it resemble old, and Port wine is boiled to make it deposit a crust. As for Champagne, the very bottles are bought up for the purpose of filling with gooseberry wine, and then corked to resemble Champagne.

See also the Irish variant "Sport of the Chase (The)" printed by Frank Roche in the early 20th century.


Additional notes



Printed sources : - Bremner (Scots Reels), 1757; p. 70. Carlin (Gow Collection), 1986; No. 464. Gatherer (Gatherer's Musical Museum), 1987; p. 17. Gow (Complete Repository, Part 2), 1802; p. 18. MacDonald (The Skye Collection), 1887; p. 185.



See also listing at :
See/hear a harp version of the jig by Cynthia Cathcart on youtube.com [2]
See David Young's standard notation version transcribed from the MacFarlane Ms. (c. 1740) [3]



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