Newburn Lads

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X:1 T:Newburn Lads M:C| L:1/8 R:Reel S:William Vickers' 1770 music manuscript collection (Northumberland) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:G g|dBGB dBGB|dBGB f2 df|ecAc ecAc|ecef gage| dBGB dBGB|dBde|f2 df|afge fdgB|A/A/A Bd e2e:| |:g|dgBg dgBg|dgBg f>edf|eaca eaca|ecef gage| dgBg dgBg|dgBg f>edf|afge fdGB|A/A/A Bc e2e:|]



NEWBURN LADS. AKA and see "Bob of Fettercairn (The)," "Come Kiss With Me (Come Clap with Me)," "Cow the Lasses Bare Man," "I'll Kiss the Lass She Bad Me," "Braw Lads of Jedburgh," "Braw Lads of Jeddart," "Braw Lads of Jethart," "Had I the Wight," "Had I the Wyte," "Mrs. Reneau's Reel." English, Scottish; Reel. England, Northumberland. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The melody is a double-tonic Northumbrian version of the popular Scots reel most frequently called "Bob of Fettercairn (The)," embroidered with arpeggi for the Northumbrian small-pipe repertory. Matt Seattle (1987) points out "versions disagree as to whether the 'A' chord is major or minor; Scottish versions favour the major, Northumbrian ones the minor, as one would expect from the respective bagpipe scales." Subsequently, Seattle wrote [1] that he thought the key in the Northumbrian versions was "probably a mistake, as early and authoritative fiddle texts give 2 sharps, also suitable for a 9-note changer."

The tune is often found printed under the title of 'The Braw Lads o Jethart'." Jedburgh (Jethart) is a town in lowlands Scotland, while Newburn is one in Northumberland--although Seattle finds Jedburgh is mentioned only in Northumbrian versions and not Scottish ones. Bruce & Stokoe (Northumbrian Minstrelsy (1882), write: "The late Mr. Thomas Doubleday, in a communication to the Antiquarian Society, writes:--'Burns wrote a splendid song to this tune, beginning 'Had I the wyte,'...and I guessed it belongs to the English side of the Border.' London publisher David Rutherford printed the tune under the curious (and perhaps sexual) title "Cow the Lasses Bare Man" in his 'Rutherford's Compleat Collection of 200...Country Dances both Old and New...Vol. 2d (1757, p. 74).

Classical composer Gustav Holst (1874-1934) composed in 1924 a "Toccata for Piano (Founded on the Northumbrian Pipe-Tune 'Newburn Lads')" [H. 153]. It was his first piece for piano. In a letter to his good friend, musician, musicologist and collector W. Gilles Whittaker, he wrote:

Form many years I have tried to write a piano piece for Mrs. O'Neill and this summer I have at last succeeded. And I finished it just in time to send it with an appropriate dedication to her on her silver wedding. But from another point of view it would have been more fitting to have dedicated it to you, for it is a Toccata based on "Newburn Lads". In the first variation I seem to have "sincerely flattered" you for which I ask your permission and your pardon. At the end I have "flattered" the first man who ever played it to me. He was an old man in Cheltenham with a hurdy-gurdy, somewhere about 1879, and this was is only tune and each time he played it he had fewer notes than before and what notes were left were further from what they were when they were young.

In the letter Holst seems to obliquely reference Whittaker's own work based on the tune, published in 1920: "Newburn lads: north country small-pipes tune for unaccompanied chorus," arranged in four parts for sop./alto/tenor/bass.

Additional notes

Source for notated version: - William Vickers' 1770 music manuscript collection [2] (Northumberland) [Seattle].

Printed sources : -Bruce & Stokoe (Northumbrian Minstrelsy), 1882; p. 156. Seattle (Great Northern Tune Book/William Vickers), 1987, Part 2; No. 258.

Recorded sources: -



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