Annotation:O Waly Waly

Find traditional instrumental music

Back to O Waly Waly

X:1 T:Wally wally M:3/4 L:1/8 R:Air B:James Oswald – Caledonian Pocket Companion Book 1 (1760, p. 5) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:G D|FG A2d2|(ef/g/) {f}e2E2|FG A2d2|{f}e(d/^c/) {c}d3:| |:c|BA G3A|BA {AB}c3 (B/A/)|Bd A2f2|{a}g(f/e/) d3c| BA {G}F3d|BA {F}E3c|BA {Bc}d3F|G(F/E/) D3:|]

O WALY, WALY. AKA - "Oh Waly, Waly, Gin Love be Bonny," "Wale' Wale' up yon Bank," "Waly Waly." Scottish, Air (3/4 time). F Major (Howe): D Major/Mixolydian (Neil). Standard tuning (fiddle). One part (Howe): AABB (Neil). This very old tune can be found in William Thomson's Orpheus Caledonius [1] (1725, as "Wale' Wale' up yon Bank"), and William McGibbon's collection of 1742 among others, although the first printed version appeared in 1725. Neil (1991) remarks that the origins of the ballad are obscure, but probably relate to some amorous incident in the life of Mary, Queen of Scots, or one of her courtiers. The song references Lady Barbara Erskine, daughter of the 9th Earl of Mar, who married James, second Marquis of Douglas, in 1670 and tells of her ruin after being falsely accused of adultery.

O waly, waly, up the bank,
And way, waly, down the brae,
And waly, waly, yon burnside,
Where I and my love want to go!
I lean'd my back into an aik,
I thocht it was a trusty tree,
But first it bow'd and syne it brak
And sae did my true love to me.

An adaptation of the song is known in America as the popular folksong "Water is Wide (The)," often used as Appalachian theme-music. However, as Jürgen Kloss points out in his excellently researched article "The Water Is Wide: The History of a 'Folksong'" [2] the melody to the American version of the song comes from English collector Cecil Sharp, cobbled from various English and American sources. It goes:

T:The Water is Wide
B:Sharp - Folk Songs From Somerset (1906, Song 66)
N:Words and music attributed to "Mrs. Cox, of High Ham,"
N:but reworked by Sharp from several sources.
Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion
D2G2 GA|:B4 A2 A2G2E2|D6 D2G2F2|G6 A2B2 (cB)|
A6 G2A2 (Bc)|d4 c2 c2B2 (AG)|B6 A2G2E2|D4 D4 D2 (EF)|
G6 D2 G2 GA|B4 A2 A2G2E2|D6 D2G2F2|G6 A2 B2 (cB) |
A6 G2A2 B c |d4 c2c2 B2 (AG)|B6 A2G2E2|D4 D4 D2 (EF)|G6 z2:||

Additional notes

Printed sources : - Aird (Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 5), 1797; p. 30. Francis Barsanti (Collection of Old Scots Tunes), Edinburgh, 1742; p. 5. Howe (1000 Jigs and Reels), c. 1867; p. 120. Manson (Hamilton’s Universal Tune Book vol. 1), 1854; p. 102. McGibbon (Scots Tunes, book III), 1762; p. 87. Neil (The Scots Fiddle), 1991; No. 11, p. 13. Oswald (Caledonian Pocket Companion Book 1), 1760; p. 5. Thomson (Orpheus Caledonius), 1725; p. 34.

Recorded sources : - June Tabor - "Airs and Graces." Topic Records TXCD589, Martin Simpson - "Vagrant Stanzas."

See also listing at :
See Jürgen Kloss's excellent music history article on the song [3]
See the Ballad Index entry on "Waly Waly" [4]

Back to O Waly Waly

(0 votes)