Old Woman Tossed Up (1)

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OLD WOMAN TOSSED UP (IN A BASKET/BLANKET) [1]. English, Morris Dance Tune (6/8 or 2/2 time). England: Dorset, Gloucestershire. D Major (Raven): F Major (Bacon-Bidford, Carlin): G Major (Bacon): G Mixolydian (Bacon): B Flat Major (Bacon-Bidford). Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB (Bacon, Carlin): AABA (Bacon-Bidford): AABB (Raven): AABCBCBC (Bacon-Headington). The title "The Old Woman Tossed Up In a Blanket" is taken from the nursery rhyme and song [Roud 1297] (which is perhaps a nonsense song remnant),


There was an old woman tossed up in a basket
Seventy times as high as the moon.
What she did there I could not but ask it
For in each hand she carried a broom.

“Old woman, old woman, old woman,” said I
“Where are you going to up so high?”
“To sweep the cobwebs from the sky
And you may come with me if you can fly.”

"Old Woman Tossed Up" exists in song and dance versions. As a song, the lyric was early set to the tune of "Lillibulero" (an early version of which appears in in Henry Playford's Musick's Hand-Maid, 1689, as "An Irish Tune") and was a favorite of Oliver Goldsmith's (see also the Scottish "There was a wee wifie rowed up in a blanket").

The four dance versions given are variants of one another. The tune was one of the most popular among Cotswold morris dancers, with similar versions collected from the villages of Bidford (Warwickshire), Bledington (Gloucestershire), Longborough (Gloucestershire), Kirtlington (Oxfordshire), Headington (Oxfordshire) and Ilmington (Warwickshire), England. The tune and its variants have gone by other names over the past two hunderd and fifty years, including "Kerry Dance (The)," "St. Patrick's Day (in the Morning)," "Patrick's Day," "Love in a Village," and "Charms of Melody (The)."

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Bacon (A Handbook of Morris Dances), 1974; pp. 62, 78, 194, 216, 227, 251, 248, 281. Carlin (Master Collection), 1984; No. 49, p. 38. Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; p. 84. Trim (Thomas Hardy), 1990; No. 12 (appears as "The Old Woman Tost in the Blanket").

Recorded sources: Carthage CGLP 4406, Hutchings et al – "Morris On" (1983/1972).

See also listing at:
See/hear the Bledington morris stick dance by the Winchester Morris Men on youtube.com [1]
See/hear the Kirtlington version played on melodeon at Lester Bailey's site [2]

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