Pearl of the White Breast (2) (The)

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X: 1 T:Pearl of the White Breast [2], The M:C L:1/8 O: B:O'Neill's 511 Q:"Slow with Feeling" Z:Transcribed by Dave Wooldridge K:F (cd/2e/2) \ | f>e (dc) f3 d | (cA)(GF) G2 (AB) | c2 (AF) (BA) G>F | F6 HX:| (cB) \ | Acdf e3 c | (fe) (d>c) c3 c | defa gfed | "D.C."c6 |]



PEARL OF THE WHITE BREAST [2] (Pearla na m-Brollac Baine). AKA – "Pearla na m-brollac baine." AKA and see "Snowy Breasted Pearl (1) (The)," "There's a colleen fair as May." Irish, Air (4/4 time). F Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Stanford/Petrie): AAB (Flaherty, O’Neill). O'Neill (Irish Folk Music: A Fascinating Hobby, 1910; p. 152) writes:

"The Pearl of the White Breast" is a melody strongly marked as belonging to the class of airs known among the Irish as sentimental or love tunes. Its cadences are all expressive of an imploring and impassioned tenderness, according to Dr. Petrie, but wanting in those expressions of hopeless sadness or wailing sorrow with which the Caoines (laments) or elegaic airs are so deeply stamped.

Moffat prints the air in his Songs of Ireland (1897) as the vehicle for the song "There's a colleen fair as May", and gives Petrie's remarks:

It is of a rhythm, time and general construction so different (i.e. than Bunting's "Snow Breasted Pearl (3) (The)), that it could never have been united with the words of the old song (i.e. Curry's version); it is probably misnamed, as many of the airs in Bunting's Collections often are.

The words are from Petrie's source, Mr. Curry, and translated by Petrie from the Irish:

There's a colleen fair as May,
For a year and for a day,
I have sought by every way
Her heart to gain.
There's no art of tongue or eye,
Fond youths with maidens try,
But I tried with ceaseless sigh,
Yet tried in vain.
If to France or far-off Spain
She'd cross the watery main,
To see her face again--
The seas I'd brave.
And if 'tis heaven's decree
That mine she may not be,
May the Son of Mary me
In mercy save.



Additional notes

Source for notated versions: - Prof. Eugene O'Curry, a native of West Clare, who learned words and music from his father [Moffat, Petrie].

Printed sources : - P.M. Haverty (One Hundred Irish Airs, vol. 2), 1858; No. 154; p. 70. Moffat (Minstrelsy of Ireland), 1897; pp. 268–269. O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Melodies), 1903; No. 511, p. 89. Petrie (Ancient Music of Ireland, vol. 1), 1855; no. 7, p. 10. Stanford/Petrie (Complete Collection), 1905; No. 623, p. 156.

Recorded sources: -



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