Pease Strae

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X:1 T:Pease Straw B:J. Johnson Choice Collection, Vol. 3, 1744, no. 158 Z:vmp.Steve Mansfield 2014 www.village-music-project.org.uk M:C L:1/8 K:D A | d>efd gefd | eA2B =c2BA | d>efd gefd | (f/g/a)A2 d3 :| |: (f/g/) |a/g/f/e/ d(f/g/) a/g/f/e/ df | eA2B =c2BA | d>efd gefd | f/g/aA2 d3 :|



PEASE STRAE/STRAW. AKA and see "Bathget Boys," "Clean Peas Straw/Clean Pease Strae," "Na'm biodh agam trudah bodaich," "Pea Straw" (U.S.). Scottish, English, American; Strathspey, Reel or Country Dance Tune. England, Northumberland. D Mixolydian or D Major (Johnson). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Surenne): AAB (Athole, Balmoral, Johnson, Lowe, Skye): AABB' (Barnes, Seattle/Vickers). Peas straw/pease strae was a material made from the dried pea plant ('pea' was used to describe any related plants of the family Fabaceae), used to stuff bedding.

"Pease Stra" was a popular dance tune in the British Isles and America throughout the 18th century and into the 19th. Scottish musician and dancing master David Young included it in his MacFarlane Manuscript (c. 1740), with several variation sets. The reel was printed by London publisher John Walsh in Caledonian Country Dances (c. 1745), and by John Johnson in his Choice Collection of 200 Favourite Country Dances, vol. 3 (1744), although John Glen opined Walsh's version was "very, very poor." It was entered twice into the [James] Gillespie Manuscript of Perth (1768). Robert Bremner printed it as "Clean Peas Straw" in his Collection of Scots Reels or Country Dances (1757, p. 65). An English version was printed c. 1740 in the imprint MWA, 200 Country Dances (p. 79), and the title appears in Henry Robson's list of popular Northumbrian song and dance tunes ("The Northern Minstrel's Budget"), which he published c. 1800. The reel appears in collections of Highland pipe music with the alternate titles "Na'm biodh agam trudah bodaich," "If I had a Dirty Carl," "If I had an old rascal as a husband," "Quoth the Carl to his Wife," and "Ducking the Carl."

Instructions for a country dance to the melody can be found in the Scottish Holmain Manuscript, c. 1710-50, where it is alternately titled "Bathget Boys." Modern musicologist David Johnson (1988) also prints directions to a country dance called Pease Strae with the melody. Flett and Flett (1964) record that the same Scottish dance went by different names according to which tune was played to accompany it in a particular locale; thus the dance also was called "Duke of Perth" and "Brown's Reel (2)" in East Fife, Perthshire and Angus, and "Keep the Country Bonny Lassie" in the upper parts of Ettrick. The title Pease Strae for the series of dance steps was used in the area around Lanarkshire, Ayrshire, Arran and Galloway, and was taught by all the local dancing masters. Northumbrian collector John Stokoe noted in the Bell Manuscript that the tune was used in Northumberland for the Cushion Dance, to a dance similar to "Joan Sanderson," popular in the 16th century. Supporting this is the tunes entry in Northumbrian musician William Lister's music manuscript as "The Cuzin Dance." This dance survived for a time in a children's ring game with a cushion, called "The Best Bed of All," which included the chant:

The best bed of all,
the best bed in our house
is clean pease straw.
Pease straw is dirty,
will dirty all my gown;
"Never mind my bonny lass—
just lay the cushion down."

Latter 18th century antiquarian John Stokoe remarked that "rude verses" were sung to the tune. A song called "Pease Strae" set to the melody was printed in James Johnson's (c. 1750–1811) Scots Musical Museum, vol. IV (No. 307, pp. 316-317, but hardly seems to fit Stokoe's mild objection. The song in the Museum begins:

The country swain that haunts the plain,
And drives the lightsome plow;
At night though tir'd, with love all sir'd,
He views the lassie's brow.
When morning comes, instead of drums,
The flails slap merrilie;
To raise the maids out o' their beds,
To shake the pease-strae.
When morning comes, instead of drums,
The flails slap merrilie;
To raise the maids out o' their beds,
To make the pease-strae.

The verses by poet Robert Tannahill (1774–1810) called "Clean Pease-Strae" (AKA – "When John and me were married") seem coy but hardly risque:

When John an' me were married,
Our haldin' was but sma';
For my minnie, canker't carline,
Would gie us nocht ava':
I wair't my fee wi' canny care
As far as it would gae;
But weel I wot our bridal bed
Was clean pease-strae.

Wi' working late and early,
We're come to what you see;
For fortune thrave aneath our hands—
Sae eident aye were we.
The lowe of love made labour light,—
I'm sure ye'll find it sae,
When kind ye cuddle down at e'en
'Mang clean pease-strae.

The rose blooms gay on cairny brae,
As weel's in birken shaw;
And love will lowe in cottage low
As weel's in lofty ha'.
Sae, lassie, take the lad ye like,
Whate'er your minnie say—
Tho' ye should make your bridal bed
Of clean pease-strae.

The reel was listed in a period record as one of the tunes danced to at a 1752 "turtle frolic" at Goats Island, near Newport, Rhode Island (a turtle frolic was a special event which occurred when a West Indies turtles, towed astern from the Caribbean, arrived in port). Later, the piece appeared in print in America in A Collection of Contra Dances, printed in Walpole, New Hampshire, in 1799.


Additional notes
Source for notated version : - The 1770 music manuscript collection of Northumbrian musician William Vickers [1] [Seattle].

Printed sources : - Barnes (English Country Dance Tunes, vol. 2), 2005; p. 75. Charlton Memorial Tune Book, 1956; p. 21. Gow (Complete Repository, Part 3), 1806; p. 36. Johnson (Twenty-Eight Country Dances as Done at the New Boston Fair, vol. 8), 1988; p. 7. Kerr (Merry Melodies, vol. 1), c. 1880; p. 10 (appears as "Clean Pea Strae"). J. Kenyon Lees (Balmoral Reel Book), c. 1910; p. 4. Joseph Lowe (Lowe's Collection of Reels, Strathspeys and Jigs, book 1), 1844–1845; p. 7. MacDonald (The Skye Collection), 1887; p. 72. Mooney (A Collection of the Choicest Scots Tunes for the Lowland or Border Bagpipes, vol. 1), 1982; p. 25. Morrison (Twenty-Four Early American Country Dances, Cotillions & Reels, for the Year 1976), 1976; p. 35. Seattle/Vickers (Great Northern Tune Book, part 2), 1987; No. 203. Stewart-Robertson (The Athole Collection), 1884; p. 86. Surenne (Dance Music of Scotland), 1852; p. 117.

Recorded sources : - North Star NS0038, "The Village Green: Dance Music of Old Sturbridge Village."

See also listing at :
Jane Keefer’s Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [2]
Alan Snyder's Cape Breton Fiddle Recordings Index [3]
Alan Ng's Irishtune.info [4]
See a standard notation transcription of David Young's version in the MacFarlane Manuscript (c. 1740) [5]



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