Pickle ait-meal (A)

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PICKLE AIT-MEAL, A. AKA - "Cogie o' Yill (A)." Scottish, Air (6/8 time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). The melody was composed by Edinburgh violinist Robert Mackintosh ('Red Rob', c. 1745-1807) set to lyrics by Andrew Shirrefs (1762-1807, who also wrote the pastoral comedy, Jamie and Bess, 1787). He was a well-known musician in Edinburgh up until 1802, when he left Scotland to live in London, where he taught. Mackintosh died there in February, 1807. Emmerson (1971) notes that it was said that Mackintosh "was of an irascible disposition and readily gave offense to other members of (his) orchestra." The song was printed in James Johnson's Scots Musical Museum (Song 545), and begins:

A cogie of ale and a pickle ait meal,
And a dainty wee drappy of whisky
Was our fore fathers dose to swiel down their brose
And mak' them blythe, cheery an' frisky.
Then hey for the cogie and hey for the ale,
And hey for the whisky and hey for the meal;
When mix'd a' the gether they do unco weel,
To mak' a chield cheery and briskay.

The Ballad Index notes that a clearly related song, if not derivatives of the other, is "The Scottish Coggie o' Brose" [Broadside Bodleian, 2806 c 11 (81)].

The songwriter, Andrew Shirreffs, sang his own "A cogie of ales and a pickle ait meal" upon the the Edinburgh stage for his benefit, "Jamie and Bess" being performed on that occasion, notes David Baptie (Musical Scotland, 1894, p. 168). "In person he was small, and had the misfortune to become lame during his infancy." There are interesting parallels with Mackintosh (had had supplied the tune for the song), as the Aberdeen-born Shirreffs preceded Mackintosh to London, moving there in 1798, and died in that city in the same year as did the fiddler-composer.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Johnson (Scots Musical Museum, vol. IV), 1792; Song 545, p. 564.

Recorded sources:




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