Ratha Fair (1)

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X:1 T:Ratha Fair [1] M:C| L:1/8 R:Reel B:Robert Bremner - A Collection of Scots Reels or Country Dances B:(London, 1757, p. 1) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:Ddor g|adag|ecge|adag|adag|adag|ecge|(f/g/a) ge d2d:| |:e|cA-Ac GAcG|cA-AB cded|cA-Ac GAcG|(A/B/c) Ec D2d:|]

RATHA FAIR [1]. AKA - "Ratho Fair." Scottish, Reel. D Minor/Dorian (Gow): E Minor (Aird). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Surenne): ABB (Carlin/Gow, Gow): AABB (Aird, Bremner). John Glen (1891) finds the earliest appearance of this tune in Robert Bremner's 1757 collection. There is no record of a 'Ratha Fair', rather, the title is thought to refer to Ratho, at one time a Midlothian village but now part of Rural West Edinburgh. There must have been some kind of fair at Ratho, although specific information is difficult to find. However, Edinburgh poet William Liddle wrote a song in the early 19th century called “Ratho Fair”[1], to be sung “To its ain tune.” The first few stanzas go:

Come will ye gang to Ratho Fair,
And see the lassies sporting there,
We’ll a’ away to Ratho Fair
And see the landwart lasses.

The morning it was gayin’ fair,
I left the bed when it was air,
Pat on my claise and trip’t away,
To Ratho Fair i’ the morning.

Come, &c.
But when I gat into the fair,
I saw but little sellin’ ware,
But lasses cam frae here an’ there
To get what they were wantin’.

Come, &c.
The lasses they were twa for ane,
For ilka lad that cou’d be seen,
For number they are ne’er a hin.
At neither Fair nor dancin’.

Additional notes

Printed sources : - Bremner (Scots Reels), 1757; p. 1. Carlin (The Gow Collection), 1986; No. 513. Gow (Complete Repository, Part 2), 1802; p. 33. Mackenzie (National Dance Music of Scotland, Book 2), 1889; p. 23 (as "Ratho Fair"). Seattle (Over the Hills & Far Away), No. 39 (as "Ratho Fair"). Surenne (Dance Music of Scotland), 1852; p. 4.

Recorded sources : - BRCD002, Blazin' Fiddles - "The Old Style." Discipline Global Mobile DGM9907, Matt Seattle - "Out of the Flames" (1997).

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  1. William Liddle, Poems on different occasions, chiefly in the Scottish dialect, 1825, pp. 224-225.