Retreat (1) (The)

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RETREAT [1], THE. AKA and see "Montrose's March," "Pretender's March," "Rock and a Wee Pickle Tow (A)," "Scotch March (1) (The)," "Painneach na nUbh (1)," "Carawith Jig," "One-Horned Cow (2) (The)," "Green Goose Fair (1)." Irish, March (2/4 time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABBCCDD. A popular tune in England, Ireland and Scotland used for a variety of purposes. Here it is a retreat march, which, in the military sense, has its origins in the 16th century when it was possibly used for the same ceremony as Tattoo: “ye retrete to beat att 9 att night and take it from ye garde.” In 1698 it was printed that “ye Drumme Major wil advertise (by beate of Drum) those require for watch,” while in the 17th century drummers were “to beate the Retreat through the large street and to be answered by all the drummerrs of ye Gardes.” Similar connotations last today in military use, when Retreat, a ceremony usually performed at sunset, denotes the end of the working day.

In America the melody appears in the music manuscript copybook of Henry Livingston, Jr. Livingston purchased the estate of Locust Grove, Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1771 at the age of 23. In 1775 he was a Major in the 3rd New York Regiment, which participated in Montgomery’s invasion of Canada in a failed attempt to wrest Montreal from British control. An important land-owner in the Hudson Valley, and a member of the powerful Livingston family, Henry was also a surveyor and real estate speculator, an illustrator and map-maker, and a Justice of the Peace for Dutchess County. He was also a poet and musician, and presumably a dancer, as he was elected a Manager for the New York Assembly’s dancing season of 1774–1775, along with his 3rd cousin, John Jay, later U.S. Chief Justice of Governor of New York.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: O'Farrell (Pocket Companion, vol. 4), 1810; p. 89. O'Neill (O'Neill's Irish Music), 1915; No. 106, p. 60.

Recorded sources:




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