Rose Tree (The)

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X:1 T:Rose Tree, The M:2/4 L:1/8 R:Country Dance Tune B:J. Clinton – Gems of Ireland:200 Airs (1841, No. 20, p. 10) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:F (a/g/)|.f.d.c.A|c3 d|f2 (a/g/f/).g/|(ag).g (a/g/)| .f.d.c.A|c>{e}dc d|f2 (a/g/).f/.g/|{f}a.f.f:| |:g|(ag).a>.b|c’2-b.a|(gd').d'.c'|(d'g){^fga}!fermata!g (a/g/)| =.f.d.c.A|(c>{e}d)c d|f>f (a/g/f/).g/|{fg}a.f.f:|]



ROSE TREE. AKA and see “Bhíosa lá I bport láirge,” "Dainty Besom Maker (The)," “Forgive the Muse that Slumbered,” "Gimblet (The)," “I'd Mourn the Hopes that Leave Me,” “I'll Cloot My Johnny's Grey Breecks,” “Johnny's Grey Breeks (2),” "Magee's," "Old Lea Rigg (The)," "Little Mary Cullinan," "Little Sheila Connellan,” “Maureen from Giberland,” “Moore's Favourite,” “Phelim O'Neill (2),” “Port Láirge, Rose Tree in Full Bearing,” “Rose Tree of Paddy’s Land (The)." English, Scottish, American; Polka, Country and Morris Dance Tune (2/4 or 4/4 time). England; Cotswolds, Surrey, North-West. USA, New England. D Major (most versions): G Major (Bacon, Mallinson). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Silberberg): AABB (most versions): ABBB (Bacon, Mallinson): AABBCCDD (O’Farrell). The title comes from a song set to the tune called "A Rose Tree in Full Bearing,” first appearing in print under that title in English composer William Shield's opera The Poor Soldier (1782, lyrics by John O’Keeffe). Shield did not compose the melody, but rather adapted an existing, older tune, which may have been Irish and which may have been given to Shield by O’Keeffe (although this is speculative at this time). See also its appearance in The English Musical Repository, Edinburgh, 1811). A broadside ballad printed in the early 1820’s gives these words, as “Sung by Mrs. Kennedy and Mrs. Martyr in The Poor Soldier”:

A rose tree in full bearing,
Had flowers very fair to see,
One rose beyond comparing,
Whose beauty attracted me;
But eager for to win it,
Lovely, blooming, fresh, and gay,
I found a canker in it,
And threw it very far away.

How fine this morning early,
Lovely Sunshine clear and bright,
So late I lov'd you dearly,
But now I've lost each fond delight;
The clouds seem big with showers,
The sunny beams no more are seen,
Farewell ye happy hours,
Your falsehood has changed the scene.

James Aird gives the melody the title “Dainty Besom Maker (The)” in his first volume of Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs (c. 1778). Bruce Olson says that according to Alfred Moffat the tune was printed in Thompson’s 24 Country Dances for the Year 1764 under the title “Irish Lilt (The),” although he points out that is a generic title applied to many tunes. See also the cognate "Irish Lilt (8)" in Straight and Skillern's Two Hundred and Four Favouarite Country Dance Tunes, vol. 1 (London, c. 1775).

It was used as a reel or country dance tune in Scotland by c. 1788, and was still known by that title in the British Isles early 20th century when collected from morris dance musicians in the village of Brackley, Northamptonshire. A. Morrison (1976) prints a dance called "The Three Hand Reel" to this tune. Morris versions hail from the villages of Bampton (Oxfordshire) and Brackley (Northamptonshire) of England's Cotswolds (Bacon, Mallinson), and also in parts of North﷓West England (Wade) where it is used for a polka step. The author of English Folk-Song and Dance found the tune in the repertoire of fiddler William Tilbury (who lived at Pitch Place, midway between Churt and Thursley in Surrey), who, in his younger days, played the fiddle at village dances. Tilbury learned his repertoire from an uncle, Fiddler Hammond, who died in 1870 and who was the village musician before him. The conclusion was that “The Rose Tree” and similar country dance tunes survived in English tradition (at least in southwest Surrey) well into the second half of the 18th century. The tune is contained in the 19th century Joseph Kershaw Manuscript. Kershaw was a fiddle player who lived in the remote area of Slackcote, Saddleworth, North West England, who compiled his manuscript from 1820 onwards, according to Jamie Knowles. Knowles says the tune is still played by morris sides from Saddleworth and other North West dance teams.

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. “The Rose Tree” also appears in Riley's Flute Melodies (New York, 1814). The first part of the tune has a "pronounced likeness" to the American chestnut "Turkey in the Straw," according to Sandburg, Bayard (1981), Jabbour (1971), Winston Wilkinson and others, and is perhaps a progenitor to the family of American tunes known as "(Old) Zip Coon," "Natchez Under the Hill (1)," and "Turkey in the Straw." The low part of the melody is shared with the old-time Kentucky tune “Briarpicker Brown.” “The Rose Tree” shows up as a shape-note hymn printed in John B. Jackson’s Knoxville Harmony (1838), and in the white Appalachian spiritual “My Grandma Lived on Yonder Green” (George Pullen Jackson, White Spirituals in the Southern Uplands, 1933). George Pullen Jackson also records lyrics to the “Rose Tree” tune obtained from his grandmother, who had them from a hired girl in Monson, Maine, around the year 1859:

My grandma lived on yonder little green,
Finest old lady that ever was seen.
She often cautioned me with care,
Of all false young men to beware.
Timi timiumptum timiumpeta,
Of all false young men to beware.

These words turn out to be from a song sheet called “My Grandma’s Advice” published by Oliver Ditson Co. in 1857. See also mention of the tune in Paul Wells and Anne McLucas’s “Musical Theater as a Link between Folk and Popular Traditions” (Vistas of American Music: Essays and Compositions in Honor of William K. Kearns, Ed. Porter & Graziano, Harmonie Park Press, 1999). An American Civil War song, “Sing Sing Polly,” was also set to the tune of “The Rose Tree” (see Mattson & Walz, Old Fort Snelling…Fife, p. 82).

In Scottish tradition, the melody predates the Shield opera, and can be found in Oswald’s Caledonian Pocket Companion (bk. 10, p. 17) under the title “Gimlet (The).” The first part of the “Rose Tree” melody bears a resemblance to “Lea Rig (The),” and a connection in print between the two tunes appears in Niel Gow’s Second Collection of Strathspey Reels, where it is printed in C Major and entitled “Old Lee Rigg--or Rose Tree.” It also appears as “The Lea Rigg” in Brysson’s Curious Collection (1791). The Scottish song “False Knight Upon the Road” is set to the melody, as is the song “Jockey’s Grey Breeks” (or, in northern England, “Johnny's Grey Breeks”). The latter was cited by Robert Burns’ as the melody for his 1786 lyric “Again Rejoicing Nature Sees.”

In Irish tradition the melody was recorded in 1926 by County Sligo/New York fiddler Michael Coleman, accompanied by flute player Tom Morrison of Glenamaddy, County Galway. The equally famous County Sligo/New York fiddler James “Professor” Morrison recorded it in 1929 with his band. The melody can be found in Ireland under a variety of alternate titles and song-texts, including “ Moore’s Favourite” (McConnell’s Four Leaf Shamrocks, 1924), “Port Láirge” and “Máirin ni Chullenain” (Moreen O’Cullenan), and it is associated with Thomas Moore’s song “I’d Mourn the Hopes that Leave Us” (A Selection of Irish Melodies, No. 5, 1813).


Additional notes



Printed sources : - Bacon (The Morris Ring), 1974; p. 47. Barnes (English Country Dance Tunes), 1986. Brody (Fiddler's Fakebook), 1983; p. 235. Clinton (Gems of Ireland: 200 Airs), 1841; No. 20, p. 10. Colclough (Tutor for the Irish Union Pipes), c. 1830; p. 14 (includes four variation sets). Harding's All Round Collection), 1905; No. 134, p. 42. P.M. Haverty (One Hundred Irish Airs vol. 1), 1858; No. 90, p. 38. Hughes (Gems from the Emerald Isles), London, 1867; No. 65, p. 15. Kennedy (Fiddler’s Tune Book, vol. 1), 1951; No. 58, p. 28. Kerr (Merry Melodies, vol. 1), c. 1880; No. 4, p. 21. The Joseph Kershaw Manuscript, 1993; No. 48. Mallinson (Mally’s Cotswold Morris Book vol. 1), 1988; No. 61, p. 29. Mallinson (100 Irish Polkas), 1997; No. 65, p. 25. Miller & Perron (New England Fiddlers Repertoire), 1983; No. 67. Morrison (Twenty-Four Early American Country Dances, Cotillions & Reels, for the Year 1976), 1976; p. 56. O’Farrell (Pocket Companion, vol. 1), c. 1805; p. 40 (appears as “The Rose Tree in Full Bearing”). Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; p. 149. Sannella, Balance and Swing (CDSS). Silberberg (Tunes I Learned at Tractor Tavern), 2002; p. 133. Sweet (Fifer’s Delight), 1965/1981; p. 58. Wade (Mally’s North West Morris Book), 1988; p. 8.

Recorded sources : - Front Hall 05, Fennigs All Stars - "Saturday Night in the Provinces." North Star NS0038, "The Village Green: Dance Music of Old Sturbridge Village." Topic TSCD 602, McConnell’s Four Leaf Shamrocks – “Irish Dance Music” (1995. A reissue of the 1924 original). Veteran VT111, Francis Shergold - "Greeny Up" (1988. Recorded from Bampton, England, morris musicians).

See also listing at :
Alan Ng’s Irishtune.info [1]
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index for Recorded Sources [2]
Alan Snyder's Cape Breton Fiddle Recordings Index [3]



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