Scalloway Lasses (Da)

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X:1 T:Scallowa Lasses, Da M:C L:1/8 R:Reel N:”As playe in Unst." N:noted by M.H. Sutherland B:Johnston - "Old-lore Miscellany of Orkney, Shetland, Caithness and Sutherland," 1935, vol. IX, p. 122. Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:D (e<a) ag (eg)ed|cde^f gfed|(e<a) ag (eg)ed|cABG A2A2:| |:E2EE c2 cA|Bcde g^fed|(e<a) ag (eg)ed|cABG A2A2:|]



SCALLOWA(Y) LASSES, DA. AKA and see "Fair Field House.” Shetland, Reel (cut time). A Dorian or A Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB (Brody, Cooke): AA'BB' (Bain). The town of Scalloway is on the main island of the Shetlands and was the former capitol of the isles. The tune exists in many versions in Shetland, but was first popularized by Willie Bairnson, an 18th century Shetland fiddler born in 1740. Willie was taught to play by his step father, Mr. Laing, a gentleman from the mainland of Scotland who was a student of music, a composer and teacher. G.M. Nelson (1970) believes the tune may have perhaps been composed by either Willie or his stepfather for it differs from many of the old Shetland fiddle tunes and sounds as if it was composed by someone with a Scottish background. Willie was employed as a post runner, carrying letters to the lairds and businessmen of the Shetlands, and, since he often took his fiddle with him on his travels, "perhaps no fiddler was so widely heard as Daa Willie, as he was affectionately called by the younger generation" (Nelson). In the early years of the 20th century the melody was played regularly for Foursome Reels and Highland Schottisches, states Peter Cooke (1986). The reel may well have been imported to Shetland from the Scottish mainland, as it is very similar and probably cognate to John Riddell's "Fair Field House."

A tune called "Scallowa Lasses" was collected in the early 20th century from the playing of Orkney fiddler John Firth, identified as "Shetland Air" and printed with words in Old-lore Miscellany of Orkney, Shetland, Caithness and Sutherland, (Jan, 1913, vol. VI, Part 1, p. 9), however, the music is a version of an old Scottish tune called "Oyster Wives Rant (The)."

X:1
T:Scallowa Lasses, The
M:C
L:1/8
R:Reel
S:"Shetland Air.Played on the fiddle by John Firth, Orkney." 
N:"Taken down by F.F. McKay, 1912." 
B:"Old-lore Miscellany of Orkney, Shetland, Caithness and Sutherland," Jan, 1913, vol. VI, Part 1, p. 9
Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion
K:Edor
B2 B>A B>E E>F|A>B A>F D>E F>A|B2 B>A B>E E>F|A>B A>F E2E2:|
|:c|B>A B>c d>e d>B|A>B A>F A>B A>d|B>A B>c d>e d>B|A<F d>F E2E2:|]

Words printed with the Orkney-collected melody go:

What will a’ the lasses do,
The lasses do, the lasses do;
What will a’ the lasses do,
When the lads gong awa?

Some will greet and some will laich,
And some will brak their ga’;
And some will kilt their petticoats,
And rin till they fa’.


Additional notes

Sources for notated versions: - Peter Fraser (Shetland) [Cooke, version 18c., Anderson & Georgeson], J. Hoseason's MS (1862) (Shetland) [Cooke, version 18b.].

Printed sources : - Anderson & Georgeson (Da Mirrie Dancers), 1970; p. 20. Bain (50 Fiddle Solos), 1989; p. 35. Brody (Fiddler’s Fake Book), 1983; p. 252. Cooke (The Fiddle Tradition of the Shetland Isles), 1986; Ex. 18, p. 68 (three versions).

Recorded sources: -Rounder 3006, Boys of the Lough "Second Album" (1974. Learned from Tom Anderson who had the tune from Peter Fraser who lived on the west side of the Shetland's main island).



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