Smiling Polly

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X:1 T:Smiling Polly T:Keel Row M:2/4 L:1/8 S:Chappell – Popular Music of the Olden Time (1859) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:F B|A>F FA|B2 GB|A>F FA|G>E C>B|A>F FA|B2 GB|A>F G>E|F3||B| A<c cv|d2 c>B|A2 FA|GE C>B|A<c cf|d2 cB|A<F G>E|F3||



SMILING POLLY. AKA and see "Twin Sisters (4) (The)," "Keel Row (The)." English, Country Dance and Air (2/4 time). F Major (Chappell): D Major (Kidson, Thompson). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Chappell): AABB (Kidson, Thompson). Ralph Rinzler traces the American old-time tune "Bile Them Cabbage Down" to this tune (though I think Kidson's "Wedding Ring (3) (The)" just as easily could be another of probably many similar source tunes), which appeared in print in 1765 in Thompson's Compleat Collection of 200 Favourite Country Dances (vol. 2) and Thompson's Dances for 1763. Kidson (1890) points out the similarity of this tune with "Yorkshire Lad (The)," "Dumb Glutton (The)" and the more famous "Keel Row (The)."

As I came thro’ Sandgate, thro’ Sandgate, thro’ Sandgate,
As I came thro’ Sandgate, I heard a lassie sing:
O weel may the keel row, the keel row, the keel row,
O weel may the kell row, that my laddie’s in.

There is an American connection, however, for “Smiling Polly” can be found in the 1794 music manuscript copybook of Micah Hawkins (1777-1825), a New Yorker who played flute, piano and violin and who composed musical theatre. Hawkins was the uncle and one of the musical influences of Long Island painter William Sydney Mount, who himself was a fiddler who frequently depicted fiddlers in his paintings.

Additional notes

Source for notated version: -

Printed sources : - Chappell (Popular Music of the Olden Time, vol. 2), 1859; p. 185. Kidson (Old English Country Dances), 1890; p. 18. Thompson (Compleat Collection of 200 Favourite Country Dances, vol. 2), 1765; No. 129.

Recorded sources: -


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