Through the Wood Laddie (1)

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X:1 T:Thro' the Wood Laddie [1] M:3/4 L:1/8 R:Air Q:"Slow" B:Burk Thumoth - Twelve Scotch and Twelve Irish Airs with Variations (London, 1742, No. 10) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:G GD|E2 G>A TA>(G/2A/4)|B4 gd|e2 gedB|{B}TA4 GA|B3c BA| B2 (AG)(GA)|B>(ABdBA)|B2 (AG) D2|E2 G>A TA>G/2A/4|{A}B4 ga| b>a(gedB)|{B}TA3B cd|e2 gedc|d2 ed BA|B2 E>F TF>E/2F/4|G6:| |:gd|e2 g>a Ta>g/4a/4|b4 ga|b2 c'bag|Ta4 ga|(ba)(bc')(ba)| b2 (ag) (ga)|(ba)(bc')(ba)|b2 ag d2|e2 g>a Ta>g/4a/4|b4 ga| (ba)(ge)(dB)|{B}TA3B cd|e2 (ge)(dB)|d2 (ed) (BA)|B2 E>F TF>E/4F/4|G6:| |:GD|E2 (GA/B/) (AB/c/)|{c}TB4 g>d|e>f (g/f/g/e/ ) (e/d/c/B/)|TA4 GA| B>ABc B/c/B/A/|{c}B2 (AG)(GA)|BA B>e d/c/B/A/|{c}TB2 A>G D2| .E/.E/TE .G/.G/TG .A/.A/TA|{A}B4 ga|(b/a/b/a/) (g/a/g/e/) (e/d/c/B)|{B}TA3B (c/B/c/d/)| {f}Te4 {fg}(e/d/c/B/)|d2 Te>d e/c/B/A/|{A}B2 E>G F>A|G6:| |:gd|{f}Te2 ga/b/ Ta>g/4a/4|b4 ga|b2 c'b (3a/g/f/ (3b/a/g/|a4 ga| babc' (b/c'/b/a/) |(ba)(ag) (ga)|babe' (d'/c'/b/a/)|{c'}b2 ag d2| e2 (g/a/g/a/) Tag/a/|b4 ga|b>a (3gfe (3decB|{B}TA3B cd| (3egf (3gfe (3dcB|(3ded (3edc (3dcB|{c}B2 (E/F/G) (F/G/A)|G4:|]



THROUGH THE WOOD, LADDIE [1]. AKA – "Thro' the Wood Laddie," “Through the Woods Lady.” Scottish, Slow Air (3/4 time). F Major: G Major (O’Farrell). Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB (Kershaw): AABB (Gow, O’Farrell): AABBCCDD (Johnson). "Through the Wood Laddie" was a very popular Scottish song that was frequently issued on songsheets and in songsters of the 18th and early 19th centuries. Scottish poet Allan Ramsay wrote two sets of words to the tune which were printed in his multi-volume Tea Table Miscellany (vol. i, 1723), although there was an even older set of words by an unknown author. The first stanzas of each are recorded in Whitelaw's The Book of Scottish Song (1843), and are quoted here:

The original verses, or at least what are supposed to be the oldest verses, to the favourite old air called "Through the wood, laddie," are very long, and not worth quoting. They begin thus:

As Philermon and Phillis together did walk,
⁠To the woods they did wander,
⁠To the woods they did wander,
As Philermon and Phillis together did walk,
To the woods they did wander,
⁠Together did talk!

Ramsay wrote two sets of verses to the tune. The first is, like the above, very long, but much superior to it as a piece of composition. It begins,

As early I walk'd on the first of sweet May,
Beneath a steep mountain,
Beside a clear fountain,
I heard a grave lute soft melody play,
While the echo resounded the dolorous lay.

We content ourselves with quoting here Ramsay's second song to the tune, which still retains a place in the collections.

O, Sandy, why leave thus thy Nelly to mourn?
Thy presence could ease me,
When naething can please me;
Now dowie I sigh on the bank o' the burn,
Or through the wood, laddie, until thou return.

Though woods now are bonnie, and mornings are clear,
⁠While lav'rocks are singing,
And primroses springing;
Yet nane o' them pleases my eye or my ear,
When through the wood, laddie, ye dinna appear.

The last set of lyrics were printed by Johnson in his Scots Musical Museum, vol. II (Song 154). The "original verses" in (the beginning of which are given in first stanz, above, "As Philermon and Phillis...") were perhaps penned by Dr. Thomas Blacklock, a poet and friend of Robert Burns.

The provenance of the melody is disputed. John Glen (Early Scottish Melodies, 1900) considered it to be an English tune, but note that it must have achieved some popularity in Scotland, as it was included in most of the Scottish collections published between 1725 and Johnson's Museum (1788). Not only song air, the melody also had a parallel life as an instrumental air. It was earlier published with variation sets by William McGibbon (c. 1690-1756) in 1742 and by Burk(e) Thumoth in the same year, and was entered twice (as "Throw the Wood Ladie") in the James Gillespie Manuscript of Perth (1768. See also his other setting as "Through the Wood Laddie (2)").

As with many popular airs, it was adapted for use as the "indicated tune" for songs in several ballad operas, including John Gay’s Polly (1729, No. 57), the followup to his immensely successful Beggar's Opera, James Ralph’s The Fashionable Lady; or Harlequin’s Opera (1730, No. 64), Henry Brooke's Jack the Gyantqueller (1749), and Thomas Hull's Spanish Lady (1765).

Robert Burns considered the tune for a (another?) song for James Johnson's Scots Musical Museum but rejected the idea, writing his publisher in September, 1793: “’Thro’ the wood, laddie.’ I am decidedly of opinion that both in this (tune) and ‘There’ll never be peace till Jamie comes hame,’ the second or high part of the tune being a repetition of the first part an octave higher, is only for instrumental music, and would be much better omitted in singing.”

In England versions were entered into the Kershaw manuscript (see below), and the melody appears in the William Tildesley manuscript (Swinton, Lancashire), from around 1860, under the title “Through the Woods Lady.” Eighteenth and early nineteenth century American musicians' manuscript collections often included "Through/Thro' the Wood, Laddie," for which see the EASMES site [1].

"Thro the Wood Laddie" is one of the tunes (along with the 3/2 "Dusty Miller") that can be heard played in double-stops by the violin in the Adagio cantabile of classical composer Max Bruch's (1838-1920) Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra and Harp freely using Scottish Folk Melodies, in E-flat Major, Op. 46, composed in 1879-80. He used melodies from Johnson's Scots Musical Museum as his model.


Additional notes
Source for notated version : - McGibbon's Scots Tunes (vol. ii, p. 6) [Johnson]; 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 [Kershaw].

Printed sources : - Adam Craig (Collection of the Choicest Scots Tunes), 1730; p. 23. Nathaniel Gow (Complete Repository, Part 4), 1817; p. 12. James Johnson (Scots Musical Museum, vol. II), 1788; Song 154, p. 161. Johnson (Scottish Fiddle Music in the 18th Century), 1984; No. 19, pp. 46 47. The Joseph Kershaw Manuscript, 1993; No. 61 (appears as “Throw the Wood, Laddie”). McGibbon (Scots Tunes, Book 2), c. 1746; pp. 6-7. O’Farrell (Pocket Companion, vol. II), c. 1806; p. 100 (appears as “Thro the Wood Laddie”). Alexander Stuart (Musick for Allan Ramsey's Collection of Scots Songs), section IV, 1724; pp. 90-91. William Thomson (Orpheus Caledonius, vol. 1), 2nd edition, 1733; p.

Recorded sources : - Beautiful Jo BEJOCD-36, Dave Shepherd & Becky Price – “Ashburnham” (from the Tildesley manuscript). Maggie’s Music MM220, Hesperus – “Celtic Roots.”




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