Tom a Bedlam

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X:1 T:Tom a Bedlam M:C| L:1/16 Q:"Moderate" B:Chappell – Popular Music of the Olden Times, vol. 1 (1859, p. 175) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:Amin A2A2|c6 B2 A4A4|^G4 E8 E4|G6 F2E4D4|E4 C8 C4| G4E4A4 G2G2|c4e4 e6 dc|B4A4A4^G4|A4 A8:| z4|G4 G2G2 G4 A2B2|c4 A2B2c4C4|G4 G2F2 E4 D4| E4C4 e8|d4B4A4c4|B2A2G2F2 E4A4|A4^G4 A4 !fermata!A4||



TOM A BEDLAM. AKA and see "Fly Brass," "Jovial Tinker (The)." English, Ballad Air (cut time). A Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. The air appears in Playford's Musick's Delight on the Cithren (1666). Bedlam, the popular contracted name for the Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem, was for centuries an institution for the insane in London. In 1815 it was moved from its original site to Lambeth (into buildings which now house the Imperial War Museum), and in 1931 it moved again to Beckenham in Kent.The hospital of St. Mary Magdalen (Maudlin) was its counterpart institution, for females. Bishop Percy once remarked that "the English have more songs on the subject of madness, than any of their neighbours." The reason for this, suggests Chappell (1859), is that the dissolution of the religious houses in the 16thand 17thcenturies left the care of the poor and ill unprovided for. "In consequence of this neglect, the idle and dissolute were suffered to wander about the country, assuming such characters as they imagined were most likely to ensure success to their frauds, and security from detection. Among other disguises, many affected madness, and were distinguished by the name of 'Bedlam Beggars'." Apparently many of these "beggars", probably a good many were mentally ill, called themselves Poor Tom, and, according to period accounts, either cajoled or intimidated servants to "give them what they demand, which is commonly 'Bacon', or something that will yield ready money." Tobler reports that in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Man in the Moon, long a symbol of insanity, was often depicted as a bent old man with a staff, leading a dog and carrying a thorn bush and a lantern. The tune was known in the Netherlands as “Verdwaelde Koningin,” published in 1649 in a volume called Der Fluyten Lust-Hof (The Flute’s Garden of Delights) by Jacob van Eyck (c. 1590-1657), a recorder player, carillonneur of the Utrecht Dom Cathedral, and director of all the bells and clock-chimes of the city. A text of the Dutch song can be found in a song-book called Minnaers Harten-jacht (Lovers heart hunt), printed in 1627, where it tells of a lost queen.


Additional notes



Printed sources : - Chappell (Popular Music of the Olden Times, vol. 1), 1859; p. 175.






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