When I Followed a Lass

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WHEN I FOLLOWED A LASS. AKA - "When I follow'd a lass that was forward and shy." AKA and see "Joan's Placket." English, Air and Jig (6/8 time). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The air appears under the "When I followed a lass" title in a few 18th century ballad operas, and was adapted by Ciber Colly for a song in his Love in a Riddle (1729, Air 5, Act 1). Colly's song commences "When I follow'd a lass that was forward and shy." It was again adapted by Arne and Bickerstaffe for their Love in a Village (1795), and was published on song sheets. "When I followed a lass" can also can be found in 18th century musicians' manuscript collections, such as that of flute player Aaron Beck (1786), George White (Cherry Valley, NY, 1790), and John Fife (Perthshire?, 1780). It was published in Joseph Hill's The Compleat Tutor for the German Flute (London, 1762).

The original melody is quite a bit older however, and dates to the century before when it was published by Playford in 1686 as "Joan's Placket is Torn." It already had a long history as the vehicle for songs and ballads by the time of Colly's adaptation.

The tune is similar to “Cock of the North (1)" and “Jumping John.”

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Aird (Selections of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. II), 1785; No. 95, p. 35.

Recorded sources:

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