Woods so Wild (The)

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X:1 T:Shall I go Walk in the Woods so Wild? M:6/8 L:1/8 R:Air B:Chappel - Popular Music of the Olden Time (1858) K:Gmin BBB B2F|G2F D3|EFG A2G|c2B (AG)F| B2B B2F|G2F D2B|A2G F2D|E2C C3||

WOODS SO WILD, THE. AKA - "Shall I go Walk in the Woods so WIld?" "Woods soe Wilde (The)." AKA and see "Greenwood (1)," "Huntsman (The)." English, Air (3/4 time). G Mixolydian or G Dorian. Standard tuning (fiddle). One part. The air, based on the Tudor-era folk tune "Will Yow Walke the Woods soe Wylde," was set three times by the English composer William Byrd, and Chappell (1859) gives an alternate ending by another famous composer, Orlando Gibbons. The tune’s words have long been lost, save for the short refrain: “Shall I go walk the wood so wild, wandering, wandering, here and there.” The melody and variation sets appear in The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book (1610-1625, two settings--No. 67 by Byrd and No. 40 by Gibbons), Lady Neville's Virginal Book, William Ballet's Lute Book, Pammelia (1609), and John Playford's English Dancing Master (1650, through edition of 1690, as "Greenwood" and "The Huntsman"). David Cashman explains:

The renaissance English composer William Byrd (1543-1623) wrote a set of fourteen variations on a melody entitled The Woods so Wild[1]. It is believed that this work is based upon a popular improvisatory technique, which Byrd adapted to his needs. Unusually, additional to the melody upon which the variations are based, Byrd uses a ground. This technique of using a ground as well as song upon which to improvise is atypical of the genre. The ground adopted is problematic, as it involves a monotonous alternation of a tonic and supertonic, necessitating strong and interesting harmonic writing. Byrd provides this with a shift to mixolydian mode and writes with the lightest touch possible.

The tune is set in the Lydian or Mixolydian mode, depending upon where one hears the tonic. See note for "Greenwood (1)" for more information.

Additional notes

Printed sources : - Chappell (Popular Music of the Olden Time, vol. 1), 1859; p. 119.

Recorded sources : - RCA Red Seal ‎LSC-3331, Julian Bream - "The Woods so Wild" (1999).

See also listing at :
Hear Julian Bream's classical guitar version [1]

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  1. "The Woods Soe Wilde" was set for the virginal by the English composer William Byrd (c. 1540-1623) in My Lady Nevell's Book (1590).