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YELLOW STOCKINGS. AKA - "Yallow Stockings." AKA and see "Cuddle Me Cuddy," "Cuma Liom" "Cummilum," "Fairest Put on Awhile," I Don't Care), "Hey My Kitten," “Humors of Whiskey,” “Kitten (The),” "Mad Moll (1)," "Peacock Follows the Hen (The)," "Riding a Mile (1)," “Up and Down Again,” "Virgin Queen.” Scottish, Irish, English; Dance Tune (9/4 or 9/8 time). C Major (Levey,. Neal): D Major (Cole): A Major (Chappell): G Major (Barnes). Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB (Chappell): AABB (Barnes, Cole, Neal): AABBCC (Levey).
The tune dates from the 16th century and is a member of a very large tune family. Henry Playford first printed it in 1698 in his Dancing Master (under the title "Mad Moll (1)", a dance named for Mary "Moll" Frith, and amateur actress and professional pickpocket), and later in his 1703 edition with another dance under the title "Virgin Queen." In 1705 Dean Swift adapted a nursery song to it beginning "Here my kitten, my kitten" ("O my Kitten"). The title "Yellow Stockings" for the tune appear in dancing master Daniel Wright's North Country Frisks (1713) and (as "Yallow Stockings") in his Extraordinary Collection of Pleasant and Merry Humour's never before Published, Containing Hornpipes, Jiggs, North Cuntry Frisks', Morris's, Bagpipe Hornpipe's, & Round's with Severall Additonal fancis added. fit for all those that play Publick" (c. 1715). John and William Neal printed it in their Choice Collection of Country Dances (Dublin, 1726).
As a vocal melody it can be heard in Charles Coffee’s ballad opera Boarding School (1733), The Cobler of Preston (1732), and it was published in a folio of songs from Henry Brooke’s Jack the Gyantqueller (London, 1749). Thomas Moore used it as the vehicle for his lyric "Fairest Put On Awhile." Sir John Hawkins mentioned the tune in this quote regarding tavern entertainment from his 1576 A General History of the Science and Practice of Music:
...Fidlers and others, hired by the master of the house; such as in the night season were wont to parade the city and suburbs under the title of Waits...Half a dozen of fidlers would scrape "Sellenger's Round", or "John Come Kiss Me", or "Old Simon the King" with divisions, till themselves and their audience were tired, after which as many players on the hautboy would in the most harsh and discordant tones grate forth "Greensleeves," "Yellow Stockings," "Gillean of Croydon," or some such common dance tune, and the people thought it fine music.
There are two main versions of “Yellow Stockings,” both sharing the first strain. One version follows the “Yellow Stocking,” “Mad Moll,” “Peacock Follows the Hen” versions, predominant in England, while the other follows “Yellow Stockings,” “The Kitten,” “Hey My Kitten” titles, predominant in Ireland. The version given in Ryan’s Mammoth Collection/Cole’s 1000 belongs to the Irish strain. The collector George Petrie included an untitled Irish version in his collection of 1855 (Stanford/Petrie, No. 101, p. 25). R.D. Cannon, in his article “English Bagpipe Music” (Folk Music Journal, 1972) suggests the progenitor of this very large tune family is the Scots “Up with Aley.” Other variant titles include “Brose and Butter,” “Drops of Brandy/Whiskey,” “Faraway Wedding (The),” “Honeymoon (The),” “Jerry Houlihan,” “Dusty Miller (The),” and “Hey My Nanny/Nancy.”
"Yellow Stockings" was entered into the mid-19th century music manuscript collection of County Cork uilleann piper and Church of Ireland cleric James Goodman .
Yellow dye could be produced in several ways. The French village of Vaucluse, Provence, was famous for yellow dyes made from dyer's rocket or mignonette (Reseda luteola). A flavone, luteolin, occurs throughout the plant and extraction involves preparing an infusion or decoction of the fresh or dried aerial parts of the plant. Following filtration, the resulting solution dyes fabrics a vibrant yellow. Other sources of yellow dye include the berries of buckthorn, Rhamnus sp. (called les graines d'Avignon) used for illuminating manuscripts, the European smoke tree (Cotinus coggygria) and the bark of the black oak (Quercus velutina). India's most renowned yellow dye is turmeric. In England saffron was not only an expensive a highly prized spice, but a source for yellow dye. The light, well-drained, and chalk-based soils of the north Essex countryside were the primary region for saffron growing in the county--the Essex town of Saffron Walden got its name as a saffron growing and trading center. In Shakespeare's time Londoners understood the wearing of yellow stockings to signal illicit sexuality and marital betrayal . The color yellow has symbolized jealousy since Elizabethan times. He wears yellow stockings was, from the late 16th century through the 18th century, a way of saying He is jealous .
Source for notated version: copied from O’Farrell’s National Irish Music (1797) [O’Neill].
Printed sources: Barnes (English Country Dance Tunes, vol. 2), 2005; p. 147. Chappell (Popular Music of the Olden Time, vol. 2), 1859; p. 74. Christian (A Playford Assembly), 2015; p. 136. Clinton (Gems of Ireland: 200 Airs), 1841; No. 127, p. 64. Cole (1000 Fiddle Tunes), 1940; p. 65. P.M. Haverty (One Hundred Irish Airs vol. 3), 1859; No. 296, p. 147. S. Johnson (The Kitchen Musician No. 6: Jigs), 1982 (revised 1989, 2001); p. 8. Levey (First Collection of the Dance Music of Ireland), 1858; No. 65, p. 26. O’Farrell (National Irish Music for the Union Pipes), 1804; p. 29 (see “The Kitten”). O’Neill (Waifs and Strays of Gaelic Melody), 1922; No. 189. Ryan’s Mammoth Collection, 1883; p. 96.