Bonnets o' Blue (1)
BONNETS O' BLUE . English, Morris Dance Tune (6/8 time). G Major (Mallinson): F Major (Bacon). Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB, AABB, AACC, AACC, AA. The melody was collected in the village of Bledington, Gloucestershire, in England's Cotswolds. Bacon notes there is some doubt about the modality of the tune: Cecil Sharpe collected it in 1909 from Charles Benfield who played it with flattened 7th in the third measure of the 'A' part and the 7th measure of the 'B' part, however, around 1924, when collected by Dr. Kenworthy Schofield from the same informant, the 7th was consistently flattened. The tune is not the same as "Bonnets So Blue."
Blue bonnets were associated with the Scots, stemming from the color of the bonnets produced in Dundee and other locations in Scotland that were dyed commonly died blue (for the working class, or black, for the middle class). The blue bonnet became associated with marauders from the Borders region who raided northern England for cattle, most of whom were poor and working class. Later the blue bonnet was adopted by the Scottish military, and the connotation changed, the association then being with the Scots soldier.
The portrait of a fiddler on Peter Kennedy's original Fiddler's Tune-Book volumes (by artist A. van Anrooy) depicts Charles Benfield, the fiddler for the Bledington morris men in the second half of the 19th century. Benfield started out by playing the pipe and tabor, instruments he had 'inherited' from the renowned Sherbourne and Northleach musician Jim 'the laddie' Simpson, who had succumbed to an overdose of alcohol in 1856. The fiddler became a key figure in the Bledington morris tradition, eventually leading the "junior side" of dancers born in the 1860's, men who survived to pass on their tradition to larger audiences when collectors visited in the 1930's.
Printed sources: Bacon (The Morris Ring), 1974; p. 85. Mallinson (Mally's Cotswold Morris Book), 1988, vol. 2; No. 43, p. 21.
X: 1 T:Bonnets o' Blue, Bledington M:6/8 L:1/8 A:Bledington P:A(AB)2(AC)2 K:F P:A |:CDE F2G |ABA GAG |FDE F2G|A>GF F3:| P:B |:AGA c2A |AGF G2F/G/|AcA GFG|AGF D3 | CDE F2G |ABA GAG |FDE F2G|A>GF F3:| P:C |:(2AG A2B|c3A3|(2AG F2A|G3 (2FG|(2Ac A3 |G3(2FG| AGF D3 |CDE F2G |ABA GAG |FDE F2G|A>GF F3:|
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