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Welcome to The Traditional Tune Archive
The Semantic Index of North American, British and Irish
traditional instrumental music with annotation, formerly known as
The Fiddler's Companion.

February 16 2019  Featured tune:           FLOP EARED MULE

John Graham of Claverhouse - Bonnie Dundee

The melody is that of the song "Bonnets of Bonnie Dundee", printed in George Farquhar Graham's Songs of Scotland, often "erroneously called 'Bonnie Dundee' thus confounding it with a much finer slow air of the the olden time, found in the Skene MS. (1935?), and now sung to 'Mary of Castlecary" (Graham, p. 373). Graham also notes that "Bonnie Dundee (2)" "was known in Edinburgh about fifty years ago as 'The band at a distance;' it was much played by young ladies, the mode being to begin pianissimo, gradually increase the sound to fortissimo, and then die away as the band was supposed to recede into the distance." It became associated sometime around the 1840's with Sir Walter Scott's poem "Bonny Dundee," and the new title stuck, probably due to the singer Miss Dolby (later Madame Sainton Dolby), according to Reginald Nettle (Sing a Song of England, 1954, p. 203). It became well known in north Britain, says Nettle, as an accompaniment to a children's game, and was collected to Loch Awe by Anne Gilchrist, who heard it sung by girls from Loanhead and Lossiemoutrh at Lochchan, September, 1900:

My name is sweet Mary, my age is sixteen,
My father's a farmer on yonder green;
He's plenty of money to dress me in silks,
For there's nae bonny laddie to tak' me awa.

At Southport, Lancashire, girls also sang the song, albeit without some of the Scottishisms (see abc below):

Queen Mary, Queen Mary, my age is sixteen,
My father's a farmer in yonder green;
With plenty of money to dress me in silk,
Come along, bonny lassie, and give me a waltz.

Nettle then records:

"Some of us may remember Hemy's Pianoforte Tutor, which had an enormous vogue for over a century, though few of us ever tried to find out who Hemy was. Henry Hemy was organist at a Roman Catholic Church in Newcastle upon Tyne, and he wanted a tune for the hymn, Hail, Queen of Heaven, the Ocean Star. The word 'star' made him think of the Latin stella, and Stella was the name of a village four miles from Newcastle, where Hemy had heard children singing the tune Sweet Mary or Queen Mary, and with Mary he associated the Virgin Mary; Ave maris stella-the circle was complete. He adapted the children's tune to the hymn and named the tune Stella.

The dance version of "Bonny Dundee" was cited as having been frequently played at country dances in Orange County, New York, in the 1930's (Lettie Osborn, New York Folklore Quarterly).


BONNIE DUNDEE full Score(s) and Annotations and Past Featured Tunes



%%font "Century Gothic" %%titlefont "Century Gothic" 24 %%subtitlefont "Century Gothic" 16 %%textfont "Century Gothic" 16 %%composerfont "Century Gothic" 14 %%infofont "Century Gothic" 14 X:1 T:Bonnie Dundee M:6/8 L:1/8 R:Jig K:G ded dBd|gfe d2c|BdD BdB|ABA ABc| ded dBd|gfe d2c|BdG AdF|GAG G3|

Why TTA Who builds the Archive

Although we are not trained musicologists and make no pretense to the profession, we have tried to apply such professional rigors to this Semantic Abc Web as we have internalized through our own formal and informal education.


This demands the gathering of as much information as possible about folk pieces to attempt to trace tune families, determine origins, influences and patterns of aural/oral transmittal, and to study individual and regional styles of performance.
Many musicians, like ourselves, are simply curious about titles, origins, sources and anecdotes regarding the music they play. Who, for example, can resist the urge to know where the title Blowzabella came from or what it means, or speculating on the motivations for naming a perfectly respectable tune Bloody Oul' Hag, is it Tay Ye Want?
Knowing the history of the melody we play, or at least to have a sense of its historical and social context, makes the tune 'present' in the here and now, and enhances our rendering of it.

Andrew Kuntz & Valerio Pelliccioni


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