Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Futures - 'Rosin the Bow' and 'St Patrick was a Gentleman'

Rosin the Bow

A song that's been all over the oral tradition, with vague Irish and English antecedents and variants used in Morris dances.

Be A Fifer! Learn to Play the Fife!
Ed Boyle, webmaster

It has been sung for centuries in pubs and taverns throughout the English-speaking world, and probably in other languages as well. Often, tracing the origins of an obscure tune is much easier than one as popular as Rosin the Beau because of the many routes the latter has taken down multiple pathways. I have dated it to at least the 17th century as "The Gentle Maiden," and as "Rosin the Beau" to 1838.

The number of lyrics accumulated over the years can only be described as amazing, ranging from a song of murder and mayhem: "Down by the Willow Garden" to an endless variety of drinking songs. Probably because it was so easy to sing, many tasteless but humorous lyrics have also been created that can't be recounted here because this website is accessable to children.
Quotes four versions from William Henry Harrison's 1840 campaign and a couple of Henry Clay's and an abolitionist song of the 1850s, plus "Lincoln and Liberty Too."

The Fiddler’s Companion

© 1996-2009 Andrew Kuntz


ROSIN THE BEAU. AKA and see "Old Rosin, the Beau," "Mrs. Kenny('s)," "Acres of Clams," "My Lodging's in/on the Cold, Cold Ground." American, Waltz, Air and Contra Dance Tune; Irish, Jig; English, Morris Dance Tune (6/8 time). A Major (Ford, Joyce): G Major (Bayard, Laufman, Mulvihill, Wade). Standard or AEae. AB (Bayard, Joyce, Wade): ABB (Ford): AABB (Laufman, Mulvihill). The tune is used for a single step in the North West England morris dance tradition. Bayard (1981) notes the air was known to most fiddlers, fifers, and singers in Pennsylvania, as in many parts of the country. He identifies a melody by James Oswald which appears in his 2nd Collection (1740’s, pg. 25) as a 6/8 "Gigg," that is extremely close to "Rosin," and he wonders if this was the ancestral tune for the air, or if Oswald himself was influenced by an older air. Further, he says a tune called “Dumfries House” in Gow’s Complete Repository (3rd Ed., Part I, pg. 13) ascribed to John Riddle has a 2nd strain that equals "Rosin the Beau," and a Welsh harp tune in Bennett's Alawon fy Ngwlad also is quite close.
Regarding Irish versions, the Fleishchmann index (1998) gives that the tune was derived from a 17th century Irish tune in 6/4 meter called “On the Cold Ground;” that tune, however, is English, attributed to Matthew Lock from the play The Rivals. O’Neill (1922) remarks: “The name ‘Rosin the Bow’ has clung to the writer's memory since childhood, and the tune, like the song about ‘Old Rosin the Bow’ (a nickname for the fiddler) may have passed into oblivion, had not the melody been fortuitously found recently in a faded miscellaneous manuscript collection long discarded by (Chicago Police) Sergt. James O'Neill. A version of it I find is printed in Joyce's Old Irish Folk Music and Songs (1909).”
The title appears in a list of standard tunes in the square dance fiddler's repertoire, according to A.B. Moore in his History of Alabama, 1934. The title appears in a list of traditional Ozark Mountain fiddle tunes compiled by musicologist/folklorist Vance Randolph, published in 1954. Sources for notated versions: "Copied...from a MS. evidently written by a skilled fiddler with much musical taste, from Limerick, but the name of the writer nowhere appears" [Joyce]: Hogg (Pa., 1948) [Bayard]. Bayard (Dance to the Fiddle), 1981; No. 620, pg. 546. Ford (Traditional Music in America), 1940; pg. 56 57 and pg. 127 {discord version} (lyrics included, pg. 56 57). Joyce (Old Irish Folk Music and Song), 1909; No. 352, pg. 162. Laufman (Okay, Let's Try a Contra, Men on the Right, Ladies on the Left, Up and Down the Hall), 1973; pg. 15. Mulvihill (1st Collection), 1986; No. 15, pg. 122. O’Neill (Waifs and Strays of Gaelic Melody), 1922; No. 99. Wade (Mally’s North West Morris Book), 1988; pg. 24. Rounder 7059, Alex Francis MacKay with Gordon MacLean – “Gaelic in the Bow” (2005). Smithsonian Folkways SFW CD 40126, Rodney Miller – “Choose Your Partners!: Contra Dance & Square Dance Music of New Hampshire” (1999).

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OLD ROSIN THE BEAU. See also "Rosin the Beau," "Rosin the Bow," "Mrs. Kenny('s)," "Cill Cais (Church of Cais)" [pronounced 'kill cash']. English, American; Jig, Air and Waltz. G Major. Standard. AABB. The tune "Old Rosin the Beau," or "Rosin the Beau," has a varied and extensive history and has served a number of functions. On the minstrel stage it was one of the frequent songs of the character Mr. Corn Meal, a creation of the white blackface performer Jim "Daddy" Rice, who based his version on that of a street singer he heard in New Orleans. As a dance tune it was cited as commonly played for Orange County, New York, country dances in the 1930's {as "Old Rosin the Bow"} (Lettie Osborn, New York Folklore Quarterly). Jarman (Old Time Fiddlin' Tunes); No. or pg. 16. Kennedy (Fiddlers Tune Book), vol. 1, 1951; No. 99, pg. 49. Kerr (Merry Melodies), vol. 1; pg. 29. Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; pg. 100. Sweet (Fifer’s Delight), 1965/1981; pg. 23. Fretless 119, Rodney and Randy Miller‑‑"Castles in the Air" (played as a waltz).

From Inaugural Exhibition List of Objects in G.W. Blunt White Building, Mystic Seaport Museum, Mystic, Conn.

Cabinet 3 / Shelf 1 - Early American rowing / American clubs and associations
One of the greatest public spectacles of the early 19th century in New York, drawing a crowd of as many as 50,000-100,000, was the 1824 race between four New York Whitehall watermen in the “American Star” and four British sailors from a visiting warship. The American victory was so celebrated by the people of the city (see symbolic print) that when Lafayette made his farewell tour later that year, the winning boat was presented to him (it is today the oldest Whitehall in existence). An engraving of a victorious figure emerging from the waves, the first boat-racing image published in the United States, memorialized this event.

The earliest boat clubs, dating from at least the 1830’s, are notably represented by the sheet music written in their honor. The 1837 silver pitcher won by the Erie Boat Club for a 5-mile race is the oldest team sport trophy in America. Stereoviews made of the 1859 and 1860 regattas in New York Harbor may be among the first photographs of American team sporting events.

Sheet music: (a) 1831 New York Boat Club. “My Bark is My Courser.” Printed by John B. Pendleton in New York. [NRF/F-S]; (b) 1836 “Light May the Boat Row/ Written by Jonas B. Phillips/ dedicated to the/ Amateur Boat Club association by J. Watson”; (c) 1840 “Arouse Ye Gay Comrades” to the Tiger Boat Club. written by Thomas Power. composed by Jos. Philip Knight./ Boston. MSM 2005 xred 2005.110.170 (TEW?); (d) 1846 “Mahopac Lake Waltz” “Club Boat Gazelle/ to The Amateur Cornet Club, by Allen Dodworth./ New York; (e) 1865 “Waverley Galop de Concert Composed and Dedicated by Konrad Treuer to the Waverley Boat Club of New York City”; and (f) 1875 “Triton March” “To Commodore Charles Glaze. Triton Boat Club Newark N.J. Composed by Charles I. Bolles.”
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Cabinet 4 Shelf 1 The Schuylkill River and Navy
The oldest (1858) rowing association in America, the Philadelphia-based Navy and Boathouse Row include some of the most notable rowing clubs in the U.S. The river has featured not only much of the country’s prominent racing, including the 1876 Centennial Regattas, but also the oarsmen memorialized by the great rowing artist Thomas Eakins.
Sheet music “Old Rosin the Beau ... Favorite Comic Song Dedicated to the members of the Falcon Barge by the Publisher. Philadelphia, 1838”
Friends of Rowing History, National Rowing Hall of Fame & Rowing History Exhibit. 2001. http://www.rowinghistory.net/exhibit.htm

The lyrics to "Old Rosin the Beau" are ubiguitous. Here's a set from Brobdingnagian Bards, a Celtic website.

The Session website for traditional Irish music has a writeup with several (mostly recent) variants including "When Ireland lay broken and bleeding / Hooray for 'The 'Men of the West'" and a song about what purports to be Brian Boru's condom. As follows:

(Celtic Pride)
(Tune: "Rosin the Beau")
I was up to me arse in the muck, Sir,
With a peat contract down in the bog
When me shovel it struck something hard, Sir,
That I thought was a rock or a log

'Twas a box of the finest old oak, Sir,
'Twas a foot long, and four inches wide
And not giving a damn for the Fairies
I just took a quick look inside. ...<.blockquote>And so on ...

St Patrick was a Gentleman

Lyrics, chords (in C) and an embedded version by the Wolfe Tones in Irish Songs Lyrics With Guitar Chords By Martin Dardis at http://martindardis.com/id283.html

Tab with chords also available at http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/ ... go to the collection of Irish Song with lyrics and easy chords, St. Patrick at http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/irish-folk-music/irish%20songs/st_patrick_was_a_gentleman.htm

A couple of threads in Mudcat Cafe, one especially good one headed "Tune Add: Patrick Was a Gentleman" at http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=12290 has this:
According to Helen K. Johnson's 'Our Familiar Songs, and Those That Made Them', 1881 (with considerably better notes than in most books of that ilk). The song originally consisted of 3 stanzas written by Henry Bennett and a Mr. Toleken of Cork, in 1814, and they sang alternate lines of it in a mmasquerade. Mr. Toleken slightly later added another stanza, and 2 stanzas are of unknown origin (but are obviously early ones). (Commencement of verses follows; numbers are those in her text)

1: Saint Patrick was a gentleman
2: There's not a mile in Ireland's isle
5: The Wicklow hills are very high

6: Oh! was I but fortunate

Unknown origin:
3: Nine hundred thousand vipers
4: No wonder that those Irish lads
I don't expect to see it nailed down much better than that. The tune we hear now, by the way, is "Maggie in the Woods." See Digital Tradition at http://sniff.numachi.com/pages/tiPATGENT;ttPATGENT.html ... in D!

1 comment:

Vance said...

It's an wonderful article to know more details. It helps people to get inspired. Boat clubs help people to learn about boating. They assist people from the beginning till the end that they have to be sure that the person can sail alone.