Sunday, September 20, 2015

"Pretty Brown Girl"

For my DPN story on hammered dulcimers in Ireland ...

Capt. Francis O'Neill, Dance Music of Ireland: 1,001 Gems. Chicago: Lyon & Healey, 1907. No. 151. Old Music Project.

Lead sheet, abc notation and MIDI file at

Chapter XIII, Black Baronet:

... Our friend Dandy, who was on the outside, finding that the coach came to a level space on the road, placed the dulcimer on his knees, and commenced an accompaniment on that instrument, which produced an effect equally comic and agreeable. And what added to the humor of this extraordinary duet—if we can call it so—was the delight with which each intimated his satisfaction at the performance of the other, as well as with the terms in which it was expressed. "Well done, Dandy! dang my buttons, but you shine upon the wires. Ah, thin, it's you that is and ever was the wiry lad—and sure that was what made you take to the dulcimer of course. Dandy, achora, will you give us, 'Merrily kissed the Quaker?' and I ask it, Dandy, bekaise we are in a religious way, and have a quakers' meetn' in the coach."

"No," replied Dandy; "but I'll give you the 'Bonny brown Girl,' that's worth a thousand of it, you thief."

"Bravo, Dandy, and so it is; and, as far as I can see in the dark, dang my buttons, but I think we have one here, too."

"I thank you for the compliment, sir," said Alley, appropriating it without ceremony to herself. "I feel much obliged to you, sir; but I'm not worthy of it." "My darling," replied the jolly farmer, "you had betther not take me up till I fall. How do you know it was for you it was intended? You're not the only lady in the coach, avourneen."

"And you're not the only gintleman in the coach, Jemmy Doran," replied Alley, indignantly. "I know you well, man alive—and you picked up your politeness from your cattle, I suppose."

"A better chance of getting it from them than from you," replied, the hasty grazier. "But I tell you at once to take it aisy, achora; don't get on fire, or you'll burn the coach—the compliment was not intended for you, at all events. Come, Dandy, give us the 'Bonny brown Girl,' and I'll help you, as well as I'm able." In a moment the dulcimer was at work on the top of the coach, and the merry farmer, at the top of his lungs, lending his assistance inside.

When the performance had been concluded, Alley, who was brimful of indignation at the slight which had been put upon her, said, "Many thanks to you, Misther Doran, but if you plaise we'll dispense wid your music for the rest of the journey. Remember you're not among your own bullocks and swine—and that this roaring and grunting is and must be very disagreeable to polite company."

The Traditional Tune Archive,

CAILÍN DEAS DONN [2] (A Pretty Brown-Haired Maid). AKA and see "Pretty Brown Maid/Girl [3]," "Bobby in Bed." Irish, Air (12/8 time). F Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). One part. Does not seem to be related to "Cailín Deas Donn (1)". Also called 'Bobby in Bed.'" See also "Move Up to Me," "Did You See My Man Looking for Me? [1]." O'Sullivan (1983) points out that the tune was in the dorian mode in Bunting's manuscript, altered to the ionian mode in the printed collection: both are nearly exact mirrors of one another, save that the dorian mode tune is transposed down one step. However, the key signature for both versions remains the same. O'Sullivan is unable to account for this, save that Bunting may have been trying to 'improve' the tune in his published work.

Source for notated version: the index to the Irish collector Edward Bunting's 1840 collection gives that the tune was noted at "Deel Castle, Ballina, in 1792," though a note in Bunting's MS version states it was taken from the harper "Charles Byrne.

Printed sources: O'Sullivan/Bunting, 1983; No. 53, pp. 82-83.

Several videos on YouTube:

  • Cailín deas donn, song / Micheál Ó Cuaig, singing in Irish. Recorded in Hughes' Bar, Dublin at Sean Nós Cois Life, 2012.

  • Cailin Deas Donn · Fiddlehead The Pure Drop ℗ 2007 Fiddlehead "Cailin Deas Donn" by Fiddlehead (Google Play • iTunes)

No comments: