I saw my love/ Drunken wives of Carlisle

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I saw my love/ Drunken wives of Carlisle

Postby John Gibbons » Tue May 22, 2012 10:31 pm

I was comparing some versions of these tunes, and a puzzling one is Riddell's Drunken Wives of Carlisle, which is very close to the Northumbrian 'I saw my Love' versions, from Dixon to Clough, but with 9 notes, from G to a, and in G major, so without the low subtonic. The Sinkler version of Drunken Wives is (a fiddle version of) a BP tune, very mixolydian, really using the low subtonic.
Dixon's I saw my Love is in G mix, but clearly a precursor of Peacock's and all that came after.
What was Riddell's version played on? If it was for smallpipes it would have 8 notes - Riddell was at a time and place where keyed small pipes were a distant rumour. If it was for fiddle it would likely have strayed beyond the 9 note compass, which it holds to very strictly. The top a's are important in this version.
It looks like it's workable on BP - you'd need to cross-finger the c naturals, and ideally bring the drones down to G. Or else there were dorian mode chanters around?

John
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Re: I saw my love/ Drunken wives of Carlisle

Postby Matt Seattle » Fri May 25, 2012 5:33 pm

Interesting questions, John, and I have pondered them too. I know enough about this tune to know that there's a lot I don't know, so I can only give a personal response rather than one backed by a total view of all the evidence, which must include the early lute settings under variants of the title 'Pit on Yir Sark on Monday'. I would, for example, be very interested in the Sinkler version you mention.

I don't think we can describe a 'definitive' version because there are so many different takes on the tune, but the Dixon-Peacock-Clough-Ormston line has longevity and integrity, and I include Chris because he has developed the tune beyond Clough.

I am not convinced by Pete Stewart's argument for a dorian chanter. It's possible of course, but so out of line with the surviving instruments, and of such negligible (IMO) musical advantage, that I have not felt the need to investigate it. I think that Dixon does enough modally that we still have plenty to get on with, and if we can cross-finger and overblow, even better, but a radically different relationship between chanter and drones - not for me, thanks.

This still leaves Riddell's version unexplained. It has been mediated by a fiddler - or someone writing for fiddle - as the extra strain shows - maybe he thought that the tag phrase was harmonically unsatisfactory and changed it to better outline the conventional dominant chord? I pose this as a question rather than an answer. It's playable but awkward on Border pipes (overblowing the 9th), and I don't think it's a musical improvement.
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Re: I saw my love/ Drunken wives of Carlisle

Postby Matt Seattle » Fri May 25, 2012 8:43 pm

The Sinkler is reproduced by David Johnson, as I recalled after I'd posted. The low leading notes are sharp.
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Re: I saw my love/ Drunken wives of Carlisle

Postby John Gibbons » Fri May 25, 2012 10:32 pm

Clark's additions to the Riddell tunes tell us two things - he must have been a fine musician technically,
but he didn't really understand the music he was dealing with.

If we strip off his extrapolation, what remains is the puzzle of an apparent 9-note NSP tune without a keyed chanter to play it on.
Riddell knew it was an NSP tune, and as you say, he probably got it from a fiddler (other than Clark?).
If it had picked up the 1 extra note in its fiddle incarnation, it would probably have picked up a lot more than just the one,
which is what Clark tried to give it in his bit. So was it a 9-note version when it was still a pipe tune? But it's not the same 9 notes as the Dixon tunes....

Whether there were Dorian mode chanters, I don't know. There are a few obvious pipe tunes surviving in Dorian mode versions, Mr Preston and Bold Wilkinson among them; all the ones I know of only survive in fiddle versions, so it may only be that fiddlers liked them better with the minor third. Atkinson has Bold Wilkinson in two different versions in different modes; but whether pipers had them in different modes, or were stuck with just the one, I have no idea. Did historical BP chanters cross-finger as easily as most modern ones? If so we don't need postulate there were once Dorian mode chanters, if any chanter could be played Dorian if you wannted it that way.
What was the intonation of historic BP chanters like? The ambiguous modality of Bold Wilkinson, as reported by fiddlers, might suggest the third on the pipes of Atkinson's day was inconsistent from one instrument to another. Pity Dixon didn't have this tune in his book too.

All the best,

John
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Re: I saw my love/ Drunken wives of Carlisle

Postby Barry Say » Sat May 26, 2012 8:18 am

I cannot see the case for arguing that the Riddell version is an NSP tune at all. Riddell's book was published for Violin and Pianoforte, and if his version is the first to extend the tune to 9 notes then this was a fiddlers take on the tune. People were still composing 9 note tunes in the 20th Century (The Reel of Tullochgorum aka Jimmy/Jamie/Jemmy/ Allan/Allen) for instance.

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Re: I saw my love/ Drunken wives of Carlisle

Postby John Gibbons » Sat May 26, 2012 10:01 am

Riddell arranges it for violin and piano - in this case adding notes in octaves in the LH of the piano, and his violinist friend Clark's extra variation. The good thing about his arranging is that he doesn't actually arrange very much, leaving well alone.
But there is nothing violinistic about the melody line until Clark gets going. Melodically it's almost identical to parts of Peacock's I saw my Love, but with added top a's, giving a total compass of 9 notes. A fiddle version would have a wider range - other fiddle versions do.
So it's a (recent) fiddle adaptation of a 9-note version, presumably for pipes. Then we are back to my original question.

John
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Re: I saw my love/ Drunken wives of Carlisle

Postby John Gibbons » Sat May 26, 2012 2:03 pm

I have now had the chance to try this one in both G and A on Border pipes;
this will vary from set to set, but on mine, it was more playable in G.
I could get the drones down to G, G d although I needed to lengthen the G's with bits of drinking straws,
and the cross-fingered c natural, though slightly sharp, was easily brought down with a bit of blu-tack.
Wax would be better as blu-tack sticks to your fingers.

When I played it in A, it still worked, although the problem was that the overblown high b needed more pressure than the drones liked.
I have not had this problem in the past with other tunes needing high b, so maybe a bit of fettling will cure this.
Playing in A, the prominent g sharps, e.g. in bar 2, wanted playing natural as in the Dixon version. But maybe that's just me being too familiar with Dixon. Or it might be an intonation issue I hadn't noticed so much before - g sharp before an a sounds good a bit sharp, but on the way down you want it sounding true.

So the tune works in G on Border pipes in A; but now I think the dominant harmony in passages like |ABcA fgaf| is maybe a bit unpipey.
Or am I just too familiar with Dixon and Peacock's versions?

John
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Re: I saw my love/ Drunken wives of Carlisle

Postby Barry Say » Sat May 26, 2012 4:44 pm

I am still entirely unconvinced by John's argument. Do we have any other 9 note pipe tunes? We know about Jimmy Allan 'shiverin' his lil.

I would contend that over the last three centuries, the range of notes within tunes has become wider and more complex. The range has been pushed both up and down and the number of accidentals used has generally increased. This leaves the simpler, older instruments languishing in a realm of simpler tunes predominantly reminiscent of a former time. Hoorah!

Can I also point to The Candlestick in the third NPS tunebook. This is a nine-note tune composed by a fiddler (Lightfoot) in the late 19th century.

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Re: I saw my love/ Drunken wives of Carlisle

Postby John Gibbons » Sat May 26, 2012 6:49 pm

Most 'pipe-style fiddle' tunes from the 18th century are pretty rigorous in sticking to the compass of the pipes they imitate;
fiddle tunes, like Jimmy Allan or the Candlestick, which happen to have a 9 note compass, are clearly a different kind of animal from a piece which is recognisably a version of a well known 1-octave pipe tune.

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Re: I saw my love/ Drunken wives of Carlisle

Postby Matt Seattle » Sat May 26, 2012 8:25 pm

Too many points to reply to.

There are other tunes which use overblown notes, most famously Soor Plums o Galashiels, going two notes over the high tonic and including major and minor higher leading notes.

I don't think Bold Wilkinson is a Dorian tune. The Smith version has, in my opinion, a mistaken key signature, as does Smith's version of Jockey Stays Long ('Galloping o'er the Cowhill' if I recall). I play it as mixolydian, in the Dixon idiom with slight stylistic differences. Mr Preston's Hornpipe has devotees in dorian and mixolydian modes. More to the point for me, no-one in recent times has played or published it with the glaring typo in the original corrected, a typo which is glaring whichever mode you play the tune in.

Dorian tunes are very playable on modern Border pipes, and I play a lot of them; I have also written and/or arranged tunes in more 'exotic' modes and time signatures, and adopted old fiddle tunes which were not possible on 9-note chanters. But for me, this is modern Border piping, because I am a modern Border piper, basing my practice in tradition while embracing the extra possibilities of a good modern instrument. There is one old tune which does make a case for c natural, Clean Pease Strae, but it's circumstantial evidence from fiddle sources.

Back to Riddell. I think the tunes with additions by Clark were also collected by Clark. I have no proof of this, but there is a hint in Riddell's Notes which makes me incline to this view. Cut & Dry is specifically stated to be a NSP tune, the only one so designated in the book. I can't explain or justify Riddell's tag in DWOCarlisle, but don't feel any need to question the Dixon-Peacock line; it's consistent within small levels of difference and it works so well on both NSP and BP.
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