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Origin: Skye Boat Song confusion

DigiTrad:
OVER THE SEA TO SKYE (VARIANT)
SKYE BOAT SONG
SKYE BOAT SONG (Parody)


Related threads:
Outlander: Mary of souls? (4)
Skye Boat Song in Gaelic? (8)
(origins) Origins: The Skye Boat Song (55)
Tune Req: Sing Me a Song of a Lad That is Gone (2)
(origins) Origins: Skye Boat Song (26)


GUEST,Tom Bliss 17 Sep 06 - 07:10 AM
bfdk 17 Sep 06 - 07:35 AM
Nigel Parsons 17 Sep 06 - 08:12 AM
GUEST,thurg 17 Sep 06 - 09:24 AM
Nigel Parsons 17 Sep 06 - 09:33 AM
Malcolm Douglas 17 Sep 06 - 12:46 PM
Lighter 17 Sep 06 - 01:36 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 17 Sep 06 - 03:07 PM
Mr Yellow 18 Sep 06 - 07:53 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 18 Sep 06 - 08:35 AM
Desert Dancer 18 Sep 06 - 04:30 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 18 Sep 06 - 06:18 PM
Joe_F 18 Sep 06 - 09:53 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 19 Sep 06 - 03:43 AM
Mysha 24 Apr 11 - 04:33 PM
GUEST,Guest 30 Aug 11 - 07:31 AM
GUEST,Guest 30 Aug 11 - 08:06 AM
GUEST,Lighter 30 Aug 11 - 09:08 AM
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Subject: Syke Boat Confusion
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 17 Sep 06 - 07:10 AM

I just thought I'd check the lyrics and found these by Sir Harold Boulton Bart (1884):

Speed bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,
Onward, the sailors cry
Carry the lad that's born to be king
Over the sea to skye

Loud the winds howl, loud the waves roar,
Thunder clouds rend the air;
Baffled our foe's stand on the shore
Follow they will not dare

Speed bonnie boat....

Though the waves leap, soft shall ye sleep
Ocean's a royal bed
Rocked in the deep, Flora will keep
Watch by your weary head

Speed bonnie boat....

Many's the lad fought on that day
Well the claymore could wield
When the night came, silently lay
Dead on Culloden's field

Speed bonnie boat...

Burned are our homes, exile and death
Scatter the loyal men
Yet, e'er the sword cool in the sheath,
Charlie will come again.

Speed bonnie boat...

It suggests the first half of the tune trad is a shanty, and the second half (only) by Annie McLeod.

But as a child visiting my Grandmother at Broadford we always sang on the ferry:

Mull was astern, Rum on the port,
Eigg on the starboard bow;
Glory of youth glowed in his soul;
Where is that glory now?

With the chorus above.

So I searched for that and found this by Robert Louis Stevenson:

Sing me a song of a lad that is gone
Say, could that lad be I?
Merry of soul, he sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye

Mull was astern, Rum was on port
Eigg on the starboard bow
Glory of youth glowed in his soul
Where is that glory now?

Sing me song...

Give me again all that was there
Give me the sun that shone
Give me the eyes, give me the soul
Give me the lad that's gone

Sing me song...

Billow and breeze, islands and seas
Mountains of rain and sun
All that was good, all that was fair
All that was me is gone

Sing me song...

And this attributes ALL of the tune to Annie McLeod.

Which came first, does anyone know? And how much of the tune is trad? And when was Annie's contribution made in relation to the two sets of lyrics?

Thanks

Tom


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Subject: RE: Syke Boat Confusion
From: bfdk
Date: 17 Sep 06 - 07:35 AM

Just two days ago I brought the new McCalmans CD "Scots Abroad" home in triumph after attending a gig in a nearby town. Great CD :-)

Anyway, The Skye Boat Song is on that CD, and the notes read:

The lyrics were written by Sir Harold Boulton to an air collected by Miss Annie MacLeod in the 1870s. It was first published in "Songs of the North". "The Macs" recorded the Stevenson version of this song on "Smuggler" (1975) and we've used some of his words on this one, thus maintaining the Scottish element on every song."

The lyrics read:

Sing me a song of a lad that has gone
Say, could that lad be I
Merry of soul he sailed on that day
Over the sea to Skye

Speed bonny boat like a bird on the wing
Onward the sailors cry
Carry the lad that's born to be king
Over the sea to Skye

Loud the winds howl loud the waves roar
Thunderclaps rend the air
Baffled our foe stand by the shore
Follow they will not dare

Many's the lad fought on that day
Well the claymore did wield
When the night came silent they lay
Dead on Culloden field

Based on the above, it seems you should try to lay your hands on "Songs of the North" for the Boulton version. Can't help with directions on how to get further info on the Stevenson version, though.

Best wishes,

Bente


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Subject: RE: Syke Boat Confusion
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 17 Sep 06 - 08:12 AM

I can identify the R.L.Stevenson version as being that which appears in the Scottish Students Song Book (1897) which states "The air by permission from Songs of the North, CRAMER & Co Ltd

CHEERS
Nigel


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Subject: RE: Skye Boat Confusion
From: GUEST,thurg
Date: 17 Sep 06 - 09:24 AM

Mull was astern, Rum was on port
Eigg on the starboard bow

- Sounds like an inebriated sea-dog's attempt to dictate the recipe that landed him in that state ...


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Subject: RE: Skye Boat Confusion
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 17 Sep 06 - 09:33 AM

Scottish islands, Rum & Eigg
a href= >Mull

CHEERS
Nigel


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Subject: RE: Skye Boat Confusion
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 17 Sep 06 - 12:46 PM

'Skye Boat Song' appeared in Songs of the North volume I, [1884 or 1885]. The editors were A C MacLeod (that is, Anne Campbell MacLeod) and Harold Boulton; the music was arranged by Malcolm Lawson.

There is some suggestion that the tune was ascribed in some fashion to Miss MacLeod in the first edition, but it was merely described in later editions (my copy is the 23rd edition; it was a very popular book) as an "old Highland rowing measure" (a 'iorram': describing it as a shanty is potentially misleading, though even the Oxford Companion to Music does so), but at any rate it is a matter of record that Anne MacLeod (later Lady Wilson) "heard the first part ... in 1879 while being rowed from Torrin to Loch Coruisk, in Skye. She added the second part herself and in 1884 Sir Harold Boulton ... wrote the words which have so captured the popular imagination." (Wilma Patterson, Songs of Scotland. Edinburgh: Mainstream Publishing, 1996, p 53).

It was common practice in 19th century Scotland to add a "second strain" to short tunes got from tradition. Naturally, the tune in its new form would be A C MacLeod's copyright, and, given the enormous number of times it has been reprinted and recorded, it isn't surprising that the copyright information has led some to assume that she wrote the whole thing.

In 1887, Stevenson heard a Miss Ferrier (granddaughter of Professor Wilson, who, under the pen name 'Christopher North' was himself quite a prolific provider of new words for old melodies) sing the song. He was keen on the tune but not much taken by the words, so he wrote some of his own. These were not published until after his death.

It is sometimes asserted that the unknown "rowing measure" was actually 'Cuachag nan Craobh', and there is certainly a superficial resemblance between the melodies. Andrew Kuntz ( Fiddlers Companion: Skye Boat Song ) paraphrases an anecdote that would seem to confirm the connection if it is authentic: unfortunately he cites no source, so it would be difficult to verify. Meanwhile, I'd treat the identification with caution.

See, in the DT:

SKYE BOAT SONG  (Boulton's text, missing the final verse)

OVER THE SEA TO SKYE (VARIANT)  (Robert Louis Stevenson text)

Among several past discussions, see:

Skye Boat Song  -includes RLS text, the Boulton verse missing from DT, and various other comments including a couple of parodies.


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Subject: RE: Skye Boat Confusion
From: Lighter
Date: 17 Sep 06 - 01:36 PM

Concerning MacLeod's contribution, it would be too much to assume that she left even the first strain strictly alone. If she was impressed enough to publish the tune at all, her own version must resemble what she heard, but few Romantic composers would think some adjusting to taste was unseemly.

That perspective proves nothing, but it may increase the likelihood that the original was indeed a version of "Cuachag nan Craobh."


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Subject: RE: Skye Boat Confusion
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 17 Sep 06 - 03:07 PM

Malcolm, thanks for pulling the versions together.

Nigel, the "Scottish Students Song Book" is a good source for the period. A number of the songs were popular on both sides of the Atlantic. "Over the Sea ..." was included in the ed. which I have. Like yours, it must be the 6th of 1897 since Stevenson's version was not published until 1896.
A different song, "Over the Water to Charlie," is found in the U. S. song book, "Franklin Square Song Collection (1)" of 1881 (1898).

The "Skye Boat Song" seems to have taken a few years to become popular in America (sheet music in England, 1884. Stevenson's appeared in "Songs of Travel and Other Verses," 1896). No copies of sheet music listed in American Memory or Levy.
The "Skye Boat Song," Boulton- Lawson, ("Jacobite") is printed in the 1903 edition of "Folk Songs and Other Songs for Children," an Oliver Ditson book. Did it appear earlier in any of the popular American song books?


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Subject: RE: Skye Boat Confusion
From: Mr Yellow
Date: 18 Sep 06 - 07:53 AM

if the points of the compass and the islands seem strange - consider that it is a song about travelling from the Outer Hebredes to Skye. Not from the mainland to Skye.


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Subject: RE: Skye Boat Confusion
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 18 Sep 06 - 08:35 AM

Thanks for this all - fascinating reading. I can't help wondering if there might not be some connection with waulkin' songs - sung while kneading tweed cloth soaked in urine. The tempo and gait is similar to, for example, Waulin o the Fauld (Western Isles), which would work just as well for rowin' to as for waulkin'. One could imagine men using the tune for the one purpose, and women for the other!

Strange that I should have learned what turns out to be a composite of the two sets of lyrics - but then that's folk music for you!


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Subject: RE: Skye Boat Confusion
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 18 Sep 06 - 04:30 PM

I don't believe that in my minimal experience I've ever heard a 3/4 time waulking song. The job wants a shorter measure than pulling on an oar does.

~ Becky in Tucson (a long way from waulking and oars...)


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Subject: RE: Skye Boat Confusion
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 18 Sep 06 - 06:18 PM

Good point


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Subject: RE: Skye Boat Confusion
From: Joe_F
Date: 18 Sep 06 - 09:53 PM

Schubert wrote a three-legged march, but whether anyone has ever marched to it, I do not know.


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Subject: RE: Skye Boat Confusion
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 19 Sep 06 - 03:43 AM

Maybe someone in the Isle of Man can help?


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Subject: RE: Origin: Skye Boat Song
From: Mysha
Date: 24 Apr 11 - 04:33 PM

Hi,

Which one is that first part, that appears similar to "Cuachag nan Craobh" and might have been a iorram? I don't know the other song, so I find it hard to compare.

Bye,
                                                                  Mysha


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Subject: RE: Origin: Skye Boat Song
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 07:31 AM

In Percy Scholes, Oxford Companion to Music, 10th 1953, p958
Skye Boat Song

The tune is dated to being heard in 1879...
The words by Boulton "date from 1884"

"Later some other words were written to the tune by Robert Louis Stevenson, who apparently believed the tune to be a pure folk tune and in the public domain. This latter set of words has appeared in association with the tune in certain song books, by permission of Lady Wilson and Sir Harold Boulton, and a confusion has originated, particulary as both sets of wors include 'Over the sea to Skye'."


Songs of the North volume 1 edited by AC Macleod and Harold Boulton, was published in 1885. Date of publication is confirmed in English Catalogue of Books as Macleod 1885, The Times new books column July 1885, and in the entry for it in Matthew McLennan Young, Field & Tuer: The Leadenhall Press, 2010, Oak Knoll Press/British Library, pp64-65, which dates it to June 1885.

Young spells her as MacLeod and Macleod in that same entry. Anne Campbell Macleod [sic] (1855-1921) was daughter of Very Rev Norman Macleod and a long line of distinguished Macleod preachers and Gaelic scholars who are written up in DNB and elsewhere. She included two songs with words by her grandparents in Songs of the North volume 1. She is named Macleod in the Who Was Who entry for her husband Sir James Wilson (died 1926).

In Songs of the North volume 1 1885 the melody is credited as Arranged by Malcolm Lawson.

At least 35 editions of Songs of the North are known, many in public domain somewhere, and it was still being published with a 50th anniversary edition in 1935 and another in 1958.

Some of the songs were sold separately by JB Cramer & Co (for 2/6 nett) of which Skye Boat Song was one, popular available in two keys and as a duet, but undated and without a plate number. It credits music in two texts printed as extras in different typefaces above the line for Malcolm Lawson, Macleod and Boulton's arranger. These replace the space formerly occupied by Arranged by. Everything else printed is in the normal Songs of the North style.

The volume 1 imlicitly came first, the sheet music separately later.
The overprinting is probably added later by Cramer, who were not involved in the original 1885 publication of Songs of the North volume 1, and it reads:

"AIR (founded upon an old "CHANTY", / Composed by A.C. MACLEOD." /

"[bold italics] Four bars taken down from Hebridean boatmen / four bars aded by A.C. Macleod."

Best wishes


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Subject: RE: Origin: Skye Boat Song
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 08:06 AM

... four bars added ... [sigh]

I trust a better typist and computer user than I will one day put right convolutions in the Wikipedia Skye Boat Song entry.


Songs of the North, volume 1, 1885, song V, page 18 [all names in capitals]

"Skye Boat Song (Jacobite)
Words by Harold Boulton
Old Highland rowing measure arranged by Malcolm Lawson


Incidentally volume 1 first edition contains several songs illustrated to commission, in addition to the frontispiece that appears in many editions. Skye Boat Song is acompanied by an illustration by Mrs Hugh Blackburn.

Copy seen is in the British Library, London.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Skye Boat Song
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 30 Aug 11 - 09:08 AM

Very informative, Guest.

It was common practice for pre-Folk-Song Society collectors to add second parts to traditional tunes. Christie's otherwise invaluable "Ballad Airs" is noteworthy in that regard.


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