The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #105266   Message #2167766
Posted By: Goose Gander
10-Oct-07 - 01:13 AM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: Bonny Doon / The Banks o' Doon
Subject: RE: Bonny Doon- The Banks o' Doon
"Regarding the supposed Irish origin, I think much indirect evidence in its favor exists. Burns tells us that he has repeatedly heard it asserted to be Irish and that a gentleman affirmed he had heard the tune in Ireland among the old women. Another of Burns's informants told him that the tune had been originally noted down from an itinerant piper in the Isle of Man, who, it is easy to believe, might be an Irish one. A curious half-confirmation of this Irish theory has come in the way of the present writer, who in a remote district of Yorkshire heard the old Anglo-Irish street ballad sung to a decidedly Hibernian setting as under:- 'The Foggy Dew' (tune provided) . . . . Other airs for the ballad of the 'The Foggy Dew' are found; one is printed in 'Bunting's Irish Airs,' 1840, and another, from an old manuscript copy, in Kidson's 'Traditional Tunes,' 1891. The Yorkshire ballad singer did not know the air as 'Ye Banks and Braes,' but only as used for the song he then sang. I do not advance the theory that the traditional 'Foggy Dew' is the same air which the gentleman spoken of by Burns had heard among the old women of Ireland, though there is no doubt that a song of the 'Foggy Dew' existed there at that period. The traditional setting is distinctly Irish in form, and has an Irish song adapted to it. It is also quite within bounds to say that Gow, in dedicating the air to the Caledonian Hunt, may have changed the name (for the Irish song is somewhat coarse) to one more palatable."

Source:
The Musical Times and Singing Class Circular, Vol. 37, No. 643. (Sep. 1, 1896), p. 594-595.

The writer of this piece is not credited (at least as far as I can make out). The writer does cite a couple of references from the nineteenth century identifying the tune as an "Irish air" and notes, "Indeed, the opinion regarding the Irish origin of the air seems to have been very general about the time." Finally, the writer admits, "(a)nother theory was once advanced - that the tune was French; but as nothing beyond this bald statement has been adduced it may be dismissed until further particulars are vouchsafed." No source is provided for this alleged French origin, though it is an interesting possibility.