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Sweet Afton - which tune?

DigiTrad:
FLOW GENTLY SWEET AFTON


Susan-Marie 27 May 99 - 12:26 PM
DougR 27 May 99 - 07:41 PM
GN 27 May 99 - 08:30 PM
Susan-Marie 28 May 99 - 08:07 AM
Shack 28 May 99 - 09:39 AM
Helen 29 May 99 - 01:06 AM
Murray on Salt Spring 29 May 99 - 02:01 AM
Susan-Marie 03 Jun 99 - 04:35 PM
GUEST 10 Jan 03 - 10:24 PM
GUEST 10 Jan 03 - 10:28 PM
GUEST 10 Jan 03 - 10:31 PM
GUEST,Q 10 Jan 03 - 10:48 PM
GUEST,Q 10 Jan 03 - 10:56 PM
masato sakurai 11 Jan 03 - 01:35 AM
Mark Cohen 11 Jan 03 - 02:03 AM
masato sakurai 11 Jan 03 - 02:06 AM
masato sakurai 11 Jan 03 - 02:07 AM
masato sakurai 11 Jan 03 - 10:29 AM
GUEST 11 Jan 03 - 10:53 AM
GUEST,Q 11 Jan 03 - 01:08 PM
GUEST,Q 11 Jan 03 - 02:06 PM
masato sakurai 15 Mar 03 - 08:12 AM
ard mhacha 15 Mar 03 - 01:55 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 10 Sep 04 - 11:52 PM
masato sakurai 11 Sep 04 - 12:50 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 11 Sep 04 - 01:51 AM
GUEST,Boab 11 Sep 04 - 02:59 AM
masato sakurai 11 Sep 04 - 06:40 PM
GUEST,Guest 23 Jan 11 - 02:20 PM
Tootler 23 Jan 11 - 04:38 PM
GUEST,leeneia 24 Jan 11 - 08:51 AM
Jim McLean 24 Jan 11 - 10:18 AM
An Buachaill Caol Dubh 24 Jan 11 - 02:42 PM
GUEST,leeneia 25 Jan 11 - 08:56 AM
GUEST,John (Gordon) McLachlan 25 Jan 11 - 07:35 PM
Angrybean 05 Feb 11 - 08:16 PM
GUEST,Ian Blue 02 Jul 11 - 05:52 PM
dick greenhaus 02 Jul 11 - 06:21 PM
Tattie Bogle 02 Jul 11 - 06:40 PM
GUEST,Ian Blue of Paisley Scotland 06 Aug 11 - 04:16 PM
Jim McLean 07 Aug 11 - 12:52 PM
GUEST,Joe 16 Dec 16 - 07:08 AM
Tattie Bogle 16 Dec 16 - 08:50 PM
Tattie Bogle 17 Dec 16 - 08:21 PM
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Subject: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: Susan-Marie
Date: 27 May 99 - 12:26 PM

I learned Flow Gently Sweet Afton from the DT. There are two tunes, one that sounds like "Away in a Manger" and another. I liked the unfamiliar tune better, so that's how I sing it now. However, I just read that the song is very well-known in Scotland. Can anyone tell me which tune it is commonly known by? If I sing it with the lesser-known tune, is anyone going to berate me?


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: DougR
Date: 27 May 99 - 07:41 PM

Just let'em try, Susan-Marie! Sing it anyway you want to! Sing the version you love the best.

DougR


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: GN
Date: 27 May 99 - 08:30 PM

Robert Burns sent his melody for the song with the song to the Scots Musical Museum, #386, but the original tune has for the most part been displaced by one composed by Alexander Hume about 1850.


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: Susan-Marie
Date: 28 May 99 - 08:07 AM

Thanks Doug, I will stick with the tune I like best, it suits sean nos ornamentation better. GN - thanks for the background. Can you tell me which tune is the Burns and which is the Hume? One of the tunes in the DT has a descant for the entire first line (this is the one that sounds like "Away in a manger"), the first line of the other tune starts out low, goes up a few notes, goes down one, then up a few, then back down.


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: Shack
Date: 28 May 99 - 09:39 AM

Susan-Marie, I love this song but did not know ANY tune. I will settle for the Away In a Manger version for now, but WHICH Away in a Manger? The one that goes up on "away" or up on "a"?


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: Helen
Date: 29 May 99 - 01:06 AM

Shack,

it's the one which goes up on "away" but it's not exactly the same tune. If you search for Afton in the blue search box at top rightof this screen yuo'll get the lyrics and two blur "click here to play" links. You may have to save the files and play them on a midi programme, or if you have the right software (I don't know what it is) you will hear each one when you click on each link.

Helen


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: Murray on Salt Spring
Date: 29 May 99 - 02:01 AM

The old anon tune in the Scots Musical Museum (1792) is [roughly]: Key F 3/4 c/f a gf/ ga b- ag/ f a gf/ gt c/ f a gf/ ga c fd/ c b-a ga f etc. Sol-fa-wise , and equally roughly, it's s,/ d m rd/ rm f mr /d m rd/ dt,--s,/d m rd/ rm s d'l/ s fm rm/ d. The Hume tune is often heard, but believe me the traditionalists go for the old one every time. That second tune is like the (American) tune of "Away in a Manger", thus: s,d/ m- rd/ d t, l,/ s, l, s,f,/ f,m, etc. The old tune, incidentally, was first published in the Museum, and seems to have been composed by a Major Logan of Ayrshire.


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: Susan-Marie
Date: 03 Jun 99 - 04:35 PM

Man, I hate it when work gets in the way of my hobbies! Sorry it took so long to get back to you, Murray, and thanks very much for the clarification on the tunes. It shouldn't matter, but I like knowing that that tune I picked is the old one.


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Jan 03 - 10:24 PM

Does anyone know of any recorded versions of this song?


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Jan 03 - 10:28 PM

Other than Andy M's on his Robert Burns album, that is?


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Jan 03 - 10:31 PM

Excuse me again. Dick Gaughan's website says he only performs it live, and has never recorded it, but for a TV programme on Burns. I'm looking to hear versions by women, or as a choral arrangement (women's voices) actually.


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 10 Jan 03 - 10:48 PM

Strange, I have only heard one tune, like the midi in the Contemplator: Flow Gently
Three verses in the text.


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 10 Jan 03 - 10:56 PM

There is a howler in the first verse of the Contemplator lyrics-
Thou green created lapwing, thy screaming for bear.
In the second verse, differences from DT (proof-reading better)- hill becomes glen and dell becomes den.


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: masato sakurai
Date: 11 Jan 03 - 01:35 AM

The Scots Musical Museum version (that is, the original) is sung by Tony Cuff on The Complete Songs of Robert Burns, vol. 1 (Linn Records CKD 047), which is also on Auld Lang Syne: A Fine Selection of Popular Robert Burns Songs (Linn CKD 088). Sound clip is HERE. The tune is in the following as well as in Scots Musical Museum, Dick's Songs of Robert Burns and Kinsley's Poems and Songs of Robert Burns:

C.V. Stanford, The National Song Book (Boosey, 1907, p. 72; as "Afton Water")
Maver's Collection of Genuine Scottish Melodies (Robert Maver, n.d., p. 38 [tune name: "The Brae of Ballenden"]
Helen Hopekirk, Seventy Scottish Songs (1905; Dover, 1992, pp. 42-45)
A Song of Scotland (Wise Publications, n.d., pp. 74-75; as "Afton Water")

    I don't believe the "familiar tune" was composed by Alexander Hume, though Margaret Boni (in Fireside Book of Folk Songs, pp. 106-107) and William Cole (in Folk Songs of England, Ireland, Scotland & Wales, pp. 135-137) attributed the tune to Hume. According to The Book of Worl-Famous Music by James J. Fuld (4th ed., p. 228), the version ("known particularly in America") was composed by J[onathan]. E[dwards]. Spilman, who "was born in 1812 in Greenville, Ky., became a lawyer, then a minister, and died in 1896 in Flora, Ill."

The first edition at the Levy collection is:

Title: Flow Gently Sweet Afton. A Ballad. [no images given]
Composer, Lyricist, Arranger: Written by Robert Burns. Music Composed and Arranged by J.E. Spilman.
J. E. Spilman Publication: Philadelphia: George Willig, 171 Chesnut[sic] Street, 1838 [Sold at P.H. Taylor's Music Store, opposite the Banks, Richmond, Va.]..

See other editions:

Title: Flow Gently Sweet Afton. A Ballad. [only one page is given; link to cover is inactive]
Composer, Lyricist, Arranger: Written by Robert Burns. Music Composed and Arranged by J.E. Spilman.
J. E. Spilman Publication: Philadelphia: George Willig, 171 Chesnut Street, 1838.

At American Memory:

Flow gently, sweet Afton, music by J.E. Spilman (Boston, Massachusetts, Oliver Ditson & Co., 1880) (Another copy)

      There're several compositions by others, which I think are less known.

      The Alexander Hume version has a different melody, which was sung by Joseph Hislop (tenor) and recorded in 1922 as "Afton Water." The recording is on The Star o' Rabbie Burns (Moidart Music Group MIDCD 004), whose notes say "The original setting (1791) has long been superseded by this typically Victorian version of 1855 by Alexander Hume."

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 11 Jan 03 - 02:03 AM

Chris Thile, the phenomenal mandolin player from the band Nickel Creek, wrote a gorgeous new tune to this poem, which is on their first CD. A brief clip can be heard HERE -- it's #7 on the right-hand column.

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: masato sakurai
Date: 11 Jan 03 - 02:06 AM

The Spilman edition (probably the first) is reproduced in Nicholas E. Tawa, Sweet Songs for Gebtle Americans: The Parlor Song in America, 1790-1860 (Bowling Green University Press, 1980, pp. 233-234). Tawa, who gives the date as "1838", says (pp. 9-10):

Flow Gently, Sweet Afton, words by Robert Burns and musuc by the American J.E. Spilman (Philadelphia, 1838), is a typical composition by a native composer. Its undemanding accompaniment is distinctively subordinate to the vocal melody. The A-major melody, regularly pausing every four measures, remains within the octave e' to e", except for f" sharp. Aside from a single sharped fourth of the scale, the work is diatonic. The txt is in two stanzas, the second printed following the music. The song provides a consummate illustration of a parlor ballad.

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: masato sakurai
Date: 11 Jan 03 - 02:07 AM

for Gentle Americans


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: masato sakurai
Date: 11 Jan 03 - 10:29 AM

Flow gently sweet Afton [mp3] sung by Charlotte MacInnes (February 15 and June 15, 1939, collected by Sidney Robertson Cowell in Oakland, California) is the Alexander Hume version. This is from California Gold: Northern California Folk Music from the Thirties.

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Jan 03 - 10:53 AM

Thanks for the Charlotte MacInnes mp3 Masato, I hadn't come across it. Yer a good man. Mark, that arrangement by Nickel Creek is great! We're looking for an arrangement we can use for 4 female voices, so are looking for ideas. I'll definitely play that one for them.

Thanks for the assistance.


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 11 Jan 03 - 01:08 PM

Several take-offs, using the tune of "Afton Water" ((Flow Gently---), were made. One, in the Bodleian Library, is called "The Beautiful Maid of the Valley of Levin," published ca. 1854 (Ballads Catalogue, 2806 c11(155), Glasgow. It starts out "In yon lovely valley, where Levin flows clear, There lives a fair maid, and that maid I love dear; etc.

The best part of the broadside is a description of the River and its locale.


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 11 Jan 03 - 02:06 PM

Also in the Bodleian, with the tune "Flow Gently..." is "Be Kind To Grandfather," by William Miller (overpriced at one penny).

Be kind to Grandfather, a proud man was he
When rosy in childhood ye sat on his knee;
Thy name is his name, when his head is laid low
May his virtues be link'd wi' the name o' his oe.
etc.
Firth b.27(388), 1864. Printed by The Poet's Box, Glasgow.


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: masato sakurai
Date: 15 Mar 03 - 08:12 AM

Two tunes (other than SMM, Spilman, and Hume) are at Levy:

Title: Sweet Afton Water. A Ballad.
Composer, Lyricist, Arranger: By Robert Burns. Music Composed and Arranged by William J. Wetmore.
William J. Wetmore Publication: New York: W.E. Millett, No.329 Broadway, 1838.
Form of Composition: strophic
Instrumentation: piano and voice

Title: Flow Gently Sweet Afton. A Favorite Ballad.
Composer, Lyricist, Arranger: Set to Music & Arranged for the Guitar by Saml. Carusi.
Publication: Louisville: Peters, Webb & Co., 1840.
Form of Composition: strophic
Instrumentation: guitar and voice

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: ard mhacha
Date: 15 Mar 03 - 01:55 PM

Masota, The version you gave by Charlotte MacInnes was the only which was ever sang here in the North of Ireland.
I have the Scottish Tenor Kenneth McKellar singing this version with all of the beautiful ornamenation, a really lovely song. Ard Mhacha.


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 10 Sep 04 - 11:52 PM

According to my volume of Burns, a Dr. Currie said the poem "Afton Water" was composed in honor of Mrs. Stewart of Stair. Who were these people? Any support for the statement?


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: masato sakurai
Date: 11 Sep 04 - 12:50 AM

Info is here (Robert Burns Country: The Burns Encyclopedia - Stewart of Stair, Mrs Catherine, d. 1818).


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 11 Sep 04 - 01:51 AM

Thanks, Masato.

I see advertised on the same website the complete Burns songs (368) on 12 cds (Linn). Various vocalists.


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: GUEST,Boab
Date: 11 Sep 04 - 02:59 AM

I was born, raised, lived and worked on Afton banks. The tune which is familiar to almost all of the New Cumnock folk is completely different from any which I have run across in any "ither airt". The tune we always used is more in the nature of a slow air. Sorry I cannot immediately supply a sample---I will try to arrange this for a future return to the subject. Also, in reference to the "other Afton" mentioned in the extract from the "Stewart of Stair" article---as far as I am aware, there is no other "Afton" in the known Burns experience other than the river which flows down Glen Afton to Nith. In the text of the second verse" How Lofty Sweet Afton thy neighbouring hills, Far marked by the courses of clear winding rills", the description of Afton Glen is completely "as is". By the roadside, 100 yards east of the Laight Farm mentioned in the article, you will find a cairn in a small park, with a view of the Afton water fifty yards below. This is the spot where Robert Burns is reputed to have composed Sweet Afton.


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: masato sakurai
Date: 11 Sep 04 - 06:40 PM

Sheet music of Alexander Hume's "Afton Water" (John Blockley, 3 Argyll Street, Regent St, W; London; 1880) is at British Library's Victorian Popular Music.


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 02:20 PM

Hi,

I have recorded and acoustic fingerpicking version of this tune on youtube.

Flow Gently Sweet Afton

Thanks


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: Tootler
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 04:38 PM

The British Library have moved their online collection of Popular Victorian music since Masato Sakurai posted his link 7 years ago.

Alexander Hume's Afton Water may now be found here.


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 24 Jan 11 - 08:51 AM

Thanks for the link, Tootler.


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: Jim McLean
Date: 24 Jan 11 - 10:18 AM

I don't know about the 'popular' version (Alexander Hume's) being 'popular' but the melody in Johnson's Scots Musical Museum #386 quoted above is the most popular version I know. I remember my mother singing this version over 65 years ago.


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: An Buachaill Caol Dubh
Date: 24 Jan 11 - 02:42 PM

I think I've read somewhere that RB also thought of "The Yellow-Haired Laddie" for these verses, but beyond a remark in one of his letters that this air was deserving of fine words, I've never found evidence of this choice in any letter &c. Anyone know more?


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 25 Jan 11 - 08:56 AM

Guest, guest, thanks for posting the link to your video. That's a new melody for me.


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: GUEST,John (Gordon) McLachlan
Date: 25 Jan 11 - 07:35 PM

If you are Jim McLean from Paisley, Scotland and your father was Robert D McLean, and if you had a brother called Robert please e-mail me.

itsjustjohn@tampabay.rr.com


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: Angrybean
Date: 05 Feb 11 - 08:16 PM

leeneia , only just joined the forum.

Thanks for your kind words.

Ang


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: GUEST,Ian Blue
Date: 02 Jul 11 - 05:52 PM

I come from Paisley where Kenneth McKellar was brought up. I have always known Afton Water to be sung in the same version that he recorded ( hear it on Ebay) Its a beautiful melody.
This other tune from Alexander Hume or Spilman cannot compare.


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 02 Jul 11 - 06:21 PM

Linn has released its magnificent 12-volume Songs of Robert Burns at a
ridiculouly low price--CAMSCO sells it for $55. Notes are, unfortunately, skimpy. Sound is spectacular...song by folksingers, and IMO a considerably improvement over the over-arranged set by the immortal Jean Redpath.


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 02 Jul 11 - 06:40 PM

I know of two tunes for it, both, I would say almost equally used and popular in Scotland, but the one used by Chris Thlle and Nickel Creek and guitar-picking guest (and other American recordings on Youtube) seems quite different from either of these.

Here's kenneth McKellar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzT4g9ahLvU&feature=related

And the other tune (nicely played on ukelele): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgvBq9XuydE&feature=related


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: GUEST,Ian Blue of Paisley Scotland
Date: 06 Aug 11 - 04:16 PM

Thank you Tootler for that link to the Sheet Music. I wish I had been more observant. I love that front cover isn't so romantic , old sheet music has such atmosphere!
Anyway I have been trying to get hold of this song and the version by A Hume and now I have it. It is out of print of course but I was able to locate a copy of Kenneth McKellar's Book of Scottish Songs and there it is, note for note and in the same key as the link which you provided.
Also well done Tattie Bogle for your link to Kenneth McKellar.
Maybe since I come from Paisley we Paisley folk grew up only knowing the tune which he sang.


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: Jim McLean
Date: 07 Aug 11 - 12:52 PM

I'm from Paisley also, Ian Blue, and the tune we knew was printed a good 100 years before Hume's setting. Being in Johnson's Scots Musical Museum would prove it's the tune Burns set his lyrics to.


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: GUEST,Joe
Date: 16 Dec 16 - 07:08 AM

I remember this song well from school. It used to be very popular in the 1980s.


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 16 Dec 16 - 08:50 PM

I have come across THREE different tunes, one of which seems to be mainly used in America: as a lot of the above links are not longer working, I'll try to post links to recordings or YouTubes of examples of all 3....but not tonight!


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Subject: RE: Sweet Afton - which tune?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 17 Dec 16 - 08:21 PM

Doh! Call me forgetful or what! The links I posted above in July 2011 still work, and you can still get Chris Thile's version on YouTube: so that's all three tunes.
And the link posted by Tootler in Jan 2011 still works for the score of the Hume version (as sung by McKellar in the link I gave) : you can get it page by page by clicking on the various numbers.


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