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Name that tune?


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Wrinkles 30 Oct 08 - 10:26 PM
Leadfingers 30 Oct 08 - 11:05 PM
Jim Lad 30 Oct 08 - 11:11 PM
catspaw49 30 Oct 08 - 11:34 PM
Jim McLean 31 Oct 08 - 06:34 AM
Wrinkles 31 Oct 08 - 07:26 AM
Jim McLean 31 Oct 08 - 11:57 AM
Bill D 31 Oct 08 - 12:05 PM
Jim McLean 31 Oct 08 - 02:22 PM
Bill D 31 Oct 08 - 06:16 PM
Jim McLean 01 Nov 08 - 06:15 AM
Wrinkles 06 Nov 08 - 05:14 AM
bubblyrat 06 Nov 08 - 06:31 AM
Jim McLean 06 Nov 08 - 06:49 AM
Wrinkles 06 Nov 08 - 09:27 AM
Jim McLean 06 Nov 08 - 11:56 AM
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Subject: Name that tune?
From: Wrinkles
Date: 30 Oct 08 - 10:26 PM

I Know the late Francis Peake wrote the lyrics "Will Ye Go Lassie Go" AKA "Wild mountain Thyne" but what was/is the name of the old Scots melody that he put those lyrics to?



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Subject: RE: Name that tune?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 30 Oct 08 - 11:05 PM

Braes Of Balquidder is the Scots song W M T was based on Babs !

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Subject: RE: Name that tune?
From: Jim Lad
Date: 30 Oct 08 - 11:11 PM

It's been discussed a number of times but I think Jim McLean probably came up with the most complete answer.
"Subject: RE: wild mountain thyme
From: Jim McLean - PM
Date: 17 Feb 07 - 04:51 AM

It has been fairly well established that the McPeake's lyrics are a version of Robert Tannahill's Braes O Balquhidder although the tune is entirely different. Tannahill had two sets of lyrics, one used 'bloomin' and the other 'Highland'. There were also two tune settings by R A Smith, one to a slightly altered version of the traditional dance tune 'The Braes o Balquhidder' (various spellings) and the other to 'The Three carles o Buchanan' which is definitely not a variant of the first although I keep reading this.
Hamish Henderson in his sleeve notes to John MacDonald's Topic LP, 1974, says the air is 'The Three carles o Buchanan' but I was shocked to hear that MacDonald actually sings the McPeake's tune 'The wild Mountain Thyme'. How could Hamish make such a blunder?
I put a call out recently to see if anyone could come up with another printed version of The Three Carles ... other than that by R A Smith by to date no answer. Elizabeth Cronin also sings Tannahill's Braes o Balquhidder but her tune is different again and McColl's tune is like a slowed down version of 'Auld Maid in a Garret' which he says he got from his mother."

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Subject: RE: Name that tune?
From: catspaw49
Date: 30 Oct 08 - 11:34 PM

Just added this to the thread group. Please check the related threads at the top.....Enjoy.


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Subject: RE: Name that tune?
From: Jim McLean
Date: 31 Oct 08 - 06:34 AM

Since my last posting I have spent over a year researching this subject and wrote a dissertation on it. To summarise very, very briefly:

The McPeake tune to WMT is original, though the words are based on Tannahill's song The Braes o' Balquhither.

Tannahill set his lyrics originally to an air called the Three Carles o' Buchanan which was printed in a music sheet of 1810. This melody was carried throught the oral traditiona but lost its title in the process .. McColl's mother's version is a variant of this air.

The melody commonly sung to this tune was an arrangement by R. A. Smith of a dance tune the Braes of Balquhidder first printed in 1740.

Burns first vocalised the dance tune for Johnson's SMM.

As I said this is a very, very brief summary of a 15,000 piece of work.

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Subject: RE: Name that tune?
From: Wrinkles
Date: 31 Oct 08 - 07:26 AM

Whooo boy, Seems I'm replacing one can of worms with another. Also seems that my original question can not be given a definitive answer.

I've done an original OpenD _arrangement_ of the tune of WMT, and all I wanted was a name to call it by that didn't reference WMT. Seems, from the above answers and quoted threads there's no single authoritive answer to this so I guess my arrangement will remain nameless and creditless for the forseeable future and the long winded "My arrangement of the folk tune WMT is set to" will have to do.

However it raises interesting points.

I was privliged to be at the Sunflower in Belfast when McPeak Snr was pursuaded to give his last ever public performance, which included this song; a moving and memorable occasion.

A few years later, in one of those complicated FOAF situations I ended up driving one McPeak to the airport to meet and collect another. That Scots lass who co-hosted the late and unlamented "Generation Game" had just had a minor hit with her recording of WMT and I was subjected during the few hours drive to the airport to an earbashing on the topic of how the tune was traditional, but daddy had written the lyrics so the McPeaks were owed royalties by that b*ch who was lying through her teeth when she claimed she'd learned it from her granny in the 50s, etc etc. The diatribe also went on to include, before and after McPeak Snr's death, all the other folk they'd sued for royalties over the years.

Did I enjoy this? To paraphrase Joss Wedon; I hope there is a special place in Hell reserved for muderers, rapists, and people who demand the attention of a driver doing 70mph on a busy motorway.

The lesson I learned from that was only that the McPeaks were vocal in claiming ownership of the lyrics and very litigious about it too. Consequently I figured that it was "safe" to freely play the tune but never to sing the song at a paid gig. Now it seems that not only are the lyrics derived from earlier sources but there's no common agreement about the tune either; only that both had older multiple sources.

However, if indeed the Elder McPeak just re-worked older lyrics, either combined from more than one source or just given a few original "tweeks", I can understand why he felt WMT was his property. I've "songsmithed" old lyrics myself and it can be quite hard work and a certain amount of propriatal feeling is certainly understandable and justified.

Jenny Hicks (nee Robinson: former promoter of London's Trubador Folk Club) who worked at C# house in the 60s used to tell very amusing stories about performer/collectors who got caught out, or succesfully covered up, claiming a song they culled first from a very obscure source as their own. Apparently the practice of keeping for themselves, maybe just a liitle bit "tweeked" too, and claiming as their own, a song collected from a source with one foot in the grave was not uncommon. But I digress.

Is a reworked song, no matter how much effort that went into it, an "original" work worthy of its own intellectual property rights? At what point does it cease to be the original and become a "new and original" work again?

My own perspective?

On more than one occasion I've bashed and butchered a poet's poem into a song lyric. But I've never felt that the resulting song was "mine"; even if I wrote the tune: which would not have come into existance if I hadn't been trying to find notes and chords to fit someone else's words. I feel that claiming even partial credit would be like a building's bricklayer laying claim to its design and architecture. The vision belongs to the visionary, not its embellisher.

Furthermore, even although some of the folk songs I've done this to as well have been very extensivly changed I think of them only as "my" version rather than an original work by me or my exclusive property. If I discovered someday than one of "my" versions of an old song has been recorded or performed by other folk I'll be flattered, and if not given credit for the re-working maybe a tad miffed too, but I'd never claim it was my exclusive intelletual property. I feel that for one to claim intellectual property rights then the whole work has to be original, or to be so thuroughly modified that the work which inspired it is no longer recognisable.

Your thoughts?


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Subject: RE: Name that tune?
From: Jim McLean
Date: 31 Oct 08 - 11:57 AM

Babs, there is no question but that the lyrics of WMT are a reworking of Tannahill's original lyrics. McPeake's melody can safely be assigned to McPeake as they were the first to sing the song to that melody and it was not printed or recorded before them (and after more than a year's research I could find nothing to dispute that. One has to ignore hearsay). This makes the WMT, sung to the McPeake tune, their property and is classed as an original song, words and music McPeake. Tannahill died in 1810 so his lyrics are Trad anyway but if you sing the McPeake's version, then credit must go to them. Thir version has been recorded many times and is a very substantial money spinner so I think (and so does the MCPS and the PRS) it is only right that they should be rewarded. It is definitely not traditional in any sense.

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Subject: RE: Name that tune?
From: Bill D
Date: 31 Oct 08 - 12:05 PM

Just as a matter of interest:

Here is a screen capture from the PDF version of "Braes O Balquhidder" from a collection of Scots songs edited by George Farquhar Graham in the 1880s...with some notes at the end.

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Subject: RE: Name that tune?
From: Jim McLean
Date: 31 Oct 08 - 02:22 PM

Not the 1880s, more the 1850s as Graham was dead by 1867. Fraser's melody is close to the dance tune which was adapted by Smith but I emphasise this was not the tune Tannahill set his lyrics to.

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Subject: RE: Name that tune?
From: Bill D
Date: 31 Oct 08 - 06:16 PM

My mistake... the file I used showed a copy 'published' in 1887. I have a hard copy with no copyright date or publishing date.

"J. Muir Wood & Co."

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Subject: RE: Name that tune?
From: Jim McLean
Date: 01 Nov 08 - 06:15 AM

Bill, my copy, edited by Surenne, published by Wood and Co and introduced by George Farquhar Graham containing The Braes o' Balquhidder was published in 1854 and refers to three volumes of 'Wood's Songs of Scotland' already published.

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Subject: RE: Name that tune?
From: Wrinkles
Date: 06 Nov 08 - 05:14 AM

Have I got it right?

Contrary to popular belief, and the McPeak clan's calims, the lyrics (with the exception of F jr's addition) are a reworking of a traditional lyric, and it is only the tune that is actually original?

Yet the McPeaks disown the tune and claim the lyrics?

My head hurts

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Subject: RE: Name that tune?
From: bubblyrat
Date: 06 Nov 08 - 06:31 AM

Mine too !!! But ,really,who cares anyway ? It's all rather academic....I mean, I have been listening to,singing,and joining in with,this song for 45 years,so I must owe an absolute fortune in royalties,as must hundreds of other people I know.Well, does anyone out there really think that I shall be beating a path to the alleged copyright-holders door,in order to make financial restitution ??
                   Well, actually, I WILL, but only if A) everybody else promises to as well, and B) if I win the Lottery.

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Subject: RE: Name that tune?
From: Jim McLean
Date: 06 Nov 08 - 06:49 AM

Bubblyrat, the McPeakes are the copyright owners, not alleged.
Wrinkles,I don't know where they have said they disown the tune but claim the lyrics.

It's so very simple: the lyrics are a reworking of Robert Tannahill's song the Braes o' Balquhither and the music is original McPeake, end of story.

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Subject: RE: Name that tune?
From: Wrinkles
Date: 06 Nov 08 - 09:27 AM

Well Jim, it was the McPeaks themselves who said to me the lyrics were theirs (see previous post), not the tune.

Francis McPeak Sr, as an intro to WMT when it was "new", said he learned the tune from his late uncle; as recorded in "Ireland, the Songs: Volume 2" 1993 Walton Mfg, Walton Music Inc. Which, by F McPeak Sr's own admission, makes the tune if not it's origin probably trad and at least public domain as said uncle is well past the "70 years after death" expiration date on copyright.

McPeak Sr said he wrote the lyrics and dedicated it to his first wife. Long after she died, he married again and his son, Francis jr, wrote an extra verse to celebrate the marriage. Which doubles the McPeak clan's input to the song.

Certainly the earliest version of WMT, with the 3 verse lyrics and now well known tune, I know of, was first recorded by Francis McPeake Sr in 1957 for the TV series "As I Roved Out" on BBC Northern Ireland.

I've never seen/heard that recording myself, but I'd love to delve in to the BBCNI Archives. I've recorded for the Beeb myself and the forms and declarations one has to sign about the copyright of the music you'll perform are legion, as well as the obligitory signing away of the copyright of the performance. Even back then the Beeb were scrupulous about paying a pro-rata royalty on repeat broadcasts of original work; if F McPeak Sr wrote either tune or lyrics he'd have to have declared it on those forms. It would settle the dispute once and for all.

The interesting question becomes who owns the copyright, or how is the copyright divided, on versions of WMT that singer's have added their own verses too? I can think of two examples off hand, one by the Corries and one by Jay Hirshman, which I present bellow.

The Corries' verse;
I will range through the wilds
And the deep glen sae dreamy
And return wi' their spoils
Tae the bower o' my dearie
The Jay Hirshman verse;
Now our daughter's grown up fine
And a suitor comes a callin'
I can see it in her eyes
It's a true love that's blooming

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Subject: RE: Name that tune?
From: Jim McLean
Date: 06 Nov 08 - 11:56 AM

Hi Wrinkles, Chappell music has the copyright on behalf of the McPeakes and at first it was owned by the EFDSS, belief it or not. There were three Francis McPeakes, the grandfather, father and 'young' Frankie. The Corries verse is taken straight from Tannahill although it should read 'the deep glen sae dreary'. The Hirshman verse is not connected with the tradition of the song at all and is either taken from another song entirely or else newly composed. Stories about where it came from i.e. an old man in the pub, or an uncle have no relevance as to who owns the copyright. The Grandad is credited with writing the song or at least recording it for the first time hence the copyright ownership as the meoldy wasn't previously published before 1957.
The melody of WMT is the crucial factor in deciding who owns the this song as Tannahill's words are trad anyway (he died in 1810). My wife's picture of the whole family can be seen at

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