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Greensleeves

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Alternative title: Bacca Pipes

Source: Copy of C. Sharp ms no. 1260 in Vaughan Williams Memorial Library; Clive Carey ms in VWML.
Performer: Mason, John
Place Collected: Stow-on-the-Wold
Date collected: Cecil Sharp: 1907 (28 Mar); Clive Carey: 1912 (21 Jun)
Collector: Carey, Clive

CJ Sharp met 72-year old John Mason in Stow-on-the-Wold Workhouse. Mason had played fiddle for the Sherborne Morris set (and possibly others) and, as well as providing Sharp with a number of tunes, he volunteered the address of William Hathaway in Cheltenham, the location of Sherborne Morris’s George Simpson near Didcot and gave other leads towards participants in the Longborough, Bledington and Oddington morris sets. Many of the tunes which Mason described as “Morris Dance” are not generally known as such. Mason came from Icomb and as well as fiddle played clarinet, flute and concertina. He was visited by Mary Neal and Clive Carey shortly before he died and they noted several of the tunes he had previously played for Sharp.

In the linked abc file this is tune number X:12

Greensleeves 
John Mason’s version is unusual, being mixolydian rather than dorian, and being noted in 6/8 time. It was noted by Clive Carey as well as Cecil Sharp.

“Green sleeves and yellow leaves,
Boys and girls they work a pace.
They earn some money to buy some lace
To lace the lady’s green sleeves.”                 John Mason.

The squire of the Morris, that’s the tom fool, used to run round & sing it. You mustn’t have a natural fool, but a man with his head screwed on, as I may say, for the squire”

“Tobacco Pipe Dance”; This tune was widely used for the ’Bacca Pipes dance, in which a man dances round and over a crossed pair of churchwarden’s clay pipes.