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Tunes from Aston-on-Carrant Manuscript

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Place Collected: Aston on Carrant
Collector: Palmer, Roy

The Aston-on-Carrant manuscript came to light when its owner showed it to Roy and Pat Palmer. Pat organised a group of musicians and a selection of the tunes were performed once again in the village. Aston-on-Carrant is a small village outside Tewkesbury and the house there where the manuscript was lost and found belonged to Thomas Berkeley, after whom one of the tunes is named. It was his brother Rowland, who lived at nearby Ripple, who appeared to have compiled the tunebook. Pat Palmer writes: “The instrument for which the tunes were written is not known but I think they were probably played on fiddle, or perhaps flute. They are within the compass of both instruments and lie in first position range of the violin with three exceptions which require a small shift or extension of the fourth finger. The original manuscript was interesting for the noticeable discrepancy in musical literacy and calligraphic ability. It seems that the earliest items in the book may have been written by a juvenile or a semi-literate musician as more errors were found in these. The cover of the book and the first page had other material scribbled on them, including arithmetical sums, a poem and some doodles. The script also varied, the later tunes being written more neatly and precisely. Both ends of the book were used separately, the back apparently being used as a fresh start at some time. Later in the collection more performance indications were provided and this may also indicate that the collection was made by a musician over a long period of time, reflecting the development of his ability and experience. Or it could have been a book to which friends and mentors were invited to make contributions.”

The tunes seem to cover a span of about thirty years, starting in the 1770s.

Aston-on-Carrant tunes, Index

Title                                             Pdf page                     ABC no.

7 Quick Step, The                                6                                      18
Beggar Girl, The                                  7                                       21
Bellesiles Minuet                               10                                      27
Bellisles March                                    1                                        2
Black March of the Crew on
Brockrige Common                            2                                        4
Brighton’s Camp                                 5                                      14
Chelford Races                                    8                                      23
Conparales Minuet                           10                                      29
Dance in Fanny’s Love                       5                                       15
G[reet?]ing TBB [TB Berkeley]          3                                         6
Heaving of the Lead                           9                                       26
Irish Washerwoman, The                  8                                       24
Lilly                                                       4                                         9
Lister’s Ride                                         3                                        7
March in the 15th Regiment             1                                        1
March the 6 by Valentine                  1                                        3
March the 8 by Hey                            2                                        5
Marshall Sax’s Minuet                      11                                      30
Masquerade Minuet                         10                                      28
Prince of Brunswick Minuet            11                                      31
Recovery, The                                     3                                        8
Royal Quick Step, The                       7                                       20
Self, The                                               8                                      22
St. Bride’s Bells                                   5                                      13
Sun Flower, The                                 4                                       10
Tambourine Dance, The                   6                                       16
Tewkesbury Assembly                      8                                       25
Th…. of Valentine                               6                                      17
There was a Jovial Beggar                4                                       11
Two Misers, The                                 4                                       12
Vol.(7)2 No. 6 Quick Step                  7                                       19

Lister’s Ride is a version of the well-known Astley’s Ride. Philip Astley (1742-1814) served in the Seven Years War as a sergeant-major in the 15th Light Dragoons. After the war he used his riding ability to open an establishment at Westminster, teaching in the morning and performing trick riding in the afternoon. In the 1770s this had become so popular that he concentrated on the performances, adding acrobats, tightrope walkers and clowns within a circular area he called the “circus”. This tune is from the 1770s and is found in many collections, including that of John Clare and an American fife manuscript of 1779.

Belle Isles March The same tune as Heel and Toe or Monk’s March. Another episode in the Seven Years War, Belle Isle is off the south coast of Brittany and was occupied by the British and handed back to the French at the end of hostilities.

Chelford Races A mis-spelling of Chelmsford Races. This was published by Preston in Twenty Four Country-Dances for the Year 1786. As they are performed at Court, Bath and all Public Assemblies.The tune is sometimes called the “Hullichan Jig”.

Dance In Fanny’s Love from G. Capaletti: The Scotch Ghost or Little Fanny’s Love, a ballet performed at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Pre-1808

Greeting TBB The initials are probably those of Rowland Berkley’s brother, Thomas, in whose house at Aston-on-Carrant the book of tunes was lost and found.

Heaving of the lead From the opera Hartford Bridge, music by William Shield, words by W Pearce.

March in the 15th Regiment was published by Longman & Broderip in their Entire New And Compleat Instructions For The Fife, London 1780. The 15th was the East Yorkshire Regiment of Foot.

St. Bride’s Bells popular since its publication in Thompson’s Compleat Collection of 200 Favourite Country Dances, 1757

Th…of Valentine is the fourth march in John Valentine’s collection 24 Marches Minuets and Airs, in 7 parts for 2 violins, 2 hoboys, or German Flutes, 2 French Horns and a Bass, Op. 5, published in London by J. Longman, c 1769. John Valentine was a member of Leicester Waites.

Two Misers The Janissaire’s March, or the March in The Two Misers. The Two Misers of Smyrna was performed at the Adelphi Theatre London in 1809-10.