Tunes from John Mason
Cecil J 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.
John Mason’s Tunes, Index
|Title||Page no, pdf||X number in ABC|
|Bonnets so Blue||11||29|
|Haste to the Wedding||10||27|
|Heel and Toe||7||18|
|Hunt the Squirrel||14||36|
|Jockey to the Fair||11||30|
|Lumps of Plum Pudding||12||32|
|Maid of the Mill||10||26|
|Morris Dance 1||9||23|
|Morris Dance 2||9||24|
|Morris Dance 3||9||25|
|My Love she’s but a Lassie yet||3||9|
|New Rigged Ship||12||33|
|Old Heddon of Forlay||5||13|
|Roast Beef of Old England||14||37|
|Trip to the Forest||14||38|
|With my Basket on my Arm||14||39|
Notes on Tunes
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.
Bourton Six This tune became widely known throughout 19 century Europe as “the Krakowiak” or “Cracovienne”. The first collection of Krakowiaks, arranged for piano by Franciszek Mirecki, appeared in Warsaw in 1816. Wincenty Gorączkiewicz (WG), organist at Kraków Cathedral, included the present tune in his collection of Krakowiaks, published by Anton Diabelli in Vienna in 1829. A decade later Johann Kasper Merz, a famous guitarist in his day based in Vienna, included it in his collection Kuckuck adding two more strains in which the seventh note is flattened. A similar version turns up, as the Ethiopian Cracovienne, in the American Thomas Briggs’ Banjo Instructor, published posthumously in 1855. Meanwhile the Austrian ballerina, Franziska “Fanny” Elssler, whose dancing career spanned 1827 to 1851, toured throughout Europe, and spent 2 years in the USA. Her repertoire included a dance to this Cracovienne, arranged by Henri Hertz with extensive variations, in the ballet the Gipsey. As a type of tune, the Krakowiak is characterised by syncopated notes in the middle of the bar. This feature, though retained by Mertz and Hertz, has been lost in the Bourton Six. The tune is used for a well-known Polish jingle, Krakowiaczek jeden, and for the old song Albośmy to jacy tacy, of which WG published the words in 1830.
Gallop Hey was probably a mishearing by Sharp of the name Galopade, under which title Mason, who also played concertina, may have got it from Fesca’s Concertina Tutor.
John Mason’s version is unusual, being mixolydian rather than dorian, and being noted in 6/8 time.
“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.
Haste to the Wedding CJS noted this tune twice from John Mason, once pitched in D (as printed here), and once in C. The latter’s main variants are given as alternatives.
Heel and Toe John Mason’s tune is Belle Isles March (qv). His title may have been a reference to the Sherborne morris dance (Monk’s March) which used a heel and toe step. Stephen Baldwin’s tune of this name is the more usually encountered “Sultan’s Polka” or “1, 2, 3, 4, 5” by Charles d’Albert. (See also “Bonnie Dundee Quadrille”.)
Highland Mary Wm Hathaway (or perhaps Cecil Sharp)called this tune Country Gardens, and it is named as such in the copy of Stagg’s ms, which gives Highland Mary (the widespread name for the tune) in brackets. Mason had no name for this tune, so Sharp suggested the name Country Gardens.
Hunt the Squirrel “Always played after Pop Goes the Weasel.” John Mason said bars 5 and 13 were imitations of the jumping of the squirrel from bough to bough.
Jockey to the Fair “This is a jig generally danced by two men together.” The c in bar 11 was sometimes played as a b.
Lumps of Plum Pudding In addition to CJS, who collected John Mason’s other tunes, this was also noted by Clive Carey, who stated that Mason “Played C# almost all through.” Sharp noted “Sherbourne [sic] Jig” with this tune, showing that it was a jig performed by the Sherborne Dancers and not to be confused with the dance My Lord Of Sherborne’s Jig. “Lumps of plum pudding and pieces of pie My mother gave me for telling a lie (jumping so high).” “Lumps of plum pudding” is a country term for bruises, while “pieces of pie” is rhyming slang for “a black eye”.
Morris Dance 1 On repeating bar 12, the d” was a dotted crotchet, followed by c’ and b’ played as semiquavers.
The New Rigged Ship “Nice drops and raises to that tune.” (CJS)
Old Heddon of Forlay Thomas Edens, the pipe-and-tabor player, was probably connected with the dancers at Spelsbury, and was buried at Fawler on 26 June 1857, aged eighty-three, when John Mason was 22 years old. It may be that his version emanated from Edens. Most versions of this tune are dorian, rather than mixolydian, as here, i.e. F would be natural, not sharp. Also known as Idbury Hill, it is a variant of Boyne Water.
Old Trunk Hoe/Trunko John Mason’s version is the same as Stagg’s.
Oyster Girl We have added the rests at the ends of the A and B musics.
Princess Royal was composed by Irish harper Turlough O’Carolan (1670-1738), who called it “Miss MacDermott, or The Princess Royal”. The MacDermott princes traditionally presided at the inauguration of the kings of Connacht. Hence the reference to the “Princess Royal”. William Shields adapted the tune for his song “The Arethusa,” in his opera The Lock and Key, performed in 1796. In the Cotswolds it is used as a solo morris dance from several different villages, and in Abingdon as a set dance. It occurs in both minor (as the original) and major versions.
Sherbourne Jig [sic] “The dance is a morris jig for 2. At the second part, which is played very deliberately, instead of capering, the dancers bump down on the knee.”
The Sloe See similar tune, called The Slave in the Greet ms. A theatrical morris dance was performed at the Cheltenham Theatre in the 1820’s as part of a play called the Slave. This was a nut dance similar to that performed at Bacup, and the original performers were so enthusiastic as to give rise to the well known saying “to be nuts about something”. Was this the tune they used?
Swaggering Boney “From explanation given to me, this was evidently a version of How do ye do?”. Also known as Travel By Steam.
Susiannah The tune as given is CJS 1380. Variants indicated are as in 2238, which lacked the introductory quavers at the beginning of both A and B musics. There was no tie in bar 8, but a tie in bar 12, the reverse of 1380.
The Triumph The Triumph “Step and fetch her I have got her You shan’t have her Pretty little dear”.
Worcestershire Hornpipe The b’c” introducing the B music was not always played. Also found in the manuscript of John Moore from Ironbridge.
Notes by Paul Burgess and Charles Menteith