Highland Laddie polka

Also known as An Caip Cul-Ard, An Gabhairín Buí, The Bonnie Lass Of Livingston, Bonny Laddie, Bonny Lassie, Caidhp An Chúil Áird, Caiop An Cuil Aird, Clashing At Her, Clear The Way, Cockle Shells, Cockleshells, Donkey Riding, Fág An Bealach, Faugh A Ballagh, Faugh-a-Ballagh, Faugh-a-Ballagh Quick March, Fog-A-Bolla, Hielan Laddie, Hieland Laddie, High Caul Cap, The High Caul Cap, The High Caul’d Cap, High Cauled Cap, The High Cauled Cap, High Cauled-Cap, The High Cauled-Cap, The Highland Laddie March, The Highland Laddie, Kiss Me Lady, Little Yellow Goat, The Piper’s Dance, The Pipers Dance, Quebec, Two Yellow Goats, The Two Yellow Goats, What Shall I Do?, Yellow Goat.

There are 24 recordings of a tune by this name.

Highland Laddie has been added to 85 tunebooks.

Download ABC

Five settings

X: 1
T: Highland Laddie
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
G>A BB|cA B2|BA AG/A/|BA A2|
G>A BB|cA B2|BA dd|G2 G2:|
|:e2 d>d|cd B2|BA AG/A/|BA A2|
e2 d>d|cd B2|BA dd|G2 G2:||
ABC
X: 2
T: Highland Laddie
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
A>B|d3e f2a2|g>fe>d f3f|f2e2 e2d<e|f2e2 e2d<B|
d3e f2a2|g>fe>d f2e>f|d2B2 B2A>B|d2B2 B2:|
|:f<g|a3g f2e>f|d<Bd<e f3f|f2e2 e2d<e|f2e2 e2f<g|
a3g f2e>f|d<Bd<e f2e>f|d2B2 B2A>B|d2B2 B2:|
ABC
X: 3
T: Highland Laddie
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
|: A>B cc | dB c2 | cB BA/B/ | cB ce |
AA/B/ c/B/A/c/ | d/d/B ce | cB ee | A2 A2 :|
|: f2 e2 | de/d/ c2 | cB BA | c>B c/d/e |
fa ea | da c2 | cB e/e/e | A2 A2 :|
ABC
X: 4
T: Highland Laddie
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
|:A>B cc|dB c2|cB BA|cB BA|
A>B cc|dB c2|cB ee|A2 A2:|
f2 e2|d2 c2|cB BA|cB BA|
f2 e2|d2 c2|cB ee|A2 A2|
f2 e2|d2 c2|cB BA|cB BA|
fa e>c|de c2|cB ee|A2 A2|]
# Added by Tøm .
ABC
X: 5
T: Highland Laddie
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
%%MIDI gracedivider 8
%%MIDI ratio 3 1
|:{g}A>B|{Gdc}d3e {g}f2a2|g3/2f<{g}ed/2 {g}f4|{gfg}f2e2 {gef}e2{GdG}e2|{gfg}f2e2 {gef}e2d<B|!
{Gdc}d3e {g}f2a2|g3/2f<{g}ed/2 {gfg}f2{g}e>f|{Gdc}d2{e}B2 {gBd}B2{e}A>B|{Gdc}d2{e}B2 {gBd}B2:|!
|:{gf}g2|{ag}a2g<f {gf}g2f<e|{gfg}f3/2e<{g}de/2 {g}f4|{gfg}f2e2 {gef}e2{GdG}e2|{gfg}f2e2 {gef}e2{gf}g2|!
{ag}a2g<f {gf}g2f<e|{gfg}f3/2e<{g}de/2 {gfg}f2{g}e>f|{Gdc}d2{e}B2 {gBd}B2{e}A>B|{Gdc}d2{e}B2 {gBd}B2:|!
ABC

Nineteen comments

A tune that comes up occasionally in our sessions. A good tune for beginners (and everyone else), and useful for the set dancers.

Preview

Is it possible to preview music before downloading.

Sea Chantey

I know this as a sea chantey. No big surprise I guess, New York Girls works as both a Heaving (Capstan) Chantey and a polka. I’ll give this a go next session.

Sea chantey? Never thought of that, but it would be very possible bearing in mind that Bristol has a maritime history going back to the Middle Ages.

Endless Variation?

In his definitive work on the seafaring work songs, _Shanties from the Seven Seas_, Stan Hugill offers variants of this melody this melody in both the major and minor modes. The geography of the texts celebrate several ports in Great Britain, across the pond to Canada, on to ports on the East and Gulf coasts of the USA, around cape horn and even up to San Fransisco.

I’ve yet to find Bristol mentioned, Trevor, but I’ll keep digging. Sea chanties and the men who sang them certainly got around and all sorts of melodic migrations took place.

I just tried the major mode melody posted above followed by the relative minor melody I know as _Dundee Whaler_ . I think they make an interesting set. I wonder how the other players at my local session would receive this. Only one way to find out.

Donkeys

Great Big Sea does a version of this on their 1997 "Play" CD. My understanding is that it is indeed a sea chantey and the term donkey refers to a type of winch used on a sailing ship. GBS is from Newfoundland, which has quite a maritime history as well.

Posted by .

Thanks Rando for that information. It’s making more sense by the day. I’ve just now played the tune to my wife, and she recognised it and said that in her childhood in Bristol (UK) "Donkey Riding" (or "Riding on a Donkey") was a common tune in school playgrounds. She has, in later years, taught it to Girl Guide Brownies (junior Girl Scouts, I think they’re called in the USA).
Up to about 30 or so years ago Bristol Docks were commercially very active, as they had been for centuries, and sea shanties would have been well-known in the area. Now, there is no commercial shipping and the docks have turned into a marina surrounded by high-priced housing.

What I don’t know is whether the tune has a genuine Irish origin and has found its way round the world via Irish sailors as a she shanty, or whether its origin is non-Irish. Anyway, didn’t the original polkas originate in mainland Europe and were brought back to the British Isles by soldiers returning from the Napoleonic Wars?

Whoops! "sea shanty" not "she shanty" in tha last post! (freudian slip?)

Pinning the tail on the donkey

I first heard this many years ago while driving across Dartmoor (don’t ask!). Since then I’ve always played it for dancing with the last two bars in e-minor. Don’t think I’ve ever seen the ending written down, but most people seem to play it that way.

Trevor, this tune isn’t Irish or from Bristol, although it does appear in O’Neill’s as "The High Haul Cap". Long before the morris musicians got their hands on it, it was a Highland regimental quickstep march. This tune has existed since at least as far back as the 1600s. It’s really really really old. It’s also one of the most famous Scottish marches alongside the likes of Scotland The Brave, and I’m surprised you didn’t pick up on this as it’s always played at the Edinburgh military tattoo and other ceremonial occasions not just in Scotland but all over the world. Colin’s right, in non-morris circles, those last 2 bars are played in the minor. This tune is the quintessential GHB tune - any other instrument does not do it justice IMO:

X: 1
T: Highland Laddie
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
R: March
K: D
A>B|d3e f2a2|g>fe>d f3f|f2e2 e2d<e|f2e2 e2d<B|
d3e f2a2|g>fe>d f2e>f|d2B2 B2A>B|d2B2 B2:|
|:f<g|a3g f2e>f|d<Bd<e f3f|f2e2 e2d<e|f2e2 e2f<g|
a3g f2e>f|d<Bd<e f2e>f|d2B2 B2A>B|d2B2 B2:|

It’s really a 2/4 march, but there’s not enough room to notate Scotch snaps etc in that metre.

Yeah and I don’t like it in G either. It’s best in D, nice and high and shrill. It’s a war tune! Sends shivers up my spine when I hear it played on the pipes with that march rhythm rattled out on the drums. The morris version also sends shivers up my spine but for different reasons :-)

Not the High Cauled Cap I Know

I guess I will have to dust off the music and enter the ABCs, because I can’t find the version of the High Cauled Cap that I am familiar with, and that goes with a ceilidhe dance I once learned. When I do a search for that name, I come up with this tune and the Rakes of Mallow, neither of which is the tune I learned.

I was pretty sure this tune was Canadian

Not the “Cadhp an Chúil Áird”, alias “Kype” In Know either…

"Donkey Riding"
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
R: polka
K: A Major
|: A>B cc | dB c2 | cB BA/B/ | cB ce |
AA/B/ c/B/A/c/ | d/d/B ce | cB ee | A2 A2 :|
|: f2 e2 | de/d/ c2 | cB BA | c>B c/d/e |
fa ea | da c2 | cB e/e/e | A2 A2 :|

A rescued duplication

X: 1
T: Quebec
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
R: polka
K: Amaj
|:A>B cc|dB c2|cB BA|cB BA|
A>B cc|dB c2|cB ee|A2 A2:|
f2 e2|d2 c2|cB BA|cB BA|
f2 e2|d2 c2|cB ee|A2 A2|
f2 e2|d2 c2|cB BA|cB BA|
fa e>c|de c2|cB ee|A2 A2|]

Posted by .

Quebec
There’s a song with the same tune called Donkey Riding - with the first verse (I think)

"Were you ever in Quebec. Donkkey Riding, Donkey Riding.
Stowing timber on the deck
Where there’s a king with a golden crown
Riding on a donkey?
# Posted on December 7th 2011 by jigtime

Donkey Riding/Highland Laddie
http://www.thesession.org/tunes/1524
# Posted on December 7th 2011 by David50

Hiland laddie
Pete Seeger used to sing this as "Bonnie Hieland (sic) Laddie", with verses like
Were you ever in Mobile Bay,
bonnie laddie, hieland laddie,
loading cotton by the day,
the bonnie hiland laddie.
# Posted on December 7th 2011 by alexweger

Posted by .

That was quick STW… ;-)

Donkey Riding
Was you ever in Quebec
Launchin’ timber on the deck,
Where ya break yer bleedin’ neck,
Riding on a donkey?

Chorus:

Way hey and away we go
Donkey riding, donkey riding
Way hey and away we go
Riding on a donkey.


Was you ever ‘round Cape Horn
Where the weather’s never warm?
Wished to God you’d never been born
Riding on a donkey.

Was you ever in Miramichi
Where ye tie up to a tree,
An’ the girls sit on yer knee,
Riding on a donkey?

Was you ever in Fortune Bay
See the girls all shout, “Hooray!”?
“Here comes dad with ten weeks pay
Riding on a donkey.”

Was you ever in London-town
See the King he does come down?
See the King in his golden crown
Riding on a donkey.

As far as I am aware the first noting down of this tune was 1733 in the William Dixon manuscript, as unearthed by Matt Seattle. The tune started life as a Jacobite rebel march. It has a distinctive phrase which is repeated throughout the tune (sorry I can’t do abc, it’s on the list for things to learn!) it was this repeating refrain that became the basis for the standardised tune which is what is in the dots in this listing. These early versions of the tune are like variation pieces and I have one in notation with 11 parts. It’s my feeling that a lot of these would have originally been improvised.

Personally I think, although this is purely supposition based on a basic understanding of the tune and militaria of the time, this repeating refrain has something to do with the marshalling of the various forces of the Jacobite army. The various pipers of the different clans and groupings would have all known the repeating refrain, which is actually the bones of the tune, as they announced their arrival at the marshalling the tune would may have been played with each piper adding their own phrasing before repeating the refrain. The tune would have built in intensity as pipers tried to outdo each other and as they repeated the central refrain on mass.

In the modern age it is easy to forget that at the time military manoeuvres were controlled by such things as horns, drums and pipes. It was not uncommon for the pace of work to be set by pipers either. I think this tune in its early form reflects these practices. Below is a link to a page on the Lowland and Border Pipers Society web site and a rendition of the Dixon version of the tune by Pete Stewart on border pipes.

http://lbps.net/lbps/the-lowland-reel/190-highland-laddie.html

In the Irish tradition I think something of the same may be heard in Boru’s March.