January Snows waltz

Also known as The Snow It Melts The Soonest, The Snows That Melt The Soonest.

There are 7 recordings of this tune.

January Snows has been added to 7 tune sets.

January Snows has been added to 49 tunebooks.

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Three settings

X: 1
T: January Snows
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Edor
E|:"Em" E2 B B2 c|"Em7" d B3 AG|"Am" A2 B E2 D|"Em" (E3E2) E|
"Em" E2 B B2 c|"D" d d2 e2 d|"A" c A2 A2 G|A4 GF|
"Em" G2 A B2 c|"D" d3 e2 d|"A" c A2 A2 c|"Dm" d4 (3=cBA|
"Em" B E2 G2 A|B d2 "C" =c2 B/A/|"Em" B E2 E2 D|1 "Em" (E3E2) E:|2 "Em" E6||
X: 2
T: January Snows
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Edor
E|:E2 B B2 c|d B2BAG|A2 B E2 D|E3E2 E|
E2 B B2 c|d d2 e2 d|c A2 A2 G|A3AGF|
G2 A B2 c|d3 e2 d|c A2 A2 c|d3d((3=cBA)|
B E2 G2 A|B d2 H=ccB|B E2 E2 D|1 E3E2 E:|2 E6||
# Added by muspc .
X: 3
T: January Snows
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Edor
D2{D}E6BB4 BABcdA B8 !breath!z2|
{c}~B4 BAF {F}G4E~EDD2!breath!z2|
~D3DEF {D}E16- E16 !breath!z4|
DD{D}E2BB4BABc d2!breath!z2 ~edcd{d}e4!breath!z2|
f2!slide!e3dc A4- {G}A3 BA^GA8!breath!z2|
{B}~A4 AGF {F}G3AB3BABc d!breath!z2 ~ edcd{d}e4!breath!z2|
fa~e2de!breath!zcA3A2Bce d16!breath!z2|
{c}~B4 BAG6B F!breath!z2 FTF6EFB!breath!z2{D}E24 !breath!z4|

Eleven comments

January Snows

This tune, which appears on Lunasa’s Otherworld is actually the melody of the song The Snows That Melt The Soonest, which is on Dick Gaughan’s 1981 Handful of Earth Album. I have posted a version of the basic melody as per Dick Gaughan rather than try to transcribe Kevin Crawford’s beautiful and highly ornamented rendition, which is probably beyond the limits of my transcripion skills.

I am not sure if the tune was composed by Dick Gaughan to accompany older song lyrics, or whether he learnt it from somebody else - his website http://www.dickgaughan.co.uk/discography/dsc-hoe.html
which is well worth a wider look, doesn’t seem to say either way.

For me the tune will always evoke Gaughan’s singing. I particularly like the way the the Lunasa version hangs rather than finishes before breaking into’ Laura Lynn Cunningham’, another excellent tune from another excellent Scottish musician and composer.

I feel this transcription…

more in 6/8 than 3/4. So, something like:

X: 1
T: January Snows
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Edor
E |: “Em” E2 B B2 c | “Em7” d B2-BAG | “Am” A2 B E2 D | “Em” E3-E2 E |
“Em” E2 B B2 c | “D” d d2 e2 d | “A” c A2 A2 G | A3-AGF |
“Em” G2 A B2 c | “D” d3 e2 d | “A” c A2 A2 c | “Dm” d3-d(3=cBA |
“Em” B E2 G2 A | B d2 “C/Am” =c2 cB | “Em” B E2 E2 D |1 “Em” E3-E2 E :|2 “Em” E6 ||

However, I don’t know what the intent was in this measure:
| B d2 “C/Am” =c2 cB |
It has one too many eighth notes and I don’t know what chord is intended. C/Am means a C major chord on top with an A minor chord below, which is the same (note wise) as an Am7. If an A minor chord with a C note in the bass is intended, it should read Am/C.

Thanks for sharing the tune!

Posted by .


Yes - sorry I should have gone for one or the other - I intended to suggest that either chord would work there (but not necessariliyt at the same time 🙂 ), but I have unintentionally introduced that ambiguity regarding basses. While we’re looking at chords, I’m not entirely happy with the Am in the first line but couldn’t find a better one.
In terms of time signature, it’s really slower and more free form than either 6/8 or 3/4 but I plumped for ‘waltz’ just as a ‘dodge’ to get it onto the site (there isn’t an option to submit Slow Airs as such)

I’m hoping that somebody gifted will have a crack at the full Kevin Crawford version sometime

Quick tidy up

Before the site’s ABC to graphics hoover grabs it, I’ve come off the fence and gone for a C chord plus rationalised the note lengths. However, the C nat in the last section should really have a pause (and break the meter)

If you want the note held…

how about a fermata? In which case the measure could read:

| B d2 “C” !fermata!=ccB |

In general, fermatas make the note last about twice as long as normal (it’s up to the performer), so it would be not unlike your original C2 in effect. The fermata does not add beats, but is like hitting pause on your DVD player; whatever is there stays until you hit play or pause to start time again.

The 6/8 is my preference based upon the way I read your transcription–I don’t mean to imply your feeling of the tune as 3/4ish is wrong!

Meters can be played at any tempo. A 6/8 or 3/4 can be as slow as you like. And, I think any experienced ITM trad player would understand your intent of a more free-form air, so I wouldn’t worry about that!

Posted by .


That’s the ‘dot under a hoop’ symbol isn’t it? I believe there’ a proposal to incorporate a symbol for it into a future version of ABC. The current version of software I use, ABC Navigator, doesn’t seem to recognise the !fermata! construction in code - and I don’t know what the impact would be when the code is translated into a graphic so that the notation is visible on this site. All I would say is, if you want to get a feel for the tune and don’t already have them, both Otherworld by Lunasa and Handful of Earth by Dick Gaughan are outsanding albums both bursting full of fantastic tunes and songs. I think Handful of Earth was the first ‘folk’ album I ever bought and seeing Dick Gaughan live is inspirational. Similarly, seeing Lunasa live shortly preceded my purchase of a Low D whistle 🙂

The 3/4 6/8 thing

Probably of I was doing this again I would put it in 12/8 i.e. like a very slow slide, if such a concept is possible 🙂

January Snows, X:3

First time trying to write down a slow air, it is not an easy task. I chose to put no bars in it, durations of the notes are free of interpretation.

Re: January Snows, X3

I used !turn! symbol for double rolls

Re: January Snows

The song “The Snow it Melts the Soonest” is a lot lot older than the Dick Gaughan version: the earliest record of its existence is from 1821. Anne Briggs had one of the iconic recordings of it in the 1960s and many others have recorded it since. It came from the NE of England. Dick says he learned it from Archie Fisher’s singing of it, Archie having recorded it in 1968.
More info here: https://mainlynorfolk.info/anne.briggs/songs/thesnowitmeltsthesoonest.html

And here is Anne Briggs singing it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mv_hasUk74Q

Note that it was used in the film of “Tess of the D’Urbevilles”.