From the New England Fiddler’s Repertoire. A different tune to "Speed the Plough", and also known as Quigley’s.
Speed The Plough
Trevor, lose your American spelling! - the tune’s Scottish. Apparently written by John Morehead (Moorhead/Muirhead?) c1800
My setting goes like this:
zE|A2Ac efec|efae faec|dfdB cecA|FBBA GEFG|
A2Ac efec|ea~a2 ecAc|dece BeAe|GABG A2:|
|:ce|a2ag aAce|aAgA fAeA|dfdB cecA|FBBA GABd|
(3cBA eA fAeA|f
I forgot about the left arrow not working in the comments section. Those last 3 bars are:
|faaf ecAc|dece BeAe|GABG A2:|
Apparently a truly British Tune, the tune was written in London (for the stage apparently) by a Scot who’d lived in Ireland for many years.
Another version from Brendan Breatnach
T: Speed the Plough
D | ~G3B dedB | degd egdB | cecA (3Bcd BG | FAAF GFEF |
~G3B dedB | degd egdB | cecA B2BG |1 FAAF G3 :|2 FAAF G2||
|: Bd|~g3f gdBd | (3fga bg egdB | cecA (3Bcd BG | FAAF gfef |
~g3f gdBd | (3fga bg egdB |cecA (3Bcd BG |FAAF G2 :||
"New England Fiddler’s Repertoire"
by Randy Miller and Jack Perron, first published in 1983.
Page 94: "Speed the Plow"
The version I know is from one of Kerr’s Collections of Scottish dance tunes (not sure which one, I haven’t got it to hand) and goes as follows:
T: Speed the Plough
E2 | A2Ac efec | eaec efec | dfdB cecA | dcBA GABC |
A2Ac efec | eaec efec | dfdB cecA |cBAG A2 :||: e2 | aAaA aAce | aAgA fAeA| dfdB cecA | dcBA GABd | (3cBA eA fAeA | fgaf ecAc | decd BcAB | FAGB A2 :||
Known in Québec as "Reel Matane"
Matane is a small town alongside the St.Lawrence river.
Recorded in 1931 by Joseph Guilmette:
The Québec group "La Bottine Souriante" plays this version:
The Québec group "La Bottine Souriante" plays this version in G:
T: Tire la Langue
Z: Transcription by F. Ouellette
GABc dedB | dedB dgdB | cecA BdBG | AcAG FDEF |
GABc dedB | dedB dgdB | cecA BdBG |1 AcAF G2 z G :|2 AcAF G2 (3def |
|:g z gg gdBd | gGfG eGdG | cecA BdBG | AcAG FDEF |
GABc dBGB | efge dBGd | cdec BAGB |1 AGFA G2 (3def :|2 AGFA G2 z2 |
I learnt my version from here (in G):
T:Speed the Plough
T:Plead for Slough
|:GABc dedB|dedB dedB|c2ec B2dB|c2A2A2BA|
|GABc dedB|dedB dedB|c2ec B2dB|A2A2G4:|
|:g2gf g2Bd|g2f2e2d2|c2ec B2dB|c2A2A2df|
Although I don’t read abc, I used the sheet:
This tune is in the Fermanagh Gunn MS (1865) as a hornpipe - also appears in a few other collections as a hornpipe. I suspect the impatience of musicians over the years has led to many tunes originally hornpipes now being played fairly universally as reels!
Rescued from possible deletion:
Speed The Plough
Key signature: Eminor
Submitted on September 30th 2011 by Ian Gillingham.
T: Speed The Plough
"Em"EFGA BcBG | BcBG BcBG | "Am"A2 cA "Em"G2 BG |
A2 F2 F4 | "Em"EFGA BcBG | BcBG BcBG | "Am"A2 cA "Em"G2 BG |
F2 D2 "Em"E4 :: "Em"e2 e2 eBGB | e2 dc B2 G2 | "Am"A2 cA "Em"G2 BG | A2 F2 F4 |
"Em"e2 e2 eBGB | e2 dc B2 G2 | "Am"A2 cA "Em"G2 BG | "B7"F2 D2 "Em"E4 |]
Old piece - new key
Having looked for Speed The Plough in Em, I could only find the G major version, so have submitted this. It’s often played in our sessions, first the minor version, followed by the major.
# Posted on September 30th 2011 by Ian Gillingham
It would have been better to post this in the comments section, of the Gmaj version, it’s more useful that way to find different versions of the same tune.
# Posted on September 30th 2011 by SmashTheWindows
As for the provenance of this tune, it does seem that it was composed by John Moorhead or Moorehead. O’Neill suggests that Moorhead was born in Edinburgh, but there seems to be no other source to suggest that. Other sources say that he was born in Ireland around 1760. Indeed, in a letter to Thomas Dibdin, sent from Tothill-Fields prison, he refers to an Irish inmate as "a countryman of mine" - so he thought himself an Irishman.
The story of Moorhead is quite interesting and deserves some extensive detail here. It appears that he was working in Manchester before the dramatist and songwriter Thomas John Dibdin employed him at Sadler’s Wells around 1796. The tune ‘Speed the Plough’ was originally called ‘The Naval Pillar’ and was part of a musical by Dibdin to coincide with plans to erect a monument - under the patronage of The Duke of Clarence - to celebrate naval victories of that period. The musical was first staged on 7th October 1799. Dibdin says in his reminiscences:
[…as the "Naval Pillar" was extremely well received, I went home in very good spirits. The new music in the "Naval Pillar" was composed by John Moorhead ; and one dance was so popular, that it was after- wards introduced in "Speed the Plough" changing its name from the " Naval Pillar " to that of the comedy ; and remains an established favourite.]
The comedy "Speed the Plough" was by Thomas Morton.
Moorhead suffered from mental health problems, which seemed to run in the family. A fairly detailed account of his behaviour is given in Dibdin’s reminiscences Dibdin last worked with Moorhead on the musical "The Cabinet" which was staged in March 1802:
[…It had been arranged, in the first instance, that John Moorhead should compose the music, and he had received an advance of fifty pounds on account of it ; but an unfortunate nervous attack, approaching rapidly to imbecility of mind, and ending in insanity, made it necessary to give him partners in his work : the opening chorus, a song, and quartette, were all he was able to contribute ; but Mr. Harris, feeling for the melancholy situation of Moorhead, liberally allowed him to keep the fifty pounds which had been advanced, and which amounted to half the price of composing the whole opera….
…As this was the last season in which I had any material professional intercourse with Moorhead, I will just mention that his mental malady continued, with a few intervals, to increase, till he was some time confined in Northampton-house : a relapse soon after, on quitting that asylum, led him into an extraordinary succession of eccentricities at Richmond, where he posted critical placards on the merits of contemporary composers, in the public reading-rooms, broke all the glasses and furniture in his lodgings, stopped the Duke of Queensberry’s horses on Richmond Hill, and turned the carriage round, in spite of the well- applied lash of an athletic coachman ; and one day, having snatched a Secretary to the Russian Embassy up in his arms, on the public walk at Richmond, and very nearly succeeded in an at- tempt to throw him in the Thames, poor Moorhead was committed, in a strait waistcoat, to Tothill- Fields Prison. Among minor wanderings, he had just before this laboured under the delusion that I had gone to Bath without paying him the respect of taking leave, and dispatched an unsealed letter after me, containing a challenge. I happened to meet him in Richmond, as he returned from putting it in the post, when he was quite as displeased at the idea that I had not gone to Bath. On this occasion, he walked into my lodging with me, and sat down by the fire : it was evening, and we were tête-à-tête. As his language was extravagant, and a little too high for any hope of soothing him, (for any attempt of that kind added fuel to the flame,) I began to contemplate what means I should pursue to get rid of such a visitor, no one but a female servant happening to be within ; and at length was obliged to make up my. mind. He was a powerful man, about six feet high ; and in his delirium boasted much of how easily he could crush any man who opposed him. I said I thought him too sanguine, and, for my own part, I had made up my mind how to place myself on an equality with a Hercules, should he condescend to take advantage of his merely superior physical powers. He sarcastically inquired, how ? on which, I drew a red-hot poker from the fire; and being at a very well-measured fencing distance, I told him no power on earth should prevent my burying that glowing weapon in the bosom of any gen- tleman who did not respect the rights of hospi- tality : the parlour door opened immediately to the street, without any intervening passage ; and Moorhead stalked stately up Richmond Hill in a twinkling,
Nor cast one longing, lingering look behind.
He had, very shortly before this, nearly killed Mr. Goodwin, the music copyist of Covent- Garden Theatre, on some imaginary cause of offence, by striking him on the temple with a large rummer glass: I had therefore some cause for apprehension ; more particularly as Moorhead’s frantic ebullitions were generally directed against those who, in moments of sanity, he most valued and esteemed. I had, as before related, brought him to London, procured his brother and himself engagements at Sadler’s Wells, prevailed on Mr. Harris to place him as a tenor in the orchestra of Covent-Garden, and in every musical production where I was concerned, I had given him opportunities of credit and emolument, besides obtaining for him the composition (with Davy) of "Perouse," and other profitable employments : but he was a destined man ; his faults were entirely involuntary, and proceeded from constant fever in his head. The annexed letter, which I afterwards received from him when in Tothill-Fields Prison, will show his mind, though disordered, was rather of superior cast ; his attainments as a scholar rather above the generality of his professional brethren ; and even in his hours of derangement, one might truly say —
Though this be madness, yet there’s method in ‘t.
Tothill-Fields Prison, Jan. 5th, 1803.
" Dear Sir, I have a great deal to say to you in extenuation of, and apology for, my repeated misconduct towards you : I assure you, sir, I have a full sense of my errors, and hope I may, after this acknowledgment, be allowed to proceed to business. Argumentium ad hominem.- — ‘Your biography in the Monthly Mirror has given me particular satisfaction, as it reminds me of former times. Now, sir, the recollection of former times naturally brings ’ Alonzo and Imogine’ along with it : on that ground, I request you may put ’ Rudiger ’ (a piece I had once given him to compose, and afterwards withdrawn : it was afterwards acted at the Surrey Theatre as the ’ Silver Swan’) into my hands for Sadler’s Wells, or any piece of the like kind. I make this request with some degree of confidence, relying on the same candour and justice which have marked your conduct towards me hitherto. My price for the Wells is ten guineas : I ask no more, and wish to go to work sur rinstant, as I want to employ my mind fully, and to get some money. To use one of your puns, Mr. Allingham has made a good hand of your head (alluding to a portrait of me painted by Mr. C. Allingham) ; better than Bob’s (another portrait by Dighton). Peroratio. — I shall rely on your speedy answer, as there is nothing (I sincerely assure you) on this earth will give me greater satisfaction than a reconciliation with you and your friends. Best respects to Mrs. Dibdin, her sister, and your niece : I have a crow to pluck with : it was not friendly of him to abuse my duett in his flimsy monthly publication : when you see him, say I said so, and that I shall remember his notice of me ; or you may deliver the message (sæva indignatio fecit) to his lady. I have an apology to make to Mr. Reeve, and wish him to understand I do not mean to interfere with him at the Wells. Best regards to your brother Charles and wife. Your obliged humble servant, J. MOORHEAD.
P. S. An Irishman ax’d "whether the weather-glass had fallen up or down" and another countryman of mine (poor Pat !), going on the secret expedition, being dunned by a comrade for a debt often shillings, — tore a one-pound note in two, and the creditor accepted one of the halves as payment of his demand. A friend of mine lately translated ’ Tam Marti quam Mercurio ’ into ’ more military than civil.’ "
When Moorhead was liberated from Tothill- Fields, he entered, as a common sailor, on board Admiral Lord Keith’s ship, the Monarch : the captain soon discovered the volunteer was equal to something better, and Lord Keith made him master of his band. One afternoon, while the ship lay in the Downs, the captain observing Moorhead more than usually depressed, gave him leave to go on shore for a day or two by way of relaxation : he called on a musical friend in Deal, who was giving a lesson, and Moorhead observed he would take a walk, and return to tea. He was never more seen alive, being found some days afterwards strangled with his handkerchief, which he had tied to the lower bar of a field gate : his brother Alexander, whom I have mentioned, and with whom we were always on the best terms, died shortly after in the Lunatic Asylum at Liverpool ; as did, I believe, a third brother in a similar situation. Moorhead had usually resided very near the cider-cellar in Maiden-lane, to which place he one evening entreated me to accompany him, that he might introduce me to his friend the celebrated Greek Professor Porson, who, as well as Moorhead, was so completely intoxicated, that the Professor took me for Moorhead, and Moorhead mistook the Professor for me.]
The Reminiscences of Thomas Dibdin, 1827.
Note that the death of John Moorhead’s brother was announced in the press on 10th September 1803 - before John killed himself, which was around March 1804.
For those who are still following this, the story doesn’t end there. In January 1804, the following announcement was placed in the press (this is from the York Herald, January 28th):
[ Mr Moorhead, the well known composer, some time since entered on board a ship as instructor of the band of music. In an unguarded moment he lifted his hand against one of the officers. For this misconduct he was flogged to severity, that his life is considered in danger.]
Very shortly after, another announcement appeared in the papers (this from the London Gazette, February 1804):
[The following is an extract of a letter sent by Captain Searle, of his Majesty’s ship Monarch, in the Downs, addressed to Mr. John Johnstone, of Drury Lane Theatre:-
"Monarch, in the Downs, Jan.27.
Sir,- A paragraph reflecting on the conduct of Mr. Moorehead, and stating that his life is despaired of in consequence of a severe flogging he has received, &c, &c. having appeared in several daily papers of the 24th instant, I feel extremely anxious to have it contradicted.
It is surprising how so infamous a falsehood could have been fabricated, and if I did not deem it beneath my notice, I should think it a much more severe reflection upon me than him.
It may, perhaps, afford consolation to his friends, to know, that his conduct here, has procured him the respect and esteem of all the Officers, and, as far as is consistent with the rules and regulations of a King’s ship, that it has been on all occasions their study to alleviate his present situation.
I am, Dear Sir,
Your most obediant servant,
J.C. Searle" ]
Within just a few weeks of this, Moorhead was found dead.
I’m wondering if the flogging did happen or was it the publicity - or what appears to be a bipolar disorder that led to his death?
The Grove Dictionary mentions that Moorhead composed the music for "The Muffin Man". This is not to be confused with the well known rhyme (which does involve Drury Lane, interestingly) which seems to come from a later date. The "Muffin Man" in this case is a song by Thomas Dibdin - the chorus goes:
O, rare crumpets smoking,
Hot Yorkshire cakes,
Hot loaves and charming cakes,
One a-penny, two a-penny, Yorkshire cakes.
Apologies for the long-winded post being poorly formatted. It didn’t transfer all that well from the document I wrote it in originally.
Further to this story of John Moorhead, or Moorehead, it seems that the blind piper and pipemaker William Kennedy was taught piping at one time by John Moorehead’s father in Armagh.
"Trevor, lose your American spelling! "
What is it with all of your xenophobia? Music is an international language; or are you one of those who think that whites should not play blues, Italians should not play Celtic? In that case, why is that the most popular instrument (the fiddle or violin) was created and invented in the far east and middle east; one of the most popular instruments in the celtic repertoire, i. e., the banjo, is one that was created by African slaves; the flute, also came from the east. None of these is inherent nor intrinsic to Celtic culture, yet all have been adopted, adapted, and used most effectively (i.e. stolen for their own use) by Celtic musicians. When we restrict ourselves to the narrowest definition of culture, we are race-baiting, and playing into the hands of those who would squash the resurgence of the autonomy of myriad cultures.
I am the child of parents who quashed their cultural identity because of persecution. Many of us have been struggling to restore cultural identities, but you cannot accomplish that by becoming insular and opposed to cultures that are not your own. We need to work together, and not demean someone because they spell words in a certain way, or interpret a tune in a certain way. That is not how the folk process works, and it is not how our forefathers and foremothers used it.
We all share a common communication — music. When one tries to compartmentalize or "purify" its roots and antecedents, one plays into the hands of xenophobes, racists, and fascists. We can definitely do without that!
Lose your xenophobia, and join the world. You will be happier for it.
What a sad and miserable comment.
As we say in Scotland…
"…. that’s us telt !" 🙂
Sebastian: Seriously. Having been on the receiving end of racism and xenophobia, I can assure you that any time someone posits their culture as superior, whether in spelling, or morals, or music, they are playing into the hands of those who would define us by our heritage, our color, our creed, or our sexual orientation.
This is NOT a minor issue. Any time some advances their culture as superior to others, it is indeed fascist, and most probably racist.
You need to reexamine the history of the world. The Irish were persecuted in my country in the nineteenth century, and when they gained power, proceeded to persecute Italians and people of color. And those people, when they gained power…
The celtic culture has added much to the well-being of the world — all of the Celts and Gaels — Irish and Scottish. And I have been pleased to participate in that. But no culture should denigrate another because of orientation or spelling (give me a break — SPELLING?)
The Boys of the Lough did much to bridge cultures and traditions. That is a model to follow. Not petty sniping because someone spells something a certain way, or is not "purist" enough to meet xenophobic standards.
"You need to reexamine the history of the world. "
You need to understand that Dow is not a racist.
This Tune also in…
The Drummer’s and Fifer’s Guide by George Bruce and Den Emmett, 1862, U.S.
Article on Speed The Plough
Some more info on Speed the Plough here: http://bit.ly/1Eov9mo
Speed The Plough, X:9
This is the more usual version that I am used to hearing being played.