The Rowan Tree strathspey

Also known as The Rowan Tree Highland Fling.

There are 2 recordings of a tune by this name.

The Rowan Tree has been added to 3 tune sets.

The Rowan Tree has been added to 24 tunebooks.

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Five settings

X: 1
T: The Rowan Tree
R: strathspey
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|: G>A |B2 B>A B<dd>g | e>de<g e2 d>G |\
B2 B>A B<dd>g | e<Bd>B G2- :|
G>B |d<gg>f f<ee>g | d<Gd>B A2 A>B |\
d<gg>f f<ee>g | d<Gd>B G2 G>B |
d<gg>f f<ee>g | d>ed>B B<AA>G |\
B2 B>A B<dd<g | e<gd>B G2- |]
X: 2
T: The Rowan Tree
R: strathspey
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
V:1
G/>A/ | B2 B>A | B<d d>g | e>d e<g |e>d d>G/A/ |
V:2
G/>D/ | G>F E>F | G<D G>A/B/ | c>G c>B | c>B/A/ B/D/E/F/ |
V:1
B>B B>A | B<d e>d | d<B A>G | G3d:||
V:2
G>F E>F | G<D c>A | D2 E>F | G3A:||
V:1
d>g g>f | f>e e>g | d>e e/d/c/B/ | B2 AG/A/ |
V:2
B>A B>G | c>B c>G | B>A BG | GF/E/ F/D/E/F/ |
V:1
B2 B>A|B<d e>d |d>B A2 | G3 G/>B/|
V:2
G>F E>F | G<D c>A | B>D E>F | G3 G/>F/ |
V:1
B2 A>G | G3 ||
V:2
G>D c>d | B3 ||
# Added by JACKB .
X: 3
T: The Rowan Tree
R: strathspey
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
V:1
D/>E/ | F2 F>E | F<A A>d | B>A B<d | B>A A>D/E/ |
V:2
d/>A/ | d>c B>c | d<A D>E/F/ | G>D G>F | G>F/E/ F/A/B/c/ |
V:1
F>F F>E | F<A B>A | A<F E>D | D3A:||
V:2
d>c B>c | d<A G>E | A2 B>c | d3E:||
V:1
A>d d>c | c>B B>d | A>B B/A/G/F/ | F2 ED/E/ |
V:2
F>E F>D | G>F G>D | F>E FD | dc/B/ c/A/B/c/ |
V:1
F2 F>E|F<A B>A |A>F E2 | D3 D/>F/|
V:2
d>c B>c | d<A G>E | F>A B>c | d3 d/>c/ |
V:1
F2 E>D | D3 ||
V:2
d>A G>A | F3 ||
# Added by JACKB .
X: 4
T: The Rowan Tree
R: strathspey
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
|: A |c>cc>B c<ee>a | f>ef<a f2 e>A |\
c>cc>B c<ee<a | e<cB>c A2- A :|
|: c |e>aa>g g<ff>a | e>fe>c c2 B>A |\
c>cc>B c<ee<a | e<cB>c A2- A :|
X: 5
T: The Rowan Tree
R: strathspey
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|: G |B>BB>A B<dd>g | e>de<g e2 d>G |\
B>BB>A B<dd<g | d<BA>B G2- G :|
|: B |d>gg>f f<ee>g | d>ed>B B2 A>G |\
B>BB>A B<dd<g | d<BA>B G2- G :|

Twenty-four comments

“The Rowan Tree” ~ highland schottische / fling - - - & Kerr, 1870s

I wouldn’t be surprised if this was already here, but I haven’t found it on an initial search. Here’s how it appears in the Kerr collection:

X: 2
T: Rowan Tree
B: "Kerr’s Third Collection of Merry Melodies", Glasgow, 1870s, page 23, "Highland Schottisches", tune #199
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
R: highland schottische
K: AMaj
|: A |\
c>cc>B c<ee>a | f>ef<a f2 e>A |\
c>cc>B c<ee<a | e<cB>c A2- A :|
|: c |\
e>aa>g g<ff>a | e>fe>c c2 B>A |\
c>cc>B c<ee<a | e<cB>c A2- A :|

X: 3
T: Rowan Tree
B: "Kerr’s Third Collection of Merry Melodies" Glasgow, 1870s, page 23, "Highland Schottisches", tune #199
N: transposed from A to G Major
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
R: highland schottische
K: GMaj
|: G |\
B>BB>A B<dd>g | e>de<g e2 d>G |\
B>BB>A B<dd<g | d<BA>B G2- G :|
|: B |\
d>gg>f f<ee>g | d>ed>B B2 A>G |\
B>BB>A B<dd<g | d<BA>B G2- G :|

The Rowan Tree

There are a few tunes in the Merry Melodies which are song melodies worked up into Strathspeys, and this is one of them. "The Rowan Tree" is extremely well known and popular in Scotland as one of the celebrated songs of Carolina Oliphant, later Lady Nairne, and it was first published around 1840.

I recently put together a concert featuring songs and music from my local area, Strathearn in Perthshire, and I was pleased to include several of Lady Naine’s songs, as she lived at Gask in Strathearn; the songs were sung beautifully by Wendy Carle Taylor.

X:1003
T:Rowan Tree, The
S:Wendy Carle Taylor at the Bonnie Strathearn concert, Sept 2012
Z:Nigel Gatherer
L:1/8
M:2/4
K:A
A,/B,/ | C>C CB, | C<E EA | F>E FA | FE- E
A,/B,/ | C>C CB, | C<E F>E | EC B,>C | A,3 ||
E | EA A>G | GF FA | E>E F/E/D/C/ | C2 B,
A,/B,/ | C>C CB, | C<E F>E | EC B,>A | A,3 ||
A,/B,/ | C3 B, | A,2 z ||

Oh rowan tree, oh rowan tree, thoul’t aye be dear to me.
Entwin’d thou art wi’ mony ties, o’ hame and infancy.
Thy leaves were aye the first o spring, thy flowr’s the simmer’s pride:
There was na sic a bonnie tree, in all the country side.
Oh! Rowan tree.

How fair wert thou in simmer time, wi’ all thy clusters white,
How rich and gay thy autumn dress, wi’ berries red and bright.
Oh thy fair stem were mony names, which now nae mair I see;
But they’re engraven on my heart, forgot they ne’er can be.
Oh! Rowan tree.

We sat aneath thy spreading shade, the bairnies round thee ran,
They pu’d thy bonnie berries red and necklaces they strang;
My mither, oh! I see her still, she smiled our sports to see,
Wi’ little Jeannie on her lap, and Jamie at her knee.
Oh! Rowan tree.

Oh! there arose my father’s prayer in holy evening’s calm;
How sweet was then my mither’s voice in the martyr’s psalm!
Now a’ are gane! we meet nae mair aneath the rowan tree,
But hallowed thoughts around thee twine o’ hame and infancy.
Oh! Rowan tree.

The Rowan Tree

Corrected melody:

X:1003
T:Rowan Tree, The
S:Wendy Carle Taylor at the Bonnie Strathearn concert, Sept 2012
Z:Nigel Gatherer
L:1/8
M:2/4
K:A
A,/B,/ | C>C CB, | C<E EA | F>E FA | FE- E
A,/B,/ | C>C CB, | C<E F>E | EC B,>C | A,3 ||
E | EA A>G | GF FA | E>E F/E/D/C/ | C2 B,
A,/B,/ | C>C CB, | C<E F>E | EC B,>A, | A,3 ||
A,/B,/ | C3 B, | A,2 z ||

"and it was first published around 1840"

My understanding is that the first publication was in Robert Archibald Smith’s "Scotish Minstrel" in 1822, when Baroness Nairne was using the name "Mrs Bogan of Bogan".

The Rowan Tree

I can’t find it in there, Weejie - where are you seeing it?

It wouldn’t be in Volume 5 or 6, if the publication date is correct. Volume 4 was published in 1823 - so it is likely in Vol 3 - though might be 2 - if at all.

Just found all the volumes online - watch this space.

Not immediately apparent in those editions.

I’ll look into it in more depth later. Where did you get the date 1840 from, Nigel?

[Some twenty years later, Nairne took up the central image of a tree (and the charmed circle of benevolence it casts) in a song that praises the rowan— mountain ash—that grew near her childhood home at Gask. The air might be by Nairne herself, as it first appears matched to her stanzas in The Scottish Minstrel
in 1822. In her song the rowan is remembered as presiding over a family circle now long broken. Nairne’s mother, Margaret Robertson, had died in 1774 when Nairne was eight:]

Jacobite History to National Song: Robert Burns and
Carolina Oliphant (Baroness Nairne)
Carol McGuirk
Florida Atlantic University, 2006 p.268.

http://ecti.pennpress.org/PennPress/journals/ecti/sampleArticle2.pdf

Seems to be well researched.

Which leads me to believe there might be different editions.

The Rowan Tree

My first port of call is usually G Fraquhar Graham, whose annotations on Scots music and song is usually very accurate; he knew his onions. He wrote,

"…Though it was published about 1840, she was not known to be the author till after her death in 1845. Of the air little is known, but it is believed to owe its present form to Finlay Dun, who, during a quarter of a century, arranged so many modern Scottish airs from amateur sketches." - G Farquhar Graham, The Popular Songs and Melodies of Scotland (1893)

It would be interesting to know exactly what the publication was "about 1840".

Graham may have known his onions, but it might have been written in the garlic.

FWIW, Graham had been dead for more than twenty years when that edition of his book (I don’t actually know of an edition from that year) was published. I have the 1887 edition downloaded from archive.org. There was another edition in 1908. The original edition came out in 1848, or thereabouts. I think you are maybe placing too much faith in him. He was yet another of those who altered tunes to suit the era.

Interesting - the original Graham volumes are on archive.org - The Rowan Tree isn’t in there. The later revised single volume was published well after Graham’s death, so the notes on that particular song might not be by him.
But the mention of Finlay Dun’s arrangement is also interesting, not just in that he is one of the contributors to Graham’s original volumes, but in that he is one of the joint authors of " Local Melodies of Scotland and other Songs accompanied by the Piano Forte", published in 1835, and the book includes The Rowan Tree.

I think most of these 19th century volumes should not be taken too seriously - and that includes Smith’s volumes.

http://www.abebooks.co.uk/Local-Melodies-Scotland-Songs-accompanied-Piano/5816556257/bd

Finlay Dun was also the arranger of Lady Nairne’s "Lays of Strathearn" published in 1846, the year after she died.

The "Local Melodies" might be the publication referred to in the "Popular Songs and Melodies" - but the publication date appears to be wrong.

This has just proved to me how much wild goose chasing is involved with 19th century publications - and why I shouldn’t bother with them too much.

:-)

Still ~ very interesting… Thanks you two, I love it, and for giving the links and sources as well. I’m fine with general date, as said, a lot of creative armchair research went along with similar armchair exploring, but a kick just the same, great fun, like Grattan Flood, and who was that person who invented tribes and wrote about them but had never left Britain? There are still such inventions about, including in science and drug trials and the like. At least with music there’s no great harm, and we get at least that rough idea of ‘when’…

Brilliant banter on this, and much appreciated by me, enjoyed…

The Rowan Tree

"…The later revised single volume was published well after Graham’s death, so the notes on that particular song might not be by him…"

1) They most certainly are.

2) My faith in Graham is based on decades of my own research.

3) The edition I quoted from was NOT published well after Graham’s death.

Songs & melodies

That whole evolution from song sources, and songs from dance tunes, was something I was reading about recently in another context, German dance. If a song was popular it was soon ‘adjusted’ to be used for dance. The same is true of ‘sets’ of melodies used for the sets of quadrilles, such as "The Jenny Lind", which was a set of melodies from the repertoire of that famous chanteuse known as ‘The Swedish Nightingale’… There are copies of many of these ‘sets’ in the National Library in Dublin, also in Belfast, and the National Library in London, and many other libraries too, from that same time, the 1800s. If a song was popular it had to be danced to too, and that is still true in many cases…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jenny_Lind

‘themed sets’ of tunes for the quadrilles…

G Farquhar Graham

3) The edition I quoted from was NOT published well after Graham’s death.

I do beg your pardon: I was completely wrong, and if I was wrong about one thing I’m probably wrong about everything else. I will now be taking a long break from this website. It’s beginning to leave a bad taste in my mouth.

"3) The edition I quoted from was NOT published well after Graham’s death. "

He died in 1867. The only editions of the book published (as far as I know - please enlighten me if I’m mistaken) in his lifetime are the original "Wood’s" volumes (and they do not use the word ‘Popular’ in the title). "The Rowan Tree" does not appear in the "Wood’s" volumes. The next published edition appears to be in 1887 - and that passage you quoted from appears in this edition (where the word ‘Popular’ appears in the title). That is twenty years after Graham died. You cited a date of 1893 - that’s another six years later.
If you know of an edition of the "’Popular’ Songs and Melodies" published during Graham’s lifetime, and containing The Rowan Tree and his notes on the song, I’d be only too glad to be enlightened.
It seems there was a lot of back-scratching going on with the likes of Graham and Dun (and Dauney et al) during that era. Although they were undoubtedly competent musicians, I can only take their claims of authenticity concerning tune origins with a pinch of salt. In short, they were all ‘at it’.

"2) My faith in Graham is based on decades of my own research."

My scepticism of all 19th century collectors and their offerings is based on decades of my research.

The 1887 ("Balmoral") edition:

[REVISED BY

J. MUIR WOOD

WITH ADDITIONAL AIRS AND NOTES ]

I suggest the Wood is responsible for the notes on The Rowan Tree.

In his "Preliminary Note" (dated 1884):

[The present volume contains the popular songs of Scotland ; not those only which are usually sung at the present time, for they unfortunately are few, but in addition a large number which, though now seldom heard, ought on account of their quaintness, their wit, or the beauty of their melody, to be ever held in remembrance. To a large extent they have been extracted from the earlier collection known as "Wood’s Songs of Scotland," edited by George Farquhar Graham, whose illustrative notes were a leading feature of the work, and who, it may be mentioned, was selected on account of his learning and
musical ability to write the article Music in the seventh edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. It is scarcely necessary to say that wherever in these notes he expressed his own opinions they have been scrupulously adhered to in the present edition ; but quotations and remarks from other sources have had to be reconsidered, and frequently to be set aside, in favour of more recent and accurate information… ]

So there you have it. Wood kept Graham’s "own opinions" intact but felt that some of his other notes were not accurate enough, and edited them As The Rowan Tree was not included in "Wood’s Songs of Scotland", it is unlikely that the notes were by Graham (and they are not too precise when suggesting a publication date of "about 1840", if - as shown - Dun published the song in 1835 anyway - whether there is an edition of Smith’s "Scotish [sic] Minstrel" with the song included remains to be seen).
Nae wonder Baroness Nairne was reluctant to put her name to her work!

I actually attended Florida Atlantic University (FAU), though I don’t know of Prof. McGuirk. The english dept. has been known to have a summer trip to attend classes at Oxford, so it should be a pretty good resource.

Speaking of ‘english’, I guess that should be ‘English’.