The Banks Of The Dee jig

There are 2 recordings of a tune by this name.

The Banks Of The Dee has been added to 14 tunebooks.

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One setting

X: 1
T: The Banks Of The Dee
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|: G | DEF GAB | ced cBA | BGE Ddc | BcA G2 :|
|: G/A/ | Bcd d2 g | ede dBG | Bcd efg | GAG FED |
cec BdB | GFG AFD | GFE Ddc | BcA G2 :|

Five comments

The Banks Of The Dee

A tune that’s occasionally played at the Golden Guinea pub session, Bristol (UK).

It’s a Cotswold Morris tune from the village of Leafield in Oxfordshire. (Leafield was formally known as Field Town or Fieldtown).

I’ve also heard it played as a waltz.

Which River Dee?

There is a Dee in England, one in Wales, and another in Scotland (although perhaps the English and the Welsh one are the same?). I was brought up in Cheltenham, and as far as I’m aware there’s no River Dee in the Cotswolds. So where does the tune come from in the first place, I wonder?

@Bill McMellon. Good question!

Yes, a "Cotswold Morris tune" - but you need to bear in mind that morris musicians would often adopt a tune from another tradition when it suited them: e.g. Cadair Idris (Welsh) and "March Past" (Scottish).

So your guess is as good as mine!

There are four rivers bearing the name "Dee" in the UK - and one in Ireland:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/River_Dee

Why so many rivers Dee? …"Dee" (rather like "Avon", "Dane" "Frome" and "Wye" etc.), just means "river" …

And then I found a website with the following:

Traditional Scottish Songs
- The Banks of the Dee

"The Banks of the Dee," by John Tait, was composed in 1775, when a friend left Scotland to join the British forces in America, who were then (vainly) endeavouring to suppress the permanent establishment of American independence. The song is set to the Irish air of "Langolee".
Thirty years later, responding to criticism from Robert Burns that nightingales sing from a bush, never a tree - and are never found in Scotland, far less in Aberdeenshire - he published a new edition of the song with alterations on the first half stanza:

‘Twas summer, and softly the breezes were blowing,
And sweetly the wood-pigeon coo’d from the tree;
At the foot of a rock, where the wild rose was growing,
I sat myself down on the banks of the Dee.



The Banks of the Dee
‘Twas summer, and softly the breezes were blowing,
And sweetly the nightingale sung from the tree,
At the foot of a rock where the river was flowing,
I sat myself down on the banks of the Dee.
Flow on, lovely Dee, flow on, thou sweet river,
Thy banks’ purest stream shall be dear to me ever,
For there first I gain’d the affection and favour
Of Jamie, the glory and pride of the Dee.
But now he ‘s gone from me, and left me thus mourning,
To quell the proud rebels—for valiant is he;
And, ah! there ‘s no hope of his speedy returning,
To wander again on the banks of the Dee.
He ‘s gone, hapless youth! o’er the rude roaring billows,
The kindest and sweetest of all the gay fellows,
And left me to wander ‘mongst those once loved willows,
The loneliest maid on the banks of the Dee.

But time and my prayers may perhaps yet restore him,
Blest peace may restore my dear shepherd to me;
And when he returns, with such care I ‘ll watch o’er him,
He never shall leave the sweet banks of the Dee.
The Dee then shall flow, all its beauties displaying,
The lambs on its banks shall again be seen playing,
While I with my Jamie am carelessly straying,
And tasting again all the sweets of the Dee.

And as to Langolee…

If I understand the thing properly, it seems originally to have been composted by Handel, and then used by the Irish for the following (rather risqué) song, which I’ve taken from Mudcat:

Langolee 3

Ye Ladies attend to your juvenile poet,
Whose labours are always devoted to ye,
Whose ambition it is, and most of you know it,
To charm all your hearts, with his Langolee.
Langolee! what sweet vowels compose it,
It is the delight of each fair maid that knows it
And she that does not, may with rapture suppose it,
That Irish shillalee, call’d Langolee.

The loss of our eminent Handel’s lamented,
Yet in this opinion all ladies agree,
That his solos, concertos, and all he invented,
Could ne’er charm their senses like Langolee.
Langolee, oh! Handel resign it,
The contest is vain, you had better decline it;
For musical ladies thus chose to define it,
The gamut of music is Langolee.

Ye languishing beauties, with asthma disorder’d,
If from the consumption you’d wish to be free,
My sweet pretty patients, take this that is order’d,
The pectoral essence, call’d Langolee.
Langolee makes a noble decoction,
‘Tis a nice three-square root of true Irish extraction;
Dear Ladies pray always take for your protection
That Irish physician, call’d Langolee.

This elixir, this wonderful physic,
Cure female disorders of every degree;
The young of green-sickness, the old of the phthisic,
And makes them alert, and as brisk as a bee.
Langolee! to prevent imposition,
You’ll get it of none but an Irish physician,
Made up un triangular pills for emission
That Hibernian coltsfoot, call’d Langolee.

The song here is from <<The Festival of Anacreon>>, London: L.
Halland, Seventh Edition, 1789. A second ‘Seventh Edition,’
without date was published by George Peacock, c 1791, with a few
additional songs. The publisher’s names here and the edition
numbers are undoubtably fake. The ‘Halland’ edition is probably
the second. The actual publisher was undoubtably Wm. Holland,
whose name appears on the frontispieces of both parts of the
‘Peacock’ edition. A book by Holland, containing several of the
same songs as in <<The Festival of Anacreon>>, and in the same
type and style, will be noted below.

The song and tune here are both entitled "Langolee." The
tune is actually "New Langolee," which is metrically quite
different from the original "Langolee," and the latter cannot be
the tune for any songs mentioned below. The earliest appearance
of the tune that I have seen is among the nine country dance
tunes used for a comic dance performance in London, <<The Irish
Fair>>, 1772, where it is entitled "New Langolee," and is set too
high for a vocal score. The tune is also on a single sheet song
with music, "Langolee," commencing "There li
Four Country Dances for the Year 1775>>, and several songs were
written to it about that time, one of which, "The Banks of the
Dee", is given as #516 in <<The Scots Musical Museum>>.