The Mermaid Song jig

Also known as Port Na Maighdinn Chuain, U-gu-vi-u, U-gu -vi-u.

There are 2 recordings of this tune.

The Mermaid Song has been added to 4 tunebooks.

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One setting

1
X: 1
T: The Mermaid Song
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
|:e>da>B e>d d2 | e>da>B e>d d2 | e>da>B e>d d2 | e>da>B e>d A2 |
A>fe>d A>d d2 | A>fe>d A>d B2 | A>fe>d A>fe>d |A>fe>d A>d d2 | A>fe>d A>d B2 :|

One comment

The Mermaid Song/U-gu-vi-u, U-gu -vi-u, Port Na Maighdinn Chuain

This simple but beautiful tune, seeming to me very evocative of the ocean, appears in Patrick Macdonald’s A Collection of Highland Vocal Airs, published in 1784 with the title “U-gu-vi-u, U-gu -vi-u, Port na maighdinn Chuain — The Mermaid Song.” I know no Scots Gaelic, but some research indicates that “Port na maighdinn Chuain” means “Song of the Harbor Maiden.” Despite the “vocal” in the book’s title no lyrics are given, but I suspect that “U-gu-vi-u, U-gu -vi-u,” are croon syllables used as the lyrics of the song, like “lullay” in a lullaby. Any further information on these points would be welcome.

The tune seems fairly rare today, though an internet search returns a few printed and recorded results. So far as I can see as of this writing none of the tunes on TheSession.org with similar titles are related to this one, but if I’m missed one, I hope someone will correct me.

The abc notation reflects the exact notation in the source, which instructs the temp as Moderato. Because it’s in 6/8 I’ve rather arbitrarily chosen Jig from this site’s menu, but I have no idea what its classification should really be. To me it sounds most like a waltz.

I’ve composed an adaptation of this for flute quartet; I haven’t managed to get it performed yet, but an audio file generated with software as a demo is at:

https://soundcloud.com/jon-corelis/i-have-heard-the-mermaids-singing