The White Cockade polka

Also known as The Ranting Highlandman, Townie.

There are 15 recordings of a tune by this name.

A tune by this name has been recorded together with Lillibullero (a few times) and Miss Mary Douglas (a few times).

The White Cockade has been added to 7 tune sets.

The White Cockade has been added to 129 tunebooks.

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Three settings

X: 1
T: The White Cockade
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|:G/A/| BB BA/G/| dB Bg/e/| dB c/B/A/G/| BA AG/A/|
BB c/B/A/G/| Bd g>a| b/a/g/f/ e/f/g/e/| dB B :|
|:B/c/| dB gB| d/^c/d/e/ dB/=c/| dB/d/ gf/g/| aA AG/A/|
BB/d/ c/B/A/G/| Bd g>a| b/a/g/f/ e/f/g/e/| dB B :|
# Added by tufbo .
X: 2
T: The White Cockade
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|: GA | B>GB>d c>BA>G | BGBd g2 GA | B>GB>d c>BA>G | FGAB A2 GA|
B>GB>d c>BA>G | (3BGB (3ded g2 ga | bagf efge | d2 (3GAG G2 :|
: Bc | d2 B2 g2 Bc | dcde d2 Bc | d2 B2 g2 fg | a2 A2 A2 GA |
B>GB>d c>BA>G | (3BGB (3ded g2 ga | bagf efge | d2 (3GAG G2 :|
X: 3
T: The White Cockade
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|:G/A/| B>B c/B/A/G/| BB Bg/e/| dB c/B/A/G/| BA AG/A/|
B>d c/B/A/G/| Bd gg/a/| b/a/g/f/ e/f/g/e/|dB B :|
|:B/c/| dB gB/c/| dd/e/ dB/c/| dB gf/g/| aA AG/A/|
B>d c/B/A/G/| Bd gg/a/| b/a/g/f/ e/f/g/e/| dB B :|

Twelve comments

Chieftains

This tune can be heard on The Chieftains: An Irish Evening. They pair it up with Lilebolero and it sounds great.

Johnathan

I have to agree, I think it’s the change from G to D in this tune that makes it special as well as the fade into Lilibalero.
Can anyone explain the ethnic significance of mixing these two tunes? I’m guessing one’s Catholic based and one’s Protestant, but I’m afraid I don’t know which is which?

Another tune played by the Allegheny Highland musicians of the USA… collected from musicians born in the 1800s in Pennsylvania… the same version of the tune.

Alternative version

Their’s a variant of this tune that I’ve come across several times in the re-enactment scene, and goes by the name "The Blue Bonnet". It’s played more like a hornpipe/scottische and goes something like:

X: 2
T:Blue Bonnet
M:4/4
L:1/8
R:hornpipe
K:Gmajor
|: GA | B>GB>d c>BA>G | BGBd g2 GA | B>GB>d c>BA>G | FGAB A2 GA|
B>GB>d c>BA>G | (3BGB (3ded g2 ga | bagf efge | d2 (3GAG G2 :|
: Bc | d2 B2 g2 Bc | dcde d2 Bc | d2 B2 g2 fg | a2 A2 A2 GA |
B>GB>d c>BA>G | (3BGB (3ded g2 ga | bagf efge | d2 (3GAG G2 :|

but the triplets seem to shift around between repeats.

Possible name origin

I’m not sure where this tune comes from, but Jacobite soldiers wore white cockades in the 18th century as a symbol of the deposed Stuart dynasty…maybe significant.

This is the tune to which the words of the Red Flag were first put. It seems a bit of a stretch but it was sung on TG4 a couple of nights ago and it worked well. The name of the singer escapes me but he had a Dublin accent which added authenticity. The Red Flag is now more commonly sung to the German carol Tannenbaum (Christmas Tree).

The White Cockade: A Scots Measure

This tune is, properly speaking, a Scots Measure (which is why it doesn’t look or sound at all like a polka).
Notes on another Scots Measure (Bonny Highland Laddie) here:
https://thesession.org/tunes/6267

Re: The White Cockade

Billy Bragg’s sung The Red Flag to the tune of The White Cockade.

The White Cockade, X:3

Stephan Wade, a banjo player, did a version of this in his one-man theatrical performance and CD titled Banjo Dancing. This version is nice straight or with a swing/lilt to the 16ths. I had the pleasure of seeing his show in Fort Worth and later in Dallas back in the ’80s.

Re: The White Cockade

Irish, American, English?
I have always thought of it as being a Scottish tune. I am aware of at least 2 Burns songs that use this tune, "My Love was born in Aiberdeen" and "John Highlandman".
More info here: https://www.contemplator.com/scotland/whitcock.html

And we play it as a reel in a number of dance sets.

And it’s a totally different tune from the song variously known as the White/Blue/Green Cockade.