Also known as
The Waking Of The Fauld, The Walking Of The Fauld, The Walking Of The Fold, The Waukin Of The Fauld, The Wauking Of The Fauld, Waulkin O’ The Fauld, The Waulkin‘ O’ The Fauld, The Waulking O’ The Fauld.
This is a beautiful old tune Does anyone know what the title actually means
‘The Waulking of the Fauld’ = watching over the sheepfold
I thought that waulking was was thumping the bejasus out of a bolt of Harris Tweed up in the Hebrides.The women sing waulking songs while they do it.
Come to think of it the right word is wake.The Irish have wakes to watch over the deceased,the waking hours used to mean the hours when a watch was kept,and Hereward The Wake watched over fledgling England.
Dafydd’s tweed making definition is probably closer to the mark than sheep watching.
Some commentary on both these potential origins is at: http://chrsouchon.free.fr/orannam.htm
(although it concerns a different tune).
An abridged extract is:
“The tune… was a Gaelic ”Oran Luadh" (‘waulking song’) from the Outer Hebrides and refers to the milling, or fulling, of a tweed web called the ‘fauld’. It was meant to accompany work, the rhythms corresponding to the pace of the work to be done. The most recent form was processed as follows: A group of women sat around a long table on which the tweed was laid. They kneaded the material rhythmically against the surface, passing it down the line. The thumping of the cloth on the table provides a regular beat for the song.
…Another very unlikely interpretation states that ‘waulkin of the fold’ refers to the shepherd’s task of watching the sheep fold at the time of weaning lambs to prevent them from returning to their mothers. This necessitated shepherds staying awake all night and occasioned an opportunity for socializing and playing to alleviate boredom."
Thanks Graemeo.Was it mentioned in the article that in order to full the cloth it was steeped in urine?No wonder they sang to keep up their spirits.
The “Waulkin‘ O’ the Fauld ”~ a bit more on the topic
‘Fauld’ is basically as it sounds, ‘fold’ or ‘folds’, and a number over the ages have taken this to be ‘watching over the sheep fold’, which I don’t agree with. ‘Fauld’ is also the folds of fabric which is beaten and mover while those doing the work sing, sharing in the chorus and taking turns singing the lead of various songs. It was an important social occassion in all its various forms, and one of the several accepted opportunities for folk to meet, including the unattached young.
But, in order to give the other side, here is one of those contrary to my belief and take on this:
"The Wauking of the Fauld (marching air) ~ composer unknown
Scots poet Allan Ramsey (1689-1758) composed a song to this melody. It became part of his pastoral drama ‘The Gentle Shepherd’, published in the 1720s. It was also published in ‘Orpheus Caledonius (1733). James Oswald printed an instrumental setting of the tune in ’The Caledonian Pocket Companion’ book 3 (1745-48). Ramsay’s verses begin: “My Peggy is a young thing … yet well I like to meet her at the wawking of the fauld.” “Wawking” (sometimes “Wauking”, “Waaking”, “Waulking”, or “Wakin”) means “watching” and “fauld” refers to a sheep fold. Watching over the fold when the lambs were weaned or the sheep milked provided an opportunity for young men and women to spend time together."
& ~ here it is applied in a different way, but hinting at the ‘waulking’ of the fabric and the taking turns in verse and chorus, in this case ‘orchestrated’ as “A Medley of Scots Tunes” by Alasdair Fraser & Rachel Barton Pine ~
“The next tune is ”The Waukin of the Fauld,“ a strathspey in which the melody is passed among the soloists and various instruments of the orchestra.”
NOTE & PROVERB?: The act of damping and beating the wool fabric is to ‘full’ the fabric, basically to strengthen it by its tightening, shrinking and coming together over time, the threads, waft and weave. I have the experience of knowing beautifully woven Welsh fabric that was not ‘fulled’ and which quickly wore out in use, literally opened up and pulled apart too easily with the natural friction of use, abrasion, in this case by folks who’d used it in their costumes, in dance and music performance.
“Fair Warning” ~ Johnny Cunningham
CD ~ 8.) Waulkin O’ The Fauld
“This tune was originally a Gaelic ”waulking“ song from the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. It refers to the milling, or fulling of a web of tweed which, in the title, is called the ”fauld“. Waulking songs were sung on such occasions, the rhythms corresponding to the rhythms of the work to be done. As well as finishing the cloth, it was a great excuse for a social gathering for the neighbourhoods. The version here was taught to me, already changed, as a strathspey. I have taken it one step further, changed the key and made it a slow air.”
~ Johnny Cunningham
I was sure I’d seen it mentioned somewhere else and knew he played it and recorded it. I’ve not my LPs at hand but finally found the CD of it and was listening when I pulled out the thin insert for the first time ~ et voila!
Waulking o’ the Fauld
The comments above are interesting, but I think it is wrong to make this a (tweed) waulking song. It does not help that both the key words in the title have two or more possible meanings. Hebridean waulking songs do not usually have this rythym or character (even allowing for its evolution), and the process traditionally involved only women. Whatever the origin of the tune, the title is obviously taken from Allan Ramsay’s words, and given that he included it in ‘The Gentle Shepherd’, a sheepfold context would fit far more happily than a cloth-waulking one. Whatever the truth it is a beautiful air as played by Ferintosh.
Having been in a singing group, ‘The North Shore Singers’, ‘waulkin’ the fauld’ as described above, I can tell you that this melody is a perfect fit to the task…
In Nova Scotia both sexes participated in the act of ‘waulking’, fulling the fabric…
P.S. ~ there were also rude lyrics to accompany the act, and even a song dealing with the murder of a dog, but given a darkly comic twist…
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