Old Tom Of Oxford reel

Old Tom Of Oxford has been added to 3 tune sets.

Old Tom Of Oxford has been added to 16 tunebooks.

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Three settings

X: 1
T: Old Tom Of Oxford
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
GABc d2 ef|g2 d2 c2 B2|A4 GABc|d2 g2 f2 g2|
a2 fe d2 ef|g2 d2 c2 B2|A4 G4|g2 d2 c2 B2|A4 G4:|
B2 d2 B2 d2|B2 d2 gfed|c2 e2 c2 e2|c2 e2 gfed|
B2 d2 B2 d2|ddef g4|g2 d2 c2 B2|A4 G4|g2 d2 c2 B2|A4 G4:|
G3 A B2 c2|d4 g4|c4 Bc B2|A4 G4|
G3A B2c2|d4 g4|f4g4|a2 fe d2 ef|
g2 d2 c2 B2|A4 G4|g2 d2 c2 B2|A4 G4||
X: 2
T: Old Tom Of Oxford
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Cmaj
D/E/F/G/A2|BGA2|D/E/ F/G/ A2|d^cde|
X: 3
T: Old Tom Of Oxford
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
A2Bc d2A2|G2F2 E2FE|D2FG A2d2|c2d2 e2cB|
A2Bc d2A2|G2F2 E2(3ABc|d2A2 G2F2|E4 D4:|
|:F2A2 F2A2|F2A2 dcBA|G2B2 G2B2|G2B2 dcBA|
F2A2 F2G2|A2Bc d2(3ABc|d2A2 G2F2|E4 D4:|

Fourteen comments

Lazyhound suggested that I post this version as a separate tune,he thought that the differences warranted it.I’m not so sure,we’ll see what Jeremy thinks.It’s not a reel,it’s a morris tune,so it should be played in a slightly dotted rythym.The C part should be drawn out a bit to give the dancers time for the plain capers.

I forgot to mention it’s the last tune of the Jack Robinson set.

Have you got this right?

have you got this right, dafydd, as it doesn’t tally with any of the "Old Tom of Oxford" tunes that I know. I’ve listened to Bellowheads recording and this transcription does not follow what they play. I think you need to rewrite your abc unless this version of yours is a completely different one to the norm. If so where does yours come from? If a Morris tune, what traditioon?

Posted by .

here’s one version from a fiddle ms from 1752. it’s the john thomas ms edited by cass meurig and published by the national library of wales under the title ‘alawon john thomas’ isbn 1-86225-042-1.

she tells me she had thought of publishing under the title ‘fiddling with john thomas’ but thought better of it. in her edition she suggests that the key should be D minor reasonably enough but i fancy there’s something mysterious and of the eighteenth century about it when the b’s are natural and so i’ve left it as john thomas wrote it. i like it better this way

it is then (indcientaly) in what is called the ‘gogywair’ - an ancient (pre-fifteenth century) harp tuning, apart of course from the modulation to the c natural in the second turn.

some welsh folk songs are still to be heared sung in the gogywair but are as rare as hen’s teeth.

it was published also by Young and Pearson, The Dancing Master Vol 2 (London 3rd edition in 1719) as Peace and Plenty, or Old Oxford. titles here spelled as john thomas

T: Owld Ocsfford. Owld Oxfford
M: C
L: 1/4
S:Alawon John Thomas NLW isbn 1-86225-042-1 ed. Cass Meurig
K: C
D/E/F/G/A2| BGA2|D/E/ F/G/ A2|d^cde|

it sounds lovely on a flute this way 🙂

I learned it from Martin Carthy,who got it from Rod Stradling who had it from the Bampton Morris,passed down by the fiddler Jinky Wells.Lazyhound posted a version.I’ve just listened to the Bellowhead track on My Space and it’s similar to the tune I posted.Are you sure you listened to the right track?It’s the last tune in the jack Robinson set,after the tune with the bagpipes.
www.ucolick.org/~sla/morris/music/Bampton/oldtomox.lb.abc - 2k -

Yes I am and will listen to it again but this version here has 9 bars for the ‘A’ music, 10 bars for the ‘B’ music and 12 bars for the ‘C’ music and I find it hard to believe that Bampton morrismen would have danced to this. The phrasing does not make sense to me.

Posted by .

I know nothing about morris dancing,it’s just a tune I like to play now and again,take it up with Rod Stradling or Martin Carthy.

Is it supposed to be the same as the one played by bellowhead?

Posted by .

No,I hadn’t heard the Bellowhead version before I posted it.

O.K. thanks for that, dafydd, but could you possibly put me out of my misery. Was it obtained from Martin C by aural tradition or did he give it to in manuscript form or did you transcribe it from a CD/casstte/record recorded by him?
I thought that I had played all the versions of Tom of Oxford over the years but seemingly not as ‘c’ has provided an interesting one from the C18. so I really would like to clarify the situation over this one. Thanks.

Posted by .

Can’t help but believe there is an abc writing error here. The first 4quaver run at the beginning of this version is identical with the 4quaver run-up at the beginning of Bellowheads recording. They are the lead in notes to the first bar which would then be | d2ef g2d2 | etc with readjustments to bars. I believe this is really the same tune as the one submitted by ‘Lazyhound’ with the additions of the slow music and does not warrant a separate inclusion.

Posted by .

Here is a version in D, from Pete Cooper’s "English Fiddle Tunes" - this version is similar to the one we play in our English session in Bristol. It goes well with "Old Molly Oxford" https://thesession.org/tunes/10589.

T:Old Tom Of Oxford
A2Bc d2A2 | G2F2 E2FE |D2FG A2d2 | c2d2 e2cB |
A2Bc d2A2 | G2F2 E2(3ABc | d2A2 G2F2 | E4 D4 :|
|: F2A2 F2A2 | F2A2 dcBA | G2B2 G2B2 | G2B2 dcBA |
F2A2 F2G2 | A2Bc d2(3ABc | d2A2 G2F2 | E4 D4 :||

Tune notes by Pete Cooper (from his website www.petecooper.com):

Morris tune in D. ‘Old Tom’ is the name of a famous bell in Christ Church College, Oxford. ‘Old Tom’ has also in recent years become the name of a pub on the opposite side of the road, St Aldate’s, where informal pub sessions have taken place during the Oxford folk festival. I’ve not heard Jinkey Wells playing the tune itself, but he talked about ‘Old Tom of Oxford’ in an interview with Peter Kennedy in 1952. It’s not clear from his narrative whether it is meant to be a ‘true’ history, a song lyric explication, or a folk tale, but it does explicitly link Old Tom and Old Moll (as does the present pairing of these two tunes): -

‘Old Tom of Oxford, he was a forester. He took up with this lad, see - his oldest sister’s oldest son - and they lived and dwelled in a caravan. And they was ’awkers - they used to ’awk all sorts of things, mats and brushes and brooms, O, dozens of things. Well, he picked up with a girl in Oxford. Well, as the song went: "Old Tom of Oxford and young Jim Kent" - that was his nephew - "They married Old Moll and off they went." And she lived in the caravan with ’em. And while they was out doing their ’awking, I suppose, she used to look after the caravan and do the cooking and all that sort of thing. And I’ve yeared it said they lived together for years. And they never quarrelled, nor they never had no disagreement, nor never fell out, the two men with the one woman.’

- Constant Billy - The Morris Dancers of Bampton (Oxon)’ (Folktracks 90-084)
An archaic version of the tune appeared in print about 1713 (as ‘The Old Oxford’, in Dm) in Daniel Wright’s An Extraordinary Collection of Pleasant and Merry Humours etc… c. 1713. It’s been popularised of late by Spiers & Boden (Bellow FECD 175)