This ballad begins: 'O bonnie Lassie wilt thou go, / Wilt thou go, wilt thou go, / O bonny Lassie wilt thou go, / To the Birks of Abergeldy.' The text preceding it reads: 'A New Song, / To its own Proper Tune.'
The Birks of Abergeldy was a popular country dance, a reel involving three couples, during the early eighteenth century. The lyricist and composer of the piece have not been recorded, but the first recorded appearance of the melody was in 1692. It had been published south of the border by 1700. The lyrics were famously rewritten by Burns when he stayed at Aberfeldy in Perthshire. Those lyrics were originally entitled, 'The Birks o' Aberfeldy'.
Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.
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Probable date of publication:
1701 shelfmark: Ry.III.a.10(057)
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