The Word on the Street
home | background | illustrations | distribution | highlights | search & browse | resources | contact us

Broadside ballad entitled 'Banks of Tay'


Verse 1: 'By Grampians' towering mountains high, / Whose rocky summits skirt the sky; / Wild rolls the queen of Scotia's floods, / Adorned by Athole's ancient woods. / Along their winding walks in spring, / How sweet to hear the wild birds sing; / At peep of dawn, how sweet to stray, / Adown the bonnie Banks of Tay.' This particular three-verse song was 'Written and composed by ROBERT CARMICHAEL, Lundin Mill, near Largo, Fifeshire.'

A note under the title informs the reader that the verses were intended to be sung to the air, 'Roslin Castle'. With no accompanying music, the tune was most probably well-known amongst the readership. This particular song deals with pastoral themes that would have particularly appealed to a growing urban population. With the advent of the Industrial Revolution many people were forced to leave behind their rural existence and forge a new life in the rapidly expanding towns. Although rural life was far from idyllic, many new urbanites harked back to a romanticised version of the 'old life'.

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.

previous pageprevious          
Probable period of publication: 1880-1900   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.70(117a)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Banks of Tay'
View larger image

NLS home page   |   Digital gallery   |   Credits

National Library of Scotland © 2004

National Library of Scotland