Origins: Is Green Sleeves really Irish? To Thread - Forum Home

The Mudcat Café TM
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=9466
85 messages

Origins: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?

03 Mar 99 - 08:04 PM (#61192)
Subject: Was Green Sleeves originally an Irish Tune?
From: Mary Lebus

I've been told that Green Sleeves is based on an old Irish Tune. I was told that the Gaelic title had the word Mountain in it. Does anyone know anything about this? TIA, Mary


03 Mar 99 - 09:30 PM (#61202)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Bruce O.

What old Irish tune? The oldest Irish tune known is "Callino" which goes back to 1582, but "Greensleeves" goes back to 1580.


03 Mar 99 - 09:53 PM (#61205)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Pete M

The commonly accepted origin is that is was composed by Henry VIII, but I don't know if there is any documentary proof. Bruce can you add anything?

Pete M


03 Mar 99 - 10:16 PM (#61208)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Bruce O.

There's an old thread with info on "Greensleeves", maybe a mont or so before Christmas, 1997. Forum Search may be necesary to find it. No reference to "Greensleves" prior to the Stationers' Register entry of the ballad in early Sept. 1580 has ever been found. That King Henry bit is romantic nonsense for which there is no evidence at all, but there are always those to whom evidence or lack of it has no bearing at all on their cherished beliefs.


03 Mar 99 - 10:28 PM (#61211)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Bruce O.

Credit where credit is due. It was Hyder E. Rollins in the notes to the song of Greensleeves in his reprint of 'A Handefull of Pleasant Delites' (1924?) that cited all the Stationers' Register entries relevant to Greensleeves and showed it was obviously not in the now lost earlier edition of The Handfull.. (under a different name) that established that Greensleeves was a new song in 1580, and the song and tune were unknown earlier.


03 Mar 99 - 10:57 PM (#61213)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Bruce O.

The old thread is of Nov. 1997, 'Greensleeves History of', but just 'Greensleeves' in Forum Search will find it.


04 Mar 99 - 01:35 AM (#61223)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Bob Bolton

G'day Mary Lebus and all,

I have seen somewhere, in some learned musical tome, Greensleeves described as a typical example of the sort of Italian Violin tunes that arrived in England with the new-fangled violin and its attendant bunch of Italian violin masters in the 16th century ... the same time at which, according to this book, the traditional music of most of Britain was buried under new tunes that suited the radically new instrument.

Regards,

Bob Bolton


04 Mar 99 - 08:14 AM (#61239)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Mary Fitzgerald

I asked Gaelic speaker Bill Maguire of the Memphis Dulcimer Festival what he thought. He did note that Grian Sliabh (pronounced Green Sleeve) may indeed be a couple of Irish words. Grian = sun, and sliabh = mountain. As far as the Henry VIII connection, I believe he may have maintained a couple Irish harpers at his court. If he's responsible for the absolutely dreadful lyrics in English, one may speculate that he put them to a perfectly decent Irish tune! He is also supposed to have compared Ireland to an Irish harp, something in regard to the difficulty of keeping the country in tune, but you'll need to contact a more compleat scholar than me for an exact quote!


04 Mar 99 - 11:15 AM (#61263)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Bruce O.

I have no doubt that more Irish tunes than "Callino" were known in England in the 16th century, and I've made a case for "Bragandary" and cited evidence that the McPeake's "Monaghan Fair" was that sung in England about 1597, as "Derry's Fair", (both on my website) but without evidence I take speculations to be just that much more hot air to be ignored.

The earliest copies of "Greensleeves" and "Callino" are in lute tablature, as are many other 16th century tunes in England. What tablature was used for violins in 16th century England and where are examples of such to be found?


04 Mar 99 - 03:43 PM (#61280)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: mm

Sliabh (pronounced kind of like sleeve) is the Irish for mountain; however, many tunes were played promiscuously in Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, Brittany, the Basque country, Scandinavia etc, when people sailed around a lot...


04 Mar 99 - 05:10 PM (#61296)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Scotty Rotten

I think it has been said that Greensleeves was written by a lute composer named John Johnson while serving as Lutenist for the King or Queen of England...Johnson also wrote some variations on it ...so did Francis Cutting...these two were active in the late 16th- early 17th century...if you come across these give them a listen, they're exceptional!...Scotty


04 Mar 99 - 06:26 PM (#61310)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Bruce O.

Francis Cutting's variations on "Greensleeves" are in Cambridge University MS Dd.3.18 fol. 8v (lute) and Dd.4.12 fol. 25 (cittern). John Ward has noted that "Greensleeves" is a descant on the romanesca ground, and gave a setting for two lutes of the treble and ground from Folger Shakespeare Library MS 1610.1, f. 5 in 'Music for a Handefull of Pleasant Delites', Journal of the American Musicological Society, X, 157 (1957). Being of no fixed melody, "Greensleeves" was somwhat different each time it was set down.

John Ward in 'Music for Elizabethan Lutes' I, 1992, Appendix F gives an inventory of John Johnson's lute scores, which does not include "Greensleeves". Appendix G is a discography of recordings of Johnson's music, but he points out for one by Anthony Rooley and James Tyler that includes "Greensleeves", that the tune is misattributed to Johnson, and should be 'anon'.


05 Mar 99 - 11:36 AM (#61449)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Zorro

I think I've mentioned this before but here it is again: An old folk singer, teacher Ed Badeaux told me that the song was written by a minstrel who fell in love with a lady who worked in the fields. The custom was for the ladies to wear long sleeve white blouses to protect their arms from the sun. The sleeves would turn green as they worked. I play the song, but don't sing it. Each time I tell Ed's story because Ed believed it to be true and I believed Ed. One time, some guy told me that it was indeed written about King Henry's wife as she had scars on her arms and wore long, green sleeved dresses to hide the scars. I like Ed's story better. It sounds more folksy. Z


05 Mar 99 - 12:17 PM (#61455)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Bruce O.

I don't see how anyone who knew the full version of "Greensleeves" (given on the other 'History' tread) could maintain that the lady worked in the fields. She is much closer to being a courtesan. There seems to be a much larger mythology of "Greensleeves" than history of Greensleeves. Where facts are wanting it does't take too much immagination to fill the gaps with plausable fictions.


05 Mar 99 - 05:48 PM (#61491)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Helen

Hi all,

Here is a site with the midi file of Greensleeves Variations. I don't know whether it is the same as the ones mentioned above, but it is well worth a listen. http://midiworld.com/earlymus.htm

For what it is worth, the Greensleeves tune never struck me as being particularly Irish - it reminds me more of the courtly dances e.g. French or Italian style of music. This is just my opinion (i.e. no fact involved whatsoever).

Helen


06 Mar 99 - 12:18 AM (#61519)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: j0_77

hey wow man - noddy noddy noe!!! silly silly very silly I mean how could one even begin to trace the origin of a strain/theme - there are likely bundles of tunes like the Green Sl one and they too are difficult to trace. Come to think of it even modern tunes share 'phrases' etc these are sometimes borowed etc. I think all music has no nationality but may have a national charicter according to the player. I go with the accepted origin of the tune viz King Henry. English folk tunes display simple but beautiful structures and this one is a good example. I suppose with added embellishment any tune takes on a new image, then there may be changes to it's rhythm etc making it unrecognizable. The reverse is also possible. Can't now think of good examples. Suppose the 'classical' composers used lots of themes from folk music too. Thas is a fascinating topic. :)


06 Mar 99 - 02:05 AM (#61530)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Don Meixner

Mary,

No.

Don


06 Mar 99 - 02:34 PM (#61593)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Ferrara

I never realized before that there is an entire subdatabase (are you listening, Greenhaus? ... see French folksongs thread ... :) ) of folklore about folksongs. The fact is, we can't tell whether Henry VIII wrote it. He could have, but if so it's likely there would be documentation, if only because he would have wanted to brag about it. But it's the kind of story that gets around very well because it has appeal. I once read that Loch Lomond was written by a Scot who was about to be executed, but that turns out to be pure fakelore.


06 Mar 99 - 03:16 PM (#61598)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Bruce O.

The true facts are rarely as colorful as the fictions, and never get passed along as far, so I have no doubt that the colorful fictions will in most cases win out in the long run.

We are certainly permanently stuck with the nonsense about the Irish union pipes, where Grattan-Flood thought, quite erroneously, that 'union' was a corruption of 'Uillinn' (modern spelling), Gaelic for 'elbow', and so renamed them.

I'm still waiting for a bookseller's search to see if I can get the facsimile reprint edition of Duffy's 'Ballad Poetry of Ireland', 1843, to see what he really said about the connection of "Shule Aroon" with the Wild Geese (and hoping that book is where he said it).


08 Mar 99 - 04:46 PM (#61961)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From:

A BIG Thanks so much to all of you for your valuable input on Greensleeves. I'll certainly be visiting the archives (when I figure out how, I'm a newbie), and I'll check out the midi files.

Mary


08 Mar 99 - 06:45 PM (#61976)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: j0_77

The Union Pipes - it is a battle field. To begin back in the 60's when nobody gave a darn about them they were called the Uillean Pipes. Now everybody and their dog are claiming that 1 The instrument is not really Irish and 2 It not really called a Uillean Pipes. Hmmm I suppose in time the Chinese will adopt Bluegrass and the Russians Klesmer. Uillean is Gaelic for Elbow - the Uillean Pipes means Elbow Pipes as opposed to Bag Pipes which as we all know are blown from the mouth. I am no authority on the subject but do wish to point out that during the evolution of the instrument Ireland was changing it's language to English. Especially 16/17 hundreds. Every student of the Pipes calls it Uillean - those who do not have some political agenda - I can never tell what that is. BTW a Union Pipe is like the modern Uillean Pipes but lacks the Regulators. Hope that helps :)


08 Mar 99 - 08:25 PM (#62001)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Bruce O.

Breandan Breathnach in 'Folk Music & Dances of Ireland', revised edition, 1977 says of the Irish pipes:
"A plausable explaination for the name 'union' is that this [tenor] regulator and the chanter were regarded as being joined together or being in unison with each other." [This 'union happened c 1765-85.

I quote him, also, from his article 'Piper Jackson' in the journal Eigse Cheol Tire (Irish Folk Music Studies), II, p. 41, 1974-75, ".. and while we are at it, it may be no harm to point out that Walker Jackson was a performer on the union (later misnamed uilleann) pipes, but...[on to an account of Ferrar]. Breathnach, quotes two lines of a piece published Mar. 5, 1796, where one Fitzpatrick of Cork in noted to have played Union Pipes.] [Breathnach, d. 1985 or 1986, was himself an expert piper and chairman of Na Piobairi Uilleann.]

Nicolas Carolan in an article 'The Irish Bagpipes' in 'Popular Music in 18th Century Dublin', 1985, says: "Nor is it possible to say when they acquired the name of union pipes, the historically correct name.


08 Mar 99 - 09:25 PM (#62009)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: An observer

it is always fun to sit on the sidelines watching a 'battle of quotes and sources'. It is good scholarship to be sure that you are not just looking for reasons to justify what you simply want to believe. That is sort of like throwing the dart, then drawing the bulls eye.

It is my observation that Bruce O.works harder than about anyone I've seen to sort out the truth of the matter-and I have no doubt that if anyone presents hard facts that contradict his position, he will be be the first to acknowlege them.

In the matter at hand, if 'union' preceded 'elbow' as a common name for the pipes, it makes no difference whether "Uillean" is a good name or not (even though it actually is). Pipers will probably always continue to call them 'Uillean', and with good reason, but it just may be that they were called 'union' first.


08 Mar 99 - 09:48 PM (#62013)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Bruce O.

'Union Pipes' were around for a little over a century (c 118 or so years) before Grattan-Flood's 'Uillean' appeared.


08 Mar 99 - 10:37 PM (#62020)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: j0_77

I happen to think Green Slieves - is nice on the War Pipes too. Uillean sounds nice but I guess Union sounds nice too I can't decide which I like the best - how bout Villian - or Mule eeeean Pipes :) heee hawww


08 Mar 99 - 11:32 PM (#62025)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Bruce O.

Hey, I didn't say change the name again! I just get tired of the story that they got their name from the pumping by the elbow.


08 Mar 99 - 11:54 PM (#62027)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: j0_77

I actually tried a fan and some old vacuum hoses once it was a great fun.


09 Mar 99 - 02:56 PM (#62101)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Pete M

Kinky!!!


11 Mar 99 - 12:06 PM (#62434)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Philippa

If you want more discussion about uillean pipes/ union pipes search this year's correspondence archives at http://listserv.hea.ie/irtrad-l.html It appears the two names are distinct from each other rather than one being a transliteration of the other, the Irish name referring to the bellows pressed by the elbow, the English-language name referring to the union of drones and chanter.
To get back to Greensleeves, a school teacher told us that it the song was about an army camp follower. Has anyone else heard that and does it make sense to you?


11 Mar 99 - 12:26 PM (#62440)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Steve Parkes

I've been led to beleive on several occasions (none of which I can recall to quote as an authority!) that Henry VIII composed quite a bit, this being one of the suitable occupations of a Renaissance gent in between persecuting the Irish and burning Catholics.

Steve


11 Mar 99 - 01:20 PM (#62446)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Bruce O.

King Henry was a musician and songwriter, but I've seen no evidence that he composed any tunes (nor did Wm. Chappell in PMOT). "Pastime with good Company" is a song by Henry VIII with music in BL MS Addl. 5665, (reprinted PMOT) with words only in BL MS Addl. 31922, but there is no evidence that he composed the tune. There are several more songs by Henry VIII in BL MS Addl. 31922 (MS reprinted By Fugel, Anglia XX), but no tunes for them. BL MS Royal Appendix 58, and 'Bassus', 1530, the first English songbook with music, contain songs from his court, but none are attributed to Henry VIII. Where is any evidence that Henry VIII composed a single tune?


11 Mar 99 - 01:49 PM (#62451)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: j0_77

Re The autorities on Uillean Pipes - really I am not impressed and besides I feel like I should be an authority also - agreed I was born in the wrong century but heck this is a folk issue and we can forgive that little dent in my credentials. So as an authority I do hereby command - the Muleaaaannn Pipes shall be called Uillean Pipes.

Union Pipes are very rare these days - in fact I believe most examples are in Museums along with the books their fans wrote - also note the fans are in museums too.

Yup Green Slieves is Irish but Good Ole Henry as noted elsewhere just had to have it - along with the 47 or so babes he chopped up after he tired of their 'comforts' hey nonney nonney noe, if there had a been a Mormon Church for this ole rooster he need'nt have chopped up any - come to think of he could'a had a bunch more besides. Let's not even begin to dwell on burning people - what a smelly thing to do. Really. Makes ya sick huh. Rule is if your local rooster has a big appetite - don't be a prudish religion. Or get a smokeless and a good view. Donna .... yup it all happened again - another little cock's ***** so what are we gonna dieeee so it can't happen again? Bosnia , N Ireland, need I go on ...


11 Mar 99 - 01:58 PM (#62453)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: j0_77

Oooopzzz - Henry VIII did many things but I am certain he did 'decompose' after he got done composing ...hmmmm


11 Mar 99 - 03:56 PM (#62469)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Jerry Friedman

According to the tutorial in my Recording Session software, the tune of "Greensleeves" has the form of an Italian dance called a passamezzo.


11 Mar 99 - 04:11 PM (#62471)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Jerry again

And Philippa, I didn't see anything in the IRTRAD-L archives that suggested the two words were independent. As "an observer" said, "union" seems to be recorded earlier, so there's a good chance that "uillean" derived from it with the help of folk etymology (just to bring this back on topic), but you can't be sure, and anyway people will call this instrument what they want.


11 Mar 99 - 04:58 PM (#62477)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: catspaw49

I am truly impressed with the depth of knowledge/research/interest that all of you have shown in this subject. Where else could one find so many persuasive arguments on a subject that would seem to be so lacking in interest. Reading the title to this post my first inclination, as always, no matter how serious the subject, is a joke or a wisecrack, ie: "Is Greensleeves Really Irish? -- Who the hell cares?

But your arguments and knowledge prove once again that Mudcat is the most unique place on the web. And who wins the is it or isn't it contest? I'm forced to conclude that either a frog's ass is watertight or a chicken has lips.

catspaw


11 Mar 99 - 05:24 PM (#62484)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Bruce O.

[Subject Uillean]
At an exhibit at the Irish Harp Festival in Belfast in 1903, James Williamson 'played magnificently on the Irish pipes'. Also at the festival was an exibit of a 'set of Irish Union pipes'. I don't know where Wm. Grattan Flood first published his theroy that 'union' was a corruption of 'uillean', 'History of Irish Music', 1905, or 'The Story of the Bagpipe', 1911. most probably, but he also wrote numerous artciles.
Francis O'Neill, 'Irish Minstrels and Musicians', 1913, p. 42, refers to Uillean pipes and Grattan Flood, but doesn't give us a reference to Flood's 'Uillean'derivation. O'Neill discounts the story of 'woollen bagpipes' mentioned by Shakespeare, which were suggested to be 'Uillean pipes' (by Grattan Flood?), because Shakespere's 'woollen bagpipes' was a misprint for 'swollen bagpipes'.
O'Neill's chapter 19 is entitled 'Famous Performers on the Irish or Union Pipes'. Where Irish pipes are mentioned in chapter 16, 'Famous Bagpipe Makers', they are called Union pipes. It would appear that O'Neill was skeptical about 'Uillean', but didn't want to offend Flood.
So much was wrong in Grattan Flood's works that modern Irish music schollars rarely mention him at all. Too much of his history was bogus. Great strides have been made since Flood's time by completely ignoring Flood and starting over by finding real evidence.


11 Mar 99 - 09:11 PM (#62513)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca

So are "Union" pipes a different animal from "Uillean" pipes?

I suppose we should start a separate pipe thread. I am curious if anyone has ever tried to recreate and play those bizarre, Dr. Seuss-like, pipes that one sees in paintings of the old Dutch masters.


20 Apr 04 - 09:30 AM (#1166063)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: GUEST,dalton@vet.upenn.edu

Dear Zorro...

Is Ed Badeaux reachable in any way? I have a query about a photo he took.

Thanks,
FD


20 Apr 04 - 10:11 AM (#1166099)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Pied Piper

The modern Uillean Pipes Evolved from an instrument called the Pastoral Bagpipe invented around about 1700 in the lowlands of Scotland.It had regulaters.
They only reached their present form in American vaudeville in the late 19th century.

PP


20 Apr 04 - 10:39 AM (#1166125)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Georgiansilver

I have an old vinyl LP on which Roger Whittaker sings Greensleeves live...He announces it as a very old English Folk song...but then what would he know..He's Australian!


20 Apr 04 - 12:21 PM (#1166233)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: pavane

I haven't seen any mention in the above discussion that

a) We are talking about two things, a tune and a song

b) Various different lyrics have been set to the tune

c) The tune is a 3/4 (slowed down) member of a large tune/song family, most of which are in 6/8.
For one well known example, we have 'Shepherd oh Shepherd'

d) The Morris Dance tune Greensleeves is also related, more distantly


20 Apr 04 - 12:36 PM (#1166250)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: s&r

Isn't Roger Whittaker from South Africa or at any rate the African Continent?


20 Apr 04 - 01:10 PM (#1166291)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: GUEST,JTT

Does it matter? I've always thought of Greensleeves as an English song. The tune and form certainly sound more English in their presentation than Irish.

But an awful lot of tunes that might be passionately claimed by one country are equally passionately regarded as "mine" by another territory! Look at all the Irish tunes that those damn Eastern Europeans claim as their own, and vice versa!

Play the music and love it for what it is!


20 Apr 04 - 01:14 PM (#1166293)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: GUEST,JTT

Oh, and by the way, while griann is sun and sliabh is mountain, Irish wears its adjectives the other way around. It would be meaningless as "Griann Sliabh", and if you wanted to say "sunny mountain" it would be something like Sliabh na Gréinne. So I think that one's a non-runner. Or non-sunner.


20 Apr 04 - 05:04 PM (#1166466)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: GUEST,Obie

Please allow me to prove beyond a doubt that Greensleeves predates 1580 by at least 300 years.
How many remember the old tv show "Robin Hood"?
One of Robins Merrymen was a minstrel who played a lute.
Robin lived in the days of Richard I (The Lion Heart) 1157-1199 AD
Robin's minstrel played Greensleeves on his lute quite often and sometimes sang the lyrics.
Therefore I would deduct that it must date to at least the late 12th century and is English beyond a doubt. LOL :-}


20 Apr 04 - 05:26 PM (#1166486)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: GUEST,sorefingers

Obie has the proof - so now Mr Gibson you cannot argue with us about it any longer! Therefore Greensleaves is Wanky as well.


21 Apr 04 - 09:27 AM (#1167068)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Betsy

How many English ( and Scottish ) songs will it take the Irish to claim as their own before the Irish are finally happy.????


21 Apr 04 - 09:32 PM (#1167461)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: GUEST,leeneia

We shall never know. It was a time when people moved about without need for passports or visas, when many musicians were itinerant, when the authorship of a tune by a commoner was unimportant.

We do know, however, that when we sing about love, we don't sing about sleeves. And as a dedicated gardener, I can assure you that white sleeves turn brown, not green, after a while. So I lean toward a Celtic origin with the word "Sliabh" in there somewhere. But we all know I could be wrong.


21 Apr 04 - 09:56 PM (#1167474)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Malcolm Douglas

This is a very old thread, and was pretty pointless in the first place, founded as it was on a bizarre misapprehension. It's a pity that it wasn't allowed to rest in peace, in the oblivion which it deserved. If there is any connection whatever here with the Gaelic sliabh, then I am certainly Genghis Khan.

The idea is ridiculous, and could only could have been suggested by somebody who understood nothing of linguistic or musical history; but folk music studies are bedevilled with such foolishness, as anyone who has spent even a little while looking at such things will know all too well. Everybody is an expert; everybody has a theory. They never seem to have any evidence, curiously enough.

It is time to consign this thread once more to the grave. It was unkind to exhume it; it would be worse to force it to drag on out here in some sort of painful half-life, which is all that is left to it.


24 Apr 04 - 02:20 PM (#1169830)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

One more exhumation?

"Greensleeves" is Masonic, a'course, a'course!. Catholic Irish talking about the hated Freemasons.

A. Green gravel, green gravel,
How green the grass grows,
An' all the free masons
Are dressed in green clothes!

"An old Irish tune." Melody given in Randolph, Ozark Folksongs. vol. 3, no. 532, pp. 322-323.

No, I don't believe that there is a Masonic connection to Greensleeves- but I'm sure someone out there does! Also see "Green Gravel" in the DT for an Irish version.


24 Apr 04 - 02:45 PM (#1169840)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: GUEST

The Irish can write? ha ha ha ha


24 Apr 04 - 07:45 PM (#1170041)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Lanfranc

As was said earlier - no!

I recall being informed that the tune was nicked from a Dutch or Flemish source, and have often wondered if that was why Jacques Brel used a variation for his song "Port of Amsterdam".

Anyway, it's not Irish!

Alan


25 Apr 04 - 07:41 AM (#1170336)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: GUEST,Jon Loomes

Yes! it is! it's terrible - you're welcome to it! take it away! it's only suitable for playing to American tourists anyway.

The bacca pipes jig on the other hand is as English as Fortnum and Masons.

On a slightly more scholarly note, I'm interested in the gradual shift between modes that exists in the various versions of Greensleeves - I imagine that it started out life as a Dorian melody, but you very often hear it with a flattened 6th - Possibly due 16th century harmonic theory, this could be an example of "musica ficta" - But anyway, Greensleeves seems to be a good example of a tune that has spanned the gap between melodic and harmonically based composition.

It's still corny though.

Jon


26 Apr 04 - 06:51 AM (#1171061)
Subject: RE:Uileann vs Union
From: barrygeo

Uileann vs Union is an invalid argument as the words originate in two different languages. Uileann is gaelic, union is english. Its like the the argument over the correct name for the country Ireland vs Eire, it depends which language you are speaking. Also at the time of the development of the Irish pipes Gaelic had been largely wiped out as a language so it is not suprising that the common name would the english version.
Also it is not usual for the Gaelic name to have a different derivation from the english name eg Dublin is Baile Atha Cliath in GAelic. It also happens that the Irish word can be incorporated into the english laguage and become commonly used eg if you were looking for a town called Dicert in Roscommon you would have a problem since the signposts say Thomastown in English but the locals refer to Dicert.


26 Apr 04 - 09:47 AM (#1171201)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: GUEST,Frank

I believe that a very important aspect of folk music is that it can't be verified
as to it's beginnings by print. The tune of Greensleeves doesn't have to be in 3/4 or 6/8 time. It serves as well as a kind of hornpipe. I believe that this tune was probably in evidence much earlier than 1850 and it could have traveled all over the British Isles. Of course there is no proof. Otherwise it
can't be called folk music.

Frank Hamilton


26 Apr 04 - 12:08 PM (#1171340)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Stephen R.

Oh, come now, Malcolm (AKA Genghis Khan); of course it's Irish. It's Greensleeves to the Catholics and Orangesleeves to the Protestants.

Stephen R.


26 Apr 04 - 01:37 PM (#1171435)
Subject: RE: Uilleann vs. Union
From: Big Mick

WARNING: Pedant alert! Barrygeo, let's get a bit more precise. Gaelic is not a language. It is a family of languages. I believe what you are referring to is Gaeilge, or Irish. I am in agreement with the contention that it depends on the language being spoken.

I don't know why we continue to argue over what to call the Uilleann Pipes. It seems to me that the history of them answers it satisfactorily. First off, their are a number of forerunners to the present day UP's. Certainly the Musette figures in, and the Pastoral Pipes are one of the immediate forerunners with the regulators, etc. The early name of the bellows blown, two octave chanter, and regulator pipe we now call the Uilleann Pipes was most certainly the Union Pipe. Later, Irish speakers changed it to the elbow pipe, or Uilleann (from the Irish word uillin for elbow or angle), and it has been known as such since. It is not solely Irish in origin, but the style it is played in has certainly been developed for the most part by the Irish. The Travelling Folk had much to do with this. It has been the Irish, both in Ireland and around the world, that have taken it to the level it is now at.

So, it is fine to call them Union Pipes as that was there original name. But we, Irish born and Irish descended, prefer to use the name that our own people have given these pipes, and by which they have been primarily known for the last hundred years or so.

Mick


27 Apr 04 - 01:37 PM (#1172461)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: GUEST,Pom

I have always called the Uilleann Pipes the Uilleann Pipes but I have only ever spoken English because that is the only language I know.

Now it may be that somebody sometime called tha instrument another name but I have never heard or read such a thing so I don't know except what some smartass here tells me.

In the history of the Bagpipe which used be on the internet it said the Uilleann Pipes evolved from the Cuislean Pipes which in turn evolved from the Pib Mhor.

They use the term evolve in its normal sense. Thus the Pib Mhor had drones but was blown, the Cuislean has drones but was bellows blown while the Uilleann had added 'regulators' in the fashion of other similar continental instruments. I suppose that would be as Mr Mick explains above.

Whether the locals called it a Honda or a Ford is irrelevant what matters is that it was and is called Uilleann by most of the people who talk about it today.


10 Aug 04 - 01:42 PM (#1244247)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: GUEST,IRish Person

ALL I WANNA NO IF ITS IRISH OR NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
DDoues any1 no frankie muniz? I do!
sorry just wanted to tell    heheheheh.....


10 Aug 04 - 02:08 PM (#1244292)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Bill D

no evidence that it is originally Irish...ok? It doesn't even SOUND Irish ....but if you are Irish and wanna sing it...go ahead, I think the copyright has expired..*grin*


11 Aug 04 - 02:08 AM (#1244499)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Nerd

Of course Green Sleeves must be Irish. Sure an' it's all about the wearin' of the Green, is it not?

Or maybe it's a macaronic Irish song: Green Sliabhs. It's about the Green Mountains in the west of Ireland.

If you try hard enough you can find "evidence" for anything!


11 Aug 04 - 01:40 PM (#1244925)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

As he watered the green stuff in his glass and the drops fell one by one-
sloppy drunk and got the stuff all over his sleeves.
Apologies to Robert Service.

No one reads previous posts, and the thread ends up chasing its tail. Bruce O. answered very briefly in posts 2, 4 and 5 at the beginning of this thread. See thread 3324 for more detail. Green sleeves


11 Aug 04 - 11:57 PM (#1245473)
Subject: RE: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Nerd

I think everyone since "Irish Person" has just been joking, Q. Certainly I was!


20 Dec 05 - 02:06 AM (#1631059)
Subject: RE: Origins: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: GUEST,Celtic

If you know your History better then the church would have you belive you would know that King arthur was actualy a Celtic king who organized the other Kings of the country against the Romans and Christianity After king arthurs death his Daughter who was nicknamed Lady greensleaves whom was also a archer became a General for The united kingdoms army. They fought so feircly against the romans that they built adrians wall to keep them out
it was sang in the origional song of her bravery in the war and the song was played with a more irish type jig just play it on the piano as fast as you can and you pretty much have it oh and put it in adolian mode.

But sadly when the christians took out the druids all memory of the origional lyrics were erased but they managed to keep the origional toon of the song alive by converting it to the Christian method of music thats all i was told. though very few will belive what i wrote based on the grounds that the church adopted the story of king arthur as thier bedtime story and altered horribly ha ha


20 Dec 05 - 02:32 AM (#1631064)
Subject: RE: Origins: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Malcolm Douglas

Isn't it a bit early to be celebrating Christmas? You'll regret it in the morning, you know.


20 Dec 05 - 11:10 AM (#1631388)
Subject: RE: Origins: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Big Al Whittle

My good friend Martin Gibson tells me that everything starts with Hank Williams. I think you'd better check the Acuff-Rose book, before wasting time on this Henry VIII bloke.


20 Dec 05 - 08:54 PM (#1631768)
Subject: RE: Origins: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

I thought the greensleeves came as a result of helping at a breech birth of a calf in a hay field.


20 Dec 05 - 09:18 PM (#1631793)
Subject: RE: Origins: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Big Mick

Instead of just spewing off pseudo history, do you suppose you could come up with some citations for the "facts" you have espoused, Celtic? And which "Celtic" is it you claim? That is a very broad and generally misused term. Most of that you posted is supposition.

In other words, if you want to contribute, do so with substance. If you want to lecture, get a job as a teacher. But most of all, ........ Lose the friggin' attitude.

Mick


21 Dec 05 - 02:18 AM (#1631947)
Subject: RE: Origins: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Gurney

The easy way to find out who wrote it is...... sell a million copies.
If the guys in night-disruptive and black balacalavas come to collect the royalties, you KNOW H.R.H. Henry wrote it.

Last line of Michael Flanders' monologue on the song:
...And the royalties go to Royalty!


25 Feb 06 - 02:07 AM (#1678307)
Subject: RE: Origins: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: GUEST,shedragon

Thank you all for giving me so much info on a subject I thought no one else on the planet would be interested in. the song, the pipes, it was all very interesting. Really. Im being serious. In my opinion the lyrics are Irish and the music English. He He He.


07 Mar 10 - 06:35 PM (#2858667)
Subject: RE: Origins: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: GUEST,René de Graaf, tne Netherlands

I don't know if Greensleeves is an Irish tune. What I do know is that there is a copy (facsimile) in the Music-library of the "Gemeentemuseum" in The Haque written in French Tablature. As I was told this handwritten tablature (without Lyrics) by an anonymous composer was dated to the ninth century!
Sorry for my bad knowledge of the english language.


07 Mar 10 - 07:32 PM (#2858703)
Subject: RE: Origins: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Smokey.

I was always under the impression that Blondel wrote Greensleeves around 1192. It doesn't bear any resemblance to any Irish music I've heard.


08 Mar 10 - 02:31 AM (#2858875)
Subject: RE: Origins: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Dave Hanson

Of course it's Irish, along with John Connolly's Fiddlers Green and Ewan MacColl's Shores Of Erin [ Shoals Of Herring ]

Dave H


08 Mar 10 - 07:16 AM (#2859027)
Subject: RE: Origins: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: GUEST,mayomick

Around 1192, there's no way you could have come up with the month though is there Smokey ?
What I find interesting about the uillean /union question is the closeness of the sounds of the two words . Even though they have different meanings, they describe the same phenomenom . But isn't an elbow a sort of a union , a joint between the upper and lower parts of the arm ? Is that a coincidence or is there any etymological (ahem) connection.
I don't think there is anything wrong with speculation about origins of songs or words - or anything else for that matter .So long as people don't try to pass their speculations off as facts .


08 Mar 10 - 04:21 PM (#2859468)
Subject: RE: Origins: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Smokey.

"Around 1192 ,there's no way you could have come up with the month though is there Smokey ?"

I'll ask my grandad, he's got a better memory than me. It was a Thursday, I'm almost sure of that.


18 Dec 10 - 10:22 PM (#3056858)
Subject: RE: Origins: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: GUEST,Rosey

I'm not sure. I thought it was, but who knows.


19 Dec 10 - 12:42 PM (#3057260)
Subject: RE: Origins: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: GUEST,Desi C

I've never heard it referred to back home in Ireland as an Irish tune, and it doesn't sound Irish to me, and though it get's attributed at Old Enery, I suspect nicked it as he did most of Ireland the big fat old whore


20 Dec 10 - 03:49 AM (#3057652)
Subject: RE: Origins: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: GUEST,Patsy

It was claimed that Henry the Eigth wrote it and I think I read somewhere that it might have been for one of his wives? Then again the King was such a force to reckon with would anyone have disputed it?


20 Dec 10 - 11:17 AM (#3057851)
Subject: RE: Origins: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Stower

Greensleeves is not Irish, nor was it written by Henry VII, and it certainly was not by Blondel around 1192.

To put the record straight, it is an example of a passamezzo antico, an Italian minor key ground bass or chord progression, upon which a composer would fashion a tune. The passamezzo antico began in Italy in the 1500s before spreading in popularity through Europe. (The major key version is a passamezzo moderno.) Passamezzo is Italian for 'pace and a half', a term for an old two beats in a bar dance. In the renaissance, the English considered anything Italian to be worth copying. One English lutenist, John Cooper, even styled himself as Giovanni Coprario!   

The earliest reference to Greensleeves specifically is a broadside ballad registered at the London Stationer's Company in 1580 (we can therefore be completely certain that it was not composed by King Henry VIII, who died in 1547), 'A New Northern Dittye of the Lady Greene Sleeves, which reappeared in A Handful of Pleasant Delights, 1584, as A New Courtly Sonnet of the Lady Green Sleeves. To the new tune of Green sleeves.' The tune passed very quickly into English traditional music, being constantly reworked. Our first three records of the written tune are close in date: 'Greenesleeues' in the William Ballet Lute Book, an English hand-written anthology in several hands, c.1595 and c.1610, now in Trinity College, Dublin; 'Green sleeves' in Matthew Holmes' hand-written cittern book, Dd.4.23, c.1595, now in Cambridge University Library; and 'Greene sleves Is al mij Joije' in Het Luitboek van Thysius, c.1595-1620, now in Bibliot heca Thysiana, Leiden, western Netherlands.

By the early 17th century, the tune was well-known enough to be cited three times by William Shakespeare in his 'The Merry Wives of Windsor', c.1602, in which Mistress Ford refers twice to the tune without explanation, and Falstaff later exclaims, "Let the sky rain potatoes! Let it thunder to the tune of Greensleeves!"

As was often the case with ballad tunes, lutenists used Greensleeves as the basis for virtuoso divisions. In the case of Francis Cutting's 'Greenesleeues by maister Cuttinge' in the ms. Add.31392, c.1605, we have a lot more than divisions, with beautiful and unexpected twists and turns.

In 1907, 327 years after its first publication, Cecil Sharp was still collecting morris dance versions of the tune from fiddlers in Gloucestershire. The morris tune 'Bacca Pipes' is a version of Greensleeves and in some morris traditions goes by the latter name. (Two versions, one by each name, can be heard on Volume 9 of Topic's 20 CD set, 'The Voice of the People: Rig-A-Jig-Jig – Dance Music of the South of England').


20 Dec 10 - 11:18 AM (#3057853)
Subject: RE: Origins: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Stower

Sorry, above should be "nor was it written by Henry VIII". I don't think anyone ever claimed Henry VII composed it.


20 Dec 10 - 11:59 AM (#3057872)
Subject: RE: Origins: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: GUEST

"it is an example of a passamezzo antico, an Italian minor key ground bass or chord progression, upon which a composer would fashion a tune."

I could say that of any tune whatever that started with a minor chord, any tune from a Gregorian chant to a TV commercial. There is no reason to associate Greensleeves with anybody Italian.

If Henry VIII or any other noble person had composed Greensleeves, his secretaries, courtiers and hangers-on would have left us reams of fulsome, doting praise. The tune was probably written by a commoner and musician, a person of little importance at that time.

I believe Greensleeves was written by somebody Celtic because it probably wasn't about sleeves but about 'sliabh' a mountain. There are lots of songs about mountains, but whoever heard of anybody sighing over his lover's sleeves?   Other musicians quickly learned this fine tune and spread it the length of Britain. In time, many sets of words were written for it, but the idea that it's really 'Greensleeves' has persisted to so long and so strongly that I believe it is the original title.   

Don't ask me to define Celtic. Asking somebody to define Celtic is like asking somebody to define purple or chocolatety. We all know what it means - enough for this discussion, anyway.

By the way, O'Neill's Music of Ireland has a 'Green Sleeves and Yellow Lace' which is a the same tune in jig format. It sounds Irish. But who knows whether it went from Ireland to England or the other way, after all this time?


20 Dec 10 - 12:22 PM (#3057883)
Subject: RE: Origins: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Manitas_at_home

The jig version turns up in other regions with names such as 'Bacca Pipes' in 'Oxfordshire and Jockey lay up in the Hayloft' in Northumberland. Both areas were teeming with Irish navvies in the 19C where they could have taught it to the locals or equally have learned it from them. In the 1721 edition of Playford's Dancing master there is a 'Green Sleeves and Yellow lace'.

There's some more info here http://www.ibiblio.org/fiddlers/GREEN.htm . You'll need to scroll down a bit.


If sleeve is from 'sliabh' then why 'green' and not 'glas' or whatever. You may not have heard of anybody sighing over his lover's sleeves but I bet you've heard people sing about the 'Lady in Red', 'Alice Blue Gown', 'The Girl with the Blue Dress On', 'Itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny-yellow-polka-dot bikini','Red feathers and a huly-huly skirt', 'Venus in Blue Jeans'... Greensleeves doesn't sound so far fetched now, eh?


20 Dec 10 - 01:11 PM (#3057911)
Subject: RE: Origins: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Ruth Archer

"In the renaissance, the English considered anything Italian to be worth copying."

The court musicians of Henry VIII were the Italian Bassano family. They continued to be court musicians in the reign of Elizabeth I. Italian music was very fashionable with the Tudors.

Maybe a Bassano wrote it.


20 Dec 10 - 02:52 PM (#3057967)
Subject: RE: Origins: Is Green Sleeves really Irish?
From: Stower

GUEST of 20 Dec 10 - 11:59 AM, you have misunderstood.

I wrote, "it is an example of a passamezzo antico, an Italian minor key ground bass or chord progression, upon which a composer would fashion a tune."

You replied, "I could say that of any tune whatever that started with a minor chord, any tune from a Gregorian chant to a TV commercial. There is no reason to associate Greensleeves with anybody Italian."

No you could not say this of any tune starting with a minor chord. A passamezzo antico is a *particular* chord progression. If it doesn't have that chord progression, it's not a passamezzo antico. And I did not say Greensleeves was Italian nor associated with anyone Italian. I said it is based on a chord progression which originated in Italy - not at all the same thing.   

"I believe Greensleeves was written by somebody Celtic because it probably wasn't about sleeves but about 'sliabh' a mountain" ... for which there is absolutely and completely no evidence. The only Irish thing about the tune is that the manuscript we first have the tune in is kept in an Irish library. That no more makes it an Irish tune than standing in a garage makes me a car.   

"There are lots of songs about mountains, but whoever heard of anybody sighing over his lover's sleeves?" The song doesn't say this.

"Don't ask me to define Celtic. Asking somebody to define Celtic is like asking somebody to define purple or chocolatety. We all know what it means - enough for this discussion, anyway." I don't know what you mean by the word if you don't or can't say. If something cannot be defined then it cannot usefully be spoken of.