NOTES TO THE AIRS

From "The Irish Melodies" by Thomas Moore

The original Airs restored and arranged by Charles Villiers Stanford

1895

Contents | Preface | Go where glory waits thee »

1. "Go where glory waits thee".

Moore's version is correct with the exception of the refrain.

2. "Remember the glories".

The version given is Bunting's (1st. Edn.); that given in the article "Irish Music" in Grove's Dictionary of Music seems to he inaccurate.

3. "Erin the tear".

Moore's version is wholly wrong, and closely resembles "Robin Adair"; that given here is Bunting's (1st. Edn.). The bars omitted by Moore are added with the words in italics. It is possible that "Robin Adair" is a simplified and shortened form, from the same source as "Aileen Aroon".

5. "When he who adores thee".

Moore's version has many mistakes.

7. "Tho' the last glimpse of Erin".

This beautiful air has been mercilessly altered and spoilt by Moore. I have restored Bunting's version.

8. "Fly not yet".

This jig-tune is infinite in form. Moore's refrain ("O stay") is interpolated by him. The real ending (or rather return to the first phrase) will be found in the accompaniment.

9. "O think not my spirits".

With some slight exceptions Moore's version is correct: but he repeats the first part of the Planxty instead of the second as given here.

13. "How dear to me the hour".

Moore has spoilt this tune by inserting wholly irrelevant accidentals, and altering the final cadence. The rhythm of this song is so peculiar as to suggest the possibility that the tempo has been carelessly noted. Mr. Joseph Robinson in his arrangement has altered the signature to 4/4 time. As all the old authorities have given it in 3/4 time, I have followed them and the pauses I have inserted seem to make the lilt of the tune intelligible.

14. "Take back the virgin page".

The version given here is Carolan's.

15. "The Legacy".

This is a jig-tune of which Moore has altered the character by supplying sentimental words: it is therefore impossible to restore its proper tempo, without sacrificing the poem.

18. "Let Erin remember".

This air as given by Bunting is a quick dance tune. Moore has altered it (by halving the speed) into a march, and, with the exception of one phrase unnecessarily sacrificed by him and here restored, it is impossible to deny that the melody has greatly gained in force and dignity by the alteration.

19. "Silent O Moyle".

Moore destroyed the character of the tune and obliterated its scale by sharpening the seventh (G sharp for G natural).

20. "Come, send round the wine".

The second half of the air has been much altered by Moore, and the original florid passage will be found in the accompaniment.

21. "Sublime was the warning".

I have adopted Moore's version of this tune in preference to Carolan's, which even if more authentic, is far less suitable to the words.

22. "Erin Oh Erin".

There is scarcely a passage right in Moore's version, and the repeat of the first phrase, which is characteristic of this form of air, has been omitted by him; nor is it possible to supply it without adding two lines to the poem.

24. "Oh blame not the bard".

Moore altered many notes and intervals.

25. "While gazing on the moon's light".

I have been unable to find the original form of this air, and have left it as Moore transcribed it; although some of the chromatic passages seem foreign to the character of Irish Music, they are sufficiently pretty in themselves to atone for their own delinquencies.

27. "Before the Battle".

This extraordinary melody was arranged by Stevenson in the first Edition as a quartet. The range is wholly out of the compass of any one voice, and I have been compelled to raise the pitch by an octave in the eighth and ninth lines. The burden in the interlude is part of the melody.

28. "After the Battle".

Moore has altered this air from 3/4 to 4/4 time, and has inserted an impossible C sharp. The air is in O'Neil's collection quoted by Petrie in his unpublished manuscripts. I have been unable to restore the tune completely without sacrificing the poem.

29. "'Tis sweet to think".

30. "The Irish peasant to his mistress".

31. "On Music".

I have been unable to find the original versions of these tunes.

32. "It is not the tear".

Moore spoilt the pathos of this air by omitting the D flat in the 1st. and 3rd. lines.

35. "The Prince's day".

The version given here is Bunting's, which agrees in most points with Carolan's, but differs in many from Moore's.

36. "Weep on".

Moore has much altered the air, especially the seventh line.

37. "Lesbia hath a beaming eye".

Holden gives a version of this air in the minor key, which has every appearance of being the genuine form; but it is unfortunately unsuited to the words.

38. "I saw thy form".

A much more characteristic version of this air is to be found in Petrie's collection (p. 152) where it appears in 3/4 time, and in a less ornamental form. Unfortunately Moore's poem does not fit the music as there given.

39. "She is far from the land".

An air from Bunting's 1st. collection, of which Moore left scarcely a note unaltered, omitting the flat seventh and vulgarizing the close.

42. "What the bee is".

Moore's version is a combination of two different forms of the air, given by Bunting in his second edition; I have restored the second version in its entirety. The most authentic form of the tune is probably that given by Petrie in 6/8 time, but this will not suit the poem.

43. "Love and the Novice".

In spite of Bunting's authority (in the preface to his second edition) Moore has adapted the spurious form of this air in the minor key, besides making numerous alterations for the worse in the melody. I have restored the form given by Bunting.

45. "At the mid hour of night".

The original of this lovely air is to be found in Holden's collection; Petrie noted an air called "Molly my jewel" which is undoubtedly another but far inferior version of the same tune.

47. "'Tis the last rose of summer".

The melody of "the Groves of Blarney" is given by Holden. It has an "Ullogaun" or lament at the close which is singularly beautiful (see note to No. 113). The whole tune is much altered and spoilt by Moore, but it is so well-known in its corrupt version that it is hopeless to restore it completely. I have however taken out the ridiculous cadenza, and the B natural, which destroy its simplicity.

49. "The Minstrel Boy".

Mr. Joseph Robinson has kindly allowed me to use his phrasing of this fine air, a vocal treatment which could not be improved upon. I have however eliminated the C sharp in the sixth line, which is foreign to the scale of the tune, and which is not to be found in O'Neil's version of the air. It is a reel-tune, altered by Moore into a march (see No. 18).

50. "The song of Breffni".

The version is Bunting's (1st. Edn.).

51. "Oh had we some bright little isle".

This version is Petrie's. Moore's version is in the major and of a jig character, and as such is very unsuitable to the poem he wrote for it.

52. "Farewell but whenever".

I have been unable to trace the original of this air. I doubt if it is Irish, but have no evidence to the contrary.

53. "Oh doubt me not".

Moore has omitted the very characteristic A flat, the harmonization of which is necessarily chromatic, in order to avoid barbarous chords which would be more out of character with the grace of the air.

54. "You remember Ellen".

I can find no original authority for this air.

58. "No, not more welcome".

The air called Luggelaw, which Petrie originally gave to Moore, is a wholly different melody from that so named in Petrie's M. S. S.

59. "When first I met thee".

I have been unable to find the original of this air. Moore's words are entirely unsuited to its light and playful character.

60. "While history's muse".

A jig-tune pure and simple.

62. "Where is the slave".

I have adopted Carolan's version. Both his and Bunting's differ from Moore's. The fragment of a Lament, which Moore introduced at the close, should be in 3/4 time.

64. "'Tis gone and for ever".

The original is in Holden's collection. Moore ruthlessly altered notes and took out the finest phrase (beginning with the pause at the seventh line).

67. "Dear Harp of my country".

This is Holden's version.

70. "As slow our ship".

Chappell claims this as an English air; Bunting, whose version I have adopted, as an Irish one. Moore's ending in the minor is quite without authority of any sort. Bunting had the air from O'Neil the harpist.

71. "When cold in the earth".

I have adopted Bunting's version, as more reliable and more beautiful than Carolan's. Moore's version is wholly different from both and is probably his own. The poem cannot be said to be a successful setting to the music, and the last verse is especially poor from a rhythmical stand-point.

73. "Whene'er I see". The version is Holden's.

74. If thou'lt be mine".

The turn used in the accompaniment is part of the melody and precedes the last note; as it is difficult to vocalise I have transferred it to the pianoforte.

83. "Drink of this cup".

Bunting's version of this jig-tune. Neither Moore's version nor Bunting's is really adapted for vocal purposes; it is an instrumental dance.

85. "Oh ye dead".

A singular proof of Moore's superficial smattering of Irish folk-songs. The melody is a lively agricultural tune, probably whistled by a plough-man. To this Moore has written a dirge, altering the whole character of the air. Apart from this curious blunder, he has ruthlessly altered both notes and rhythm, of which the irregularity was the main charm: treating them indeed after the fashion of Procrustes. These vandalisms I have been able to expunge and to restore the original as it stands in the collection of the younger Carolan.

86. "O'Donohue's mistress".

There are very few notes right in Moore's version. The original air is out of the range of any but an exceptional voice, and I have altered the pitch by an octave in two passages. The air belongs to the same type as No. 27.

90. "Shall the harp".

Moore has written so many verses to this air, that I have printed the greater number at the foot, leaving the choice to the singer.

91. "Oh the sight".

Moore has much altered this fine air. I have restored it completely, but it is optional for the singer to alter the pitch in the last phrase by an octave.

92. "Sweet Innisfallen".

See Note to No. 90.

93. "'Twas one of those dreams".

See Note to No. 90.

94. "Fairest, put on awhile".

Moore has scarcely a right note in his version. See Note to No. 90.

96. "And doth not a meeting".

A jig-tune, transformed into a sentimental air. It has a strong family likeness to a tune in my volume of "Irish Songs and Ballads" named "The Kilkenny Cats". See Note to No. 90.

97. "The mountain sprite".

A somewhat tame air, of which I cannot trace the origin.

98. "As vanquished Erin".

I have adopted the far finer version of this air given by Dr. Francis Robinson in the appendix of his pianoforte arrangement of Moore's Melodies.

99. "Desmond's Song".

I cannot trace the origin of this or the following air (No. 100).

101. "I wish I was by that dim lake".

Another version of this air, and a very beautiful one, has been arranged by Mr. Joseph Robinson under the title of "I wish I were on yonder hill". The words he has used are more suitable to the melody than Moore's, but I cannot find authority for his more varied version of the melody.

102. "She sung of Love".

Moore has, for a wonder, preserved the characteristic flat seventh in the scale of this tune; but he (or his arranger) has compensated for this unusual accuracy by altering the key to the subdominant, which produces a most ridiculous effect. The air is in the "narrative" form.

104 "Tho' humble the banquet".

I cannot trace the origin of this or the following air (No. 105).

106. "Song of the Battle Eve".

I have adopted the second version of this magnificent air given by Dr. Francis Robinson, which is nearly identical with that in Holden's collection, though in a few points superior to it. Moore's is much poorer, and he has wholly altered the close, ending the melody in the relative major!

107. "The wandering Bard".

This jig-tune is so unsuited for vocal purposes that I have been obliged to transfer some of the melody to the accompaniment, and to simplify the voice part.

110. "The night dance".

A jig-tune of "infinite" form. The version given is Holden's. The intervening symphony contains part of the melody.

113. "Lay his sword by his side".

Moore's version of this magnificent air is Dearly correct. I have inserted after the pause in the sixth line a very fine lament (Ullogaun or Caoine) which is printed in Holden's collection at the end of the Groves of Blarney. It seems appropriate in this place.

116. "The dream of those days".

Holden's version is given here. See note to No. 102.

117. "From this hour".

I have adopted Petrie's version of this air, which is much more characteristic and beautiful than Moore's (given by Holden) and more likely to be authentic.

118. "Silence is in our festal halls".

This was a tribute from Moore to the memory of Sir John Stevenson.

Contents | Preface | Go where glory waits thee »