Download PDF by Mary Ellen Brown (auth.): Burns and Tradition

By Mary Ellen Brown (auth.)

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New Brig Auld Vandal, ye but show your little mense, Just much about it wi' your scanty sense; Will your poor, narrow foot-path of a street, Where twa wheel-barrows tremble when they meet, Your ruin'd, formless bulk o' stane and lime, Compare wi' bonie Brigs o' modern time? There's men of taste wou'd tak the Ducat-stream, Tho' they should cast the vera sark and swim, Ere they would grate their feelings wi' the view Of sic an ugly, Gothic hulk as you. (ll. 91-106, no. 120) Linguistic confusion, mirroring the cultural duality, is also evident in Burns' work as he switches from English to the Scots vernacular within the confines of an individual work.

23 His editorial practices sometimes led him to choose only a portion of a tuneespecially of the dance and instrumental ones found in books- to accompany a text or to alter the tune slightly to fit the text well: in the Hastie Manuscript, for example, he gives the following note to item 39 to the tune 'Braes o' Balquhidder', beginning 'When in my arms, wi' a' thy charms': 'Note. The Chorus is the first, or lowest part of this tune- Each verse must be repeated twice to go through the high, or 2nd part -.

On the latter point he suggested that a body of material, especially tunes, was common to both because 'the wandering Minstrels, Harpers, or Pipers, used to go frequently errant through the wilds both of Scotland & Ireland, & so some favorite airs might be common to both' (Ferguson, 576). And further he added: 'In the neighbourhood & intercourse of the Scots & Irish, & both musical nations too, it is highly probable that composers of one nation would sometimes imitate, or emulate, the manner of the other-' (Ferguson, 647).

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