Song 13 (1831)
Composer: Ignaz Pleyel
In February 1785 Burns wrote to Mrs Dunlop with a copy of this song. He was fond of the river, and wrote that “There is a small river, Afton, that falls into Nith, near New Cumnock; which has some charming, wild, romantic scenery on its banks.”
This is another of the very first Burns songs to appear in Thomson, featuring as part of his first set of 25 songs in 1793 with a setting by Ignace Pleyel for vocal duet. Here Burns’s text is not set to the tune known for this lyric. Instead it appears as the second choice of text, the first text being Allan Ramsay’s ‘In April when Primroses paint the sweet plain’, set to the tune ‘The Yellow-Hair’d Laddie’. Our singers therefore had some challenges here to fit the printed text to the melody. Also there were major difficulties deciding whether or not to perform all the repeats, which are rather confusing on the printed copy. Furthermore, as there are so many verses we wondered whether or not it was necessary to perform the opening and concluding symphonies between each verse.
Download Song:Afton Water - GT (528)
*This song is part of the Robert Burns Period Performance project.