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Blue Britches

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SMM376 Sic’ a wife as Willie had
Blue Britches
Robert Bremner A Collection of Scots Reels 1757-61

In Early Scottish Melodies (1900), John Glen argued that the air given in SMM for Burns’s song ‘Sic a wife as Willie had’ was related to the dance tune ‘Blue Britches’, roughly following the outline of the cut-time reel version in Bremner’s Collection of Scots Reels. A version of ‘Blue Britches’ also appears in Niel Gow’s first collection of 1784 as a strathspey with the title ‘Link him Dodie’.

Robert Bremner’s A Collection of Scots Reels or Country Dances was first published as a series of fourteen eight-page prints between 1757 and 1761. Apart from James Oswald’s (untraced) 1736 A collection of minuets, this was the first collection of dance music published in Scotland, ushering in a new boom of Scottish dance music publications in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It is also the first printed collection from Scotland to adopt simple four-beat bass-lines, rather than the more genteel, melodic Italianate basses popular in ‘Scots tune’ collections such as those by Adam Craig and William McGibbon.

Aaron McGregor, October 2016



Blue Britches (329 downloads)
Aaron McGregor, violin
Alison McGillivray, cello

Recorded by Neil McDermott
Produced by David McGuinness

Recordings ©2016 Concerto Caledonia

Licensed to University of Glasgow for non-commercial use by the Editing Robert Burns for the 21st Century project, and associated projects