Trad: Watkins Ale
|A delivery of Watkins Ale is expected.|
And now a song for low-G ukulele with a strong, bouncy melody line. I noticed this piece (taken from the Weld MS, c 1600) in Diana Poulton’s Lute Tutor, and thought it should be easily playable on the ukulele, with fewer than the usual number of compromises in transcription. To put the arrangement in context, I have included the bawdy song on which it was based; all the words (taken from here) are at the end of the file. Looking at the image above and reading the first verse will give you the general thrust of the piece, and a good guess at the metaphorical meaning of ‘Watkins ale’.
The structure of the song is a a b b c c, and of the arrangement a a’ b b’ c c’, where the primes indicate more elaborate variations. As a beginner, I found comparing a with a‘, etc. to be a useful introduction to the construction of divisions (decorative short runs) in the late 16th century.
The melody of the lute version is not identical to the song (it’s rather less interesting), so I’ve done a bit of tweaking, particularly to the 1st and 3rd bars of sections b and b’ of the arrangement. The basic harmonies are quite simple, and there are a few trivial chord substitutions.
This piece was used by Poulton as an exercise in ornaments (mordents, appogiaturas, shakes, slides, etc), although no-one is certain exactly what the symbols in the original MS meant. Rather than prescribe any kind of treatment I have used the mordent symbol (a short zig-zag) to indicate the position of an ornament (to be applied to the top note), and leave it to your skill, dexterity and judgment to add the twiddly bits as you wish. After all, we’re only in this for the fun.
All in all, this is an easy piece (which I at least find reassuring), but as with everything I post it’s just a starting point for your own simplifications or elaborations.
As usual available to download in these formats: pdf (preview), pdf auto download, TablEdit and MIDI. Before you print the pdf file, you might like to know that on pp 1–2 is the song, pp 3–4 the arrangement, p 5 the words (they just about fit); p 6 is a phantom blank page.