Collingwood Society AGM and Collingwood tunes

I went down to Newcastle (again!) for the Collingwood Society AGM last Tuesday – apart from it being interesting to hear what’s going on, they have slots afterwards for anyone to talk for 5 minutes, and I had things to say, as well as wanting to hear what everyone else did.

And the meeting was interesting, hearing about what had happened this year and what might happen next year, and the plans for membership renewals now that the first three years are up. (And I have paid mine, so must remember not to do it again later, like I did for my RSCDS membership!)

There weren’t nearly as many people at the meeting this time round, but there were still four others wanting to speak, so apart from me, there were:
– someone talking about his experiences in Collingwood House at school, which was very entertaining, although half of it was about Edith Cavell and a bridge where bungee jumping was invented!
– someone giving the history of all the ships called Royal Sovereign
– someone who had set Collingwood’s life story to the tune of the Drunken Sailor
– someone with a (probably Victorian) telescope to show

All very interesting – and none of us could keep to 5 minutes!

I spoke about tunes named after Collingwood, which I’ve been tracking down for a long time now – I’m up to 5, although I only have the music for two.

I’ve been hunting, basically, for anything with his name – this is going back to a time when what we now think of as ‘folk music’ really was just popular music, and a lot of music was being written and named for topical events.

Apart from just being pleased to see him recognised, I’ve found it really interesting to see the variety of places in which this music has been preserved, even between my 5 tunes!

The first comes from a manuscript collection – which just means a book where a musician wrote down tunes that they played or that they wanted to remember, in the days when written music was scarcer – possibly copied from other written music, but possibly learnt by ear and then written down, so that you get quite a lot of variations in tunes between collections.

Thomas Sands manuscript
Thomas Sands manuscript

This one is the Thomas Sands collection from Lincolnshire from 1810 – so quite close to the time the tune was presumably written – and the tune is Admiral Collingwood’s March – you can find a typeset version here, or a pdf of the original here.

The second tune is called Lord Collingwood’s Victory, and is in Alexander Glen’s Caledonian Repository of Music for the Great Highland Bag-pipe from 1860 – so this is a tune that’s presumably come quite a way from its origins, both musically and through time.

Caledonian Repository
Caledonian Repository

The music is here, written out with all the bagpipe ornaments (which I did not try to play on the fiddle!). Since bagpipe music only has one key, they haven’t bothered with a key signature, but the implication is that the scale has a C# and F#, although it runs either G to G or A to A (the pipe range is from a G to the A just over an octave above – although to confuse things further, what they call A is more like what most people would call Bb!)

The third seems to come from quite a different class of society – Lord Collingwood’s Waltz, composed by the Hon. Mrs. Coventry and harmonized by Augustus Voigt, and on sale for 1s in 1810. Sadly, as you can see from the cutting from the Universal Magazine below, it doesn’t appear to have been particularly original!

Lord Collingwood's Waltz
Lord Collingwood’s Waltz

Sir David Hunter Blair’s reel is available here – I may yet track down the music for Lord Collingwood’s Waltz, as I believe there’s a copy in the British Library

The fourth is possibly the oddest of all – Lord Collingwood’s Reel, in a book of American band music printed in Maine sometime between 1819 and 1829 – Ezekiel Goodale’s Instrumental Director: ‘Containing Rules for All Musical Instruments in Common Use, Laid Down in a Plain and Concise Manner. To which is Added a Variety of Instrumental Musick of the Richest and Most Popular Kind Extant, a Part of which was Never Before Published in this Country’. There is an edition of this online, but it doesn’t have this tune – there may be a copy of the relevant edition in the Library of Congress!

The fifth is the one which I forgot about in the talk – in a way it’s the most interesting to me, as it’s part of a book of dances, Bland & Weller’s 24 Favorite Country Dances, Hornpipes and Reels – but the page which should have Lord Collingwood on it has vanished from the version scanned online.

The date is a bit of a mystery, too – the cover gives 1803, but the fact that three of the tunes are Lord Collingwood, Tars of the Victory and The Earl of Northesk’s Strathspey definitely suggest 1805 or later! More investigation needed…

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