24 April 2007

The original setting of 'Auld Lang Syne'

Everybody knows the famous Scottish tune to which Robert Burn's poem Auld Lang Syne is sung, probably far better than the words. I suppose it is Robbie's poem and the occasions on which we sing it, such as the midnight on Hogmanay as well as the end of a céilidh or the Last Night of the Proms, that make the melody prominent. In my homeland Taiwan, it is usually played in graduations and funerals as a token of farewell.

Actually, there has been some doubt whether the melody we sing today is exactly the one Burns originally wrote words for. Nevertheless, it is a traditional Scots song and surely predates his time. I once asked folks in my local, Port Customs Bar about its origin but no one could give me a clear idea. Several weeks ago through a Scottish fiddler, Stuart Badenoch, I came to know a tune which is claimed to be Burn's original setting for his words.

Listen to my demonstration of the tune with only the first verse and chorus.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my jo,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For Auld lang syne!
Well, this is just a home-made clip, if you would like to listen to a professionally produced recording of the complete five verses, check out the debut album The Winnowing of the Edinburgh-based duo The Cast, featuring Mairi Campbell (fiddler) and Dave Francis (guitarist).

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