"Letter this morning from Miss Maclean Edinburgh - the sooner I go the better, but bids me not think of inconveniencing myself - she may probably go home in May - can we arrange to go together? she has had a hundred schemes - very kind in some great trouble or other all which she will tell me when we meet -" Wednesday 9th April, 1828
In the summer of 1828, Anne Lister joined her long-term correspondent and close friend Sibbella Maclean (1784-1830) on her return home to the Isle of Mull. The pair met in Edinburgh on Monday 19th May and commenced a journey through Scotland, arriving in Mull on July 22nd. At Mull, the pair spent the week with Sibbella's family, touring the estate and the island, and visiting nearby islands of Staffa, Iona, and the Treshnish Isles.
Anne departed Mull on August 1st with hopes to see Sibbella in Paris. Before her departure she joined Sibbella, and Sibbella's sister-in-law, Jane Maclean (née Robertson), for a chit-chat.
"Sit some time in Mrs Maclean's sitting room - somehow Miss Maclean came to try the song Thou art gone away from me Mary - I hummed a little - Mrs Maclean got to singing together, and got on beautifully together -" Thursday 31st July, 1828
The Paris plan would unfortunately never materialise as Sibbella entered the care of quack doctor, John St. John Long, for treatment of consumption. Anne saw Sibbella for a final time in April 1829, before returning to Paris with Vere Hobart in tow.
Sibbella Maclean died on November 16th 1830; the news reached Anne in Paris by letter from Vere shortly after her return from the Pyrenees.
MUSIC BY MYNABIRD SOUNDS
I was given the scanned image of some very old sheet music, from a book called The Edinburgh Musical Miscellany (volume 1). This book features "a collection of the most approved Scotch, English and Irish songs, set to music", and was first printed in 1783 for John Elder, T. Brown and C. Elliot.
The piece is called "Thou Art Gone Awa From Me, Mary", and like the majority of the songs in the book, its author is uncredited. It's common for folk or traditional songs such as these to be passed down generation to generation, often without being transcribed at all, so it's not unusual that there's no composer's name attached.
The notation is reasonably modern and easy to follow, although the stems aren't joined as you'd typically expect to find in a piece of music printed today. The time signature is C: 'Common time', which is the standard shorthand way of writing 4/4 time. The key signature is Bb and Eb; along with the voicing of the melody, this denotes Bb major.
I didn't change the main melody too much, although the sheet music features a large number of 'trills', (ornamental markers to indicate that whoever is playing or singing the note should rapidly alternate between two adjacent notes). The frequency of these, combined with many 'grace notes' results in a melody with few held notes, and moves with a lot of energy - typical of parlour music of its time. I ended up taking a lot of these out in order to simplify the melody and translate it better into a modern, chilled version, as the Summit team had requested.
Originally, I had the melody played on a piano with a few supporting synth textures, but we decided that a more organic, analogue expression actually worked really nicely. So, the line was redone on guitar, with two harmonies to accompany it.
Hope you guys enjoy this version!
Thou Art Gone Awa From Me, Mary
Thou art gone awa, thou art gone awa, tho
art gone awa from me, Ma-ry; Nor friends
nor I could make thee stay, Thou hast cheated
them and me, Ma-ry. Until this hour I ne-ver
thought that ought could alter thee, Mary; Thour't
still the mistress of my heart, Think what you
will of me Ma--ry.
What e'er he said or might pretend,
That stole that heart of thine, Mary;
True love I'm sure was ne'er his end;
Or nae such love as mine, Mary.
I spoke sincere nor flatter'd much,
Had no unworthy thoughts, Mary;
Ambition, wealth, nor naething such;
No - I lov'd only thee, Mary.
Tho' you've been false, yet while I live,
No other maid I'll woo, Mary;
Till friends forget, and I forgive
Thy wrongs to them and me, Mary.
So then farewell: of this be sure,
Since you've been false to me, Mary;
For all the world I'd not endure,
Half what I've done for thee, Mary.