Variations on a Northumbrian Air

walvarn.nwcFebruary 20033.19 kB00:02:23
Composer:Walker, Geoff (1944-), English
Submitter:Walker, Geoff
Email:geoff.walker (e-mail)
The "The Chevy Chase" is a Northumbrian Ballad dating, from the late 15th. century. It tells of an "encounter" in the Border Country about 100 years earlier between Lord Henry Percy (Harry Hotspur) and "Black" James Douglas. It has been suggested that the Ballad refers to the Battle of Otterburn of 1388 in which Henry Percy was defeated by Lord James Douglas, though the latter was killed during the battle. However the circumstances in the Ballad are somewhat different to those of the Battle of Otterburn and the Battle of Otterburn is celebrated in a separate ballad of that name. The tune on which these variations are based is said, in the Northumbrian Minstrelsey of 1882, to be the tune to which "The Chevy Chase" was traditionally sung. This same tune is played as a "gathering tune" by the Duke of Northumberland's piper.