Sunday, December 31, 2006

Auld Lang Syne - Skuld gammel venskab rejn forgo


Auld Lang Syne - from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

"Auld Lang Syne" is a poem by Robert Burns, although a similar poem by Robert Ayton (1570-1638), not to mention even older folk songs, use the same phrase, and may well have inspired Burns.

In any case, it is one of the best known songs in English-speaking countries - although, like many other frequently sung songs, the melody is better remembered than the words, which are often sung incorrectly, and seldom in full.

The song is commonly accompanied by a traditional dance. The group who are singing form a ring holding hands for the first verse. For the second verse, arms are crossed and again linked. For the third verse everyone moves in to the centre of the ring and then out again.

The song's name is in Scots, and may be translated literally as 'old long since', or more idiomatically 'long ago', or 'days gone by'. In his retelling of fairy tales in the Scots language, Matthew Fitt uses the phrase “In the days of auld lang syne” as the equivalent of “Once upon a time”. In Scots Syne is pronounced like the English word signIPA: [sain]—not [zain] as many people pronounce it.

The tune to which Auld Lang Syne is universally sung is a pentatonic Scots (or possibly Northumbrian) folk melody - probably originally a sprightly dance in a much quicker tempo.

The English composer William Shield, seems to quote the Auld Lang Syne melody briefly at the end of the overture to his opera Rosina - this may be its first recorded use. The contention that Burns borrowed the melody from Shield is for various reasons highly unlikely - they may very well both have taken it from a common source, however - possibly a strathspey called The Miller's Wedding or The Miller's Daughter. The problem is that tunes based on the same set of dance steps necessarily have a similar rhythm, and even a superficial resemblance in melodic shape may cause a very strong apparent similarity in the tune as a whole. For instance, Burns' poem Coming through the rye is sung to a tune that might also be based on the Miller's Wedding. The origin of the tune of God Save the Queen (q.v.) presents a very similar problem, and for just the same reason, as it is also based on a dance measure.

And the song was famously translated in 1927 by the famous Danish poet Jeppe Aakjær. Much like Robert Burn's use of dialect, Aakjær translated the song into the Danish dialect Jysk, a dialect from the Danish peninsula Jutland, often hard to understand for other Danes.

The song Skuld gammel venskab rejn forgo ('Should auld acquantaince be forgot'), is an integral part of the Danish Højskole tradition, and often associated with more rural areas and old traditions.
Also, the former Danish rock group Gasolin modernized the melody in 1974 with their pop ballad Stakkels Jim ('Poor Jim')."


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