Library and Information Services, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Musical Maggots, Anyone?

Glancing through a modern edition of an 18th century flute book, we found "John Anderson's Maggot". Strange, we thought.  We know the Robert Burns favourite, John Anderson, my Jo - but Maggot is hardly a term of endearment, so ... what's a maggot?

It's an early 18th century word for an earworm, apparently - an obsessive returning to a theme.  Right, so that fits the music in question perfectly - roughly speaking, a couple of variations on a theme loosely related to the Burns song.

Don't believe us?  In the BBC film of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, they danced Mr Beveridge's Maggot. Different tune, and Mr Beveridge was apparently a dancing master.
And then we found a web discussion about musical maggots, to add to the intrigue.  If you're interested in period "country dances", you might like to take a look:-
Karen doesn't dance, but even she thinks she could walk through this particular dance! (Now, what could we do creatively with John Anderson's Maggot ...?  A flute ensemble, maybe?)

And much more recently, Ernest Tomlinson included a maggot in his First Suite of English Folk Dances.  Our thanks to flautist and flute choir director Rachel from Sheffield Flute Choir for sharing this YouTube clip with us:-

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