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  • "(stress on second), an elegiac poem, with or without music. "There was a bardoon (lament) made for them"-the drowned fishermen (Cashes, Manx Folk-lore, page 29). 'Billy the Bardoonagh,' Billy the Bard, was the by-name of a 'character' living in the South of the Island some years ago, who, besides fiddling, singing and whistling for the dancers, could pour out poetry, and pour in ale at the end of each verse, with equal fluency. A more celebrated Southern bardoonagh was Tom the Dipper of Castletown, who manufactured his own poetry, and his own strong drink till he was caught at it.

    'Bardoon' or 'bardane' developed a wider meaning in Man than it possessed in Ireland, whence the term was doubtless adopted. Dr. Sullivan, in his introduction to O'Curry's Manners and Customs, i, dcv, says: "Perhaps the kind of singing called Burdoon, which existed down to very recent times in the more remote districts of Ireland . . . transmits to us, although in a rude way, a relic of the artistic polyphonous secular music of the 13th century." The Irish 'burdoon' was not the refrain, the English ' burden,' but a species of harmonic vocal accompaniment or faux-bourdon, of which Sullivan gives a technical description. This is the accomplishment mentioned in an Indenture of 1303 (reproduced in Cumming's Rushen Castle, page 6o), to which the Abbot of Rushen is a guarantor. A pupil of the Abbot's is bound to a Chester schoolmaster as pupil-teacher and servant, and the master engages himself to teach the youth "to sing upon the pricksong fawburdon to tunes of every measure."

    —W. Walter Gill, Manx Dialect Words and Phrases, 1934, online here.

    One question. What the hell's a pricksong? (Wait... maybe I don't want to know.)

    April 23, 2009