This is an example of flyting
—a form of (usually good-natured) verbal banter common among the fishwives of London’s Billingsgate Market: ‘When they have done their faire, they meet in mirth, singing and dancing, and in the middle they use scolding and end not till their money or wit be cleane spent out’ (Donald Lupton, 1622). These railing matches were evidently something of a spectacle, with onlookers even awarding a prize for the ‘victor’. The tune called for on the Pepys broadsheet (and used here) is ‘The Orange’. Also known as ‘With a Fading’, it was associated with Jigs, drolls and clowning. We have combined it with another tune, ‘Hit and Miss’.
Kate and Doll, two fishwives
from notes by Lucie Skeaping © 2009