Hyperion Records

The Carman's Whistle 'Air and Variations', BK36

'Grainger: Rambles and Reflections' (CDH55454)
Grainger: Rambles and Reflections
Buy by post £5.50 CDH55454  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
Track 1 on CDH55454 [4'21] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)

The Carman's Whistle 'Air and Variations', BK36
The Carman’s Whistle (Air and Variations) by William Byrd is a sequence of eight variations on a popular sixteenth-century tune. Grainger makes it the basis of his concert arrangement (omitting the first variation), filling out the texture with added octaves to the original composition for virginals, but leaving unchanged much of the original harmony and ornamentation. The ‘Carman’ of the title refers to the itinerant traders of the time known as ‘carmen’ or ‘carters’. Chappell, in his Old English Popular Music, states that the carmen of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were famous for their musical abilities, in particular for their ability to whistle tunes—especially effective, he remarks, in the management of horses. Byrd’s tune is also associated with several ballads which Chappell found ‘not suitable for publication’ in his book, owing to their salacious content.

from notes by Barry Peter Ould © 2002

Track-specific metadata
Details for CDH55454 track 1
Recording date
9 April 2001
Recording venue
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Amanda Hurton
Recording engineer
Tony Faulkner
Hyperion usage
  1. Grainger: Rambles and Reflections (CDA67279)
    Disc 1 Track 1
    Release date: June 2002
    Deletion date: March 2011
    Superseded by CDH55454
  2. Grainger: Rambles and Reflections (CDH55454)
    Disc 1 Track 1
    Release date: November 2011
    Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
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