Sheet Music: The Flowers of Edinburgh

TitleThe Flowers of Edinburgh
Alternate titlesDa Flooers o' Edinburgh
Flowers of Donnybrook
My Love's Bonny When She Smiles On Me
My Love was Once a Bonny Lad
To the Battle Men of Erin
Old Virginia
ComposerTraditional Scottish
InstrumentationFlute solo
KeyG major
Time signature2/2
Tempo112 BPM
Performance time0:35
Difficulty levelintermediate
Download printable scorePDF Sheet Music (45 kB) (preview)
Download audio tracksMIDI (change tempo/key) MP3 (290 kB)
Date added2011-04-01
Last updated2011-04-01
Download popularity index☆☆☆☆☆ 0.1 (rarely downloaded)
Celtic Music, Reels, Traditional/Folk


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Friday 1 April 2011

Tune of the Day: The Flowers of Edinburgh

Traditional Scottish reel

The earliest appearance in print of this reel (although it is commonly played as a hornpipe at Irish sessions) is in James Oswald's collection of Curious Collection of Scots Tunes, which appeared in London around 1742 and contained this tune as a song entitled “My Love's bonny when she smiles on me”.

As regards the title, the form “Flower of…” usually referenced a woman, although in the case of “Edinburgh” the plural form was appended at some point and stuck. Scottish fiddler Niel Gow noted, however, that the “flowers” of Edinburgh did not refer to women, but in fact referenced the magistrates of the town. It has also been suggested that the title refers to the stench of the old, overcrowded urban Edinburgh, a city fondly referred to as “Auld Reekie”, with reference to the pall of smoke (røyk in Norwegian) that once hovered over the city. Finally, the “flowers of Edinburgh” has also been taken to refer to the contents of chamber pots which were, in the days before modern sewage systems, once disposed of by being thrown into the city streets... with or without warning!