Musical Maggots, Anyone? And Now I’ve Arranged One

(This is my own posting reblogged from  Here I blog it under my own name with the addition of a flute quartet arrangement that I wrote this weekend.)

Glancing through a modern edition of an 18th century flute book, I found “John Anderson’s Maggot”. Strange, I thought.  I 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 me?  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.  I don’t dance, but even I think I could walk through this particular dance!
And then I 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:-
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:-

This weekend, after a busy Saturday rushing hither and yonder, I allowed myself to unwind with a bit of music arranging.  Here’s the midi-soundfile of my own flute quartet arrangement – John Anderson’s Maggot, from Daniel Wright’s Aria di Camera:-

Daniel Wright’s solo flute collection dates from the early 1730s. This is a set of three variations for unaccompanied flute, on ‘John Anderson, my Jo.’ I added the unadorned theme as the opening section, then set the whole lot for flute quartet – 3 flutes and a bass flute. (Here’s hoping there’s a flute quartet out there willing to try it!)


2 thoughts on “Musical Maggots, Anyone? And Now I’ve Arranged One”

    1. That would be lovely – I’d be honoured. I’ve never, EVER had a dance written for something I’ve arranged! If you managed to video it on your mobile phone, maybe I could even see it in action?


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