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The Lass of Patie's Mill (sheet music)

Patie's mill stood on the banks of the river Irvine, which flows into the sea north of Ayr. The poet Allan Ramsay, walking near the mill with his friend the Earl of Loudoun, had his attention drawn to "a rustic girl of uncommon beauty" spreading hay in a nearby field. His lordship observed that the girl would make a fine subject for a song and within hours the poem was completed. The melody, which is very old, was published in Orpheus Caledonius of 1725. In his Caledonian Companion of 1743 James Oswald, on dangerously slender evidence, identifies the composer as the Italian David Rizzio, Mary Queen of Scots' secretary, music-master, valet de chambre, and perhaps lover, who was brutally done to death in Holyrood Palace in 1566 (his bloodstains are still shown to visitors by helpful guides). Whether or not the attribution to Rizzio is correct, one must admit that there is about this tune a curiously Italian flavour which is hard to explain.

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