> Brass Monkey > Songs > Lichfield Tattoo / The Radstock Jig / The Quickstep from “The Battle of Prague”

Lichfield Tattoo / The Radstock Jig / The Quickstep from “The Battle of Prague”


Brass Monkey played these three tunes in 2009 on their sixth album, Head of Steam. John Kirkpatrick commented in the sleeve notes:

These three tunes are all particular favourites of Mr Brinsford, and are included at his behest. Lichfield Tattoo lies in the manuscript book of Isaac Oldfield from Kirby Langley, near Derby, who played in the Belper New Militia Regimental Band around 1820. It was dusted off for public consumption on the 1980’s Umps & Dumps LP on Topic Records The Moon’s in a Fit.

In Somerset on New Year’s Eve, 1907, Cecil Sharp noted a few tunes from Shepton Mallet resident James Higgins, aged 89. This one, which appears in Mr Sharp’s hand-written notebooks as Radstock Tune, was published by him soon after as Radstock Jig—a name it’s been stuck with ever since. Even though we now realise he was inclined to make some very puzzling editorial decisions, none can be more puzzling than choosing such a name for a piece of music which is so profoundly not a jig at all. But, jig or not, all praise to Mr Higgins for having such a glorious and unique tune up his sleeve.

The Battle of Prague: A Sonata for the Piano Forte or Harpsichord was composed by Franz Kotzwara in 1788. He had been born in Prague, in the land of Bohemia, in 1730, and may well have witnessed the event in 1757—Prussia vs. Austria, in one of the bloodiest battles of the time. He roamed around Europe as a double bass player for hire, and by 1775 had ended up in London where he composed prolifically. Many of the melodies from his sonata (which has hardly ever been out of print since) were hijacked as dance tunes, and appear under a bewildering variety of names in a whole host of dance musicians’ tune books. Mr Kotzwara’s mail claim to fame, however, is not so much the fantastic popularity of his melodic genius, as the fact his death in London in 1791 was one of the first recorded examples of auto-erotic asphyxiation, with details far too gruesome to go into here.

Our Quickstep (Turkish Music in the original) is from the manuscripts of the Northamptonshire poet and fiddler John Clare, as published by George Deacon in his 1983 book John Clare and the Folk Tradition.