Thursday, July 30, 2015

Wheel of Time Music - Songs and Dances

By Linda

This article, the second of three on Wheel of Time music, discusses the songs and dances performed in the series. The first article details the performance of music in the series, and the instruments on which it is played, while a third article examines the regional variation in music in the Wheel of Time world.
Here is a list of topics on Wheel of Time songs and dances:

Maypole Dancing
Country Dance
Pattern Dance
Jig/Pattern Dance
Court Dances
Tairen Line Dance
Cairhienin Line Dance
Aiel Leaping Dance
Shea Dancers
Songs in Alphabetical Order

Let’s start where the dancing started: on the green in the Two Rivers at Bel Tine.

Maypole dancing

In celebration of winter’s end and the start of the growing season, the Two Rivers people dance and sing around a wooden pole:

On the far side of the bridges, the mounds were already building for the Bel Tine fires, three careful stacks of logs almost as big as houses. They had to be on cleared dirt, of course, not on the Green, even sparse as it was. What of Festival did not take place around the fires would happen on the Green.

Near the Winespring a score of older women sang softly as they erected the Spring Pole. Shorn of its branches, the straight, slender trunk of a fir tree stood ten feet high even in the hole they had dug for it. A knot of girls too young to wear their hair braided sat cross-legged and watched enviously, occasionally singing snatches of the song the women sang.
Tam clucked at Bela as if to make her speed her pace, though she ignored it, and Rand studiously kept his eyes from what the women were doing. In the morning the men would pretend to be surprised to find the Pole, then at noon the unmarried women would dance the Pole, entwining it with long, colored ribbons while the unmarried men sang.

- The Eye of the World, An Empty Road

Dancing around a tall wooden pole, a maypole, occurs at various European folk festivals, particularly on May Day (May 1st), or Whitsunday (or Pentecost, 50 days after Easter Sunday so somewhere between May 10th and June 13th) although in some countries it is at erected at Midsummer, around June 21st in the northern hemisphere. The pole may be decorated with painted designs or with garlands. The most traditional maypole dances are circle dances. Ribbon dances, where the pole is wrapped with entwined coloured ribbons, were developed in the 18th century.

Maypoles connect the earth, and the growing things thereupon, with the sky; they are symbols of the world tree and the axis mundi, the axis around which the world turns. Their location represents the cradle of the world, the world’s point of beginning. In the Wheel of Time series, the maypole on the Emond’s Field village green is literally the starting point of the story.

One of the functions of the maypole is as a conduit for blessings to descend from above. The three ta’veren spun out to correct the Pattern are an expression of such blessings; and the strongest of them, the Dragon and Creator’s Champion, is literally the hope and salvation of the world. The three unlit bonfires beyond the village green represent the three young ta’veren. Ishamael more or less confirms this:

Ordinary men may hide in the sweep of the Pattern, but ta'veren stand out like beacon fires on a hill…

- The Great Hunt, Kinslayer

They will be used to help burn the Trolloc carcasses after Winternight, just as Rand, Mat and Perrin will soon account for the destruction of masses of Trollocs. They were born to help purge the world of the Shadow.

The Two Rivers also has dances on Sunday (the longest day of the year, summer solstice) and at harvest. These appear to be mainly reels and jigs:

Had they been anybody but who—and what—they were, he would have asked any and all of them to dance a jig or a reel. He had danced with Egwene often enough, back home, and even once with Nynaeve, but that seemed a long time ago.

- The Dragon Reborn, A Way Out


The reel is a lively partner-changing dance as well as the dance tune form:

Thom played the opening notes of "Wild Geese on the Wing," then paused for people to take their places for the reel.
"I think I'll try a few steps," Rand said, getting to his feet. Perrin popped up right behind him. Mat was the last to move, and so found himself staying behind to guard the cloaks, along with Rand's sword and Perrin's axe.
"Remember I want a turn, too," Mat called after them. The dancers formed two long lines facing each other, men in one, women in the other. First the drum and then the dulcimer took up the beat, and all the dancers began bending their knees in time. The girl across from Rand, her dark hair in braids that made him think of home, gave him a shy smile, and then a wink that was not shy at all. Thom's flute leaped into the tune, and Rand moved forward to meet the darkhaired girl; she threw back her head and laughed as he spun her around and passed her on to the next man in line…
He caught his next partner as she spun, and whirled her in a circle before passing her on. Three more women danced with him as the music gained speed, then he was back with the first dark haired girl for a fast promenade that changed the lines about completely.

- The Eye of the World, Watchers and Hunters

Reels are in duple time, either 2/2 or 4/4. The beats are even with an accent on first and third beats of the bar. The structure of the tune is in two parts, A and B, with each part usually repeated as AABB, but is sometimes ABAB. Each part is typically eight bars long. An example of a reel is Wild Geese on the Wing.

In Scottish country dancing, the dancers complete a figure 8 pattern on the floor in a reel. They start at different points, but each completes the figure, weaving past each other, and are back in their original positions when the reel is finished.


The music for another dance, a jig, began while he was sitting down… Then the music and the clapping and the singing were too loud for any further talk. Rand and Perrin joined in the clapping as the dancers circled the floor.

- The Eye of the World, Watchers and Hunters

A jig is a lively folk dance in compound time, particularly 12/8 and 6/8; and also a dance tune. It originated in 16th century England and was adopted into Irish and Scottish dance and on the continent in the 17th century. The structure of a jig is two eight-bar parts usually played at a fairly fast tempo. The steps are typically fast hopping steps. The dancers perform two different steps, each once on the right foot and then the left foot. The straight jig is African American. It has a syncopated beat, to which dancers perform slides and shuffles as well as hopping steps. However, the jigs in the series appear to be of traditional type. Old Gray Goose is an example of a jig.

Country dance

When the sun went down, Mat was back in The Golden Stag, dancing with Betse, minus her apron, while the musicians played as loudly as they could. Country dances this time, and tables pushed back to make room for six or eight couples.

- Lord of Chaos, A Different Dance

In a country dance, two to four, occasionally up to six, couples dance together in a figure or "set”. The sets may be circles, squares, triangles or long lines. The dances originated on village greens in the British Isles. The long line formations tend to have the partners “progress” onto another partner throughout the dance, whereas the circle or square sets are usually non-progressive.

Huff the Feathers is an example of a country dance.

Pattern Dance

In Cairhien, Mat called on his memories to re-introduce a pattern dance:

There should be just enough room between the tables. The musicians began to play louder, if no better.
"Follow me," he told her. "The steps are simple to start." In time to the music he began, dip and a gliding sidestep to the right, left foot sliding after. Dip and a gliding step and slide, with arms outstretched… When they reached the musicians, he smoothly lifted her hands overhead and spun himself and her back to back. Then it was dip and sidestep, twirl face-to-face, dip, sidestep and twirl, again and again, all the way back to where they began…
"A little more complicated now," he murmured, turning so they faced the musicians side by side, wrists crossed and hands linked in front of them. Right knee up, slight kick left, then glide forward and right. Left knee up, slight kick right, then glide forward and left. Betse laughed as they wove their way to the performers once more. The steps became more intricate with each passage, but she needed only one demonstration to match him, light as a feather in his hands with each twist and turn and spin. … The music caught him up, missed notes and all, and the pattern dance…Very nearly he fumbled the complex interweaving of his feet with Betse's as they whirled down the floor, but he caught himself before tripping her, the steps coming instinctively.

- Lord of Chaos, A Different Dance

The dance illustrates how each Age is more complex each time it comes around again in the Pattern. Mat often felt trapped by the Pattern in earlier scenes, but from this point on he accepts his role increasingly better.

Modern pattern dancing is a combination of contra dancing (from English country dances) and modern Western square dancing. Ice skating also has pattern dancing.

Jig/pattern dance

In Ebou Dar, Mat noticed a different dance not seen elsewhere:

In the common room of The Wandering Woman, the tables had been cleared away except for a few near the walls. The flutists and the drummer made shrill music for four laughing lines of people doing what appeared to be half pattern-dance and half jig.

- A Crown of Swords, Swovan Night

Altara has some similarities with Mediterranean nations, and Italy in particular, as its name indicates, and the lively pattern dance may be a reference to the Tarantella family of southern Italian folk dances. These have a rapid tempo usually in 6/8 time. Here is an example.

Court dances

Elayne makes reference to delicate court dances (Crossroads of Twilight, Talk of Debts). Real world examples of these are the basse dance of the 15th century, the pavane of the 16th century and the gavotte or the minuet of the 17th and 18th centuries.

Tairen Line Dance

To celebrate the victory in Cairhien, the Tairen soldiers performed a line dance:

Not far from where he sat, a dozen Defenders of the Stone, stripped to sweaty shirtsleeves, were dancing to the claps of ten times as many watchers. In a line, with arms around each other’s shoulders, they stepped so quickly that it was a wonder none of them tripped or kicked the man next to them.

- The Fires of Heaven, After the Storm

The dance is similar to Greek line dances in the real world, especially the rapid ones. Here is the sirtaki or dance of Zorba as an example. These dances were sometimes used to prepare the men for war. They encourage teamwork, fitness and accuracy.

Cairhienin Line Dance

In Cairhien there was a different line dance during the Feast of Lights:

A line-dance snaked past him behind a big-nosed fellow with a flute and no shirt; last in line pranced a round little woman who laughed merrily and took a hand from the waist of the man in front of her to try pulling Perrin in behind.

- Lord of Chaos, The Feast of Lights

The dance is a conga line, which traditionally starts with a musician playing as they weave around the dance floor. Dancers join up behind the musician, forming a line that grows longer until the music stops. The dancers shuffle three steps and kick the fourth slightly ahead of the beat as they dance along. The musician initiating the conga line is often a drummer, but in Cairhien it was a flautist.

Aiel leaping dance

After the battle in Cairhien, the Aiel warriors performed a leaping dance to the accompaniment of pipes:

For another circle of onlookers, near a ten-foot pole stuck in the ground—Mat hastily averted his eyes—as many Aielmen were doing some kicking of their own. Mat assumed it was a dance; another Aiel was playing the pipes for them. They leaped as high as they could, flung one foot even higher, then landed on that foot and immediately leaped upward again, faster and faster, sometimes spinning like horizontal tops at the height of their leaps, or turning somersaults or backflips.

- The Fires of Heaven, After the Storm

Mat avoids looking at the pole because Couladin’s head is atop it. This dance is rather like the Cossack or Hopak dance, which was also danced to celebrate a military victory. The dancers improvised, and performed acrobatic leaps and spins to demonstrate their speed and strength. Here is a mix of modern and historical footage with an un-Aiel usage of swords at one point and another that is a demonstration in a gym.


The Tuatha’an women perform a sexy dance by the campfires:

First one drum, then another, until every drum in the camp kept the same low, insistent beat. There was silence except for the drums. A girl in a red dress swayed into the light, loosening her shawl. Strings of beads hung in her hair, and she had kicked off her shoes. A flute began the melody, wailing softly, and the girl danced.
Outstretched arms spread her shawl behind her; her hips undulated as her bare feet shuffled to the beat of the drums... She turned in small circles, smiling over her shoulder at him…A second girl joined the first, the fringe on their shawls shaking in time to the drums and the slow rotation of their hips.

- The Eye of the World, Shelter From the Shadow

It is a type of belly dance accompanied by drums and flute.

It is danced by women, and can be danced for men, but it is considered by Tinker women a celebration of being a woman. Most movement is from the waist down, involving considerable rolling of the hips, which is emphasized by a shawl held behind the dance at waist height. The music always includes drums and is of a repetitive rhythm.

- Robert Jordan, Tinker notes


The sa’sara is seductive as well as erotic and danced by Saldaean women.

"You've seen the tiganza, have you? Someday, if you are good, I may dance the sa'sara for you, and show you what a dance really is." Ila gasped in recognition of the name, and Faile went even redder than she had inside. Perrin pursed his lips. If this sa'sara set the heart pounding any harder than the Tinker women's swaying, hip-rolling dance—the tiganza, was it?—he definitely would like to see Faile dance it. He carefully did not look at her.

- The Shadow Rising, A Missing Leaf

We never do see the sa’sara; it’s left to our imaginations, and is probably a reference to the dance of the seven veils, especially as he explains in his Saldaea notes that the dancer moves her clothing over her body in a sexy way:

The sa'sara is a dance without any one set pattern or form, though it follows general patterns. Ten women dancing the sa'sara might dance without one repeating a movement or expression from any other. It is characterized by fluid and suggestive movements and hip-rolling; movements to suggest self-caressing or being caressing another; facial expressions [and gazes at the onlooker(s)] which change between those variously described as smokey, sultry, etc and those which convey startlement, as if the dancer is surprised to find herself observed (not infrequently, the dancer performs most of the dance as if unaware that anyone is watching, and the emotions expressed, facially and otherwise, upon "discovering" that she is go from surprised to coy to flirtatious to seductive); and frequently by the suggestion—never the reality—that limbs, or shoulders, or possibly even breasts, might be exposed. The clothing worn by the dancer can be skimpy or not, but nearly always it is arrayed for ease of shifting or removal, though rarely is even one piece actually removed. The shifting of clothing is such that (I) it seems a caress in itself, and (2) the body part that seems about to be exposed never is, really, yet the onlooker is left with the impression that perhaps it was.

The sa'sara is danced only by women, and always by one woman at a time.

When the sa'sara is danced as a rule (generally in the lower or rougher sort of taverns, though sometimes at private affairs) guards are usually posted to keep patrons from throwing themselves at the dancer. The dancer usually travels with a bodyguard. A dancer who can do the sa'sara with any facility is usually well paid for her dancing, and often makes ten, twenty or even a hundred times as much through the coins tossed to her by watchers.

It is generally said that the sa'sara is danced for an audience of one no matter how many eyes watch. Some say that it is in actual truth danced more often for an audience of one than for more. In general, the sa'sara is much like a belly dance, but you might say that in some ways it bears the same relationship to belly dancing that belly dancing does to ballet. Belly dancing is sexy; the sa'sara is almost a sexual act in itself.

The name sa’sara is probably a reference to sasara, a Japanese name for the lion dance and a bamboo percussion instrument. Part of the lion dance is a rice-planting dance performed by girls. Jordan was interested in Japanese culture—as shown by the Japanese influences in Cairhien, Shienaran and Seanchan cultures.

Shea Dancers

As well as the ballet-like display or exercises performed by certain da’covale in revealing clothing, the Seanchan employ Shea dancers, who wear a veil and little else, according to Egeanin.

Finally, Mat didn’t think much of Halima’s dancing:

She [Halima] was not a very good dancer—she kept trying to lead, for one thing—and he finally begged off.

- Lord of Chaos,The Colour of Trust

She tried to lead because she used to be a man, and hadn’t adapted her dancing technique yet. It’s also symbolic of Halima trying to control or even injure Mat. This happens during the very distrustful and disillusioned The Color of Trust song.


The songs serve a few different purposes: they add to the sense of different cultures and to world-building in general, and they also add to the symbolism and set the mood, and are a sly commentary on subtext.

There are songs for war, songs for dancing, songs for mourning and songs for amusement. Many are widely known on the main continent, although often by a different name. It is also common for the same tune to be have different words in other regions. Most people learn music by ear—quite quickly, often—rather than read it. Thom may be one of the few who has seen and read musical manuscripts, judging by his researches into little known and very old tunes.

A list of the songs mentioned in the series follows, in alphabetical order.

Always Choose the Right Horse has the same tune as The Marriage of Cinny Wade but is played much faster (Towers of Midnight, The Seven Striped Lass).

As Long As The Wheel Turns is an old song that Thom found. It has been set to three different tunes over the years. Legend has it that Doreille Torghin, Queen of Aridhol, wrote the original poem:

The Wheel has turned, for better or worse.
And it will keep on turning, as lights die and forests dim, storms call and skies break.
Turn it will.
The Wheel is not hope, and the Wheel does not care, the Wheel simply is.
But so long as it turns, folk may hope, folk may care.
For with light that fades, another will eventually grow, and each storm that rages must eventually die.
As long as the Wheel turns.
As long as it turns. ...

- The Gathering Storm, The Tipsy Gelding

The Pattern and the Wheel are what count. Everything else changes and dies away—the good and the bad. People have to hope and care to help keep the Wheel Turning.

Berin's Retreat is the same tune as Hard Rain Falling and The Wind From the North (The Eye of the World, Shelter From the Shadow).

Blue Sky Dawning is a decorous song that Siuan claimed to know in Lugard (The Fires of Heaven, The Nine Horse Hitch).

Cock o' the North was played by Rand in Four Kings (The Eye of the World, Four Kings in Shadow).

Colors of the Sun is the same tune as Rhea's Fling and Jolly Jaim (The Eye of the World, Four Kings in Shadow).

The Color of Trust is a very old song written by the owner of one of Mat’s memories—or at least he wrote the original words:

Give me your trust, said the Aes Sedai.
On my shoulders I support the sky.
Trust me to know and to do what is best,
And I will take care of the rest.
But trust is the color of a dark seed growing.
Trust is the color of a heart's blood flowing.
Trust is the color of a soul's last breath.
Trust is the color of death.

Give me your trust, said the queen on her throne,
for I must bear the burden all alone.
Trust me to lead and to judge and to rule,
and no man will think you a fool.
But trust is the sound of the grave-dog's bark.
Trust is the sound of betrayal in the dark.
Trust is the sound of a soul's last breath.
Trust is the sound of death.

- Lord of Chaos, The Color of Trust

The verses continue with "the king on high" and "the lady and lord" to "the love of your life", finishing bitterly with “Trust is the taste of death”, and was written in disillusionment after a bad ending to a relationship. With five verses, the song probably incorporates the five senses into its imagery. Three are mentioned: colour for sight, sound for hearing and taste. Five being the number of humanity, the song extrapolates one person’s failings into the mortality and frailty of humanity.

A dead man’s memory, the equating of trust with death implies not only that death results from trust being broken, promises not kept, but that broken trust is as inevitable as death. Mat’s memories are far from random; they fit his character as well as his role. (Most readers have ignored the former while concentrating on the latter.) Even at the beginning of the books Mat was untrusting and this characteristic was exacerbated by the Shadar Logoth dagger. His encounters with Aes Sedai and the ‘Finns further validated this attitude. Mat himself has never been particularly trustworthy unless pressured into making a promise. The untrustworthy are most conscious of how easily and frequently trust can be broken by others.

With its deadly and deathly sentiments and refrain, the song reinforces Mat’s role as King of the Dead and a Fool figure dancing as close to Death as possible. All unconscious, the dancers in Salidar have no idea of the significance of the tune, and are pretending their own situation is not precarious and the Last Battle isn’t imminent. Oblivious to the imminent threat of the Shadow, they dance on.

Coming Home From Tarwin's Gap was played on the road to Caemlyn and sung in the Two Rivers. It is a song of a long-ago battle, possibly in the Trolloc Wars.

My home is waiting there for me,
and the girl I left behind.
Of all the treasure that waits for me,
that's what I want to find.
Her eyes so merry, and her smile so sweet,
her hugs so warm, and her ankle neat,
her kisses hot, now there's a treat.
If there's a treasure greater, it lies not in my mind…
Oh, I have seen stark Tarwin's Gap,
and the Trollocs' raving horde.
I have stood 'fore the Halfman's charge,
and walked on death's cold borde.
But a winsome lass, she waits for me,
for a dance, and a kiss 'neath the apple tree. ...

- The Shadow Rising, A Missing Leaf

Dance With Jak O’the Shadows was first sung—by Mat of course!—in the Aiel Waste after he received his memories from the Eelfinn:

We'll drink the wine till the cup is dry,
and kiss the girls so they'll not cry,
and toss the dice until we fly
to dance with Jak o' the Shadows.…

We’ll dance all night while the moon runs free,
and dandle the lasses upon our knee,
and then you'll ride along with me,
to dance with Jak o' the Shadows.

- The Fires of Heaven, Pale Shadows

We’ll sing all night, and drink all day,
and on the girls we’ll spend our pay,
and when it’s gone, then we’ll away,
to dance with Jak o’the Shadows.

There’re some delight in ale and wine,
and some in girls with ankles fine,
but my delight, yes, always mine,
is to dance with Jak o’ the Shadows.

- The Fires of Heaven, After the Storm

We’ll sing all night, and drink all day,
and on the girls we’ll spend our pay,
and when we’re done, then we’ll away,
to dance with Jak o’the Shadows.

- Lord of Chaos, A Different Dance

We'll give a yell with a bloody curse,
And hug the maids, it could be worse,
As we ride away with the Dark One's purse,
To dance with Jak o' the Shadows!

- A Memory of Light, The Last Battle

And an improvised verse:

Well toss the dice however they fall,
and snuggle the girls be they short or tall,
then follow young Mat whenever he calls,
to dance with Jak o’ the Shadows.

- The Fires of Heaven, After the Storm

In a later version sung in Knife of Dreams, it is “follow Lord Mat”.

Dance With Jak O’the Shadows was the Band of the Red Hand’s marching song and was accompanied with drums, trumpets and flutes (Lord of Chaos, A Different Dance). Mat taught the song to the Band. Not everyone approved of singing about dancing with death—but then not everyone approves of Mat, the King of the Dead.

The dance of death, or danse macabre, originated in medieval Europe, perhaps in response to plagues such as the Black Death. (Dance of death photo by Toffel.) Songs and pictures were created of Death as a skeleton leading people of all classes and ages in a processional dance. It was quite popular in the 15th century, which is earlier than the typical 17th to 18th century attitudes and technology of the Wheel of Time world. As King of the Dead, Mat has escaped death twice (revived after being hanged, and restored after being killed by lightning thanks to Rand’s balefire), and leads the living and the dead heroes to battle the Shadow.

The World War II song Ballad of the D-Day Dodgers may have influenced Dance with Jak of the Shadows and also If You Go To Be A Soldier, although it is far more sarcastic than either:

We're the D-Day Dodgers out in Italy -
Always on the vino, always on the spree.
Eighth Army scroungers and their tanks
We live in Rome—among the Yanks.
We are the D-Day Dodgers, over here in Italy.

We landed at Salerno, a holiday with pay,
Jerry brought the band down to cheer us on our way
Showed us the sights and gave us tea.
We all sang songs, the beer was free.
We are the D-Day Dodgers, way out in Italy.

The Volturno and Cassino were taken in our stride
We didn't have to fight there. We just went for the ride.
Anzio and Sangro were all forlorn.
We did not do a thing from dusk to dawn.
For we are the D-Day Dodgers, over here in Italy.

On our way to Florence we had a lovely time.
We ran a bus to Rimini right through the Gothic Line.
On to Bologna we did go.
Then we went bathing in the Po.
For we are the D-Day Dodgers, over here in Italy.

Once we had a blue light that we were going home
Back to dear old Blighty, never more to roam.
Then somebody said in France you'll fight.
We said never mind, we'll just sit tight,
The windy D-Day Dodgers, out in Sunny Italy.

Now Lady Astor, get a load of this.
Don't stand up on a platform and talk a load of piss.
You're the nation's sweetheart, the nation's pride
We think your mouth's too bloody wide.
We are the D-Day Dodgers, in Sunny Italy.

When you look 'round the mountains, through the mud and rain
You'll find the crosses, some which bear no name.
Heartbreak, and toil and suffering gone
The boys beneath them slumber on
They were the D-Day Dodgers, who'll stay in Italy.

So listen all you people, over land and foam
Even though we've parted, our hearts are close to home.
When we return we hope you'll say
"You did your little bit, though far away
All of the D-Day Dodgers, way out there in Italy.

As for the tune, Jordan had a particular one in mind:

I wrote "Jak o'the Shadows" to the tune of "Gary Owen," but I suppose anybody can put the words to what they wish.

- Letter to Austin Sirkin May 1995

Garryowen was an Irish drinking song from the late 18th century adopted by the 5th (Royal Irish) Lancers. The title refers to an area of the town of Limerick in Ireland. The song has been adopted as a marching tune by other Irish regiments in England and North America as well as in Ireland. Here is the Garryowen regimental march and here is a rendering of Jak o'the Shadows to Garryowen by Argenstock.

The Dancing Lass was performed in Illian in a bawdier version than in the Two Rivers.

A Lugard girl, she came to town, to see what she could see.
With a wink of her eye, and a smile on her lip,
she snagged a boy or three, or three.
With an ankle slim, and skin so pale,
she caught the owner of a ship, a ship.
With a soft little sigh, and a gay little laugh,
she made her way so free.
So free.

- The Dragon Reborn, Easing the Badger

Darling Sara uses the same tune as Ferry O'er the River and was played on the road to Caemlyn (The Eye of the World, Play for your Supper).

The Drunken Peddler is another name for Tinker in the Kitchen and was played in Four Kings (The Eye of the World, Four Kings in Shadow).

Ferry O'er the River is the same tune as Darling Sara and was played by Rand on the road to Caemlyn (The Eye of the World, Play for your Supper).

The First Rose of Summer is a love song Thom played in Tanchico (The Shadow Rising, A Cup of Wine) and may be a reference to the real world song The Last Rose of Summer.

Forward the Lion is Andor’s national song, an early type of anthem.

Forward the Lion,
Forward the Lion,
The White Lion takes the field.
Roar defiance at the Shadow.
Forward the Lion, Forward,
Andor triumphant.

- The Eye of the World, Weaving of the Web

Since Andor has strong references to England, I checked if the song’s lyrics fit the British national anthem of God Save the Queen (or King) and they almost do—the second last line could have another syllable to work better.

A Frog on the Ice was hummed by Talmanes in Cairhien to tease Mat (Lord of Chaos, A Different Dance).

Goodman Priket's Pipe was played by Rand in Cairhien and had different words there to those Rand knew.

We rode down to River Iralell just to see the Taren come.
We stood along the riverbank with the rising of the sun.
Their horses blacked the summer plain, their banners blacked the sky.
But we stood our ground on the banks of River Iralell.
Oh, we stood our ground. Yes, we stood our ground.
Stood our ground along the river in the morning.

- The Great Hunt, The Nine Rings

Hard Rain Falling has the same tune as Berin's Retreat and The Wind From the North (The Eye of the World, Shelter From the Shadow).

Heron on the Wing was performed in Cairhien by Rand (The Great Hunt, The Nine Rings).

Huff the Feathers is a country dance that Mat liked (Lord of Chaos, The Color of Trust).

If You Go To Be A Soldier is a military marching song:

You 'll feed on beans and on rotten hay,
and a horse's hoof come your naming day.
You'll sweat and bleed till you grow old,
and your only gold will be dreams of gold,
if you go to be a soldier. If you go to be a soldier.
Your girl will marry another man.
A muddy grave will be all your land.
Food for the worms and none to mourn.
You 'II curse the day you were ever born,
if you go to be a soldier. If you go to be a soldier.

- Lord of Chaos, A Different Dance

I'm Down at the Bottom of the Well has the same tune as The Last Stand at Mandenhar (Winter’s Heart, Three Women).

Jolly Jaim is the same tune as Rhea's Fling and Colors of the Sun (The Eye of the World, Four Kings in Shadow).

Lament for the Long Night is a tune from the Age of Legends that Rand was able to play from Lews Therin’s memories (Winter’s Heart, Bonds).

Life is a Dream is an Aiel dirge sung in parts:

Life is a dream—that knows no shade.
Life is a dream—of pain and woe.
A dream from which—we pray to wake.
A dream from which—we wake and go.
Who would sleep—when the new dawn waits?
Who would sleep—when the sweet winds blow?
A dream must end—when the new day comes.
This dream from which—we wake and go.

- A Crown of Swords, The Butcher’s Yard

The Last Stand at Mandenhar is an old song of forlorn hope from the Court of Takedo in Darashelle. It has the same tune as I'm Down at the Bottom of the Well (Winter’s Heart, Three Women). As Mat notes, songs and dances around Mat often echo his thoughts and feelings, or vice versa.

Mistress Aynora's Rooster was played by Rand on the way to Caemlyn (The Eye of the World, Play for your Supper) and performed in Illian.

Midean' s Ford is an old song of a Manetheren wars before the Trolloc Wars:

Soft, the winds, like springtime’s fingers.
Soft, the rains, like heaven's tears.
Soft, the years roll by in gladness,
never hinting storms to come,
never hinting whirlwinds' ravage,
rain of steel and battle thunder,
war to tear the heart asunder…
Back across the blood-red water,
marching back with heads held high.
No surrender, arm or sword,
no surrender, heart or soul.
Honor be theirs, ever after,
honor all the Age shall know.

- The Shadow Rising, Imre Stand

But Mat remembers that it didn’t happen this way; that instead of Aedomon leading the Saferi in an attack on Manetheren, overcoming King Buiryn of Manetheren at Midean’s Ford, but letting the remnant of his forces go out of respect for their courage, Aedomon ambushed the Manetheren King at the ford and killed them all. The song has kept events in memory but changed them, illustrating history turning to legend and myth.

The first part of the song sounds a bit like Juanita, the second part like ballads of battles against American Indians.

My Love Is a Wild Rose was played in the Two Rivers (The Shadow Rising, The Price of a Departure).

The Marriage of Cinny Wade is a slow and haunting version of a tune also used for Always Choose the Right Horse (Towers of Midnight, The Seven Striped Lass).

The Ogier sing this mourning song when great trees die or forests are levelled.

All rivers run dry,
All songs must end,
Every root will die,
Every branch must bend.

- A Memory of Light, Too Many Men

In the Last Battle they sang it in mourning for the large numbers of humans killed.

A much more cheerful song is this working song the Ogier sang in more peaceful times in Stedding Tsofu:

Clear the field, smooth it low.
Let no weed or stubble stand.
Here we labor, here we toil,
here the towering trees will grow.

- The Great Hunt, Stedding Tsofu

Only One Boot is a funny song that Thom played in Tanchico (The Shadow Rising, A Cup of Wine).

Only One Bucket of Water is a cheerful song (The Eye of the World, Watchers and Hunters). The song could be a reference to an equally cheerful 80’s one-hit wonder, The Bucket of Water song:

This is the song we lovers of water sing,
We can't go wrong we're happy as a King,
We beat the drum as we march along,
We crash the cymbal and bang the gong,
This is the song The Bucket of Water Song.


Stand on one leg and point up at the sun,
Rattle your nose we're sure it must be fun,
But no matter who or what you are,
We know something you'll enjoy by far,
to sing out this song, The Bucket of Water Song!


Though life is hard we do the best we can,
Against evil we guard to help our fellow man,
We put the baddies in their place,
we fight the foes of the human race,
But whatever the case we take it in the face!

To the water pumps, march and get fresh water!

The Old Black Bear was played by Rand on the road to Caemlyn (The Eye of the World, Play for your Supper).

The Old Gray Goose is a funny song that Thom played in Tanchico (The Shadow Rising, A Cup of Wine). Old Gray Goose is a traditional Irish jig performed here and also a children’s song:

Go tell Aunt Rhody go tell Aunt Rhody
Go tell Aunt Rhody the old grey goose is dead

Grandpa found her dying grandpa found her dying
Grandpa found her dying in the millpond on her head
The gander won't eat now gander won't eat now
Gander won't eat now because his wife is dead
Somebody go tell Aunt Rhody go tell Aunt Rody
Go tell Aunt Rhody that the old grey goose is dead
[ fiddle - banjo ]
Let's pray for the babies pray for the babies
Pray for the babies because their mama's dead
Somebody go tell Aunt Rhody...
[ fiddle ]
Lord now go tell Aunt Rhody children go tell Aunt Rhody
Want you to go tell Aunt Rhody tell her that the old grey goose is dead
Everybody go tell Aunt Rhody now now go tell Aunt Rhody
Now now go tell Aunt Rhody
Go tell Aunt Rhody tell her that the old grey goose is dead

And a lighter version:

Go tell Aunt Rhody, go tell Aunt Rhody,
go tell Aunt Rhody, the old grey goose is dead.
The one she's been saving, the one she's been saving,
the one she's been saving to make a featherbed.
She died in the millpond, she died in the millpond,
she died in the millpond from standing on her head.

She left nine young goslins; she left nine young goslins;
she left nine young goslins to scratch for their own bread.
Her goslins are weeping, crying and peeping,
her goslins are weeping because their mammy's dead.
The old gander's mourning, the old gander's mourning,
the old gander's mourning because his wife is dead.

The barnyard's a-weeping, the barnyard's a-weeping,
the barnyard's a-weeping waiting to be fed.
Go tell Aunt Rhody, go tell Aunt Rhody,
we took her in the kitchen and cooked her all day long.
And broke all the fork teeth, broke all the fork teeth,
and broke all the fork teeth, they weren’t strong enough.
Broke out Granddad's teeth, broke all Granddad's teeth,
broke old Grandad's teeth. The old grey goose is tough.

Go tell Aunt Rhody, go tell Aunt Rhody,
go tell Aunt Rhody, the old grey goose is tough.
Go tell Aunt Rhody, go tell Aunt Rhody,
go tell Aunt Rhody, we hauled her to the mill.
We'll grind her into sausages and make mincemeat,
grind her into sausages if only the miller will.
She broke all the saw teeth, broke all the saw teeth,
broke all the saw teeth, that old grey goose is tough.

Go tell Aunt Rhody, go tell Aunt Rhody,
go tell Aunt Rhody, we know this is a shock.
Go tell Aunt Rhody, go tell Aunt Rhody,
go tell Aunt Rhody, we know this is a shock.
But go tell Aunt Rhody, poor old Aunt Rhody,
go tell Aunt Rhody, we buried her under a rock.
Go run and tell Aunt Rhody, run and tell Aunt Rhody,
run and tell Aunt Rhody, the old grey goose is dead.

Here is a performance of the song.

The Old Two Rivers Leaf and Old Jak's Up a Tree were played in Cairhien (The Great Hunt, The Nine Rings).

Pretty Maids Dancing is the same tune as Three Girls in the Meadow (The Eye of the World, Shelter From the Shadow).

The Queen’s March is a well-known rallying horn tune in Andor (A Memory of Light, By Grace and Banners Fallen).

Rhea's Fling is the same turn as Jolly Jaim and Colors of the Sun (The Eye of the World, Four Kings in Shadow).

The Road to Dun Aren is a popular song in Andor which Rand played perhaps more often than he would hve liked on the road to Caemlyn (The Eye of the World, Play for your Supper and Four Kings in Shadow).

Rose of the Morning was played by Rand on his trek to Tear (The Dragon Reborn, The First Ship).

The Song of a Hundred Days is an obscure ballad of Villiam Bloodletter’s battle against the Banath people on Almoth Plain. Thom is one of the few who know it (Towers of Midnight, A Teaching Chamber). It’s a song that records history for posterity—and considering how well it apparently tallies with Mat’s memories, perhaps fairly accurately. This may be because it has been largely forgotten and so not been altered by attempted improvements over the years.

The Song of the Three Fishes is a respectable song which Siuan claimed to know in Lugard (The Fires of Heaven, The Nine Horse Hitch).

Sweet Whispers of Tomorrow is a beautiful dirge that Thom played in the *Finn’s world:

Oh, how long were the days of a man.
When he strode upon a broken land.
He sailed as far as a man could steer,
And he never wished to lose his fear.
For the fear of man is a thing untold.
It keeps him safe, and it proves him bold!
Don't let fear make you cease to strive,
For that fear it proves you remain alive!
I will walk this broken road,
And I will carry a heavy load!
So come at me with your awful lies,
I'm a man of truth, and I'll meet your eyes!

- Towers of Midnight, The One Left Behind

Three Girls in the Meadow is the same tune as Pretty Maids Dancing, and was played by Rand and by Tinkers in Andor (The Eye of the World, Play For Your Supper and Shelter From the Shadow).

Tinker in the Kitchen was played by Rand in Andor and sung by Mat in the Aiel Waste. It has the same tune as The Drunken Peddler.

Tinker in the kitchen; with a job of work to do.
Mistress up above, slipping on a robe of blue.
She dances down the staircase, her fancy all so free,
Crying, “Tinker, oh, dear Tinker, won't you mend a pot for me?”

- The Fires of Heaven, Pale Shadows

Here is a rendition by Reflectionsofsound.

It may be a reference to the Jolly Tinker folk song and reel, which have several variants:

As I went down a shady lane, at a door I chanced to knock
"Have you any pots or kettles, with rusty holes to block?"
"Well indeed I have, don't you know I have
To me right fol-ooral-addy, well indeed I have"

The missus came out to the door and she asked me to come in
"You're welcome jolly tinker and I hope you brought your tin"
She took me through the kitchen and she led me through the hall
And the servants cried "The devil, has he come to block us all.”
She took me up the stairs, me lads, to show me what to do
Then she fell on the feather bed and I fell on it too
Well, indeed I did, don't you know I did...

She then took out a frying pan and she began to knock
For to let the servants know, me lads, that I was at my work
Well, indeed I was, don't you know I was...

She put her hand into her pocket and she pulled out twenty pounds
"Take that my jolly tinker and we'll have another round"
"Well, indeed we will, don't you know we will...

She put her hand into her pocket and she pulled out a gold watch
"Take that my jolly tinker, for B'Jesus, you're no botch"
"Well, indeed I'm not, don't you know I'm not...

Well, I've been a jolly tinker for these forty years or more
But such a lovely job as that, I never did before
Well, indeed I didn't, don't you know I didn't...

Here is a performance.

The Tinker Has My Pots uses the same tune as Toss the Feathers and was played by Tinkers in Andor (The Eye of the World, Shelter From the Shadow).

Three Girls in the Meadow was played by Rand on the road to Caemlyn (The Eye of the World, Play for your Supper).

Toss the Feathers is the same tune as The Tinker Has My Pots and was played by Tinkers in Andor (The Eye of the World, Shelter From the Shadow). Toss the Feathers is an Irish reel traditionally played with tin whistle and fiddle. It has many other names. This performance includes a keyboard.

Two Kings Came Hunting is the same tune as Two Horses Running and was played in Four Kings (The Eye of the World, Four Kings in Shadow).

Two Maids at the Water's Edge was sung very softly by Rand to make trees sprout leaves and fruit in Ebou Dar (A Memory of Light, Older, More Weathered).

Wash the Spears is an Aiel battle hymn sung in parts:

Wash the spears—while the sun climbs high.
Wash the spears—while the sun falls low.
Wash the spears—Who fears to die?
Wash the spears—No one I know!
Wash the spears—while life holds true.
Wash the spears—until life ends.
Wash the spears. ...

- The Shadow Rising, A Breaking in the Three-fold Land

What He Said to Me is the same tune as Will You Dance With Me and was performed in Tar Valon:

I’ll dance with a girl with eyes of brown,
or a girl with eyes of green,
I’ll dance with a girl with any color eyes,
but yours are the prettiest I’ve seen.
I’ll kiss a girl with hair of black,
or a girl with hair of gold,
I’ll kiss a girl with any color hair,
but it’s you I want to hold.

- The Dragon Reborn, The First Toss

In Mat’s case it was the dice he was keen to hold at that time. Will You Dance With Me is an actual song:

I'm a dancer
And I move to the rhythm of the music
Oh, it carries me away

Yes I'm a dancer
I was born to live this life
I did not choose it
And when the song begins to play
Oh please, please
Will you dance with me?

And I'm a dreamer
Oh, my head is in the clouds
I keep believin'
They really do come true

A rainbow chaser
And in the end I know that all the love I needed
I will find it here with you
So please, please
Will you dance with me?

Baby can you hear the melody?
I swear I've never heard a sound so sweet
Makes me wanna take your hand
For when a girl hits the floor
I've never felt like this before

I'm a lover
Of all things everywhere
God set in motion
Like a sun and moon and stars

Our lives together
We'll rise and fall like the waves that pull the ocean
If you take me in your arms
So, please, please
Will you dance with me?
(Will you dance with me)
Oh, please
Will you dance with me? Ooo

The Wind From the North is the same tune as Hard Rain Falling and Berin's Retreat (The Eye of the World, Shelter From the Shadow).

The Wind That Shakes the Willow is a popular song in Andor:

My love is gone, carried away
by the wind that shakes the willow,
and all the land is beaten hard
by the wind that shakes the willow.
But I will hold her close to me
in heart and dearest memory ,
and with her strength to steel my soul,
her love to warm my heart-strings,
I will stand where we once sang,
though cold wind shakes the willow.

- The Eye of the World, Watchers and Hunters

Here is a version by reflectionsofsound.

The song may be a reference to The Wind that Shakes the Barley, an Irish ballad and fast reel dating from the 19th century about leaving true love to fight a doomed rebellion against foreign invasion.

I sat within a valley green
I sat me with my true love
My sad heart strove to choose between
The old love and the new love
The old for her, the new that made
Me think on Ireland dearly
While soft the wind blew down the glade
And shook the golden barley
Twas hard the woeful words to frame
To break the ties that bound us
But harder still to bear the shame
Of foreign chains around us
And so I said, "The mountain glen
I'll seek at morning early
And join the bold United Men
While soft winds shake the barley.
While sad I kissed away her tears
My fond arms 'round her flinging
The foeman's shot burst on our ears
From out the wildwood ringing
A bullet pierced my true love's side
In life's young spring so early
And on my breast in blood she died
While soft winds shook the barley
I bore her to some mountain stream
And many's the summer blossom
I placed with branches soft and green
About her gore-stained bosom
I wept and kissed her clay-cold corpse
Then rushed o'er vale and valley
My vengeance on the foe to wreak
While soft winds shook the barley
But blood for blood without remorse
I've taken at Oulart Hollow
And laid my true love's clay-cold corpse
Where I full soon may follow
As 'round her grave I wander drear
Noon, night and morning early
With breaking heart when e'er I hear
The wind that shakes the barley

This is the song version, and this is the reel version which is much faster.

Wild Geese on the Wing is a reel that Thom played (The Eye of the World, Watchers and Hunters). Wild Geese is a Scottish country dance.

There are also some untitled songs and ballads described—mostly bawdy and comic songs.

A song about a rich merchant who, having just lost his team of horses in an improbable way, had for some reason decided to pull his carriage himself…The merchant lost, in succession, his carriage, his cloak, his boots, his gold, and the rest of his clothes, and was now reduced to wrestling a pig for its dinner - and shook his head.

- The Dragon Reborn, Easing the Badger

There was one about a rich man whose wife and daughters made a fool of him time and again without ever deflating his self-importance; another that concerned a young woman who decided to take a walk without any clothes, and one that told of a blacksmith who managed to shoe himself instead of the horse.

- The Dragon Reborn, Easing the Badger

These are subversive songs, mocking the rich or notable, or pushing against social mores, typical of real-world folk songs.

The dark-eyed girl was singing a sad song about a boy leaving his love.

- The Dragon Reborn, Shadowbrothers

Temaille forced Amathera to dance “lewd dances” and sing bawdy songs such as:

My breasts are round, and my hips are too.
I can flatten a whole ship's crew…
My thighs are strong, as strong as anchor chain.
My kiss can burst-

- The Shadow Rising, into the Palace

It foreshadows Amathera’s enslavement by the Seanchan where she has to dance in revealing clothing (but not sing anything). Also, note that Temaille knows the words to at least a few bawdy songs.

In Maderin, Tuon listened to the inn’s entertainer sing:

”As I walked out one fine spring day, I met young Jac who was pitching hay,
his hair so fair, and his eyes were, too. Well. I gave him a kiss; oh, what could I do?
We snuggled and we tickled while the sun rose high, and I won't say how often he made me sigh.
Now Jac gets an hour when the sky is clear, and Willi gets an hour when my father’s not near.
It's the hayloft with Mori for he shows no fear, and Keilin comes at midday: he's oh so bold!
Lord Brelan gets an evening when the night is cold. Master Andril gets a morning, but he's very old.
Oh what, oh what is a poor girl to do? My loves are so many and the hours so few.”

It seemed that with every other verse, the woman in the song added a new lover to her list.

- Knife of Dreams, A Hell in Maderin

There are a couple of mentions of children’s songs: Olver skipping along to a nursery rhyme (Winter’s Heart, An Unexpected Encounter) and Birgitte singing a song about dancing animals to children (The Fires of Heaven, To Boannda).

Written by Linda, September 2015

Sunday, July 26, 2015

What I've Been Doing

By Linda

It's been a while since I made a post here, but I've not been idle.

Following completion of my read through of Towers of Midnight, I've been working on a series of posts about The Wheel of Time Music. The first of these should be posted some time this week.

At the same time, I've also been part of a small group of fans organising Australia's first Wheel of Time Convention. It will take place September 26th, 2015 at Burwood, Sydney, NSW.

We have a website and banner: The Land of Madmen

Do join us!