Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A few more notes on our tunes.

Wae’s me for Prince Charlie

The song was a apparently a great favourite of Queen Victoria.

An interesting angle on the song is given by Alistair Hulett, the well-known Scottish folk singer. According to his belief -“Wae’s Me For Prince Charlie”, written by a Glasgow weaver called William Glen in the early 19th century, tells us much more about the plight of the labouring poor than it does about Bonnie Prince Charlie. It goes, “On hills that are by right his own he roams a lonely stranger/On ilka hand he’s pressed by want, on ilka side by danger.”

William Glen’s song can only be understood as a declaration of the misery that spurred weavers such as him to take on the capitalist class.

Willy-nilly, it is a pleasant little tune, and sits well on the pipes.

Waltzing Matilda.

In truth, this tune does not fit comfortably within the range of the bagpipe scale, so there is a little “cheating” going on to make it sound presentable. However, there is no tune more Australian, and it is a worthy addition to the local piper’s repertoire. It might be mentioned that the original melody was
Scottish, under the name “The Bonnie Woods O’ Craigielea” – but we should probably keep that quiet in the “Big Brown Land”. !

Westering Home.

This traditional song (sometimes known as “The Islay Song”) evokes the wistful longing of homesick sailors returning to Scotland perhaps from long voyages around the world. The tune is ancient and variations are found in “Bonnie Strathyre” and the more fast and furious “Muckin’ o’ Geordie’s Byre”.

When the Battle’s O’er.

Over the years this lovely retreat has almost become married to what is probably the most popular of all retreats – The Green Hills of Tyrol. They are, more often than not, played together. Sadly, the composer is unknown.

Wi’ a Hundred Pipers.

Traditional melody with words added by Lady Nairne (1766-1845) recounting an incident from the 1745 Jacobite Rising, when Scotland's Bonnie Prince Charlie led his army, accompanied by a hundred pipers, into Edinburgh and occupied the Castle.

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