Sunday, November 30, 2008
Here we are appearing in the Northern Argus Wed 26th Nov, Clare region newspaper, advertising this coming Friday's Clare Pageant.
Thanks to Carmela Mosey for sending this to me.
My workplace has some very strong family connections in the Clare region, so I encourage our continued support in this pageant, and it means I always get time off work to attend!
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
This ancient castle is situated near Crieff in Perthshire. This polka was Composed by Ronald Meldrum and appeared in the Logan Collection of Pipe Music. Whatever was going on in the laundry we might never know, but it is a catchy and well-loved addition to the piper’s repertoire.
The Fairy Dance
This Reel was composed by the famous fiddler Natheniel Gow for the Fife Hunt Ball of 1802. The Fairy Dance is found under many names, including Rustic Dance (US), La Ronde des Vieux (Canada), Rinnce Na Sideoga (Eire), Daunse ny Farishyn (Isle of Man) and many other guises.
Gin I Were A Baron's Heir
This is a traditional air made more popular by the words added by Joseph William Holder (1764 - 1832).
This is a small extract from Dvorak’s “New World Symphony” which has proved irresistible to pipers because it works so well in our scale. It is often played at funerals and also as an element in the final bracket to be played at a band engagement.
Green Hills of Tyrol.
A popular tune among pipers and non-pipers alike, but strangely enough its origins were not as a pipe tune at all, but part of the opera “William Tell” by Rossini in 1829. It is not hard to imagine the catchy phrases of the overture appealing to a piper’s ear, and the resulting transcription has been universally
popular ever since. The composition for the pipes is normally attributed to Pipe Major J. MacLeod. In more recent times, Andy Stewart, the popular Scottish singer and comedian, put his own words to the tune, called it “The Scottish Soldier”, and consequently sat on top of the popular charts for months.
This traditional Jig is also known as “The Bride’s Jig”. The late Donald MacLeod added the third and fourth measures thus increasing the appeal to pipers and bands.
This is another reasonably recent popular song which has become entrenched in the piper’s repertoire. Known also as the “Lewis Bridal Song” it was written by Sir Hugh Roberton.
Composed by John MacLellan of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
This tune has not been published in any major collection to my knowledge but did appear in the little known “8th Argylls” book many years ago. A lovely waltz-tempo tune that can sound quite magical with seconds.
Miss Ishabell T. MacDonald
This tune is from Donald MacLeod’s Book 8, and was an instant hit with our pipers when we first introduced it in the 1980’s.
Mist Covered Mountains
A Gaelic song to a traditional melody called “Johnny Stays Long at the Fair“. The words were by Iain Cameron in 1856 and translated from the Gaelic by Malcolm MacFarlane.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
A Man’s a Man For A’ That.
Here we have a traditional tune being touched by the magical pen of Robert Burns to become one of the best loved songs in the Scottish genre. A great poem and a memorable tune which has proved very popular with pipers. It is normally played as a 2/4 but we choose to play it as a 4/4.
This tune appears in some of the earliest collections of pipe music (sometimes under the title “Aspin Bank”, and also in such prestigious collections as Queens Own, Scots Guards, and Gordon Highlanders. A delightful tune from which to appreciate the structure of the traditional strathspey.
The Black Bear.
This enormously popular and catchy tune has traditionally been used, in the Highland regiments, to march troops “back to barracks” at the end of the soldiers’ day. Consequently it very often appears in the final “marching off” bracket for pipes bands the world over.
The Blackberry Bush.
The first two measures of this reel are traditional, and the third and fourth were added by the brilliant composer the late Pipe Major Donald MacLeod. The transformation into four parts has focused a lot more attention on this tune by pipe bands looking for this element of the competition MSR.
Words by Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) Music by Dr. E.E. Rimbault.
John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount of Dundee, led the Jacobites in the Rising of 1689 and was killed at the end of the Battle of Killiecrankie, just as his forces were carrying the day.
Bonnie Galloway (strictly Bonnie Gallowa’)
A popular song from the Scottish Borders, extolling the beauty of one of Scotland’s border counties. It is now accepted by pipers as their very own – a simple tune to finger, and a pleasure to march to.
Brown Haired Maiden.
A traditional and ever-popular song which pipers the world over have happily embraced.
Horo, my nut brown maiden
Hiri, my nut brown maiden
Horo, ro maiden
For she's the maid for me.
Her eye so mildly beaming
Her look so frank and free
In waking and in dreaming
Is evermore with me.
Composed by Drum Major Robert Bruce of the Gordon Highlanders.
This delightful tune was written in memory of the composer’s father-in-law who lies buried below these lovely hills which lie north of Glasgow and between Killearn and Kilsyth. Drum Major Bruce now lies buried in the same spot.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Haughs o' Cromdale
A battle took place in 1690, in which a Jacobite force was routed on the low ground (haughs) at Cromdale in Morayshire by government forces. The tune has long been a favourite with Highland Regiments and is often played as a four-parter.
The High Road to Linton.
A classic reel, originally of only two parts. The additional two measures cropped up from goodness knows where round about 1975 as I recall. Linton is a small community near Kelso in Scotland.
This is a very recent tune, with instant appeal to the Scottish piper’s ear, even though it was composed by a German !! I have a fear that this tune might become a bit hackneyed in the way that Amazing Grace has, and fall out of favour with pipers as a result.
An ancient and evergreen tune, the earliest written record of which goes back to the 1650’s. It has a checkered history in terms of the innumerable sets of words attached to it; some outrageously bawdy, other highly topical or political. However, it is now firmly entrenched as a favourite bagpipe march, and it would be rare to hear it sung.
This is an example of a genre that has made big inroads into the piping scene, particularly with younger players. The tunes are fast, catchy, and a challenge for the performer. This particular tune enjoyed huge popularity for a few years after it first appeared, but would appear to have faded gracefully into obscurity of late.
Jock Wilson’s Ball.
An excellent little traditional reel, the origins of which are unknown. It is a good example of the “question and reply” construction of the bagpipe reel.
Killiecrankie (strictly The Braes o’ Killiecrankie)
The Battle of Killiecrankie was fought in 1689 in the first Jacobite Uprising in 1689 (those in 1715 and 1745 are more well known). Casualties on both sides were considerable. John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee (Clavers), led the charge against General Hugh MacKay and won the day, but died in the battle.
Lady MacKenzie of Fairburn.
Fairburn is located near the village of Marybank, about 35 minutes drive from Inverness. It is certainly right in the heart of MacKenzie country, but we have no information on this particular Lady. A great little tune by any measure.
This song is also know as “Farewell to You My Own True Love” and is an emigrant’s farewell as he prepares to sail to California. Bob Dylan popularized this traditional slow air, and pipers have adapted the melody into a popular march.
Liberton is on the outskirts of Edinburgh, and close to Craigmillar Castle -another well-known pipe tune. But I suspect that this has nothing to do with this tune – which is almost certainly Irish in origin. It is sung under the title "Let's Have a Ceilidh" in Scottish circles, but it goes under other disguises, such as :
"The Caubeen", "The Auld Caubeen", "The Caubeen Trimmed With Blue", "The Liberton Polka", "The Liberton Boys", "The Liberton Pipe Band", "The Maids of Ardagh" and "The Back of the Hazard"
So take your pick. It is a punchy and pleasant little tune no matter what you decide to name it.