Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ploughing on through our repertoire.

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.

Highland Cathedral.

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.

Highland Laddie.

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.

Itchy Fingers.

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.

Leaving Liverpool.

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 Polka.

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.

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