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Scottish Piper Tunes Played on The Fiddle
Mimic the Bagpipes!
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (20 votes) 
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ELCBK
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Got to thinking I should mention that I've seen 'Slow' & also 'Retreat' Marches notated in anything from 3/4 time, 4/4, 2/4, 6/8 & 9/8 (Battle of The Somme), to even 4/2!  Btw, Fiddlerman has a great tutorial of Battle of The Somme (A Tune A Week #40), but in 3/4 time.  I've also seen 3/4 time used for some 'Retreat Airs'.

🤔... wow, maybe this is why some Irish Slip Jigs (9/8), like the Rocky Road to Dublin (a favorite of mine) feel so strongly 'March-like' to me! 

 

Found a really cool article at 'Bagpipe News' on March History!  This 2nd half, "How The March Became More Pointed and Technically Demanding" - is VERY interesting... for any history buffs, but helps me understand

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Found the other tune Jock Tamson's Bairns plays along with MacGregor Of Ruara is The King's House (edited post #60) - LOVE BOTH OF THESE! 

 

THIS one, "Gude Claret", is a real earworm for me - just won't leave me alone... something terribly familiar about it, but many tunes are starting to sound familiar to me. 😔  If anyone has heard this under a different title, let me know...

"Gude Claret" (Jock Tamson's Bairns) - another March(?)

 

mutchkin stoup = a small flagon (424 ml)
tappit hen = a 'Scottish Pint' (2.25 liters) size drink container

Gude claret best keeps out the cauld,
And drives awa' the winter soon;
It makes a man baith gash and bauld,
And heaves his saul ayont the moon.
Then fling on coals, and ripe the ribs,
And beek the house baith butt and ben,
That mutchkin stoup it hauds but dribs,
Then let's get in the tappit hen!

Lyrics: Allan Ramsay (1686 - 1758)

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ELCBK
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ELCBK said
Got to thinking I should mention that I've seen 'Slow' & also 'Retreat' Marches notated in anything from 3/4 time, 4/4, 2/4, 6/8 & 9/8 (Battle of The Somme), to even 4/2!  Btw, Fiddlerman has a great tutorial of Battle of The Somme (A Tune A Week #40), but in 3/4 time.  I've also seen 3/4 time used for some 'Retreat Airs'. 

🤔... wow, maybe this is why some Irish Slip Jigs (9/8), like the Rocky Road to Dublin (a favorite of mine) feel so strongly 'March-like' to me! 

Found a really cool article at 'Bagpipe News' on March History!  This 2nd half, "How The March Became More Pointed and Technically Demanding" - is VERY interesting... for any history buffs, but helps me understand. 

😳... jeez, now I have to add 3/8 time Marches to the list! 

FINALLY!!!

Found some great info that makes so much sense to me as troop/soldier movements, what the different Marches mean, why they sound different - maybe it will help others here!  

Wish the video was higher quality, but I have links from historicdrumming.com, that have all the info explaining where the tempo and time signatures for these Marches come from - down thru history! 

Music tempo prior to the metronome - the TACTUS!  They would use different time signatures, including 'common' & 'cut' time (even 'cut' 6/8 time) - to show a different feeling, "impression" of speed. 

 

Music theory prior to the 18th century (Mensural Notation or Mensuration) relied on an absolute, implicant tempo of 60bpm (the Tactus). Music could be “fast” or “slow” while still being performed at 60 beats per minute.  

 

Why Did Armies March So Slow?  

Common Time, Cut Time, and 2/4 evolved from Mensural Notation  

Triple Time and Compound Time evolved from Mensural Notation

 

I still LOVE playing these Marches on my fiddle!  ...much info for me to absorb here that relates to quite a few other thread discussions on the forum!    

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ABitRusty
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So this is played twice as fast as you would think and theres two strong beats per measure?

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ELCBK
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@ABitRusty -

Jeez, throwing a REEL at me when I'm trying to understand some of these Marches... I've read (elsewhere, about Jazz) that 'Cut' Time is nothing more than counting the 'pulse' ('One' & 'Three' for 4/4), instead of all 4 beats - pretty much my feelings on it.  

I figured if not indicated, TEMPO for 'Common' time and 'Cut' time are the same BPM, exactly the same speed. *

What I saw as potential difference between them has to do with subdivisions of a beat.

1 half note = 16 thirty-second notes. 

As an exaggerated example on piano: play 1 half note duration with the left hand, WHILE playing a run of 16 thirty-second notes with the right hand - during that SAME (half note) time frame... 

  • They both equal the duration of ONE BEAT (60 BPM) in 2/2 time. 
  • BUT, if it is called '4/4 time'... they would both equal TWO BEATS (60 BPM). 
  • So, for ONE BEAT at 60 BPM - I can play either 16 thirty-second notes in 2/2 time, OR 8 thirty-second notes in 4/4. 

By being able to cram more notes played into ONE BEAT, I think it could only 'feel' like I'm playing faster in 2/2, 'Cut' time... without the reference of notes like 16ths or smaller, don't think it would be easy to feel - the larger the note duration/the slower they feel (to me). 

And, of course, since 8 thirty-second notes = ONE BEAT of 4/4 time (at 60 BPM)... 2/4 time could 'feel' like 4/4 time in speed. 

 

*What just stomps on all this thought:

the point in history when FASTER Marching tempos were assigned/accepted specifically for 'Cut' time & even FASTER for 2/4 time in Quick Marches!   (the performing common time link)

I'm starting to wonder if maybe all the fast Reels are really played more as if in 2/4 quickstep time! 

Could ya’ slow it down a little? - good topic about BPM & playing at thesession.org

 

...I just got a little overly excited learning there was such a thing as 'Cut' time for 6/8 Marches... not sure if this has any bearing on my Jig playing, but by learning about the different Marches & their history, think it sheds a little light on these tunes that SOUND SO GREAT on the pipes & FIDDLE! 

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I wasnt sure if you were still wrestling with the whole thing i posted earlier in this topic

https://fiddlerman.com/forum/m.....2/#p139074

there was alot linked in post 63 and after reading it all wasnt sure what you were sharing the most out of it.  since " I still LOVE playing these Marches on my fiddle!  ...much info for me to absorb here that relates to quite a few other thread discussions on the forum!"  thought related. 

 

4/4= 4 beats a measure.. the quarter note gets the BEAT so 4 beats

2/2=2 BEATS a measure the half note gets the BEAT

6/8= 6 BEATS a measure the eighth gets the beat

I figured if not indicated, TEMPO for 'Common' time and 'Cut' time are the same BPM, exactly the same speed. *

ahhhhh..but no..and THATS exactly where the confusion was for me.  And i was trying to say that in my eralier 2/2, 2/4 cut time topic.   when people refer to reels being a certain tempo its usually in relation to CUT time.  notice in thus video how when the BPM is referenced to the actual time signature things speed up.

cut time the  pm is referenced to a half note... 4/4 is to a quarter note.. 

 

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@ABitRusty -

Okay, THAT does clear a lot up for me about the other thread! 

First of all, please forgive me - I zoomed in as much as I could, but what you shared is hard for me to see.  In this previous post, I can see you specified a tempo for Quarter note vs a tempo for Half note, in other words you DID indicate a change of tempo & I couldn't see or hear that in your other thread (sorry, if I missed it), so yes - it was confusing for me. 

I do understand, but like I said - "I figured if not indicated, TEMPO for 'Common' time and 'Cut' time are the same BPM, exactly the same speed." - because Time Signatures do NOT indicate TEMPO. 

NOW... I think I see what you are saying (AND I agree) - that we should assume, in trad Celtic Music, that 'Cut' time MEANS MORE than just a change from quadruple meter to duple meter - that it includes an assumption of TEMPO CHANGE, e.g., from Qn = 120 to Hn = 120 (which means Qn = 240). 

I don't think they make that assumption in Classical music, because Italian terms are used to describe pretty specific tempos.  BPM & Italian Markings video

 

Now, you said:

6/8= 6 BEATS a measure the eighth gets the beat

IF that was true, ALL 6 BEATS would be counted... well, no. 😄  This is only because most tutorials & articles (I see) use 'Beat' = 'Pulse' (Pulse, Tempo, and Meter), it's used interchangeably & the water gets muddy!  What's the difference between 3/4 and 6/8 time? ...Simple vs Compound time (meter) - BUT, I think (like I think you do?), that the 'Pulse' contains important, S/M/W 'Beats', instead of thinking in terms of meter.  This may also be more 'Celtic' genre specific, ESPECIALLY LOOKING AT PIPER MUSIC, here - because of the importance of 'echo beats' (down 1 octave), grace notes, 'bigger ornaments', and how they are accented (The Piper's Corner: Understanding Bagpipe Music for The Fiddler)  ...but I could be wrong.

 

I also think there is an ASSUMPTION (needing a tempo indication) for any difference between 3/8 time vs 3/4 time (The Difference Between 3/4 and 3/8 Time Signatures).  I think, especially pertaining to this genre thread (and Marches), possibly stemming from the Baroque music (Is there any practical difference between 3/4 and 3/8 time?), 3/8 time is supposed to feel faster.  

In the context of Baroque dance music or suites, then there are good reasons to use 3/8 in preference of 3/4 (or vice versa). In the days before metronomes, how the music was notated would be an indication of performance speed. The notation would also be specific to a particular dance. (ChristopheLynch)

Similarly, 3/4 Read as “Cut Time” or 3/8 - interesting, because the 3/8 is counted as ONE BEAT (eluding to pulse), but I've also taken a look at Short Troops & Fife Tunes for more on 3/8 time for Marches.  I think it's enough (for me) to just be aware of the relationships here. 

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I really appreciate talking about this, because this is a thread about playing Scottish Piper music on the fiddle and I believe it's difficult to learn genres outside the purview, 'second hand' - many of us no nothing about bagpipes or any related instrument, but the way the music is played is unique.  Even though trad Scottish music has historically been notated, maybe more carefully, in comparison to trad Irish music notation - I still think there are hidden assumptions, which I've been trying to uncover. 

So I'm still interested in learning more about the Retreat March, being in 3/4 time & a 'quick step'... I'll keep looking, but in the meantime, I wish I had just remembered "The Piper's Corner" when I started having questions about the Marches!  So much info there, would've saved me SO MUCH TIME, but it's sinking in now! 

Peter Walker shares a wealth of info on Marches & other types of Scottish Piper tunes on this sight - ALL DIRECTED AT/FOR FIDDLERS!!!  So, he not only gives great descriptions, but shows piper notation AND also shows a translated version FOR THE FIDDLER!  This site the 1st place I've found that 3/4 Marches start on the 2nd beat (and why)!  

I've got to spend a lot more time going over everything in "The Piper's Corner", especially about 'pointing', but I've run out of time for now. 

Browsing around, I've found that 'Quick' Marches, like "Highland Laddie", are the most common, but there is usually no indication about how marches of this type are played at thesession.org. 

 

 

...don't want to leave out the Canadians!

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yes.. the jest is I would always assume a 2 beat per measure tempo measured on the half note.  so if you set a metronome at 120bpm on the quarter.. youre really probably at 60 when measured to norms for a reel.  that may mean something to someone.  experiment with a metronome or drum track or notation software.  not a big deal but may help understanding of certain topics.

2/2 is cut time but some reels are notated in 2/4.vs 4/4. pick your poison.. i prefer looking at 8th notes vs 16th. It doesnt change anything as far as communicating the notes.  Ill adjust the tempo and play the notes to sound the tune either way.  slur markings and bow directions have a bigger impact. but you first have to know where the emphasis is suppose to be. 

yes 6/8 also has 2 "pulses" per measure.  What does the 8 mean under the 6?  not versed in 3/8 or baroque dance music so ill take your word on that. 

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"The Hills of Glenorchy" - labeled a 'Jig'(?)

For reference: "The Hills of Glenorchy" - 6/8 March, Duncan MacRae bagpipes.

 

I found a GREAT comparison - 6/8 piper march vs a jig - on FIDDLES!   

...as a piper march - from Craig Smillie! 

 

...as a jig. 

 

...and then, there's JONNY!!! 

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Anyone interested in Scottish tunes can't ignore the music contribution of the bagpipes.

There are some GREAT musicians that play BOTH violin/viola AND bagpipes!  Two people that easily come to my mind - Alasdair White & Bonnie Rideout (but there are others!). 

Bonnie has 2 volumes of fiddle music on cd's that I felt a bit disconnected to, because I didn't understand their significance.  Scotland's Fiddle Piobaireachd (Vol. 1) playlist & (Vol. 2) playlist  

What is Piobaireachd? (Piobaireachd Society) - it's the 'Classical' Solo music for pipers, a theme with 'elaborate' variations! 

Nothing resembling piobaireachd has been discovered in any other country in the world. Also the Great Highland Bagpipe is the only instrument which can reproduce piobaireachd satisfactorily to the ear of the devotee. 

I have to disagree with that quote... Bonnie Rideout has proven the VIOLIN should be considered!  ...and I'm now more able to appreciate her knowledge & interpretation of bagpipe music - especially in the first Volume (mentioned above).  

McGrigor's Search - Bonnie Rideout. 

 

This thread had 2¾ pages of posts before the award-winning short film, "When the Pipers Play", appeared on YT... I just saw it today.  It helps put this music in a context I can understand for playing on my bowed strings.  Really appreciate they touched on Canntaireachd translation - the rhythm/pitch/ornament 'language' of piping (heard in some tutorials in this thread)!  

...nice little documentary!

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I have been trying to get my bow strokes smoother, more connected - thinking of that constant flow of sound bagpipes have, but I've also been digging a little deeper - actually in 3 areas...

  1. Piobaireachd, mainly Canntaireachd & Timing 
  2. Embellishments 
  3. Tuning 

1.) Piobaireachd, Canntaireachd & Timing: of interest to me because of subtleties in expression, the importance of vowel accents in Canntaireachd & how freely timing is changed in Piobaireachd pieces... I feel some connection to Airs & Scottish Music influence outside of Scotland (Donegal, Cape Breton, Galicia, maybe even Irish Sean-nós), but I haven't discovered all the 'rules' for Piobaireachd, yet. 

Canntaireachd is a method of singing and syllabic notation system used by Scottish highland pipers for singing, teaching, and writing tunes. It is primarily associated with piobaireachd, which in the original Gaelic usage merely means “piping,” but has come to signify ceól mor—“big music,” or the ceremonial laments, salutes, battle-songs, and gatherings that form the classical core of the Highland pipe’s repertoire. 

The same tune often has a different time signature in different collections. The book Binneas is Boreraig, has neither time signatures nor bar lines but uses relative note values to depict the melody.  Whether a tune is written in 3/4, 6/8 or 4/4, the time signature will be at best a guide only. There are often passages within tunes where if the music was strictly recorded, the time signature would change every few bars.  

2.) Embellishments: spent a good amount of time watching the Highland Bagpipe Embellishment Tree video (post#60), finally able to take time to appreciate his midi views - showing EXACTLY where AND how much time (in relation to the 'beat' notes) these grace notes use.  ...obviously stressing that where beats begin IS IMPORTANT!   He didn't cover all of them, I hope to find more in individual videos. 

It's not so much I feel required do anything specific, but this could help with more authentic bagpipe sound on the fiddle.  I truly wish someone would take this approach to teach Irish (AND Swedish/Nordic, etc...) Fiddling grace notes & embellishments!

3.) Tuning: this still interests me & I have thought of tuning my 5-string violin with a  'A' (instead of C) for a bagpipe-like drone... just haven't decided if I want to try any other popular tunings for this music, which might place an 'A' string somewhere else in the mix. 

After all the time I spent earlier in this thread trying to wrap my head around tuning, it suffices to say a chromatic tuner cannot be used for bagpipe tuning.  'A' is the only note that will be in tune - and what pipers consider 'concert pitch' is MUCH sharper than what we do (usually A=475Hz, but can as high as 485!). 

There's a good quick-reference page by Ewan MacPherson - The Pitch and Scale of the Great Highland Bagpipe, also an interesting article with historical info about bagpipe pitch in the Bagpipe news by John Slavin - Playing the Highland pipes with other instruments: why B-flat and not A?

There are apps available & the Peterson Strobe Tuner does have settings for Great Highland (A tuning) & Pure Just Intonation for Uilleann pipe's 'D' Scale (Peterson Bagpipe Tuning Instructions) - which may be useful.  BUT, even though I have found precise pitch frequencies associated with the bagpipe chanters & drones, it's enough for me to understand there are microtones involved & I'm just trusting my ears to transfer these intervals to MY tuning (for now).  I'm sure it will helpful to follow some bagpipe scale videos, if I need to get into the right frame of mind. 

 

I've definitely been playing quite a few Scottish tunes this past couple of weeks, but I'm also interested in Donegal traditions since the bagpipes & fiddle have traditionally been important with music shared to & from Scotland.

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...jeez, just posted this in the wrong thread - fixed. 

Have to share this 6/8 Piper March, played as an AIR, sung by Rachel Walker - it's just so soothing!  I've heard it before, sung by Seán Heely & VERY beautiful on CELLO (Barry Phillips) - just never got around to committing it to the fiddlle, until today. 

"Braighe Lochiall" - notation on The Session, aka "The Braes of Locheil"

 

Barry Phillips - "Bràigh Loch Iall" 

 

I looked back at the video on 6/8 piper tune rhythm in Post #8, to study how & what ornaments were used - to see if I want to add some in to the playing of this tune... we'll see.  Nice example of the "Skye Boat Song" in that tutorial video, so may just try those piper ornaments on that tune, first.

Anyway... Paul Anderson plays a very different version of Braighe Lochiall "The Braes of Lochiel", from The music of Capt. Simon Fraser's "Knockie Collection"

 

I'm still LOVING "Angus Blaise" (STRATHSPEYS! Thread)   It's really been a great tune to use for my Cape Breton 'Cut' bowed triplet practice - just throwing one in on every 7th note for now, works to get me better at it.  Have to make sure I get the stronger initial articulation - unlike a 'tremolo'!  

Started on "Calum Breugach", but got sidetracked trying some some other tunes 🤭 (Spring Flowers for Violin, Viola & Cello Thread). 

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@ABitRusty -

I know you've played 'Bó Mhín Na Toitean' (aka March Of The Meeatoiteen Bull). 

Have you ever considered putting some piper ornaments on it? 

When I heard THIS the other day - just felt... oh, YEAH! 

 

Aidan O’Donnell gets some of it in his playing here... was watching his fingers doing extra tapping, besides rolls. 

 

...I'm going to have to give this one a try.  It's starting to feel a little more natural after forcing these ornaments on a couple other tunes. 

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@elcbk said "Have you ever considered putting some piper ornaments on it? "

No

But im sure it wpuld sound great.   

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Couldn't even get you to bite on that one, huh?

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ELCBK said
Couldn't even get you to bite on that one, huh?

  

dunno

I mean the next time i play itll be in mind but i dont practice those ornaments so it would sound contrived at best.  The examples you shared are really good though.  

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