Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Notes from the March Meeting

We covered Aird's 4th collection in the last meeting, and Patrick Wamsley wrote in with some additional information about several of the tunes.

Patrick writes:

1) Pibroch of Donald Dhu
Gaelic name = Piobaireachd Dhomhnaill Dhuibh

This song is often misinterpreted.  Some think that "Black Donald" is Donald Balloch of Clan Donald when he was actually the Cameron Chief who defected to the royal army . . . . After the battle, Donald Balloch ravaged the Cameron lands in revenge for their treachery . . . . 
Also see

Pete here with some additional information about "Black Donald's March". Most piobaireachds today are played very slowly, especially in the first variation (the ùrlar, or "ground"). There are a class of them, "marches" (in the older sense of "martial music", not necessarily "for parade quickstep") that seem to have originally been breezier in tempo, similar to what we'd think of a march today. The McIntyre's march appears to be one such piobaireachd (known in its reduced form today as "High Road to Gairloch", but originally as "Gabhaidh sinn an ràthad mòr"), and Piobaireachd Domhnaill Dhuibh may be another. Here's a Pipes/Drums article that shows how it appeared in the early piping sources.

Patrick continues:

2) A Trip to Inchcomb

Inchcolm Island is by far the most beautiful of all of the island in the Firth of Forth.  Take a free virtual tour of Inchcolm Island here:

3) The Gobby O

Here's a version of this tune entitled "Jefferson and Liberty"

The lyrics are full of old-fashioned blood and thunder: "No lordling here with gorging jaws/Shall wring from industry its food/No fiery bigot's holy laws,/Lay waste our fields and streets in blood." 

You can't ask for much more than opposition to fiery bigots in a campaign ditty. And it culminates in a bellow of Biblical proportions: "Let foes to freedom dread the name/But should they touch the sacred tree/Twice fifty thousand swords would flame/For Jefferson and Liberty."

All of the lyrics can be seen here:

4) Little Man of the Cave

Bodachan a gharaidh
Cho friogadach 's cho frogodach
Bodachan a gharaidh
Cho frogodach 'sa bha e riamh.

Alternate version of the tune:

5) What Can the Matter Be

Old version = "Johnny bydes lang at the fair."

The oldest recovered American text of "Seven Old Ladies Locked in the Lavatory" is in "The One, The Only Baker House Super-Duper Extra Crude Song Book", which was probably compiled at Massachusetts Institute of Technology around 1955.
Also see

Thanks, Patrick, for the fun info!