Stewart’s Rant

Here’s a Scottish dance tune, also known as General Stuart’s Reel and The New Way of Gildon. It dates back to at least 1749 when it was published in the Menzies Manuscript.

Here is a video of a slower and faster rendition of the tune, with some rhythmic variations in the B section:

Here are the PDFs of the music and the two sets of chords that we used:

Old Joe

Here is a polka that works nicely as a partner to Leather Away the Wattle. I know it from Dave Townsend’s English Dance Tune books though to me, the A part feels possibly Irish and the B part more English. As I suspected they might, efforts to find out more about this tune have proved fruitless. I’ve looked for both the title and the melodic shapes and while it bears similarities to other tunes, there’s nothing there to give any real leads on the mystery.

We played a little with the rhythms in the B part, and added turns and/or triplets in places where the melody moves by step.

Here is a video with a slower and faster version of the tune:

Here are the dots with a PDF below:

Winter’s Night Schottische

Here is a tune that goes by many titles: Rainbow Schottische, Stephen Baldwin’s Schottische and Midnight Schottische. It appears in Kerr’s Merry Melodies book of 1870 and appears to have remained popular ever since in England, Scotland, Ireland and North America.

We added some turns and/ore triplets in places where the melody moves by step but otherwise kept ornamentation and variation to a minimum.

Here is a video with slower and faster versions of the tune:

Here are the dots, with a PDF below:

Leather Away the Wattle

Here’s a fantastic polka from Ireland, first published in 1858. It has many, many titles, including The Grand Old Woman, The Half Door, Lisdoonvarna Polka, London Bridge Polka and Leather The Bottle. A wattle is a stick or truncheon.

Here is a video with a slower and a faster run through:

Here are the dots:

And finally a PDF to download:

A Texas Schottische

Here we have one of my favourite schottisches, which I know as Texas Schottische – it’s not the more famous The Texas Schottische, which is a quite different tune, so I have decided to tweak the title to A Texas Schottische to avoid confusion. A Schottische is a kind of slow polka originating in Bohemia and becoming popular in the Victorian era.

I know this tune from playing for one particular (now defunct) ceilidh band however, I can’t find this tune anywhere else, under this or any other title! I suspect that the title may have been assigned incorrectly, that perhaps it was in a set with the more famous Texas Shottische but a search of Apple Music, Google Play, Spotify etc hasn’t shed any light on the issue, and searches in the Vaughn Williams Library, on and on various other online resources have proved fruitless.

It’s still a cracking tune, and I hope you enjoy it. Here is a video play through:

And here are the dots, with suggested bowing for the fiddle players since the long-short-long-short pattern can cause difficulties. We added single cuts below the first B in bar one of the A section (demonstrated in the video), you might also try adding a single cut above the top Gs in the B section.

Here is a PDF:

The Burning of the Piper’s Hut

This beautiful Scottish tune is somewhat of a curiosity – I first knew this tune from the Robin Williamson Fiddle Tunes book, pretty much as it’s written here, however this version appears to be a rewritten version of an jig by Pipe Major Alexander McKellar (1824-1895). Our version doesn’t show up in any tune books until the 1970s, and it’s not clear who is responsible for this rewriting! The title is also interesting: Williamson suggests that it refers to the English defeat of the Jacobite forces in the mid 1700s – it may be true that it does refer to this time but the tune is certainly not that old.

This tune works well as a march, or slower as an air.

We experimented with adding turns in places where the tune moves by step, and double cuts on the stronger beats of the bar (beat one and beat three).

Here is a video of a slow version (missing a B part I think, apologies!) and a faster version:

Here are the dots:

Major Malley’s Reel

Major Malley’s Reel, aka Major Molle’s, is a Scottish tune by Andrew Gow first published in 1809 shortly after Gow’s death. Molle was an officer in the British army. The tune has since traveled to Canada and England, and we know it was still in use in the 1800s in England, as Thomas Hardy referenced the tune in his 1874 novel Far From the Madding Crowd.

Variations covered in class include adding turns to notes that are part of descending scales, and rhythmic variations in the B section.

Here is an example of how you might apply these ideas:

Grandfather’s Tune/Sheep Shearing

Here’s Grandfather’s Tune, aka Sheep Shearing, a polka from England. It was recorded for the 1941 Voice of the People series by the Dorset Trio.

Here’s the video demo:

Here’s a short video on the triplets and turns that we added to the descending scale patterns in the tune:

Here’s a PDF :

Willie Is a Bonnie Lad

Here’s tonight’s tune, Willie Was a Bonnie Lad. It’s a 16 bar reel from England that goes rather nicely with Allonby Lasses and that you can practise your clave rhythms on. It feels rather like a pipe tune to me, but I’ve not been able to find out much about it – I have it in a couple of tune books but there is no info forthcoming! Here’s a video with a slow and a faster run through on it:

Here are the dots:

Here’s a PDF with the suggested emphasis, achieved with accents or slurs/phrasing, your choice!

Allonby Lasses

Allonby Lasses is a reel from the Lake District, from the 1825 Browne family manuscript. It’s is undoubtedly similar to a number of other tunes, specifically the Flagon Reel (present in the 1770 Vickers manuscript from around Newcastle, also widespread across the Scottish Borders at the same time) and the related Flogging Reel (Irish). As I’ve said before, a good tune will travel! It seems to be very much a pipe tune, which would go some way to explain why there are versions in G Mixolydian and G major, according to the limitations/quirks of Northumbrian/Border/Uillean pipes.

Here are the dots:

We played with the emphasis of different notes to create different kinds of drive or groove. Here is a PDF of the things we tried:

Lastly here’s a video: a run though, and then examples of the different emphasis.