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The Joy of Sets Vol.1

Details of the Tunes and Sources in The Joy of Sets Vol.1 (2004)



  • Mary Young and Fair is a beautiful slow air from the Scottish gaelic tradition (its proper title is Mairi bhan óg), and first appeared in 'The Airs and Melodies Peculiar to the Highlands fo Scotland and the Isles' (Ed. Capt Simon Fraser, 1815). At one point Gaelic words were added, but it is as an air that it is best known now.
  • Cenneag Mhor comes from Addie Harper's Wick Scottish Dance Band, and I think I've heard it sung as a Gaelic puirt a buel, but I can't remember where.
  • Moulin Dhu From the playing of The Riverside Dance Band. I think they originally came from a set played by accordionist Andrew Rankine.
  • Mairi's Wedding From the playing of The Riverside Dance Band. I think they originally came from a set played by accordionist Andrew Rankine.
  • Fear a Figue From the playing of The Riverside Dance Band. I think they originally came from a set played by accordionist Andrew Rankine. Fear A'Phige is translated as The Pitcher Man, or The Bottle Man.
  • Hector the Hero was composed by Scots fiddler James Scott Skinner to honour Major-General Hector MacDonald, who had a distinguished career in the British Army, starting off as an enlisted soldier and rising through the ranks. He committed suicide in 1903 after accusations of homosexuality.
  • The Marquis of Huntly's Highland Fling is a popular strathspey. The B part has travelled to Ireland and is played as a reel, The Flax In Bloom, and a slide jig, Dennis Murphy's Slide. The original was composed by a George Jenkins, about whom I know nothing.
  • Lass o' Patie's Mill is an old Scottish country dance tune or 'Scots Measure' which has also been called, among other names, Peggy's Mill and I like the fox shall grieve. Under the title Carolan's Cap it was attributed to the Irish harper Turlough O'Carolan, one of several mis-attributions.
  • Auld Graden Kirn I heard Lori Watson play Auld Graden Kirn at Fiddle 2003, and it reminded me what a nice tune it was. I first heard it played by the Borders fiddler Tam Hughes. On his record it said: "When Tom and his father played for dances this was the common tune for the St Bernard's Waltz. Tom had no title to the tune but the kirn at Old Graden near Yetholm was always a great gathering."" A kirn is an end of harvest celebration.
  • Home Farm Waltz Composed by Nigel Gatherer. Named after a cottage in which I lived near Balmerino, North Fife.
  • Stronsay Waltz I learned The Stronsay Waltz from Orcadian Jack Yorston who, in the late 1960s formed the successful Hamnavoe Dance Band. Jack at one time settled in Crieff, Perthshire, and we enjoyed some great sessions together.
  • The Rope Waltz I first learned The Rope Waltz when I played with the West Edinburgh Folk Group. Later I heard it as Orcadian Waltz on a Jimmy Shand 78rpm record. It's certainly another fine waltz from Orkney, and they go well together.
  • Island Dance is the name Bobby MacLeod gave to this ubiquitous tune which can also be found as Donald Don, MacGregor's Gathering and Chan 'eil mo leannan ann a' seo, amongst other titles. This version is inspired by Jock Tamson's Bairns.
  • Alastair of the Dun is as played by Andrew Rankine.
  • The Peat Fire Flame is a popular Scottish tune.
  • Over the Border (All the Blue Bonnets) Over the Border is a popular jig in Scotland and Ireland, where a variant, Scotsman Over the Border is often played at sessions. It has its roots in slower pieces from the 18th century and earlier and is also related to the Scottish reel Braes of Auchtertyre (known in Ireland as The Belles of Tipperary and in the US as Billy in the Lowground). Sir Walter Scott wrote lyrics to the tune based on an old Cavalier song:
    March! March! Ettrick and Teviotdale,
    Why, my lads dinna ye march forward in order?
    March! March! Eskdale and Liddesdale,
    All the blue bonnets are over the Border.
  • Muckin' o' Geordie's Byre The original of The Muckin' o' Geordie's Byre is possibly from the Hebrides in the form of Eilean Mo Chridhe. Whatever, the tune is very old and is related to many other offshoots and variants. It has been used for a single step dance in the morris tradition, and in modern times the melody can be found in the song Westering Home.
  • The Stool of Repentance The origin of the title The Stool of Repentance is clear: adulterers (including Robert Burns on one occasion), were often given the penance of sitting themselves for one or two weeks before the entire congregation on the stool of repentance, actually a special seat or stool dedicated for the purpose. An early version of the melody can be found in the William Dixon MS (1734), though only the second section plus variations appear.
  • When the Battle Is O'er is a pipe retreat, a kind of slow march. English fiddler and mandolin player Dave Swarbrick did a great version of this tune on his Smiddyburn album.
  • Donal Dhu I've taken Domhnall Dubh (Black Donald) from an Alastair Fraser recording ('The Driven Bow'). It's a popular puirt-a-beul (mouth music) tune from the Highlands and Islands.
  • Tormaid I learned Tormaid from fiddle students of Sarah Northcott. She learned it from someone called Norman who didn't know the name of it, so Sarah gave it the Gaelic name for Norman: Tormaid.
  • The Knock Composed by Nigel Gatherer. I felt that the set needed a reel to finish off with, so I made this one up to fit in with the others. The Knock is named after the hill at the back of the town of Crieff.
  • Out On the Ocean Irish jig learned in Edinburgh sessions.
  • Bill Collins Irish jig learned in Edinburgh sessions.
  • Coleman's Cross Irish jig. Taken from a recording by the influential Canadian group Barde.
  • Wee Morag Composed by Nigel Gatherer. I once wrote a tune called Big Rory after a bagpipe-playing giant who often visited Perth. The next year he brought his giant wife along; rather than calling her tune 'Big Morag', I decided to spare her blushes and call it Wee Morag.
  • Back of the Change House is a pipe version of an old Scottish reel. We were taught it by smallpiper Niall Anderson, who in turn was taught it by Finn Moore.
  • Nuala's Jig Composed by Nigel Gatherer. Inspired by a particularly brilliant performance by the band Fine Friday.
  • Anna-Wendy's Jig Composed by Nigel Gatherer. Inspired by a particularly brilliant performance by the band Fine Friday.




Nigel Gatherer, Crieff, Perthshire | nigelgatherer@mac.com