The Scottish Whistle - Tutorial

A6: Jigs

JIGS are dance tunes in a particular rhythm. The notes are usually presented in groups of threes and jigs can be in the time signatures 6/8, 9/8 (known as slip jigs) and, more rarely, 12/8. By far the most common time for a jig is 6/8.

Although the jig has been most popular in Irish music, there are many great Scottish jigs composed during the past 300 years, their great heyday being 1760-1820. The Scottish jig suffered through the enormous popularity of the waltz and polka (during the 1820s and 30s) and then the reel and strathspey, but enjoyed a revival during this century. According to Charles Gore, "Scotland's traditional dance jigs have a delicacy and charm not so often to be found in the 6/8 melodies of other nations".

Sally's Little Sister

Nathaniel Gow was the fourth son of the famous Scottish fiddler Niel Gow. He chose music as his profession and started a music publishing business in Edinburgh in 1796, subsequently publishing some of the most influential books of his father's, his brother's and his own compositions and settings of standard tunes. He was a very fine composer, but is remembered for plagiarising a few tunes known to have been published before and claimed by other composers.

Sally's Little Sister
This tune is actually called Miss Sally Hunter of Thurlston, or, more informally, Sally Hunter. However, I've simplified it a little, so I'm calling it Sally's Little Sister. You might notice that the first four notes (not counting the lead-in note) is an arpeggio on the D chord. Once you get that, and the various runs (sequences of notes one at a time up or down), you're almost there.

G Sharp

When we looked at C natural (sheet A5) we saw that you could play it by half-covering one of the holes. When it comes to G sharp, a note which you need to play tunes in A major, you must half-cover the third hole down (see diagram). Bear in mind that you could decide never to play tunes in A, as many whistlers do (very few Irish tunes are in A).

Back to the Scottish Music Pages