Music of Dalkeith

Scottish music and song for town and palace

from the 1540s to the 1890s

Jack Campin

Dalkeith is the largest town in Midlothian, the county to the south of Edinburgh. This is a collection of its music, with a historical commentary that explains when and why it was created. All the music relates to an area of about one square mile centred on Dalkeith High Street; it's the musical equivalent of an archaeological dig that trowels its way through a very small and very deep hole.

It's a spinoff from a much larger project available on CD-ROM, Embro, Embro: the hidden history of Edinburgh in its music. Both are organized in the same way; I am making this available free as a taster of the larger work. There are some overlaps between the two, but not many. This collection is included on the CD-ROM.

I performed this as a lecture-recital to the Dalkeith History Society in October 1999, with a band comprising myself (flute, recorders, whistle, vocals, wooden plate & spoon), Harriet Grindley (clarsach, wire harp, vocals), Pete Stewart (Border pipes, fiddle), Joy Fuller (piano), and George Current (Highland pipes). The performance was in the ballroom of Dalkeith Palace. This was the room many of these pieces were written for, and they were receiving their first performance in it again after 150 to 300 years. The palace is now used by the University of Wisconsin for their "Wisconsin in Scotland" teaching programme; I would like to express my thanks to them, and their programme director Bill O'Neill, for generously making it available. At this performance, I displayed slides as well: they aren't included here, but will be in future when I get access to scanning equipment that can do them justice.

The text is all in browser-independent HTML. Links from the commentary lead to tune or song-text files, and links from the song-text files lead to appropriate tunes. The tunes are provided in the ABC textual music notation (guaranteed to work with BarFly for the Macintosh, and for the most part with the majority of ABC software for any kind of computer) and in three formats generated from that with BarFly: GIFs of scores, MIDI files, and QuickTime "movie" files. That is, these are computer realizations, not human performances - the concert at the Palace was not recorded. If you can play the QuickTime files - supported on Windows and the Macintosh but not on Unix - you will get more realistic sound for the bagpipe tunes (drones are included) than with MIDI, though as I write, you will need to use a version of QuickTime earlier than 5.0, because of bugs recently introduced by Apple. The scores are somewhat spread-out, to make them more readable on a computer screen. You can make your own more compact scores by simple editing of the ABC if you have ABC-to-staff-notation software. Tempi and choices of computer "instrument" for the sound files are not intended to be either historically accurate or particularly artistic: they're simply intended to make the music clearly intelligible within the limitations of computer sound. For example, there are no bowed-string sounds (because the Roland MIDI versions of these provided with QuickTime are ghastly, like a primary school string band trying to play Mantovani), and yes, I know the vibraphone wasn't a traditional instrument of 18th century Scotland but I like its sound for some of the tunes.

One small section of this has already appeared in print, in Common Stock, the magazine of the Lowland and Border Pipers' Society.

None of this material may be republished in any form without my explicit permission, and in particular none of the music may be extracted into Internet-accessible tune archives or search engines that return individual tunes, or copied to anywhere where such a search engine might find it (permission for that will not be granted under any circumstances). I doubt if I would ever object to the whole thing being mirrored without change on websites or put on CD-ROMs, but I'd like to be asked and to get a copy of any media it appears on. Anybody mirroring it on the Web must agree to remove their copy if it becomes subject to such abuse.

Unlike the commentary, ABC encoding, and computer realizations derived from the ABC, the musical content of all the tunes and songs is old enough to be public domain, so (as far as I know) they can all be performed freely.

Because of the difficulty of avoiding piracy by search engines, the version on the web omits the ABC files; the links from the tune names will fail. The ZIP archive includes them, so if you are interested in using the ABC I suggest you download that version (or buy the CD-ROM). Anybody with a dialup connection will want to anyway; there are more than 300 files here.

Music of Dalkeith
Copyright © 2001, Jack Campin

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