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All of these duets are quite easy, and they rarely go beyond mere harmonization in thirds; no-one could claim that these are musically innovative, but they do give a picture of domestic music-making in Scotland in former times, and the simplicity suits the tunes.

The Scaters March is taken from Bremner's Delightful Companion. It is also known as Sketcher's March; it got Bremner's title from its use as the official song of the Edinburgh Skating Club in the 18th century. There were several versions of it in print, all of them duets. There's nothing Scottish about its idiom but it's a catchy little oddity.

The next group of tunes, all very simple arrangements, are from George Wade's notebook. Bannocks o' Barley Meal is an old jig known on both sides of the English border (where it probably originated) and in Ireland, under many different titles, with texts ranging from the bawdy (an old song called The Killogie) to the Jacobite. Fly not yet is an Irish tune popular in Scotland in the middle of the nineteenth century. Logie o' Buchan is a song adapted by Burns; the tune is a variant of the old trade guild march of the Corporation of Tailors, used as the air of the bawdy song The Tailor Fell Through the Bed. Auld Lang Syne is an old version of the tune, rather more energetic and strathspey-like than the usual modern one.

The next few tunes are from the notebook of Andrew Small of Carrickfergus.

Ae Noddin' (more often titled We're a' Noddin') is a humorous song from the middle of the 18th century, in a witty arrangement which also occurs in George Wade's manuscript, but with more mistakes and in C.

The Birks of Endermay is an ancient tune correctly known as The Birks of Invermay, there being no such place as Endermay (several old sources of the melody share this confusion). There are many 18th century sets of words for it, all of them ghastly exercises in fusing imitation Scottish folklore with faked classical pastoral.

Craigie Burn Wood is a song by Burns; he used the tune twice. Nobody seems to know where he got it.

Go to Berwick Johnny is the best-known Scottish triple-time hornpipe, first recorded from Edinburgh as the tune of a children's nonsense song and later given a set of bogus-historical nationalistic words. Another title for the tune in an old manuscript is Go to Barrack Johnny - perhaps it was once a recruiting dance.

Whistle o'er the Lave o't is best known with an embittered set of lyrics by Burns. The original love song he adapted, in the version collected by David Herd, is hardly ever sung today:

My mither sent me to the well,
She had better gane hersel,
I got the thing I dare nae tell,
Whistle o'er the lave o't.

My mither sent me to the sea,
For to gather mussels three;
A sailor lad fell in wi' me,
Whistle o'er the lave o't.

The Downfall of Paris was published in several late 18th century Scottish collections; it's based on the French revolutionary song Ça ira.

Caller Herring is Nathaniel Gow's ingenious little tone poem based on the cries of the fishwives of Newhaven, with the descending scales representing the bells of St George's Church in Edinburgh's New Town, near where they sold their fish.

The Maid in Bedlam is taken from Nathaniel Gow's Vocal Melodies of Scotland arranged by Henderson and published around 1812. The song is from the eighteenth century.

The Hen's March is still often played today, particularly in the Shetland repertoire; it derives from a number in James Oswald's last incomplete work, the opera Fortunatus. This arrangement is from the anonymous Glasgow flute tutor of 1838-9.

The arrangement of Gilderoy is from Davie's Caledonian Flutist; the tune is from the early 18th century, and became one of the most widespread melodies in the British Isles, with many English and Irish versions as well as Scottish ones.

Kitty Tyrrel is an Irish tune that was probably the basis for Niel Gow's Lament for his Second Wife. This version is from Andrew Small.

Oh Dear mother what shall I do is from Urbani and Liston's duet collection of the late eighteenth century; the tune is from a mildly bawdy song of around 1700.

The jigs Andrew Carrey (better known as Andrew Kerr) and Lady Mary Douglas (a much-anthologized tune of the early nineteenth century) are both taken from George Forrester's The Flute Player's Pocket Companion of 1816.

Saw Ye My Father is one of the few Scottish tunes in Macleod's duet collection of 1817. It's the only piece in B flat I've included here.

Carrick Fergus is a duet setting of the tune included in the variation section as Rural Felicity. This arrangement is from a big set of commonplace books compiled by the Edinburgh music publisher John Brysson between the 1790s and about 1820; this volume, the earliest and best-known, is often known as the "Sharpe of Hoddom" manuscript, after one of its owners.

Good Night and Joy be with You All, a tune from the 17th century, was formerly used as the finale to most social occasions in Scotland, until Auld Lang Syne superseded it in the early 19th century. This setting is from the 1838-9 Glasgow flute tutor.

For each tune here, I've given sound files for the voices combined, to give the overall effect, and also separately, to suit people who want to learn by ear or play "music minus one".

ABC tune file

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Old Scottish Flute Music
Copyright © 2003, Jack Campin