Good Strathspeys, Anyone?

Good Strathspeys, Anyone?

Hello, I’ve recently developed a fancy for Scottish Traditional music. Does anyone have any good recommendations for good Strathspeys to learn? (Preferably on the simpler side of things, but I don’t mind complicated)

Thanks!

Re: Good Strathspeys, Anyone?

Hoch! Hey, Johnny Lad is one of the simpler ones - kinda hard for a non-Scot to pronounce the title, though. Stirling Castle is another - although some versions are pretty notey. Marquis of Huntly’s Highland Fling. There are a couple of other fairly simple ones in D that I don’t know the names of ….. Cutting Ferns. Lime Hill.

Of course, how challenging any one will be will depend on what instrument you’re playing it on, to a large extent.

Re: Good Strathspeys, Anyone?

https://ceolsean.net/content/mindex4.html

To find some of the best tunes just check which have the most settings. So on this page, M moneymusk and maggie cameron and miss drummond all standout and are great tunes. Various different settings to Play with .
for the whistle? These work well

Re: Good Strathspeys, Anyone?

Laird o ’ Drumblair [A major] Haughs o’ Cromdale [A or E dorian] The Sweetness of Mary [G major] Cutting Bracken [A dorian]

Re: Good Strathspeys, Anyone?

Top of Craigvenow ( all 4 parts) and Tulloch Castle are two of my favourites.

Re: Good Strathspeys, Anyone?

Some strathspeys from my past lists :

“A.A. Cameron’s”
“Caberfeidh”
“The Ewie Wi’ The Crooked Horn”
“The Braes Of Mar”
“Jessie Smith”
“The Lad Wi’ The Plaid” [ aka “The Rose Amang The Heather” ]
“The Campbelltown Kiltie Ball”
“Captain Campbell”
“Susan McLeod”
“Seonaidh’s” [ Fred Morrison ]
“Cropie’s”
“The Smith’s A Gallant Fireman”

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Re: Good Strathspeys, Anyone?

There’s an interesting older version of The Smith’s a Gallant Fireman in Neil Gow’s Repository, under the title Carrack’s Rant. I’m also playing Rothemurchue’s Rant from the same source.

Re: Good Strathspeys, Anyone?

flagging to revisit later.

Re: Good Strathspeys, Anyone?

Iron Man
Banks of Spey

I’ll second Christy on “Sweetness of Mary” - it’s a lovely tune. I play it in G as well.
I see a couple of other favourites mentioned above as well.

Re: Good Strathspeys, Anyone?

Just beat me on The Iron Man!

Re: Good Strathspeys, Anyone?

Yup, the Iron Man and the Laird o’ Drumblair are the best strathespeys for my money.

Re: Good Strathspeys, Anyone?

A few that haven’t been mentioned that I really enjoy (note that I’m a bit biased to Cape Breton music, because that makes up the bulk of my experience with strathspeys):

“Bòg an Lochain” / “Athole Hummers” (E dorian, on fiddle, usually A mixolydian on pipes or whistle, I think).
“Devil in the Kitchen” (A mixolydian)
“Duke of Athole”, “Miss Lyall” and “Captain Campbell” (A dorian); the latter is ubiquitous at least in the Boston area.
“Don Side” and “The Duke of Fife’s Birthday” (G major)
Lieut. Howard Douglas (D dorian), played often with “The Forest of Gaick”, also in D dorian. Both good. Also there’s a rare one called “Mr. Barclay” in Ddor that hardly shows up but is very good, I may transcribe it here someday.
“The Braes of Tullimet”, “Miss Hutton”, “George I Taylor”, “Sir Alexander Don” (all G dorian)
“The Lass o’ Corrie Mill” (F major), simple and can be quite beautiful.
“Kilravock” (G or A major)
Rothiemurchus Rant (C major), it’s where “The Graf Spee” comes from.
Miller O’ Hern (D major), composed by J. Scott Skinner
“Sir Archibald Dunbar” (D mixolydian)
And whenever you’re up for a real challenge, try “Tullochgorum” in Gmix (fiddle), Amix (whistle). Skinner’s fiddle variations on that offer a lot of good practice.

Re: Good Strathspeys, Anyone?

“Of course, how challenging any one will be will depend on what instrument you’re playing it on, to a large extent.”

I like the idea of playing strathspeys on my classical guitar, but I’ll probably learn them on my mandolin and transfer them to my fiddle.

Re: Good Strathspeys, Anyone?

If it were me, though, I would learn them on fiddle first. I think most interpretations of strathspeys on guitar or Mando are going to try to imitate how they sound on fiddle or pipes. But I’m sure CMO or Johnny or Nigel will correct me on this.

Re: Good Strathspeys, Anyone?

A lot of those strathspeys listed are going to tie you in knots for years to come, there are some monsters there. If I were you I’d learn something straight forward to get to grips with the idiom and go from there. Try the RSPBA web site. They have a selection of set tunes for low grade competing pipe bands and list with music a number of basic but good strathspeys that are ideal for a learner to start with. Forget the likes of “Caberfeidh”,“The Ewie Wi’ The Crooked Horn” and “Tullochgorum” . Take it from me you’ll only get frustrated and you’ll get no where until you have got the idea from some simpler tunes.

Re: Good Strathspeys, Anyone?

The request was for “good” strathspeys, and also “I don’t mind complicated”. My suggestions - 2 of which you mentioned - fulfilled those requirements, I think. If not, that’s for Kellie to decide.

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Re: Good Strathspeys, Anyone?

@Kellie
I recommend learning strathspeys right away on fiddle, and not learning on mandolin first and then transferring over. Speaking here as a mandolin and flute player, the trouble I’ve had with strathspeys on mandolin is they often include characteristic 16th note runs somewhere in the tune. That needs some fairly serious flatpicking skills when played up to tempo. I can just about manage it on most strathspeys on mandolin, but a few are really tough, like the double run in King George IV strathspey.

If you can already flatpick fast runs of 16th notes on mandolin, then go for it. But it’s much easier on fiddle, I think. Easier on flute too, although I’m still undecided about how well strathspeys translate on flute (mainly in terms of initial note attack, which lacks the “crunch” of a fiddle bow).

Re: Good Strathspeys, Anyone?

Great lists! Some of my favorite, reasonably-simple strathspeys that haven’t been mentioned so far are Cutting Bracken/Tha Mi Sgith, Fiddler Play the Light Strathspey, Ferintosh, Lady Mary Ramsay, Highland Whiskey, Alasdair MacAlasdair, and Because He Was a Bonnie Lad. Marquis of Huntly (the G minor one) and Malcolm the Liar are lovely as well, but a little trickier.

Re: Good Strathspeys, Anyone?

Most of my favourite strathspeys have already been mentioned above.
So I’ll just add these:
Miss Ramsey’s
Munlochy Bridge

Re: Good Strathspeys, Anyone?

Thank you, Everyone! These are all great suggestions!

Re: Good Strathspeys, Anyone?

Posted too quickly!
Christie Campbell set- Christie Campbell is the second tune. All tunes listed underneath.

Re: Good Strathspeys, Anyone?

What’s strange, in the Highland pipe band world, is how few different Strathspeys are heard in top-level MSR competition.

Several years ago I took note of each different 2/4 March, each Strathspey, each Reel heard in the Grade One Finals at the World Pipe Band Championships over a period of around 20 years.

The first thing that struck me was that there was more variety in the March (34 different Marches being heard) than in the Strathspey (20) and Reel (19).

The Strathspeys heard are mostly traditional; only four are listed with known composers in the collections. (Four that I know of- see the note below about the fifth.) So when you listen to a pipe band’s MSR you’re generally hearing a fairly modern composed March followed by a traditional Strathspey and Reel.

Here are the 20 Strathspeys, the most-oft heard ones at top, ones that are only heard once at bottom:

Susan MacLeod (by Donald MacLeod)
Dora MacLeod (by Peter MacLeod Jr)
Maggie Cameron
Atholl Cummers
Blair Drummond
Ewe with the Crooked Horn
Bogan Lochan
Tulloch Castle
Cameronian Rant
Cabar Feidh
Inveraray Castle (by William Lawrie)
Caledonian Society of London
Arniston Castle
The Shepherd’s Crook
The Islay Ball
The Piper’s Bonnet
MacBeth’s Strathspey
Mrs Duncan Johnstone*
The Doune of Inverlochy (by W. Grant)
Lady MacKenzie of Gairloch

*no tune of that name appears in Pekaar; what does appear is Duncan Johnstone’s Strathspey composed by R Wallace. It’s fairly common for Pipe Bands to use incorrect titles and/or incorrect spellings.

Re: Good Strathspeys, Anyone?

Two of my favourite Strathspeys followed by two great reels:
The Piper’s Bonnet (Strathspey)
The Cameronian Rant (Strathspey)
Charlie’s Welcome (Reel)
John Morrison of Assynt House (Reel)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZS2b4ROXjgI


BTW The Cameronian Rant is one of those old Highland pipe tunes in the key of G Lydian.

Re: Good Strathspeys, Anyone?

If you listen to the video clips you can lear the difference between the Cape Breton style and the Scottish styles.
Sylvia Miskoe, Concord NH USA