Cullen Bay reel

By Ian Duncan

There are 5 recordings of this tune.

Cullen Bay has been added to 2 tune sets.

Cullen Bay has been added to 30 tunebooks.

Download ABC

Four settings

X: 1
T: Cullen Bay
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
|:A>B cA Bc/B/ A4|c>d ec de/f/ e4|fa ec de/>d/ c4|A>B cA Bc/B/ A4:|
|:ae ec/e/ fe/c/ e4|ae ec/e/ fe/c/ B4|ae ec/e/ fe/c/ e4|A>B cA Bc/B/ A4:|
|:c>A AB/c/ dc/B/ c4|ec cd/e/ de/f/ e4|fa ec de/d/ c4|A>B cA Bc/B/ A4:|
|:ec/e/ ae fe/c/ e4|cA AB/c/ ed/c/ B4|ec/e/ fa f/e/d/f/ e4|A>B cA Bc/B/ A4:|
X: 2
T: Cullen Bay
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
G>A BG AB/A/ G4|B>c dB cd/e/ d4|eg dB cd/>c/ B4|G>A BG AB/A/ G4:|
|:gd dB/d/ ed/B/ d4|gd dB/d/ ed/B/ A4|gd dB/d/ ed/B/ d4|G>A BG AB/A/ G4:|
|:B>G GA/B/ cB/A/ B4|dB Bc/d/ cd/e/ d4|eg dB cd/c/ B4|G>A BG AB/A/ G4:|
|:dB/d/ gd ed/B/ d4|BG GA/B/ dc/B/ A4|dB/d/ eg e/d/c/e/ d4|G>A BG AB/A/ G4:|
X: 3
T: Cullen Bay
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
"A"A>B cA "E7"Bc/B/ "A"A4|"A"c>d ec "D"de/f/ "A"e4|"D"fa "A"ec "E7"de/>d/ "A"c4|"A"A>B cA "E7"Bc/B/ "A"A4:|
|:"A"ae ec/e/ "D"fe/c/ "A"e4|"A"ae ec/e/ "D"fe/c/ "E7"B4|"A"ae ec/e/ "D"fe/c/ "A"e4|"A"A>B cA "E7"Bc/B/ "A"A4:|
|:"A"c>A AB/c/ "E7"dc/B/ "A"c4|"A"ec cd/e/ "D"de/f/ "A"e4|"D"fa "A"ec "E7"de/d/ "A"c4|"A"A>B cA "E7"Bc/B/ "A"A4:|
|:"A"ec/e/ ae "D"fe/c/ "A"e4|"A"cA AB/c/ "Bmin"ed/c/ "E7"B4|"A"ec/e/ "D"fa f/e/d/f/ "A"e4|"A"A>B cA "E7"Bc/B/ "A"A4:|
X: 4
T: Cullen Bay
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amix
|:A3B cA3|c3B A4|c3d ec3|d3f e4|
f3a ec3|d3e cA3|A3B ca3|B3c A4:|
f3g a3e|f3a ec3|A3B ca3|d3f e4|
f3g a3e|f3a ec3|c3d ec3|B3c A4|
f3g a3e|f3a ec3|A3B ca3|d3f e4|
f3a ec3|d3e cA3|c3d ea3|B3c A4|

Twenty comments

Cullen Bay

I first heard this beautiful little tune at a session in Thornbury, Gloucestershire last Thursday, and, being rather taken by it, thought it worth sharing - especially since Burns’ Night is imminent. The composer is Ian Duncan, a Pipe Major of the Scots Guards, so the Scottish credentials are impeccable.

Although I have submitted it as a 4-part “reel”, this is merely a technicality to meet the requirements of the database, because it is in fact in 5/4. I don’t think it should be played too fast; 1/4 = 108 feels about right.

I must admit that in the session it didn’t feel like a 5/4 (as in the “Mars” movement of Holst’s Planets Suite, for example) but I think this is because the last two beats of each bar are always a single minim (half-note). This gives the impression that it is in 4/4 with a long pause on the final beat of each bar.

The structure of the tune is simple, the same final bar being used for each part, with a pleasing symmetry, which may indicate its military origin.

In the session it was played on a D/G melodeon, for which it is ideally suited and on which it can be played entirely on one row if desired. As a beginner on the D/G I can appreciate that.

Not knowing much about the Scottish pipes I haven’t made any attempt to indicate ornaments - I’ll leave that to the experts. I wonder if the original tune would have been in A.

Someone in the session, seeing my interest in the tune, emailed me a print-out of the dots which I have transcribed and checked with Tune-a-Tron and ABCMus before submitting.

Cullen Bay

Yes lazyhound, a march normally played in A. No 7ths in the tune so it’s easy in either key. Nice tune.

Cullen Bay

Yes, no 7ths, so no F# (in G) or G# (in A). Therefore best not to let any guitarist except the more thoughtful and proficient loose on it 🙂

Why G ?

Of course the original tune was in A - and should have been posted in that key, with G as an alternative. It was played by Dougie Pincock with the Glasgow band “Kentigern” in the 1980s.

Cullen Bay

Composed by Ian Duncan, who recently won an award at the Scots Trad Music Awards. He teaches pipes in Dundee schools, and led the Vale of Atholl Pipe Band until 2000 (after which Andy Renwick - of the famous ferret - took over). He’s also the brother of the late Gordon Duncan, whose tunes are celebrated over the world.

This is a cracking tune, in my opinion. I have a version here:

Not sure…

Not at all sure about that, Nigel - I think it’s a different Ian Duncan.

Cullen Bay

Dash it. Sorry to everyone, then.

Cullen Bay

Ignore what I said before. “Cullen Bay” was composed by Ian Duncan of Campbelltown, who played with Shotts and Dykehead Pipe Band.

Cullen Bay

It appears I may have been misinformed (or I may have misheard) about Ian Duncan’s association as PM with the Scots Guards. Would someone like to provide definitive information, please?

Cullen Bay

I’ve today reposted the ABC in the key of A, in order to reflect the Scottish origin of this tune.
I posted it in G initially, because that was how I received it, and G was the key used in the Thornbury session.

Shortly, I’ll post here, in the comments, a chord version in A, as worked out by member Mix O’Lydian.

The G major version I originally posted is:
G>A BG AB/A/ G4 | B>c dB cd/e/ d4 | eg dB cd/>c/ B4 | G>A BG AB/A/ G4 :|
|: gd dB/d/ ed/B/ d4 | gd dB/d/ ed/B/ A4 | gd dB/d/ ed/B/ d4 | G>A BG AB/A/ G4 :|
|: B>G GA/B/ cB/A/ B4 | dB Bc/d/ cd/e/ d4 | eg dB cd/c/ B4 | G>A BG AB/A/ G4 :|
|: dB/d/ gd ed/B/ d4 | BG GA/B/ dc/B/ A4 | dB/d/ eg e/d/c/e/ d4| G>A BG AB/A/ G4 :||

Cullen Bay

Here is the chord version I mentioned in my previous post.

“A”A>B cA “E7”Bc/B/ “A”A4 | “A”c>d ec “D”de/f/ “A”e4 | “D”fa “A”ec “E7”de/>d/ “A”c4 | “A”A>B cA “E7”Bc/B/ “A”A4 :|
|: “A”ae ec/e/ “D”fe/c/ “A”e4 | “A”ae ec/e/ “D”fe/c/ “E7”B4 | “A”ae ec/e/ “D”fe/c/ “A”e4 | “A”A>B cA “E7”Bc/B/ “A”A4 :|
|: “A”c>A AB/c/ “E7”dc/B/ “A”c4 | “A”ec cd/e/ “D”de/f/ “A”e4 | “D”fa “A”ec “E7”de/d/ “A”c4 | “A”A>B cA “E7”Bc/B/ “A”A4 :|
|: “A”ec/e/ ae “D”fe/c/ “A”e4 | “A”cA AB/c/ “Bmin”ed/c/ “E7”B4 | “A”ec/e/ “D”fa f/e/d/f/ “A”e4 | “A”A>B cA “E7”Bc/B/ “A”A4 :||

‘the Scottish credentials are impeccable’
Like a well shined pair of brogues, like a spotless kilt?

This tune sounds to me as it is based on an old (English? French?) round itself based perhaps on a (German?) hymn from the Reform period? The first part is definitely familiar…

You would not want to play the above chords if playing with pipers. This tune is often played with “seconds”, i.e., a harmony line or second pipe part. At the end of the second bar of the second and fourth parts the B is harmonised with a G natural. I would probably play this as mixolydian and use G chords instead of E chords. I often will use the open A string as a drone underneath.

Re: Cullen Bay

It originally was composed and played as both an air and a march.

Its debut was on the album of the same name, Cullen Bay, by the Shotts and Dykehead Caledonian Pipe Band (1976)

The air is in 4/4, the march in 5/4.

I will upload the ABCs for the air soon; the melody isn’t quite the same. BTW the air was dubbed “Three Kings” said to either refer to a geographical feature in the area, or three men prominent in the piping world at that time.

In the late 1970s/early 1980s I was an avid Scottish Country Dancer and we danced to the 5/4 march Cullen Bay. Special steps were devised to fit the 5/4 time.

Cullen Bay, X:4

This is the 4/4 slow air version of Cullen Bay, named “The Three Kings”, which preceded the 5/4 march Cullen Bay on the 1976 album Cullen Bay by the Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band (see the soundcloud link above).

Re: Cullen Bay

This is not a reel, it’s a March in 5/4 time.
It was composed by Ian Duncan while he was playing with my old Band Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia.
It was pioneering for its time because of the time signature but the most important thing was that it was a brilliant tune.

Re: Cullen Bay

To be fair, Davy B, nobody above has said it is a reel. It is merely under that classification because when the tune was posted 12 years ago there was no march classification on the site.
Nigel Gatherer in this comment states the correct composer and Richard D Cook in this comment states that it is an air and march and gives a link to the first recording.

Re: Cullen Bay

Fair enough to everybody
I just get frustrated when Scottish Tunes are mis categorised
I love Irish music and proper Irish history. But the Celtic family has other children too