Lady Margaret Stewart reel

Also known as The Ale Is Dear, Tha Leann Daor Aig Na Gillean.

There are 6 recordings of a tune by this name.

Lady Margaret Stewart has been added to 36 tunebooks.

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Two settings

X: 1
T: Lady Margaret Stewart
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Bmin
g|:f2Bf dBfB|faef cAec|f2Bf dBfB|ecAc BBBg:|
fBBc dcdB|eAAB cdeg|fBBc dcdB|faec BBBg|
fBBc dcdB|eAAB cdeg|fBBc dcdB|afec BBB||
X: 2
T: Lady Margaret Stewart
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Bmin
g|~f2Bf dBfB|(-f/^g/a) ef cAec|~f2Bf dBfd|ecac B/B/B B:|]
[|A|FB-~B>c dBcA|EAA>B ~c>dec|FB-B>c dBdb|a>fec B/B/B ~B2|
FB-~B>c dBcA|EAA>B ~c>dec|dBdb cAce|dfec B/B/B B|]

Ten comments

Tannahill Weavers

Transcribed from the Tannahill Weavers setting. Does anyone know the composer or if it’s traditional?

Isn’t it on the sleeve notes ?

Posted by .

Ale is dear

It’s The Ale Is Dear, but closer to the (original) fiddle version than the later, more pared-down, pipe version. I’ll post the original later if someone else doesn’t do it first.

It first ‘surfaced’ as a pipe tune in Gunn’s collection 1848, much later than the fiddle version published by the Gows et al. I don’t think the composer is known.

Lady Margaret Stewart

Trouble with tune in a minor-ish key is that many of them sound similar. I always think that it’s very easy to compose a tune in such a key, but difficult to compose one has much originality.

There are similarities between this tune and The Ale Is Dear, but enough differences, in my opinion, for them to be separate tunes. Danny O’Donnell’s version in The Northern Fiddler ("Margaret Stuart’s Reel") is interesting because he takes it out of the pipe register by playing the F#s in the B part an octave lower.

The published root of the tune, under this name at least, appears to be Gow’s Second Collection of 1788.

More…

I agree they should be left as separate tunes here Nigel, but I believe the lineage is clear, and that the fiddle version doesn’t ‘take it out of the pipe register’, but it was the other way round.

Fiddlers are now quite happy to play the pipe version, The Ale Is Dear, because it’s well known, and it rocks, and unless they are proving a point, will continue to play it. But, for interest, and because it shows the version posted here as a kind of intermediate stage, here’s the Gow version -

X: 1
T: Lady Margaret Stewart’s Reel
M: C
L: 1/8
R: reel
K: Bmin
S: Second Collection of Niel Gow’s Reels
g|~f2Bf dBfB|(-f/^g/a) ef cAec|~f2Bf dBfd|ecac B/B/B B:|]
[|A|FB-~B>c dBcA|EAA>B ~c>dec|FB-B>c dBdb|a>fec B/B/B ~B2|
FB-~B>c dBcA|EAA>B ~c>dec|dBdb cAce|dfec B/B/B B|]

Lady Margaret Stewart

Let’s agree to disagree, Matt - I don’t think the lineage is as clear as you do, but it’s not a huge deal.

As for my "pipe register" comment: the version that is given here (as played by the Tannahill Weavers on Dancing Feet) is within the range of the bagpipe - indeed is played on the bagpipe); the other version I referred to (as played by Daniel O’Donnell of Donegal) is not. That’s all I was saying.

More…

Nigel, I am sure we can agree to disagree with no hard feelings - sorry if I came over as huffy, it’s my irritating smarta•se tendency, it even irritates me.

The weight of opinion is much more on your side than mine - David Glen published pipe settings under both titles and didn’t connect them…. but Angus Mackay’s pipe setting under the Lady Margaret Stewart title is close to The Ale Is Dear in the B part, beginning on those repeated Bs.

The Ale is Dear

I have a setting of the reel "Lady Margaret Stewart" in Donald MacDonald’s "A Collection of Quicksteps, Strathspeys, Reels, & Jigs Arranged for the highland Bagpipe" from the mid-19th Century and I don’t believe that it is the same tune.

The Probable Original Tune - “Tha Leann Daor Aig Na Gillean”

Robert L. Pekaar’s "An Encyclopedia of Tunes for The Great Highland Bagpipe" lists two settings of "The Ale Is Dear" with "(Tha Leann Daor Aig Na Gillean)". No other alternative names is given. The Gadhlig name is likely the original tune .