The Clumsy Lover reel

By Neil Dickie

There are 38 recordings of this tune.

This tune has been recorded together with

The Clumsy Lover appears in 2 other tune collections.

The Clumsy Lover has been added to 48 tune sets.

The Clumsy Lover has been added to 602 tunebooks.

Download ABC

Six settings

X: 1
T: The Clumsy Lover
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
|:ceef ecBA|dfff =gfed|ceef ecBA|dBBA B2d2|
ceef ecBA|dfff =gfed|ceec dAGA|BAAG A4:|
|:ceea aeec|deea aeed|ceea aeec|dBBA B2d2|
ceea aeec|deea aeed|ceec dAGA|BAAG A4:|
|:ceec ecec|dfff =gfed|ceec ecec|dBBA B2d2|
ceec ecec|dfff =gfed|ceec dAGA|BAAG A4:|
|:caac acac|daad adad|caac acac|Bece deBe|
caac acac|daad adad|ceec dAGA|BAAG A4:|
X: 2
T: The Clumsy Lover
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmix
|:FFdF FdFd|GGdG GdGd|FFdF FdFd|EdFd GdEd|
# Added by JACKB .
X: 3
T: The Clumsy Lover
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
|:"A"ceef ecBA|"D"dfff =gfed|"A"ceef ecBA|"E"dBBA B2d2|
"A"ceef ecBA|"D"dfff =gfed|"A"ceec d2GB|BAAB "A"A4:|
|:"A"ceea aeec|"D"dffa affd|"A"ceea aeec|"E"dBBA B2d2|
"A"ceea aeec|"D"dffa affd|"A"ceec d2GB|BAAB "A"A4:|
|:"A"ceec ecec|"D"dfff =gfed|"A"ceec ecec|"E"dBBA B2d2|
"A"ceec ecec|"D"dfff =gfed|"A"ceec d2GB|BAAB "A"A4:|
|:"A"caac acac|"D"daad adad|"A"caac acac|"E"Bece deBe|
"A"caac acac|"D"daad adad|"A"ceec d2GB|BAAB "A"A4:|
X: 4
T: The Clumsy Lover
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amix
|:d2|ceef ecBA|dffd afdf|ceef ecBA|d2Bc decB|
ceef ecBA|dffd gfed|ceec d2GB|BAAB A2:|
|:d2|ceea aecA|dAdf afdf|ceea aecA|d2Bc decB|
ceea aecA|dAdf afdf|ceec d2GB|BAAB A2:|
|:d2|ceec eece|dffd ffdf|ceec eece|dBBc decB|
ceec eece|dffd ffdf|ceec d2GB|BAAB A2:|
|:d2|caae aecA|daad aAda|caae aecA|d2Bc decB|
caae aecA|daad aAda|ceec d2GB|BAAB A2:|
|:d2|ceeA e2Ae|d3f g>fed|ceeA e2Ae|dBBc decB|
ceeA e2Ae|d3f g>fed|ceeA d2GB|BAAB A2:|
|:d2|caac aaca|daad aada|caac aaca|Baca daea|
caae aaca|daaf aada|ceec d2GB|BAAB A2:|
X: 5
T: The Clumsy Lover
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amix
|:ce ec fe dc|df fd gf ed|ce ec fe dc|d2 B2 B2 cd|
ce ec fe dc|df fd gf ed|ce ec d2 GA|BA AB A4:|
|:ce ea ae cA|dA df af de|ce ea ae ce|d2 B2 B2 cd|
ce ea ae cA|dA df af de|ce ec d2 GA|BA AB A4:|
|:ca ac aa ca|da ad aa de|ca ac aa ca|Ba ca da Ba|
ca ac aa ca|da ad aa de|ca ac d2 GA|BA AB A4:|
X: 6
T: The Clumsy Lover
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
|:G2|FddA dAFD|GddG dDGd|FddA dAFD|G2EF GAFE|
FddA dAFD|GddG dDGd|FAAF GE E2|FD D2 D2:|
|:G2|FddF ddFd|GddG ddGd|FddF ddFd|EdFd GdEd|
FddA ddFd|GddB ddGd|FAAF GE E2|FD D2 D2|
|:FFdF FdFd|GGdG GdGd|FFdF FdFd|EdFd GdEd|
# Added by JACKB .

Thirty-three comments

It’s not as hard as it looks. All four parts are basically just variations on a theme. See the way all the parts have the same ending? Once you’ve mastered that one phrase, you’ve got have the tune memorized.

This is a fairly silly sounding reel, and a lot of fun to play. Each part is a little bit more frenetic and more difficult than the part before. It’s the dueling banjos of the trad world.

Speaking of banjos… if you’re a banjo player, the last part is actually quite easy. Make an A chord by holding down the C# and A at the same time, for the first bar. For the next bar, just hold down the D and A at the same time.

As far as I know, this was composed by Neil Dickie, a Scotsman.

Pipe Tune

This tune is also hugely popular with the better highland pipe bands. keeping police & firemen busy all over the world 🙂

The Clumsy Lover

Apparently the tune is also referred to by session wits as “The Awkward F****er”.

The Clumsy Lover

Ian McDonald fom Glenuig plays a fantastic version of this tune as a jig .The album is called “The First Harvest” which also fetures Iain McFarlane and Ross Martin.

Original Version

Since this tune is not that old, and Scotsman Neil Dickie is quite alive and well in Alberta, Canada, it might be noted that this is a Six-Part Highland Pipe-tune, and it is published in one of his music collections. There is a Highland embellishment which needs to be rendered as a triplet to make the tune sound like the composer’s original published version. It is actually under copyright, and I suggest a glance at the book before transposing or arranging for instruments other than the Highland pipes. It is a great tune, but the greatness is not quite brought out in this version.

Neil Dickie’s original

This tune is alot of fun to play on the hammered dulcimer because it jumps around so much. It is pretty awkward at first but with practice it’s pretty impressive. I agree with isrealpiper about the version though. This one isn’t the best and if your learning it for the first time I would suggest using Neil Dickie’s original version, it’s much better.

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Sheet Music Question (the Clumsy lover)

Sorry if this is a silly question but I’m not much of an expert on sheet music & occasionally resort to it to learn a tune !

If you look at the sheet music for the clumsy lover posted by Jeremy on this site the # symbol indicates that the G in the second octave is sharp but each time the G is in the tune it is preceded by a natural symbol !

Can anybody explain that ?

Re: Sheet Music Question (the Clumsy lover)

No g#s in pipe music - all naturals.

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Re: Sheet Music Question

Yeah, isn’t pipe music always in Amaj or a variation of it? cos the pipes can only be played in one key. i have a bagpipe version on a website if anyone wants it.

Re: sheet music question

Pipe music is commonly in D but there are no G#’s in highland pipe tunes, which you need to play in Amaj. More often it’s closer to Amix.

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A rant in Amixolydian

More to the point, this tune hasn’t got any A# not ‘because it is a pipe tune’ but because it is NOT in Amajor: it’s in A mixolydian.
Incidentally, the usual scottishpipe version of it has fully Amix. endings (more powerful to my ears thn the tepid low g# hybrid we have here.
(some pipetunes are bastardised versions of Amajor tunes but that’s another story: sometimes to great effect but more often as irritating as hearing wideranging Irishtunes played ‘with a kilt on’ (as P.Keenan once put it (or who was it?).)
Laying out the wrong ‘clef’ for a non-classical mode (‘You can chose any colour provided it’s black’ …or major OR minor) used to be less fa mistake than a diehard habit or ignorance in many an ancient, and not so ancient, trad. tune collector (both book and writer!) (likewise, many an old tutorbook for the piano contains a ‘bagpipe’ piece written in… the lydian mode! Supposedly because the chanter of the SP is tuned to it (that’s if you start at the bottom note which is the subtonic!)(I guess the concept of a drone or a tune with strong bottom g characteristics was hard to grasp for these mittleuropaean pianists who probably never heard the pipes in the first place!)

Maybe it’s time we learn to do without the ## and bb (like Scottishpipers do altogether)
(They are useful as accidentals of course, but it’d be simpler to stipulate the name of the basic mode used -using, for instance, a simple code or abreviation which could say much more and more effectively: give the range, the place of the tonic in it, the allied tonality (sometimes), the number of degrees in it, the same coul be said about time signatures of course: better know you’re dealing with a polka than ‘something’ written in 2/4 or 4/4 or whatever time signature!
One reason for not developping this practice is that it still confines the tune to a system (albeit more flexible)…)- and trad musicians want less written bull and more oral instant gratification!
This is why I must stop here and resume my tune-browsing activity! (I’d give a burst on the pipes now if it wasnt for the nasty neighbours (with kids!!!!) and the advanced time of day! 😉 )

I meant g# there

oops: I meant g# not a# of course…

The Clumsy Lovers

If you ever get a chance to see the band Clumsy Lovers, they are a lot of fun. Their fiddle player is quite good and she is very cute too 🙂

Clumsy Lover copyrights

Okay, I did a search for this already but since there are about 50 million discussions here having to do with both Clumsy Lover and copyrights, I didn’t spend too much time looking. But I know that Clumsy Lover IS under copyright, so my question is: how does one go about getting permission from Neil Dickie. I saw a comment left by israelpiper for that tune on this site that makes me wonder if it would be dangerous to transpose or re-arrange it. It is a great tune and I would love to get this recorded, but without stepping on Mr. Dickie’s toes. Thanks.

Posted by .

Re: Clumsy Lover copyrights

You might try to reach Neil through the publisher (who might also hold the copyright)--email at:

Posted .

Re: Clumsy Lover copyrights

Thanks! Man you guys are fast around here. I just posted this.

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Clumey Lover copyrights

Okay, I tried the email address for Scott Williams and he said that he did not publish the tune and that I would need to get ahold of Neil Dickie himself for permission. Anybody know how one might do this? I’ll spend some time on the old internet looking, but that’s not near as reliable as you session guys.

Posted by .

Gary West, who presents the BBC Radio Scotland piping programme “Pipelines” might be able to help. You could e-mail him through the BBC Scotland website.

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Thanks Kenny! I’ll give it a go.

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Rig the Jig

I recently got the album Passing Through, by Rig the Jig. Their rendition of the jig incarnation of this tune blew me away. Stared out with bodhran establishing the rhythm and then a single whistle bouncing all over the place on the tune, joined in by guitar and others. Really cranks.

Great sound

this really sounds class played on the button accordian!🙂

Uilleann Pipe Version

X: 1
T: Clumsy Lover Reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
R: reel
K: Dmix
|:FAAd dAFA | GBBd dBAG | FAAd dAFA | GE E2 GFED |
FAAd dAFA | GBBd dBAG | FAAF GE E2 | FD D2 D3A :||
|:FFdF FdFd | GGdG GdGd | FFdF FdFd | EdFd GdEd |
FFdF FdFd | GGdG GdGd | FAAF GE E2 | FD D2 D3A :||

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Contacting Neil Dickie

The best shot at contacting Neil Dickie is to do it through the SFU Pipe Band, who Neil used to play with and whose concerts he MCs. Jack Lee or Rob MacNeil should be able to put you in touch with Neil.

2part tune

i have only heard this tune played with 2 verses the 1st and last verse

Sorry, I’m a beginner

Hi, I’m actually a beginner. I’ve been tryin this tune by this sheet. It doesnt sound correct. I’ve been tryin it on a bagpipe. Why doesn’t it sound correct? Can anyone explain? If this isn’t the version of clumsy lover on the bagpipe can anyone send me the sheet music? Plz.

See israelpiper’s comment above. You might drop them a line by clicking on their name in red. Most folks on site here are more than willing to give a beginner help, and in this case you’d both be GHB pipers and speaking the same language… 😉

The original, six-part version

I’ve posted what I believe is Neil Dickie’s original, six-part version of The Clumsy Lover. I arranged it from a setting for GHB, with the birls and throws and everything. I removed the grace notes and changed the default note length from 1/16 to 1/8, but otherwise this is the full tune as I think Dickie intended.

Yes the 4th version, posted by Stanton, is closest to the original, as composed and published by Neil Dickie.
However the original has a syncopation in the 5th part which has been incorrectly notated.
The actual rhythm is quarternote D, eighthnote F#, and quarternote G, this G then going over the middle beat of the bar, thus the syncopation.
Also as someone has mentioned above the quarternote E’s in the 5th part should be written as a triplet, because the Highland pipes are doing an ornament there (edre) which more or less sounds like an E F E triplet.

Musical souvenir…

We took a trip to Ireland this past summer. First night in Dublin we took the musical pub tour and the musicians played this tune which I fell in love with. I think I’d heard it before on an album but had no idea what it was.
After the band’s set I asked the concertina player the name of the tune. He thought it was Dusty Windowsills, which it isn’t, but he sat right down and played the tune for me to record in video on my iPhone. He played it slow at first, then up to tempo.
I found the sheet music hear and learned the tune which I play mostly on the mandolin. Every time I play it I’m transported back to a Dublin pub-- the very best kind of souvenir!

Re: The Clumsy Lover

Nice version of this by piper Alan MacLeod on the CD Moonlight Dancers by Bourne and MacLeod in 1992.

Re: The Clumsy Lover

Wondering if there are any recorded button accordion versions available?

Thanks for any help.

Re: The Clumsy Lover

Not at all the original version, but see “De Dannan”, “A Jacket Of Batteries”, Track #3.

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