Maggie Watson’s Farewell To Blackhammer reel

By Jim Craigie

Also known as Maggie Watson’s Polka.

There is 1 recording of this tune.

Maggie Watson's Farewell To Blackhammer has been added to 7 tunebooks.

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Two settings

1
X: 1
T: Maggie Watson's Farewell To Blackhammer
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
|:A2 d2 f>ef>g|a2 f2 f>ed>B|A2 c2 e>gf>e|d2 f2 f>g a2|A2 d2 f>ef>g|a2 f2 f>ed>B|A2 c2 e>gf>e|d2 f2 d4:|
|:A2 d2 f>ed>B|A2 F2 F>GA>F|G2 E2 E>FG>B|A2 F2 F>G A2|A2 d2 f>ed>B|A2 F2 F>GA>F|G2 E2 c2 B>c|d2 d2 d4:|
[K:G]|:B3 c d3 c|Bdg>a gf f2|A3B c3 d|fed>c cB B2|B3 c d3 c|Bdg>b ba a2|a3 g f3 e|ddef gg g2:|
2
X: 2
T: Maggie Watson's Farewell To Blackhammer
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
A2d2 f>ef>g|a2f2 f>ed2|A2c2 e>fg>e|d2f2 f>ga2|
A2d2 f>ef>g|a2f2 f>ed2|A2c2 e>fg>e|d2[d2f2] d3B:|
|:A2d2 f>ed>B|A2F2 F>GA2|G2E2 E>FG>B|A2F2 F>ED2|
A2d2 f>ed>B|A2F2 F>GA2|G2E2 c>AB>c|d2[d2f2] d3B:|
A2d2 f>ef>g|a2f2 f>ed2|A2c2 e>fg>e|d2f2 f>ga2|
A2d2 f>ef>g|a2f2 f>ed2|A2c2 e>fg>e|d2[d2f2] d2=c2||
[K:G]|:B6 c2|d6 c2|B2d2 g3a|g2f2 f4|
A6 B2|c6 d2|f3e d3c|c2B2 B2^A2|
B6 c2|d6 c2|B2d2 g3b|b2a2 a4|
a6 g2|f6 e2|d2a2 e3f|a2g2 g4:|
[K:D]A2d2 f>ef>g|a2f2 f>ed2|A2c2 e>fg>e|d2f2 f>ga2|
A2d2 f>ef>g|a2f2 f>ed2|A2c2 e>fg>e|d2[d2f2] d4||

Twelve comments

Maggie Watson’s Farewell To Blackhammer

I was surprised this tune wasn’t already here. It’s not Irish, of course, but very popular.
Very popular in Orkney and Shetland tune sessions and I first heard it played by the Faeroese band Spælimenninir many moons ago.
It’s a 4/4 but you can decide for yourselves if you want to call it a polka, barn dance or whatever. We’ve had rows ( Oops discussions) about this sort of thing before 🙂

Also, I’ve kept things simple by just calling it Dmaj going into G as far as keys are concerned.

By the way, the parts could be played in a slightly different order. ABACA but I just do ABCA. Whatever takes your fancy.

Re: Maggie Watson’s Farewell To Blackhammer

I should also add that it’s a good tune for trying out on the lower octaves or parts thereof..

Re: Maggie Watson’s Farewell To Blackhammer

Blackhammer is a chambered cairn (near the Taversoe Hotel) in Rousay, Orkney. Odie the dog was scared of it as it had a ladder going down to the chamber and with his long spindly legs he wasn’t keen on trying it. However, Odie used to show hotel guests how to find another (unmarked) cairn, my older sister and her husband kept this pub c 9 yrs ’80s, ’90s. Island of Rousay full of ancient monuments.

Maggie Watson’s Farewell To Blackhammer, X:2

Commonly called "Maggie Watson’s Polka", this was composed by Jim Craigie (1895-1977) from Rousay.
You can learn about Jim here:
https://rousayremembered.com/quoydeithe-deithe/

Note that in the first setting the notes in the third part are half as long as they should be - hence this second setting. Play through the three parts as many times as necessary and finish with a first part.

This setting (X:2) is taken from the playing of Jenna Reid, but you can hear it played excellently by Jeana Leslie and Kristan Harvey here, starting at about 6:30 :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rp04K2e-cd4

Re: Maggie Watson’s Farewell To Blackhammer

Thanks, Donald.

The first version is how I learned the tune and I’ve also seen it notated as such elsewhere.
I hadn’t realised that the notes should have been longer but, if so, that’s fair enough.

Re: Maggie Watson’s Farewell To Blackhammer

Hi Johnny, it may be "notated as such elsewhere" but I’d be very surprised if you ever heard it played that way, especially in Orkney. Perhaps it was written that way but with a metric modulation, like minim=crotchet at the start of the third part.

Anyway, however it is notated, once through the third part should take twice as long as once through the first or second part.

And thanks for commenting, as it has my attention to the mistakes in my transcription - now sorted.

Re: Maggie Watson’s Farewell To Blackhammer

I got a copy a few years back from George Curran who plays moothie in Sandy Bells and runs the Sunday afternoon session.

I’ve heard it played different ways over the years and I personally like to play the third part in the lower octave.

It would be interesting to see how the tune was originally notated by the composer. That’s if he actually wrote it down and/or published it. Do you know if that was the case?

Re: Maggie Watson’s Farewell To Blackhammer

I’m not sure if Jim Craigie wrote down his tunes. The score I based my transcription on (though not a straight copy) came from Jenna Reid (with her variation suggestions) and is identical to the score used by Falkirk Fiddle Workshop - it’s probable that they were scans from the same original source.

Interestingly, the glasgowfiddle.org score has an eight bar third part, but on their accompaniment sheet it is sixteen bars (the first and second are eight bars) so it’s likely they knew it was incorrectly notated but used a metric modulation (as it’s called) - like having a set of reels with some notated in 4/4 (with quavers) and some in 2/4 (with semiquavers).

Re: Maggie Watson’s Farewell To Blackhammer

Hi Donald,

Just played the first version through on the midi facility "Play Audio" and you are obviously quite correct! It’s far too fast……

I guess I never really noticed before as I knew the tune quite well by ear anyway and the dots were really just a reference. So, I probably just play Part 3 at the slower(and correct) pace without thinking about it. 🙂

I’m wondering if I should change my submission now? However, because there are obviously versions notated that way in circulation, it may do no harm to let it stand especially as there’s now the alternative(and better) setting posted.

It’s certainly made an interesting discussion though and I now realise that with many tunes we often just play what we hear rather than what’s written down. Our fiddle society leader used to get quite upset sometimes when we didn’t "Play as Written" but our own previously learned versions of tunes instead…..

Re: Maggie Watson’s Farewell To Blackhammer

"I guess I never really noticed before as I knew the tune quite well by ear anyway and the dots were really just a reference. So, I probably just play Part 3 at the slower(and correct) pace without thinking about it."

That’s what I figured.