Athol Brose strathspey

By Abraham Mackintosh

Also known as The Athol Brose, Athole Brose, Atholl Brose, Buckingham House, Neil Gow’s Favourite, Niel Gow’s Favourite.

There are 33 recordings of this tune.

This tune has been recorded together with

Athol Brose has been added to 1 tune set.

Athol Brose has been added to 68 tunebooks.

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Four settings

X: 1
T: Athol Brose
R: strathspey
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
{gde}c{g}A3 {gAGAG}A4 {gef}e3A {gAGAG}A2d2|{gde}c{g}A3 {gAGAG}A3e {ag}a3f {gef}e3d|
{gde}c{g}A3 {gAGAG}A4 {gef}e3A {gAGAG}A2d2|{g}cde2 {g}G3{g}B {gf}g2G2 {dc}d3B:|
{g}ce3 {gf}g3e {ag}a3e {gf}g3e|{g}ce3 {gf}g3e {ag}a4 {GdG}a3d|
{g}ce3 {gf}g3e {ag}a3e {gf}g3e|{gef}e3d {gf}g3d {gBd}BG3 {dc}d3{g}B|
{g}ce3 {gf}g3e {ag}a3e {gf}g3e|{g}ce3 {gf}g3e {ag}a4 {GdG}a2d2|
{g}c{GdG}e3 {gf}g2a2 {f}g3e {g}f3d|{g}efg2 {GdB}d3c {gBd}B{g}G3 {dc}d4||
X: 2
T: Athol Brose
R: strathspey
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmix
2 d<df>d e>^cd>A|c>dc<G E>GE<C||
F>D (3DDD E>CD<G|F>D (3DDD (3B^cd A>G|
D>d (3dd^c d>ed<=c|A>d (3dde f>de<c|
2 d>ef<a (3gfe d>B|c<ec>A G>cE<G||
X: 3
T: Athol Brose
R: strathspey
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amix
c<A ~A2 E<A ~A2|c>A A>e a>e f>d|c<A ~A2 E>A c>A|B<d G>d g>e d>B|
c<A ~A2 E<A ~A2|c>A A>e a>e f>d|c<A ~A2 E>A c>A|B<d G>d g>e d>B||
A>a a>^g a>b a>g|e<a ~a2 c'>a b>^g|a>b c'<a b<^g a<f|=g>e d>=c B<G d>B|
A>a a>^g a>b a>g|e<a ~a2 c'>a b>^g|a>b c'<a b<^g a<f|=g>e d>=c B<G G>B||
X: 4
T: Athol Brose
R: strathspey
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
F<D ~D2 A,<D ~D2|F>D D>A d>A B>G|F<D ~D2 A,>D F>D|E<G C>G c>A G>E|
F<D ~D2 A,<D ~D2|F>D D>A d>A B>G|F<D ~D2 A,>D F>D|E<G C>G c>A G>E||
D>d d>^c d>e d>c|A<d ~d2 f>d e>^c|d>e f<d e<^c d<B|=c>A G>=F E<C G>E|
D>d d>^c d>e d>c|A<d ~d2 f>d e>^c|d>e f<d e<^c d<B|=c>A G>=F E<C C>E||

Eighteen comments

Atholl Brose

Atholl Brose, i found on the Chieftains 8 Cd. It is there said to be the relative strathspey to the reel "The Dogs among the Bushes"


What an excellent tune and transcription thereof! I take my hat off.

ABC my arse ~ this is just a direct cut-and-paste ~ orginally "Logan’s"

"Logan’s Complete Tutor for Highland Bagpipe"
Entirely revised by Captain John MacLellan
Paterson’s Publications Limited, London, England

"Athole Brose" ~ ~ page 55

I don’t know who started it off, but the transcription was first ripped off from the piper’s publication above, and then folks started spreading it about everywhere, for example ~ (#2) (#14) (#20) ~ etc…

Here it is in a simplified form:

|: e |
c<A A2 e>AAd | c<AA>e a>fe>d |
c<A A2 e>AAd | (3Bcd G>B gGd>B :|
c<eg>e a>eg>e | c<eg>e a2 a>d |
c<eg>e a>eg>f | e>dg>d B<Gd>B |
c<eg>e a>eg>e | c<eg>e a2 a>d |
c<ega g>ef>d | (3efg d>c B<G d ||

"Athole Brose" ~ composed in 1769 by Abraham Mackintosh

son of Robert Mackintosh.

Some folks have also, wrongly, ascribed the tune to the wit of Niel Gow.

& another simple take on it, via Logan:

c<A A2 e>AAd | c<AA>e a>fe>d |
c<A A2 e>AAd | c/d/e G>B gGd>B :|
c<eg>e a>eg>e | c<eg>e a2 a>d |
c<eg>e a>eg>e | e>dg>d B<Gd>B |
c<eg>e a>eg>e | c<eg>e a2 ad |
c<ega g>ef>d | e/f/g d>c B<G d2 ||

"Athole Brose" ~ "The Harp & Claymore"

James Scott Skinner, 1904

K: a minor
e |:
c>A A/A/A EAAB | c>A A/A/A d/e/f ed |
c>A A/A/A EAAc | B/c/d Gd gdBd :|
c>A A/A/A E>AA>d | c>A A/A/A a>ef>d |
c>A A/A/A E>AA>c | B/c/d G>f g>dB<d :|
E<aa>g a>ba>g | e<aa>b c’>ab>^g |
a>bc’a bgaf | g>ed<g B<Gd>B :|

"Athole Brose" ~ down to e minor, another take on it

K: e minor
|: A>B |
G>E (3EEE B,E (3EEE | G>E (3EEE (3ABc B>A |
G>E (3EEE B,EEG | (3FGA D<A d>A :|
B<ee>^d e>fe<=d | B<ee>f g>ef>d |
B<ee>^d e>fe<c | d>BA<d F<D (3AGF |
B<ee>^d e>fe<=d | B<ee>f g2 (3fe^d |
e>fg>e b>eg>e | d>BA<d F<D ||

"Athole Brose" ~ d minor

The following is based on "The Athole Collections"
James Stewart-Robertson, 1884

K: d minor
A |:
F>D D/D/D A,>DD>G | F>D D/D/D G<BA>G |
F>D D/D/D A,<DD>F |1 E/F/G C>E c>GE>G :|
2 E/F/G C>E c<GE>C ||
|: D<dd>c d>ed>c | A<dd>e f>de>c |
d<df>d e>df>d | c>dc>G E<CG>E :|

And what’s wrong with a little song, eh?

You’ve surely heard o’ the famous Niel,
The man that played the fiddle weel;
I wat he was a canty chiel,
And dearly loved the whisky, O
And aye sin’ he wore tartan hose,
He dearly lo’ed the Athole Brose;
And wae was he, yu may suppose,
To bed ‘farewell to whisky’, O.

"Athole Brose" ~

I actually like the stuff, but then I’m a porridge lover. You take that lovely grain of the gods, oats, and you get it damp and leave it sit, like over night. You then squeeze all that now milky water out of the oats and, sadly, though I don’t go along with this bit, throw the mash away. You then add whiskey and honey and mix it all together and then bottle it up, imbiding as you feel the need. Some folks get all posh about it and you can have puddings too, like with cream and raspberries, which is also quite nice. I also like some toasted oats thrown in for a bit of added crunch. Here’s a note appended to one of the many recipes and variations for it on the Internet:

"Atholl Brose is traditionally served in Scotland on New Year’s
eve to the first guests crossing the threshold of the host’s home,
hence its other name, First Footing."

Cloutie Dumplings anyone? ~ mmmmmmm!….

"Most recorded" strahspeys

That list’s crap ceolachan. According to them, their "most recorded" strathspey - "Miss Lyall" - is on only 4 albums, but here at "The Session" it’s listed as on 18 recordings, although some of them may be the reel version. They have "The Laird Of Drumblair" on 4 recordings - we’ve got 13, and the same for "Atholl Brose" as opposed to their 2.
I suppose they do have the "get-out" clause that they are "", and are dealing only [ presumably ] with Irish recordings. It would therefore have been more accurate for you to have said "the 7th most recorded strathspey IN IRISH MUSIC", based on the recordings in their list. That’s not the same as "the 7th most recorded strathspey".

Posted by .

Thanks Kenny, I forgot to add the question mark? It’s good to hear from you. I am a born skeptic so I don’t hold to much of that sort of thing anyway. I added it for the craic, and you added to that. I’m laughing, what more could I ask, eh? I hope you are well.

You contributions are always interesting and informative. I had assumed ‘’ were just not keeping things up to date, taking it in their stride… "The 7th most recorded strathspey in Irish music"? ~ I wonder… After all, there’s all the other names for it or not? 😉

"Buckingham House" ~ the original title ~ Cape Breton influences

This tune is popular in Cape Breton with musicians and stepdancers, but as to tempos, please don’t ‘believe everything you hear’… 😉 Modern influences have tended to act on the music like crystal meths act on the body, speeding things up and killing things off. Yeah, speed is an adrenalin rush, too often mistook for ‘lift’ in the music. To be more open than most, for stepdancing, and not all Cape Breton stepping was or is manic, you can take strathspeys from a relaxed 140 beats per minute to a roasting roof of 170 to 180 bpm. Anything beyond is rediculous…personally speaking…

Here are two more takes on the melody, the first is based on "The Skye Collection"
Keith Norman MacDonald, 1887, page 73

K: D Mixolydian
A |:
F>D D/D/D A,>DD>G | F>D D/D/D G/A/B A>G |
F>D D/D/D A,>DD<=F |1 (3E=FG C>E c>GE<G :|
2 (3E=FG C>E c>GE<C ||
D>dd>^c d>ed>=c | A>dd>e f<de>d |
1 D>dd>^c d>ed>A | c>d c2 A<GE<C :|
2 d<df>d e>^cd>A | c>dc<G E>GE<C ||

The next is loosely transcribed Cape Breton influences minus any additional variations, twiddles or ‘wee notes’:

K: D Mixolydian
|: F>D (3DDD E>CD<G | F>D (3DDD (3B^cd A>G |
F>E (3DDB, A,<DF>D | (3EFG C>A G>cE<G :|
|: D>d (3dd^c d>ed<=c | A>d (3dde f>de<c |
1 A<dd>^c d>ef>d | (3cdc c>A G<cE<C :|
2 d>ef<a (3gfe d>B | c<ec>A G>cE<G ||

If you’re interested in seeing a specific transcription, as played by Father Angus Morris with some few bars of variation from the playing of Angus Allan Gillis, check out the following:

"Traditional Celtic Violin Music of Cape Breton"
Kate Dunlay & David Greenberg, 1996
ISBN: 0-9680802-0-0

Page 75 ~ "Athole Brose"

"The Skye Collection" Keith Norman MacDonald, 1887

I forgot to mention, but it may be obvious from the above two examples, part of my reason for offering them, that this particular collection is one of several that had ‘presence’, circulation and influence in Cape Breton…

#7 in the Hit Parade of Strathspeys ~ 😏

based on the author’s own collection of recordings… Most-Recorded Strathspeys ~ The Top Ten Strathspeys of the Century

This list ranks the top ten most-recorded strathspeys out of the 38 distinct strathspeys on the indexed recordings. The tunes are ranked in descending order of number of recordings. When tunes have the same number of recordings, tunes having the oldest recordings appear first. Note that reuses of a particular cut in later anthologies are counted, which is fair, since the popularity of a recording is a good indicator both of the popularity of the tune and of the likelihood that musicians will learn the tune from that recording. Discography ~ Indexed Recordings

Current status: 412 albums are indexed in this database, comprising a total of 11,768 tune and song recordings. As a result, by careful listening, I matched 4,443 (98%) of the distinct tunes in this database to at least one recorded performance.

Chieftains setting

Here’s my transcription of The Chieftains’ setting of this tune. I find it notable because of the high C sharps, which take the fiddles out of first position.

T: Athol Brose
L: 1/8
M: 4/4
r: The strathspey version of the reel The Dogs among the Bushes
R: Strathspey
K: Amix
c<A ~A2 E<A ~A2 | c>A A>e a>e f>d | c<A ~A2 E>A c>A | B<d G>d g>e d>B |
c<A ~A2 E<A ~A2 | c>A A>e a>e f>d | c<A ~A2 E>A c>A | B<d G>d g>e d>B ||
A>a a>^g a>b a>g | e<a ~a2 c’>a b>^g | a>b c’<a b<^g a<f | =g>e d>=c B<G d>B |
A>a a>^g a>b a>g | e<a ~a2 c’>a b>^g | a>b c’<a b<^g a<f | =g>e d>=c B<G G>B ||