Tommy MacDonald Of Barguillean march

There are 3 recordings of this tune.

Tommy MacDonald Of Barguillean has been added to 2 tunebooks.

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Three settings

1
X: 1
T: Tommy MacDonald Of Barguillean
R: march
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amix
|:A>B|c>A B<c B2 A>B|c>B c<e f2 e>f|a>e f<a f>e e<A|c2B2 B2 A>B|
c>A B<c B2 A>B|c>B c<e f2 e>f|a>f e>c B<A B<c|B2A2A2:|
a>g||f>e f<a f2e<c|e>c e<f e2 f>g|a>e f<a f>e e<A|c2B2B2a>g|
f>e f<a f2e<c|e>c e<f e2 f>g|a>f e>c B<A B<c|B2A2A2 a>g|
f>e f<a f2e<c|e>c e<f e2 f>g|a>e f<a f>e e<A|c2B2B2 A>B|
c>A B<c B2 A>B|c>B c<e f2 e>f|a>f e>c B<A B<c|B2A2A2||
|:A>B|c>B c<e A/A/A f>e|c>B c<e f2 e>f|f>e e>c c>B B<A|c2B2B2 A>B|
c>B c<e A/A/A f>e|c>B c<e f2 e>f|a>f e>c B<A B<c|B2A2A2:|
a>g||a>f f<e f2 a>g|a>e e<c e2 f>e|f>e e>c c>B B<A|c2B2B2 a>g|
a>f f<e f2 e>f|a>e e<c e2 f>g|a>f e>c B<A B<c|B2A2A2 a>g|
a>f f<e f2 a>g|a>e e<c e2 f>e|f>e e>c c>B B<A|c2B2B2 c>B|
A>B c<A B2 A>B|c>B c<e f2 e>f|a>f e>c B<A B<c|B2A2A2||
2
X: 2
T: Tommy MacDonald Of Barguillean
R: march
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amix
|:A>B|c>A B<c B2 A>B|c>B c<e f2 e>f|a>e f<a f>e e<A|c2B2 B2 A>B|
c>A B<c B2 A>B|c>B c<e f2 e>f|a>f e>c B<A B<c|B2A2A2:|
a>g||f>e f<a f2e>c|e>c e<f e2 A>B|c>B c<e f<a e<A|c2B2B2a>g|
f>e f<a f2e>c|e>c e<f e2 f>g|a>f e>c B<A B<c|B2A2A2 a>g|
f>e f<a f2e>c|e>c e<f e2A>B|c>B c<e f<a e<A|c2B2B2 A>B|
c>A B<c B2 A>B|c>B c<e f2 e>f|a>f e>c B<A B<c|B2A2A2||
|:A>B|c>B c<e A/A/A f>e|c>B A<B c2 a>f|f>e e>f e>c B<A|c2B2B2 c>B|
A>B c<A B2 A>B|c>B c<e f2 e>f|a>f e>c B<A B<c|B2A2A2:|
a>g||a>f f<e f2 a>g|a>e e<c e2 f>e|f>e e>c c>B B<A|c2B2B2 a>g|
a>f f<e f2 e>f|a>f e<c B2 f>g|a>f e>c B<A B<c|B2A2A2 a>g|
a>f f<e f2 a>g|a>e e<c e2 f>e|f>e e>c c>B B<A|c2B2B2 c>B|
A>B c<A B2 A>B|c>B c<e f2 e>f|a>f e>c B<A B<c|B2A2A2||
3
X: 3
T: Tommy MacDonald Of Barguillean
R: march
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amix
A>B|c>A B<c B2A>B|c>B c<e f2e>f|a>e f<a f>e e<A|c2B2 B2A>B|
c>A B<c B2A>B|c>B c<e f2e>f|a>f e>c B>A B<c|B2A2 A2:|
a>g|f>e f<a f2e<c|e>c e<f e2f>g|a>e f<a f>e e<A|c2B2 B2a>g|
f>e f<a f2e<c|e>c e<f e2f>g|a>f e>c B>A B<c|B2A2 A2a>g|
f>e f<a f2e<c|e>c e<f e2A>B|c>B c<e f<a e<A|c2B2 B2A>B|
c>A B<c B2A>B|c>B c<e f2e>f|a>f e>c B>A B<c|B2A2 A2||
A>B|:c>B c<e A2f>e|c>B c<e f2e>f|f>e e>c c>B B<A|c2B2 B2A>B|
c>B c<e A2f>e|c>B c<e f2e>f|a>f e>c B>A B<c|1 B2A2 A2f>e:|2 B2A2 A2||
|:a>g|a>f f<e f2a>g|a>e e<c e2f>e|f>e e>c c>B B<A|
[1c2B2 B2a>g|a>f f<e f2a>g|a>e e<f c2e>f|a>f e>c B>A B<c|B2A2 A2:|
[2 c2B2 B>d c>B|A>B c<A B2A>B|c>B c<e f2e>f|a>f e>c B>A B<c|B2A2 A2||

Twenty-four comments

Tommy MacDonald Of Barguillean

This fine 2/4 march (which I wrote here in 4/4 so that digital playback sounds more natural, though still too fast) was written by Bruce Thompson.

It was played by Shotts & Dykehead Pipe Band in 2008 and 2009.

I will add the 3rd and 4th parts when I can.

Re: Tommy MacDonald Of Barguillean

I’ve been listening to various solo and Pipe Band performances of this tune and numerous slightly different settings exist, all different from the original tune as written.

I’ve changed my setting above to reflect this.

In the second part, the original has Bars 10 & 11 also occurring in Bars 2 & 3. For some reason people didn’t like that low passage in the 2nd part and changed it. I left the original Bars 10 & 11, but you’ll hear those bars replaced too.

Also the "snaps" are differently placed from piper to piper and band to band.

Tommy MacDonald Of Barguillean, X:2

Setting X:2 is the original, as played by composer Bruce Thompson.

You’ll notice several differences between it and Setting X:1, the popular Alasdair Gillies arrangement.

Re: Tommy MacDonald Of Barguillean

Pipe Major Willie Lawrie wrote a tune called "Mrs Macdonald of Dunach"; Tommy MacDonald is her nephew. Bruce Thomson (no "p") was from my neck of the woods, but I met him only once, when he came to my house to meet me. He wasn’t too well at the time, and died some time later. He was prolific as a composer and published collections of his tunes with accompanying recordings.

Re: Tommy MacDonald Of Barguillean

Sorry about the "p", the sources vary and I had to go with something.

Pekaar’s encyclopedia gives the composer as "Dr Bruce E Thompson" but articles in Piping Times give the Thomson spelling.

Yes Pipe Tunes has a recording of him playing the tune on a practice chanter, that’s what I transcribed to get the original setting.

It’s unusual for a recently-composed tune to be heard in numerous widely different settings, but I spent some time on YouTube listening to Pipe Bands and top solo pipers play this tune and I don’t think any two settings were exactly the same, with elements of both the settings above blended in various ways and numerous other small changes.

BTW there’s a piper who composed a certain tune which AFAIK hasn’t been published. I noticed that different pipers and bands play it differently, and I was told that he writes out the tune by hand for people who request it, no two versions being quite the same!

Re: Tommy MacDonald Of Barguillean

Looking at Bruce Thomson’s setting (in his Pass of Brander collection, c.2003), it’s almost exactly the same as your X:1 above. He wrote the tune in 1983.

Re: Tommy MacDonald Of Barguillean

Another to add to my "to learn" list - not that I’m complaining in this case.

Re: Tommy MacDonald Of Barguillean

Interesting Nigel! That the version he published has so many changes from the way he recorded it as heard on PipeTunes.

Pekaar gives it being published in four places:
Gordon Highlanders II
Scots Guards III
The Pass Of Brander
PipeTunes

I have none of those. I don’t have access to the PipeTunes sheet music so I transcribed the audio which is said to have been recorded by Thomson himself (X:2 above).

If someone has all those sources, are they all the same?

I’ve seen my X:1 referred to as "Alasdair Gillies’ arrangement".

Re: Tommy MacDonald Of Barguillean

Scots Guards III has it exactly as original (X: 2).
Just listened to Jim McGillivray’s take on pipetunes and it’s exactly as in SG III.
You can see The Pass of Brander version here (again the same, I think):
https://www.brucethomson.info/the-pass-of-brander

The Daimh take is quite a bit different but I like it too.

Re: Tommy MacDonald Of Barguillean

Lazy of me - I just looked at the first couple of parts. I’m now looking through the whole tune, and it conforms to X:2. I do apologise - most unprofessional.

Re: Tommy MacDonald Of Barguillean

Pass the smelling salts!

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Re: Tommy MacDonald Of Barguillean

Thanks Nigel for the link, yes The Pass Of Brander printed setting is exactly as Thomson plays it on practice chanter on the PipeTunes recording. (I’m glad I didn’t make any errors in transcribing the recording!)

Oddly, when I hear soloists and bands play the tune they’re playing the "Alasdair Gillies arrangement" (X:1) often with bits from X:2 thrown in here and there.

Which makes me wonder about when these various publications appeared. My old copy of Pekaar only gives the tune appearing in Gordon Highlanders II and if the Gordons’ setting was the "Gillies arrangement" then it’s understandable why that’s the one most people play. I will look up the publication dates.

Re: Tommy MacDonald Of Barguillean

I read online that the Gordon Highlanders collection Vol II was published in 1985 so it predates by nearly 20 years the appearance of this tune in The Pass Of Brander.

If anyone has Gordons II it would be interesting to hear what setting appears there.

In any case Pipe Band people are probably most familiar with the Shotts & Dykehead setting.

The cut E to Low A in Bar 3 of parts 1 & 2 has been changed, and there are a couple other small changes.

Also note that bar 6 of the fourth part is | a>f e<f c2 f>g | which is a nice touch.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtwQdCoa2M8&t=106s

Re: Tommy MacDonald Of Barguillean

Richard -

Thanks so much for posting this tune. Great, great tune that, somehow, was not on my radar all these years. I’ve spent the past two evenings obsessing over the tune on bellows pipes. Very cool. Love the Daimh version.

Matt

Tommy MacDonald Of Barguillean, X:3

Here’s the Daimh setting, Matt.
Indeed a great tune. You think you couldn’t hear anything new and fresh in 2/4s and then along comes this to restore and renew your love affair with the genre.

Re: Tommy MacDonald Of Barguillean

Donald -

Thanks for posting the setting. I agree with you that it’s hard to imagine much new happening in the world of 2/4s. I love the genre, and try to keep in my head at any one time about 20 4-part 2/4s and about another 20-25 2-part 2/4s. This one has been permanently allotted brain space. Had fun last night playing the tune on both pipes and fiddle.

Interestingly, a lesser-known fact re: Dougie MacLean is that he is really fine player of 2/4 marches on the fiddle.

Re: Tommy MacDonald Of Barguillean

Thanks Donald!

Interesting how the 2nd part is similar to X:1 but the repeat has the low section from X:2, which I think sounds very musical.

Another thing I like about the Daimh version is the change in timing of BABc in Bar 7, to the hold-cut B>A B<c which brings that phrase into line with the other prominent phrases of the tune. That’s how I play it too.

Also interesting that Daimh has the Shotts thing in bar 6 of the fourth part.

I play the tune on SSPs and I’m teaching it to my fiddle and guitar friends. I love the sound of the SSP/fiddle/guitar trio.

Re: Tommy MacDonald Of Barguillean

Yes, Richard, the Daimh version is too close to the Shotts version not to be informed by it.
Of course the tempos are slightly different. Shotts take it at a brisk 82 whereas Daimh take it at a leisurely 69.

I find it interesting that, because the first version I listened to was the Daimh take, I definitely hear this in A mix even though it could quite easily be accompanied in A major.

Thanks, Richard, for bringing this tune to our attention. It’s a keeper.

Matt, you’re doing better than me. I have perhaps a high teens number of 4-part 2/4s but could probably only get through half of them by memory at any one time. I’ve always had an ambition, though, to play half a dozen in succession to counter an acquaintance who occasionally plays through his 24-part Jack Lattin!

Re: Tommy MacDonald Of Barguillean

You’ve reminded me, Donald, of when we were young and foolish, and we played the 2/4 game. The object of the game was simple: play more 4 parted 2/4s than the person before you, but without repeating any of the tunes played so far. Just A Minute rules applied: any hesitation, deviation, or repetition and you would immediately be barracked off. There was a drinking element as well, but I forget the rules.

On this tune: when Shotts first played it, they had it down in the program as "Highland Swing". I don’t know the story but it’s possible someone accidentally "recomposed" it without realising - not the first or last time this has happened!

I am sure this has been discussed on Dunsire or the like, though I can’t find it, but if I remember rightly the story with the different versions is that someone unknown took it upon themselves to rewrite Bruce’s tune before it was published in Gordons II, and that was the source for both Alasdair and Gordon’s way of playing it, it not being published anywhere else until much later.

Posted by .

Re: Tommy MacDonald Of Barguillean

They didn’t have a lot of time to misremember the tune, as it was written in 1983, only two years before Gordons II was published, so a deliberate rewrite seems likely if the "Gillies arrangement" is the one given in that volume.

Calum, you are fortunate indeed to remember being young and foolish….
On second thoughts, I am happy that with each passing years the memories of being young and foolish gradually fade.

Re: Tommy MacDonald Of Barguillean

I just count myself fortunate that it was all before the age of the smartphone…

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Re: Tommy MacDonald Of Barguillean

Very interested to see this pop up. I stayed a few times as a child at Barguillean Farm in Taynuilt, not so far from Oban. It’s now owned by my Dad’s lifelong friend, who I believe through marriage is related to some MacDonalds… I remember an elderly lady from my first visit to the farm and I believe it was her surname.

Re: Tommy MacDonald Of Barguillean

My Dad’s friend got back to me with more information, mentioning Bruce Thomson as above.

‘Tommy and Neil were the two sons of Tom and Everest Macdonald, who bought Barguillean from Lochnell Estates in November 1903. Neil was the elder. Tommy was apparently the more jolly, Neil the more severe. Tommy was keen on his whisky! In about 1956, after Neil and Betty’s son Angus was killed in Cyprus, the two brothers decided to split the farm – Neil kept the main part up here (elder brother and all that) and Tommy took the part up against the village and around what had been Barguillean House (now Lonan House). They lived at Achna’hannait.

Somehow a great bagpiper called Dr Bruce Thomson became great friends with the Tommy Macdonald family. I think he might have been at school with their son. I believe that in his later years he did quite some work compiling old piping tunes – he lived over Perth way and we met him here once. He composed “Tommy Macdonald of Barguillean”, I think as some kind of thank you to them for many visits etc. Tommy was himself quite a piper, and Bruce bought Tommy’s pipes off Betsy when Tommy died and she was pretty impecunious. He did on occasion say he would see the pipes came back to Barguillean one day. He died a year or two back.’