Domhnall Dubh strathspey

Also known as Black Donald, Domnall Dubh, Donal Dubh, Dónal Dubh, Mor A’Cheannaich.

There are 12 recordings of this tune.
This tune has been recorded together with

Domhnall Dubh has been added to 54 tunebooks.

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Eleven comments

Domhnall Dubh

This is a melody taken from puirt a beul, but it seems to be played as an instrumental piece as well. This version is based on Karen Matheson’s singing on Capercaillie’s “Crosswinds.” Here are the lyrics:
(Can anybody translate it?)

Well, I know it’s not a kind of tune everyone loves. But it’s a very graceful melody and fun to play.

I’m not very good with Gaelic but the title is translated as “Black Donald” in English. In local folklore, Black Donald was the devil. I knew of one or two people who were nicknamed Black Donald who weren’t the most popular in the area! There was a fairly well known Scottish traditional band called Black Donald in the eighties and some of the members now call themselves The Domhnall Dubh Ceilidh Band.

Great tune

This is a nice strathspey! I believe the harp duo Sileas recorded this tune on their album “Beating Harps.” It’s a great CD, and well worth a listen.


Sorry - make that their “Play on Light” album…

No, Lynnsey. Sileas’ Domhnall Dubh is different one with different lyrics. But, thank you for reminding me, and good to know someone else also loves this tune!

Modulation ?

Terrific tune, fun to play and very pensive. For me, it works out very well at about 115bpm. Does the B part modulate into a different mode? It seems to be in a different minor variant.

Sould not be confused with Piobaireachd Dhomhnaill Dhuibh

Whereas the latter is a jig derived from a 6/8 march, this one is a strathspey. As a puirt-a-beul its lyrics has many versions. My favorite is Ishbel MacAskills:
English translation appears here, as well as a link to Capercaillie’s version.

A modulation sounds really nice when the B part comes. You can try switching between A (A part) and Em (B part).

Another version

found in gerry o’connor or la lugh
T:Domhnall Dubh
|:A2 B<d f2 e<f|e>Bd>B G>AB<G|A2 B<d f2 e<f|e>Bd>B A2 A2:|
|:c>AA<A A>Bc>d|B>cB>A G>AB<d|c>AA<A A>Bc>d|(3ege d>B A2 A2:|

The compass of this tune is only a 7th.
This is unusual enough for a Scottish tune, even from the piping repertoire.
(note that the 1st part sounds mixolydian or major, though there is no 3rd in it, while the 2nd part has a minor 3rd which would have been unusual in the piping repertoire (the tune is in the dorian mode, not the eolian mode, in which case it could be played in B over the A drone)