The Jig Of Slurs jig

Also known as The Jig O’ Slurs.

There are 51 recordings of a tune by this name.

A tune by this name has been recorded together with The Atholl Highlanders (lots of times), The Irish Washerwoman (lots of times), The Geese In The Bog (a few times) and Alan MacPherson Of Mosspark (a few times).

The Jig Of Slurs has been added to 976 tunebooks.

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Five settings

X: 1
T: The Jig Of Slurs
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
|:Add cdd|Bdd Add|Bdd Add|Bee edB|
Add cdd|Bdd Add|Bdd cde|fec d3:|
|:A2f fef|a2f fed|B2e ede|f2f edB|
A2f fef|a2f fed|Add cde|fec d3:|
|:G2g gfg|aff gff|G2g gfg|aff g3|
G2g gfg|aff gff|e2e efg|fed e3:|
|:GBB Bdd|dee edB|GBB Bdd|dee efg|
GBB Bdd|dee edB|e2e efg|fed e3:|
X: 2
T: The Jig Of Slurs
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
|: B |A>dd dcd | B>dd A>dd | B>dd A>dd | B>ee ede |
A>dd dcd | B>dd A>dd | B>dd c>ee | f>dd d2 :|
|: B |A>ff fef | a>ff fed | c>ee ede | f>ee edB |
A>ff fef | a>ff fed | B>dd c>ee | f>dd d2 :|
K: GMaj
|: B/A/ |G>gg gfg | a>ge gdB | G>gg gfg | a>ge g2 G |
B>gg gfg | a>ee g>dd | B>ee e>gg | f>dd e2 :|
|: d |G>BB B>dd | d>ee edB | G>BB B>dd | d>ee e>gg |
G>BB B>dd | d>ee edB | B>ee e>gg | f>dd e2 :|
X: 3
T: The Jig Of Slurs
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
|: c/B/ |A2 d dcd | Bdd Add | Bdd Add | Bee edB |
A2 d dcd | Bdd A2 d | Bdd cde | fdd d2 :|
|: B |A2 f f^ef | aff fed | B2 e e^de | fee edB |
A2 f f^ef | aff f2 d | Bdd cde | fdc d2 :|
K: GMaj
|: G |G2 g gfg | agf gdB | G2 g gfg | agf g2 b |
G2 g gfg | agf g2 B | Bee efg | fed e2 :|
|: d/B/ |GBB Bdd | dee egg | GBB Bdd | dee edB |
GBB Bdd | dee e2 B | e^de efg | fed e2 :|
X: 4
T: The Jig Of Slurs
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
|:Add cdd|Bdd Add|Bdd Add|cee edB|
|Add cdd|Bdd Add|Bdd cde|fdc d3:|
|:Aff fef|aff fed|Bee ede|fff edB|
|Aff fef|aff fed|Bdd cde|fdc dcB:|
|:G2g gfg|agf gdB|G2g gfg|agf gdB|
|G2g gfg|agf gfe|BAB efg|fed edB:|
|:GBB Bdd|dee edB|GBB Bdd|dee egg|
|GBB Bdd|dee edB|BAB efg|fed edB:||
X: 5
T: The Jig Of Slurs
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
|: B | A2 d dcd | Bdd Add | Bdd Add | Bee edB |
A2 d dcd | Bdd Add | Bdd cde | fdd d2 :|
|: B | A2 f fef | aff f2 d | B2 e ede | fed edB |
A2 f fef | aff f2 d | Bdd cde | fdd d2 :|
z |: G2 g gfg | agf g2 g | G2 g gfg | agf g2 g|
G2 g gfg | agf g2 g | e2 e e2 g | fed e2 d :|
|: GBB Bdd | dee efg | GBB Bdd | dee efg |
GBB Bdd | dee efg | e2 e e2 g | [1 fed e2 d :| [2 fed e2 |]

Twenty-one comments

This is a classic Scottish tune which has crossed over into the Irish repertoire.

The key change from D to G at the beginning of the third part is wonderful. Just make sure that guitar accompaniasts are aware of the change.

Actually, I find this is tune which lends itself quite well to the guitar so stop strumming and start picking.

Fiddlers, you can get some great drone action going in the first part: just keep playing that open D string. At the start of the third part and fourth parts, you can drone on the open G, if you can reach that far quick enough.

Here’s some extra info from Kenny Hadden:

"This tune is probably the best known composition of George ‘G.S’ McLennan, an Aberdeen piper, who as a boy played before Queen Victoria. He is regarded by many as the greatest composer of ‘light’ music on the Highland bagpipes in the 20th century."

I heard somebody call it Jar of Slugs once…It was just a joke, but I went ahead and posted the name anyways.

For fiddlers, it’s great to do the low G in the 3rd part on the open G string, then make an instant 2-octave jump to the high G on the E-string. It sounds and looks spectacular. Go for it!

Jig of Slurs

I just read that there is a key change. I think its so funny that I didn’t realize that when I learned I several months ago.


Your guy -George ‘G.S’ McLennan- durst play in G over his A drones then! I doubt it was forgetfulness did it!
Unless he was playing with just a D drone on? (border pipe style?) Or maybe he’d gone deaf, not so surprising for a piper after all! The result is mighty (it’s the tonal shift I relish most too)
A ‘musthear’ is Molloy’s rendition ( Arty McGlynn) both in top form!


G.S. was definatly not deaf… ; )

Playing tunes or sections of tunes in other keys over the drones in A is a great way to build up tension before blasting back into a tune in the original key of A or D.

BTW: George defineinelty did not have a D drone… The Queen might have had him hung for that!!!

“The Jig of Slurs” ~ by Pipe Major George Stewart McLennan

"Highland Bagpipe Music book 1", 1929

Jack Campin’s Homepage:
The abc’s for some of the compositions of Pipe Major George Stewart McLennan

The following is based on a reduction of a transcription from there:

K: D Major
|: B |
A>dd dcd | B>dd A>dd | B>dd A>dd | B>ee ede |
A>dd dcd | B>dd A>dd | B>dd c>ee | f>dd d2 :|
|: B |
A>ff fef | a>ff fed | c>ee ede | f>ee edB |
A>ff fef | a>ff fed | B>dd c>ee | f>dd d2 :|
K: G Major
|: B/A/ |
G>gg gfg | a>ge gdB | G>gg gfg | a>ge g2 G |
B>gg gfg | a>ee g>dd | B>ee e>gg | f>dd e2 :|
|: d |
G>BB B>dd | d>ee edB | G>BB B>dd | d>ee e>gg |
G>BB B>dd | d>ee edB | B>ee e>gg | f>dd e2 :|

The Jig of Epithets

Here’s some background on this tune that I pulled from a thread on the differences between Irish and Scottish jigs:
It’s interesting how much a jig can change when it travels across the idioms. Perfect example it "The Jig Of Slurs". This was composed by a Highland piper to highlight the technique Highland pipers call a "slur", which is what uilleann pipers call a "pat", that is a lower gracenote used to seperate a quarternote into two eighth-notes. The Jig Of Slurs therefore, as originally written, progresses almost entirely by pairs of notes. When I heard Matt Molloy’s version I was amazed because he entirely changed the tune, replacing all the "slurs" (pairs of notes) with long rolls (groups of three notes). So, from the Highland piping perspective, he had removed all the slurs from the jig of slurs!
# Posted on June 22nd 2007 by Richard D Cook

Jig of Slurs

I am trying to make sense of this tune - I would have posted in the comments section of the tune, but I have doubts that anyone would read a question posted there…

It is about all these double notes as the second and third parts of a Jiglet (jig triplet), especially where the third part follows with the same note again, but as the first note of the following triplet. Various attempts to make sense of this musically only seem to come out as a blur to me. So, how would all of you out there play this?

(I am playing this on a flute)

Taking, for example, the section GBB Bdd dee edB (start of last section) or Add dcd … (start of first section). Alternatives that I have tried:
1. Triple tongue the lot… i.e. tGkBtB kBtdkd tdkete kedb (t/k are the tonguing sylabbles)
2. Rolls with the Tap on the start of the new triplet. i.e. GB(cut)B (tap)Bd(cut)d (tap)d …
3. Tongue some of the above. i.e. GBtB (t or k)Bdtd (t or k)dete…
4. Same as 2. or 3. but just using cuts, or just using taps.
5. Various mixtures of the above, using some cuts, some tonguing and some tongued cuts

None of the above sound like I want them to. Possibly this could be due to my execution? Or possibly due to a faulty approach to it all. As one commenter in the tune section said, this is originally a pipe tune, so tonguing based approaches are probably not "traditionally" right. How did (do?) the pipers do it?

So, who has any better ideas? If possible , with a source of some good audio clips of how you think it should sound.



Re: Jig of Slurs

Triplets can annoy me, but i generally use rolls and sometimes i tongue them. Just use whatever you feel comfortable with. I play whistle, so i understand, but if all else fails with the "traditional" way of playing the tune, go for the tongue solution! Sorry i can’t help anymore.

Jig of slurs time line

Does anyone no what year this was written?

Per birlibirdie’s comment, GS MacLennan was a highland piper, i.e. no so-called D drone. The highland pipes have two tenor drones tuned a few cents above concert B flat, and a "bass" drone tuned one octave below that. The drones match perfectly with the tonic note of the chanter, what we call the "low A", likewise a B flat a bit above concert pitch. In MacLennan’s time, around the 20s, the pitch was certainly closer to concert B flat, if not even a bit lower. The third and forth parts harmonize perfectly with the drones, as the Low G (in fact an A flat to be exact) is fine tuned so that it essentially harmonizes. I know this sounds odd, but it’s strictly not the same thing as attempting to harmonize an A flat and a B flat on a fretted instrument…the fine tuning allows for a perfect blend with the drones. The best analogy in session playing would be a guitar accompanying a fiddle player playing a tune in A mixolydian (as many tunes are). The flat seventh does not contrast negatively with the A drone that the guitar player is playing. The essence of a drone note is the ability to work harmonically with notes which would not conventionally be thought to harmonize.

Secondly, the sheet music on all versions listed on this site should be changed. I realize sessions have a tendency to change tunes over time, but some of the note changes suggested here produce a significantly less interesting tune than the original transcription. MacLennan’s books should still be in print, and if all else fails, the Scot’s Guard (either book one or two) has the original version.

Finally, as far as the "deaf" comment, when you listen to the best highland piping today…try Willie MacCallum or Angus MacColl on youtube, you’ll notice that the tuning is much more precise than almost any session you’ll ever play in. Precision of tuning is valued as highly as technique among highland pipers, which is carefully mastered over a number of years.

No wonder pipers make better whistle players! =)

I couldn’t agree more with all you said there, dudehere44.
This type of ‘true harmony’ -true to physiological / harmonic facts rather than theoretical notions realised, say, on a mean-tempered keyboard- can ‘look’ odd on the page, but it is the performance, as always, that proves the ultimate test. For even Scottish bagpipes need be (re)tuned sometimes!
Also, McLennan probably did lose some hearing -I’m afraid all pipers do in the long term! - which isn’t the same as not being able to hear right and compose likewise.
All these remarks were in jest, by the way (just in case people wonder)!

The Lucky Seven

In some quarters, apparently, the first half of this wonderful piping jig (the part in D) is known as ‘The Lucky Seven’.
Why that, I don’t know.

Very common for old traditional Highland pipe tunes to be in the key of G, heard over the A drones.

This sounds "right" to Highland pipers brought up in the old tradition, and tunes continue to be composed in G, though it’s true that most of the tunes in G you come across are old ones.

To give a common example, the 6/8 march The Campbells are Coming, on the Highland pipes, is in G over the A drones. This gives what otherwise would be a somewhat banal tune a very interesting archaic tonality.

But there are dozens of old Strathspeys and Reels in G in the Highland pipe tradition.

Jug of Slugs

Does no-one play the fifth part (in A major) anymore? I may post it, just for completeness, when I have some time.

4-part jig…..

There is no 5th part - not by the composer G.S.MacLennan, anyway. I do remember John Doonan making this claim, must be close on 40 years ago, and when he played it, it turned out it was a part from a 6/8 march, a completely different tune.
Please post it, and let’s see.

Posted by .

Jig of Slurs

P/M G S MacLennan (Gordon Highlanders) wrote this jig as an exercise for his pipers, and it rather loses its point if not payed "as writ". The third setting above is the closest to "as writ" by G S. As always the sheet music is a guide and the tune should be heard being played by a good piper on the piob mor. Arguably the most accurate rendition of the tune as played by a SCD band is included in Ian Powrie’s 1960s recording of "Johnny McGill".

The Jig Of Slurs, X:5

Setting as played at the Golden Guinea pub session, Bristol, UK.

Quite possibly my favourite jig ever. Any fiddler tips outside of the obvious drones?