The Heights Of Cassino march

By Donald MacRae

Also known as The Heights Of Monte-Cassino.

There are 13 recordings of this tune.

The Heights Of Cassino has been added to 10 tune sets.

The Heights Of Cassino has been added to 120 tunebooks.

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One setting

X: 1
T: The Heights Of Cassino
R: march
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
|:f|A>AA (B<de)|(f2a) f>ed|e>fe (e2d)|(e<fe) d>BG|
A>AA (B<de)|(f2a) f>ed|f>AA (e<fe)|d3 d2:|
|:(f/>g/)|a>fd f3|(f2a) f>ed|e>fe e2 d|(e<fe) d>BG|
a>fd f3|(f2a) f>ed|f>AA (e<fe)|d3 d2:|
|:f|A2 A B>AG|A>AA f3|(f2a) f>ed|(e<fe) d>BG|
A2 A B>AG|A>AA f3|f>AA (e<fe)|d3 d2:|
|:(f/>g/)|a>fe d>ef|A>AA f3|(f2a) f>ed|(e<fe) d>BG|
[1 a>fe d>ef|A>AA f3|f>AA (e<fe)|d3 d2:|
[2 (A2 A) B>AG|A>AA f3|f>AA (e<fe)|d3 d2||
# Added by Gard .

Twenty-two comments

This is a Scottish jig by D. MacRae.
It works very good together with Kirkhill.

Posted by .


The title is The Heights of Casino with one “s”. It’s a great tune and has been recorded by Blazing Fiddles. Very popular at Scottish sessions.

The Heights Of Casino

Does this tune refer to the Allied campaign at Monte Casino during the Second World War?

The MONTECASSINO Monastery was founded by St. Benedict about 529 of the Christian Era on the remnants of a preexisting Roman fortification of the municipium Casinum. The heathen cult was still practised on this mountain site in the temple of Apollo and in a nearby holy grove to which a sacrifice area was adjoining.

Monte Cassino, Battle of
February-May 1944
Protracted battle for the town of Cassino and the Benedictine monastery known as Monte Cassino, fought by the Fifth Army of US, British and French troops, and later also by troops of the British Eighth Army and some Polish troops, against the German forces under von Kesselring, in the course of the Allied invasion of Italy during the Second World War.

Following the initial breach of the Gustav line the Allies came to the town of Cassino, dominated by Monte Cassino and its Abbey. The initial attack between 29 January and 4 February failed and the decision was taken to bomb the Abbey. This was a tactical error as the Germans could see it was an obvious bombtrap and the hill itself provided sufficient observation positions. Nonetheless, two massive air and artillery assaults were launched on 15 February and 15 March. Each time the following infantry assault broke down, the ruins of the Abbey providing better cover for the Germans than the original building. This error was to be repeated later in the war, and, indeed, was the identical mistake made at the battle of Passchendale in 1917 when artillery so cut up the ground that troops could not advance. Monte Cassino finally fell on 18 May after it was outflanked by a successful attack through the Gustav line to the south-west.

6/8 march

Not a jig - a 6/8 march, and I’ve never seen it spelt “Casino”.

Posted by .

You’re right, Kenny. It’s actually “Cassino” on the Blazing Fiddles CD too, although it had been submitted as “Casino” in the recordings section here. For some reason, I had it in my head that was correct. Sorry.

This is from the BBC’s history website.
“The first phase of the operation (the First Battle of Cassino) comprised an attack across the Gari south of Cassino by the US 36th Division, which was savagely repulsed. Then a longer thrust into the mountains north of Cassino by the US 34th Division, and a heroic attack by the North African troops of the French Expeditionary Corps on the high ground further north.

With German reserves duly drawn south, on 22 January 1944 Major General John Lucas’s US VI Corps landed at Anzio and Nettuno. There was almost no resistance. However, Lucas was warned by Clark not to ‘stick your neck out’ in a dash for Rome. Instead, Lucas chose to hold a narrow beachhead in which to laboriously build up men and material.“

So it does appear to be Cassino.

Thanks, Jocklet. Very interesting. My father was at Monte Cassino, but he never spoke about his war experiences.

P.S. Thanks to Gian marco as well !

The Heights Of Cassino

I read about the campaign in Spike Milligan’s war diaries.

Heights of Monte Cassino

Does anyone have chords for this tune?

Heights of Casino

This is not a Scottish Jig. As a Scottish musician whose best accomplishment (though not the only instrument) is the pipes, I get fed up with people calling these great 6/8 marches jigs.

The two roots of the problem is the 6/8 time signature and the fact that Scottish Country Dance bands pick these up, play them only slightly up from march tempo, round them off and call them jigs. There are two problems with this. Firstly, the sheer power of a scottish four parted pipe jig played at the proper tempo and with the proper phrasing, remains undiscovered and unrecognised. Secondly, the grace and dignity of the “heavy” 6/8 marches is completely comprised. So two great Scottish musical idioms are completely ruined. This tune and many like it e.g. 10th HLI, Doctor Ross etc. are not Jigs they are marches. We have many great jigs and they are different animals(literally) altogether,

Eh…. we know…..

Several of us have pointed this out for these tunes in “Comments”. The problem is there is no category for 6/8 marches here on this website, but since this website was set up to promote the transmission of Irish traditional music, and 6/8 marches are an insignificant part of that tradition [ 2/4s even less so ], it could be argued that there is no need. I’ve stopped complaining about it, but really, why people insist on posting Scottish bagpipe tunes here - except on the very rare occasions when they have been incorporated into the Irish tradition, - is beyond me. Who has ever heard this tune played at an Irish session? And that is by no means denigrating the tune itself. The “Heights”, and the other tunes mentioned by “Celtic Minstrel” are indeed classics, but in a different tradition.

Posted by .

Need a category for 6/8 marches

We need a category for 6/8 marches. They are very different from jigs.

Gard made the mistake of calling it a jig… The category, though it is given the title ‘jig’, is for all 6/8 tunes, and then, hopefully, the person submitting it will say when relevant that it’s a ‘march’… Also, when known, that’s given in the alternate titles so it can be searched for as a march.

Unfortunately there’s hardly a meter that doesn’t also have marches in it ~ 2/4, 3/4, 4/4, 3/8, 6/8 ~ etc… But, I sympathize. The problem would mean that many, many more categories would arise, not necessarily for the better. In the case of this site it is up to the person submitting the tune to know what they are submitting and to say it’s a march, though mostly, for those who love marches, it is often obvious…

Re: The Heights Of Cassino

Was the composer of this tune Pipe Major Donald MacRae of the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders?

Re: The Heights Of Cassino

Yes - “Queen’s Own Highlanders - Standard Settings of Pipe Music” - page 98.

Posted by .

Re: The Heights Of Cassino

My favorite version of the tune is with the band Smalltalk (Iain MacInnes, Billy Ross and Stuart Morison):

Years ago, I was at a gathering, speaking with an older gentleman, the father of a musician friend of mine. He knew I played the pipes, and asked what tunes I was working on at the moment. I mentioned “Heights of Cassino”. His manner changed, a shadow came over his face, and he quietly said, “yes, I was there”. Turned out he was a veteran of North Africa, Sicily and Italy, an artillery man in Patten’s, then Clark’s army. He watched from his foxhole as the allied planes destroyed the priceless medieval monastery at Monte Cassino.

Re: The Heights Of Cassino - Take care with spelling and Italian pronunciation.

Just in case you are tempted to say the “Heights of Cazino”;
The words casino and casino have different roots; cassa (strong box; chest; a fund of money) and casa (house).
I’m not sure why Montecassino is this named; a ‘little stronghold’ perhaps.
I can tell you that “casino” (soft S almost Z) in Italian is not the same as “casino” in English. Do not ask for directions to a casino of you want to bet on cards, roulette etc. That is “casinò”, with the accent on the last letter.
Casino means a brothel.
A great Italian phrase applicable to so many situations; “Che Casino!” means “ What a xxxxxx mess“

Re: The Heights Of Cassino - Casino/Cassino

My comment above may not make a lot of sense. Here’s what I meant to type;
The words “cassino” and “casino” have different roots; cassa (strong box; chest; a fund of money) and casa (house).
I think I’ll blame autocorrect!

Re: The Heights Of Cassino

My Grandmother worked in Cassino as a teacher during the IIWW. When I was a child, we always passed through Cassino on our way to Puglia, and she used to tell us the story of the Abbey and how it was destroyed and rebuilt after the war. Now I’ve come to know this beautiful tune, and it reminds me of her. Thanks for posting