Roslin Castle. Not a reel
This tune is *NOT* a reel. Please play it "slow and soft".
I know it as Roslin Castle and normally play it in E minor. Lovely tune.
Eighteenth century Scottish
I found this tune in a history of Scottish music as an example of the Italian influence on eighteenth century Scottish music. I wrote it out by hand with a note that it was probably by James Oswald. It translates into ABC something like:
GF | ~E2 B>c B2 (AB) | (cB)(~AG) ~F2 G>F | ~E2 e>f g2 (fe) | (^de)(fd) B2 (AB) |
(cB)(~AG) F2 GA | (BG)(FE) ~^d2 (ef) | (ge)(f^d) (ec)(BA) | G2 ~F>E) E2 :|
Recently I heard it played in a session as a stately lead into a fast tune - which was exactly how I had meant to use it but had forgotten. It sounded excellent.
Which key do you play it in ?
We heard it at a session at Towersey, and downloaded it from here the minute we got back, but my SO promptly asked me to rewrite it in E minor, then complained about the D sharp on her open-hole flute.
I haven’t yet made up my mind about the chords supplied either.
Key for Roslin Castle
Although I have a lot of books which show this air in D modal, Alasdair Fraser plays it in Cm on "Return to Kintail" and OBD play it in Cm on "The World’s Room". Bonnie Rideout recently authored a Mel Bay title called "Scottish Fiddle Enclyclopedia", which also has it in Cm. I learned it in D modal, but prefer it now in Cm, because it sounds more plaintive to me.
Whoops…OBD play this tune in Gm, not Cm. It is easier to play in Gm on the fiddle, without as many 4th finger contortions as are found in the Cm version, but it sounds great either way.
Is Am the best key yet for Roslin Castle?
I originally learned this tune in Em, but did the old trick of simply shifting down a string to play it in Am. It works very well, hovering in the lower registers only peeking out to the E string during a run in the B part (though that E can easily be played with the fourth finger on the A string).
The main advantage to this key is that most melody instrument players can manage an Am tune, whereas Gm & Cm are really tough, particularly for whistles or flutes.
Chords for this tune in Em
These are the chords we’re currently using for this tune in Em :
|: Em | C B | Em | B Em | C | Em B | Em | Em :|
|: Em | Em B | Em | Em B | C B | Em B | Em | Em :|
I’m a whistler of 10 years, and have been quite perturbed by all the E-flats in this tune - though they be lovely, one does get weary of half-holing. I recently got a set of Uilleann pipes, and by golly! This tune flows perfectly on them! Not only do the pipes have an E-flat hole, but this tune avoids the bottom D (the note which requires lifting the chanter bell off the leg). They’re made for each other. Anyway, here’s the version I play:
T: Roslyn Castle
GF |: E2B>c B2AB | c>BAG F2GF |E2e>f g2fe | _e =ef_e B2AB |
c>BAG F2GA | BGFE _e2=ef |gef_e =eBAB |1 GE F>_E =E2 GF :|2 GE F>_E =E3B ||
| e2ef g2fe | b>aga f2e_e |=eBef g2fe | b>aga f2AB |
c>BAG F2GA | BGFE _e2=ef |gef_e =eBAB |1 GE F>_E =E3B :|2 GE F>_E =E4 ||
I play this on cello in Cminor
The tune has been attributed to James Oswald, but some people say that he never claimed it himself. Richard Hewitt of Cumberland wrote some words to it in the 18th century.
Roslin Castle is a romantic ruin near Rosslyn Chapel, recently made famous by the Da Vinci Code.
This tune sounds pretty good as a scottisch too, which is a bit weird but never mind! Becky Price and Dave Shepherd play it that way.
I’ve been playing the tune for years (I like it lots) and then by coincidence happened to move to/live in a little village called Roslin on the Isle of Wight.
Can someone clarify the distinction in this discussion between modal and minor? Which mode? (There are several!). I was originally taught this tune in E minor, with all the Ds natural. Then I heard it with the longer Ds (in bars 6 and 14) played sharp. Now I see it with ALL the Ds sharp. Advice welcome!
I’ve been testing different tunes to go with my current new favorite, Kail Pot (which I cannot find in thesession.org). Both tunes are in Dm, and I plan to start with Roslyn Castle and go into Kail Pot. Both tunes have that delicious "dark and mysterious" sound to them, but Kail Pot, being a strathspey, picks up the tempo and gives the medley an exciting kick at the end. Love it!
Re: Roslyn Castle
Trying to find this tune as a waltz in E minor. Anyone know of one?
Roslyn Castle, X:7
"Trying to find this tune as a waltz in E minor…"
Setting X:7 above might give you a start.
Re: Rosslyn Castle
I learned it in Emin ( but with D sharps throughout, which would correspond with the E min harmonic minor scale) but have fiddle-playing friends who prefer D min (with C#s throughout). I have heard recordings where those notes are flattened, but to my ear, they do not sound right. Incidentally this tune is used for the (rarely sung) Burns song, "The Gloomy Night is Gathering Fast": miserable in the extreme, one of the last poems he ever wrote, when he realised that he was not going to survive much longer. I sing it in G min, as it has a big range!
Re: Roslyn Castle
Need to correct that last remark: it was not Burns’ near-last poem, but written when he thought he might be going to Jamaica (he never did.)
Here are 2 nice versions, different in style, but both keeping the slow air timing (never ever a reel as Johnny Jay said at top of thread!!) Lots of ornamentation in the second …and hunt the cello (who was maybe hunting the tune!)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZsLhUKWlhU (friends of mine)
Alastair Fraser et al
Wish I had recorded 2 of my other friends playing it on fiddle and accordion last weekend: their version is the best!
Roslyn vs Roslin
According to this link (http://www.burnsscotland.com/items/v/volume-i,-song-008,-page-9-roslin-castle.aspx) and others I have read, this old Scottish Slow Air was originally written in C minor from a song of the same name, possibly composed by William McGibbon and printed by James Oswald. A beautiful version of the original setting was recently recorded by Scottish flute player Calum Stewart and fiddler Lauren MacColl (https://myspace.com/laurenmaccoll/music/songs)
Roslin Castle not suitable for the flute??
It’s interesting to see how what most people nowadays tend to consider unfriendly tunes for the flute were considered in the 19th century as the ones most appropriate. Roslin Castle is perhaps one of the clearest examples of this misconception. In 1830, the famous English flute player Charles Nicholson arranged this traditional Scottish tune by adding multiple glides and vibrations as well as an extra flat (http://www.oldflutes.com/articles/roslincastle.htm). In the words of Nicholson himself, the 19th century flute was manufactured to be best in tune in Eb/C minor (http://www.oldflutes.com/articles/WNJmodes.htm). Thus, this tune was published by James Oswald in his Caledonian Pocket Companion of tunes for the Flute (book IV; http://imslp.org/wiki/The_Caledonian_Pocket_Companion_(Oswald,_James) ). A recent recording of this arrangement on a multi keyed German flute proves once again the capabilities of the wooden flute (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=poSJTVwTZAM)