Donald MacLean’s Farewell To Oban march

By Archie MacNeill

There are 17 recordings of this tune.

This tune has been recorded together with

Donald MacLean’s Farewell To Oban has been added to 17 tune sets.

Donald MacLean's Farewell To Oban has been added to 135 tunebooks.

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Five settings

X: 1
T: Donald MacLean's Farewell To Oban
R: march
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|:G>A|B2 A<G d2 e>d|B<dG>A B2 g>e|d2 g>e d<eG>B|d>BA>G D2 G>A|
B2 A<G d2 e>d|B<dG>A B2 g2|e>dg>e d2 G>A|B2 G2 G2:|
|:(3ABc|d2 B>c d2 e>=f|e2- e>f g- g>f|e<dg>e d<eG>B|d>BA>G A2 B>c|
d2 B>c B<de>f|g2 e>f e<g-g>f|e>dg>e d<eG>A|B2 G>F G2:|
|:G>A|B<GB>c d<GB>d|e<Gd<G B2 e>f|g<GB>c d<GB>c|d>BA>G A2 G>A|
B<GB>c d2 (3Bcd|e>Gd>G B2 (3def|g<Gg>e d<eG>A|B>G (3GGG G2:|
|:(3ABc|d2 g>d B2 gd|e>fg<e c2 g>e|d2 e>d B2 G>B|
[1 d>BA>G A2 B>c|d2 g>d B2 g>d|e>fg>e c2 g2|e>dg>e d<eG>A|B<G G>F G2:|
[2 d>BA>G D2 G>A|B<dc<e d>BAG|c>BA<G B2 ge|d2 g>e d<eGA|B2 G2 G2||
X: 2
T: Donald MacLean's Farewell To Oban
R: march
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
|:A>B|c2 B>A e2 f>e|c<eA>B c2 a>f|e2 a>f e>cA>c|e>cB>A B2 A>B|
c2 B>A e2 f>e|c<eA>B c2 a>f|e2 a>f e>fA>B|c2 A2 A2:|
|:c>d|e2 c>d e2 f>g|f<af>g f<aa>f|e2 a>f e>cA>c|e<cB>A B2 c>d|
e2 c>d e<Af>g|a2 f>g f<aa>f|e2- e>f e>fA>B|c2 A2 A2:|
|:A>B|c<Ac>d e>Ac>e|f>ec>d e2 f>g|a>ec>e f>ec>d|e>cB>A B2 A>B|
c<Ac>d e2 c>e|f>ec>d e2 f>g|a2- a>f e>fA>B|c2 A2 A2:|
|:c>d|e2 a>e c2 a>e|f>ga>f d3 f|e2 f>e c2 A>c|
[1 e>cB>A B2 c>d|(3efe a>e c2 a>e|f>da>f d>Aa<f|e>ca>f (3efe A>B|c2 A2 A2:|
[2 e>cB>A B2 A>B|c>ed>f e<cA>c|d>cB>A c2 a>f|e2- e>f e<fA>B|c2- c>A A2||
X: 3
T: Donald MacLean's Farewell To Oban
R: march
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
|:AB|c2 BA e2 fe|ceAB c2 a2|feaf efAc|ecBA B2AB|
c2 BA e2 fe|ceAB c2 a2|feaf efAB|c2 A2 A2:|
|:cd|e2 ee e2 fg|a2 fg a2af|ecaf efAc|ecBA B2 cd|
e2 ee e2 fg|a2 fg a2af|ecaf efAB|c2 A2 A2:|
|:AB|cAcd eAde|fAeA cAfg|aAdc fAdA|dAcA BAAB|
cAcd eAde|fAeA cAfg|aAaf efAB|c2 A2 A2:|
|:e2|e2 e2 eccc|f2 f2 fddd|e2 e2 ecce|
[1 dcBA B2 cd|e2 e2 eccc|f2 f2 fddd|e2 ca eaAB|c2A2 A2:|
[2 dcBA B2 AB|(3cde (3def eccd|dcBA c2 a2|feaf efAB|c2 A2 A2||
X: 4
T: Donald MacLean's Farewell To Oban
R: march
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
|:A>B|c2 B<A e2 f>e|c<eA>B c2 a2|f>ea>f e<fA>c|e>cB<A B2A>B|
c2 B<A e2 f>e|c<eA>B c2 a2|f>ea>f e<fA>B|c2 A2 A2:|
|:c>d|e2 c>d c<ef>g|a2 f>g a2a>f|e>ca>f e<fA>c|e>cB<A B2 c>d|
e2 c>d c<ef>g|a2 f>g a2a>f|e>ca>f e<fA>B|c2 A2 A2:|
|:A>B|c<Ac>d e>Ad>e|f>Ae>A c2 f>g|a>Ad>c f>Ac>d|e>cB<A B2 A>B|
c<Ac>d e>Ad>e|f>Ae>A c2 f>g|a2 a>f e<fA>B|c2 A2 A2:|
|:c>d|e2 a>e c2 a>e|f>ga>f d2 a>f|e2 f>e c2 A>c|
[1 e>cB<A B2 c>d|e2 a>e c2 a>e|f>ga>f d2 a>f|f>ea>f e<fA>B|c2A2 A2:|
[2 e>cB<A B2 A>B|c<ed<f e>cB<c|d>cB<A c2 a2|f>ea>f e<fA>B|c2 A2 A2||
X: 5
T: Donald MacLean's Farewell To Oban
R: march
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|:G>A|B2 A<G d2 e>d|B<dG>A B2 g2|e>dg>e d<eG>B|d>BA<G A2G>A|
B2 A<G d2 e>d|B<dG>A B2 g2|e>dg>e d<eG>A|B2 G2 G2:|
|:B>c|d2 B>c B<de>f|g2 e>f g2g>e|d>Bg>e d<eG>B|d>BA<G A2 B>c|
d2 B>c B<de>f|g2 e>f g2g>e|d>Bg>e d<eG>A|B2 G2 G2:|
|:G>A|B<GB>c d>Gc>d|e>Gd>G B2 e>f|g>Gc>B e>GB>c|d>BA<G A2 G>A|
B<GB>c d>Gc>d|e>Gd>G B2 e>f|g2 g>e d<eG>A|B2 G2 G2:|
|:B>c|d2 g>d B2 g>d|e>fg>e c2 g>e|d2 e>d B2 G>B|
[1 d>BA<G A2 B>c|d2 g>d B2 g>d|e>fg>e c2 g>e|e>dg>e d<eG>A|B2G2 G2:|
[2 d>BA<G A2 G>A|B<dc<e d>BA<B|c>BA<G B2 g2|e>dg>e d<eG>A|B2 G2 G2||
# Added by JACKB .

Twenty-two comments

“Donald Maclean’s Farewell To Oban” ~ by Archibald MacNeill

I’m hoping others out there will contribute their swing on this lovely march. I first learned it in the key of G would you believe, in Cape Breton, where it is also played in the key of A. I’ve given both keys here, going uphill, and slightly different versions.

I’ve been in a march mood lately and this one has been haunting my memories but my brain had messed with it and I was thinking it was something like “MacNeil’s Farewell to Oucht ~ something or other”… Eventually, with help, it came clear, or so I hope…

The march mood is because of one of those close to us who has probably at most hours left of life, a Scotsman, someone who was in the army, someone who is a musician and a conductor and who has himself always been march crazy. His fondness for tobacco and alcohol caught up with him, starting with cancer of the lung and oesophagus, one lung collapsed by the size of one tumour and the other part long gone, and now the tumours have spread all over, and made a quadraplegic out of the man. He’s strong, stubborn, and this would never happen to him, and he still doesn’t quite accept it.

I am only adding these bits, just about the end of this one story, with the hopes that some of you out there might find some strenght to quit the habit from this, or your friends may find ways to help you to that end, so you’ll be around a bit longer than otherwise. I can truthfully say, no one I know who was a chain smoker ~ up to the end ~ escaped the several awful ways to go that this addiction leads to, not one ~ not my grandparents, not my father, not any of my other family members and friends who smoked… I know, some of you are fed up with it, but I really do care, not about the smoke, about the music lasting for as long as it possibly can…

So, another march for Neil, a scotsman, an army man, a lover of marches… ~

“Composed by Archibald MacNeill, a blind piper from the island of Gigha. It is said (perhaps apocryphally) that Donald Maclean of Skye came to Oban to compete for a piping trophy, but when his performance failed to inspire the judges to award him a prize commensurate with his own perceptions of his skill, he left in a huff. Oban is a port town on the west coast of Scotland and the embarktion point for the sea trip to the western isles. It is also known as the name of a famous single malt scotch whisky and of the distillery located near the harbor. Musicologist and indexer Charles Gore has remarked that Scottish accordion player Phil Cunningham brings Shetland fiddler Aly Bain to Oban on occasion and they play ‑ as an encore ‑ “Donald McLean’s Farewell to Oban” with a couple of ”bum notes“ thrown in at carefully chosen intervals, perhaps “to illustrate his distemper…or maybe it’s an indication that he (MacLean) wasn’t that good and the judges were right.” ”


“Donald MacLean’s Farewell to Oban is said to have been written by Archie MacNeill to commemorate the precipitate departure of his friend Donald from the Oban Games. It is commonly believed that his exit was caused by a dispute over the placings in a piping competition. This is, in fact, untrue. Donald MacLean was a very small man who would compete regularly in the sport of greyhound racing…as a jockey. It was over a dispute concerning the placings in his particular race that year that he left the games.”

Now I’m confused ~ a ‘jockey’? Can anyone shed better light on these two tales? I have, long after I’d learned it, heard it played with the ‘bum notes’, but prefer it without them…

You have my sympathy for how devastating this must be to you Ceolachan and please give my best wishes to your friend - maybe the various tobacco bans will ultimately do some good.

The tune is one of my favourite 2/4s with a different but connected melody in each of the four parts - I’m more familiar with it in A, but it’s a fitting tribute in whatever key.

Yes, I’ve seen it in 2/4, but the 1/16th notes drive me crazy. It just seems to make more sense in 4/4. It isn’t a rushed tune, but the black of 1/6ths make it seem pushed, hurried. I like this one nice and relaxed, contemplative…

~ thanks for the sentiment… These marches are proving to be one of my ways of dealing with it, but we are also helping in whatever way we can ~ there, ready, willing, on call, worried but keeping it to ourselves…except here…

You’re confused by the Tannahill’s reference to the “greyhound jockey” but not confused by the next paragraph where they suspect that “The Wise Maid” was written in honor of a woman who wangled a job as a snowplow driver in Trinidad?

Posted by .

Ceolachan, I’m afraid you may have become a victim of the Tannahill’s warped sense of humour and their liking for shaggy dog stories. I’m sure one of their sleeve notes refers to a conversation between two musicians in which one asks the name of a tune and gets the reply “Phuktifano”.

I’ve got a case of Duff beer we could share ~

As I understand it, a ‘Greyhound Jockey’ is someone who regularly bets on the dog races…

But that’s not denying gullability ~ or do I mean culpability?

Donald MacLean’s Farwell to Oban

Donald MacLean’s Farewell to Oban is a 4 part 2/4 march composed by Archie MacNeill for Donald MacLean, “Wee Donald”, late of Inverness. Here is an extract from a copy I have of the “Piping Times” Vol 15, No 8, May 1963.

"Most pipers all over the world have heard of Donald by reputation,
and even the few who have not, will know his name as well as they know their own, for at Oban in 1938 when most of the ringside judges considered that Donald had easily won the masters’ March, Strathspey and Reel,
but he in fact was unplaced. Archie MacNeill said. “Well, this will be your farewell to Oban, Donald”. Donald, like a good sportsman, was not particularly put out by the result, but he was delighted when Archie, as a requiem for lost hopes,
composed for him “Donald MacLean’s Farewell to Oban”."

4-parts it is ~ 4 in G then 4 in A

Nice one gazooks_98… Yes, this is 4-parts, but it is given in the two keys I’ve known the march in, G & A. Also, nowadays, because it is less dense with the black stuff, for clarity, there’s a tendency to be notate such things as 4/4, as a lot of the old 2/4 marches now appear…

Anyone have an idea when this was composed? Just curious. Thanks

Posted by .

“Donald MacLean’s Farewell To Oban”

Discussion: What’s this?

From an unlabelled live demo recording of Fred Morrison & band. He repeats the first before going on to the second, but they sound so alike.

#2 of 2

X: 3
T: Donald MacLean’s Farewell To Oban
C: Archibald MacNeill
S: Fred Morrison
Z: Jürgen
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
R: march
K: AMaj
|: AB |\
c2 BA e2 fe | ceAB c2 a2 | feaf efAc | ecBA B2AB |
c2 BA e2 fe | ceAB c2 a2 | feaf efAB | c2 A2 A2 :|
|: cd |\
e2 ee e2 fg | a2 fg a2af | ecaf efAc | ecBA B2 cd |
e2 ee e2 fg | a2 fg a2af | ecaf efAB | c2 A2 A2 :|
|: AB |\
cAcd eAde | fAeA cAfg | aAdc fAdA | dAcA BAAB |
cAcd eAde | fAeA cAfg | aAaf efAB | c2 A2 A2 :|
|: e2 |\
e2 e2 eccc | f2 f2 fddd | e2 e2 ecce |
[1 dcBA B2 cd |\
e2 e2 eccc | f2 f2 fddd | e2 ca eaAB | c2A2 A2 :|
[2 dcBA B2 AB |\
(3cde (3def eccd | dcBA c2 a2 | feaf efAB | c2 A2 A2 |]

# Posted on November 14th 2009 by Jürgen
http:// ~ /discussions/23111

Remembering this 2/4 march with great fondness . . .

Just as an aside . . . back in the 1960s, as a novice piper I played this march in my first solo piping competition at the Highland Games in Santa Monica, California (at the time, one of the 2 biggest games in CA). As a result, I was fortunate enough to win first place in Novice, which immediately kicked me up into the Amateur piping category (you are only allowed to win at Novice once . . . oh, well). At the time, this march was one of the hot marches to play in both solo and band competition. As a consequence, I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for this tune, and I like these additional arrangements. Another arrangement, as played by Natalie MacMaster on her incomparable fiddle, really makes this tune rock . . . just a quick blast from the past. Go raibh mile maith agat!

Nice addition tsauce, appreciated…

“Donald MacLean’s Farewell To Oban” - John Willie Campbell

Didn’t manage to find Natalie playing it, but here’s John Willie and his bow giving it go ~

Cape Breton Fiddle : John Willie Campbell

John Willie Campbell accompanied by Kevin McCormick with the tunes Donald MacLean’s Farewell to Oban / Cairistiona Chaimbeul (Christy Campbell) / Port ’ic Artair (MacArthur’s Tune) / Untitled march, strathspeys & reel from a Topic LP “Cape Breton Scottish Fiddle” )The Music of Cape Breton Vol. 2)
Topic Records 12TS354 (LP, UK, 1978)

Here’s another transcription, courtesy of ‘Paul Fackler’s Musical Website’, the source given as Mary MacDonald, from that famous home recording, a copy of this wonderful recordings was promised to me ages back but never received, sigh… 🙁
& the website:

John Willie’s set

Cheers for the PDF and ABCs, Ceolachan. The Cape Breton Fiddle Recording Index says the last two tunes are known as Anthony Murray’s and The Straw Man. If my ears don’t fail me, I think these are in “raised bass” or “A cross”: AEAe. A better quality version of John Willie’s killer set can be found for download here on Amazon:


Greyhound Jockey

I’m not sure what the situation is in Oban, but in Barnsley some of a shorter stature was described as a ‘whippet jockey’. Maybe greyhound jockeys are slightly taller short people!