The Gay Gordons march

By James Scott Skinner

Also known as Gay Gordon’s March, Gei Gordon’s, The Gei Gordon’s, The Gei Gordons, Gie Gordon’s, The Gie Gordon’s, Gie Gordons, The Gie Gordons, Gordon Highlanders March, The Gordon Highlanders March.

There are 8 recordings of this tune.

The Gay Gordons has been added to 7 tune sets.

The Gay Gordons has been added to 77 tunebooks.

Download ABC

Four settings

X: 1
T: The Gay Gordons
R: march
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
|:e|A>B cB/A/|d>e fe/d/|1 ca cB/A/|cB B:|2 ca e/c/d/B/|cA A||
|:c/e/|a>f ed/c/|d>e fe/d/|1 ca cB/A/|cB B:|2 ca e/c/d/B/|cA A||
X: 2
T: The Gay Gordons
R: march
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
e|A>B cB/A/|d>e fe/d/|ca cB/A/|cB Be|
A>B cB/A/|d>e fe/d/|ca e/c/d/B/|cA A:|
c/e/|a>f ed/c/|d>e fe/d/|ca cB/A/|cB Bc/e/|
a>f ed/c/|d>e fe/d/|ca e/c/d/B/|cA A:|
A3 B c2 BA|d3 e f2 ed|c2 a2 cB AB|c2 B2 B3 e|
A2 AB c2 BA|d3 e f2 ed|c2 a2 ec AB|c2 A2 A2:|
a3 f e2 dc|d3 e f2 ed|c2 a2 c2 BA|c2 B2 B3 e|
a2 af ef/e/ dc|d3 e f3 d|c2 a2 ec AB|c2 A2 A2:|
G3 A B3 G|c2 d2 e4|B2 g2 d2 BG|B2 A2 A4|
G3 A B2 AG|c2 d2 e2 dc|B2 d2 de dc|B2 G2 G2:|
g2 ge d2 cB|cB cd ef/e/ dc|B2 g2 G3 A|B2 A2 A4|
ga ge d4|c2 cd e4|B2 g2 A2 cA|B2 G2 G2:|
A>B cB/A/|d>e fe/d/|ca c/B/A/B/|cB B>e|
AA/B/ cB/A/|d>e fe/d/|ca e/c/A/B/|cA A:|
a>f ed/c/|d>e fe/d/|ca cB/A/|cB B>e|
aa/f/ ef/4e/4d/c/|d>e f>d|ca e/c/A/B/|cA A:|
G>A B>G|cd e2|Bg dB/G/|BA A2|
G>A BA/G/|cd ed/c/|Bd d/e/d/c/|BG G2:|
gg/e/ dc/B/|c/B/c/d/ ef/4e/4d/c/|Bg G>A|BA A2|
g/a/g/e/ d2|cc/d/ e2|Bg Ac/A/|BG G:|
X: 3
T: The Gay Gordons
R: march
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
e|{c}A>c ec/A/ d/c/d/e/ fe/d/|c/A/e/A/ c/A/e/A/ c/B/B/A/ B>{ce}z|A>c ec/A/ d/c/d/e/ fe/d/|c/e/a/e/ c/e/d/B/ cA A:|
(3e/f/g/|a/>g/a/>f/ ec/A/ d/c/d/e/ fe/d/|c/A/e/A/ c/A/e/A/ c/B/B/A/ B(3e/f/g/|a/>g/a/>f/ ec/A/ d/c/d/e/ fe/d/|c/e/a/e/ c/e/d/B/ cA A:|
X: 4
T: The Gay Gordons
R: march
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|:D|G>A BA/G/|c/B/c/d/ ed/c/|Bg d/e/d/c/|BA AD|
G>A BA/G/|c/B/c/d/ ed/c/|Bg d/e/d/c/|BG G:|
|:d|g2 de/f/|gd B/A/G|g2 d/e/d/B/|cA Ad|
g2 de/f/|gd B/A/G|ce Ad/c/|BG G:|

Twelve comments

The Gay Gordons

This is the Scott Skinner original of the eponymous dance (I believe). There is another tune from Shetland in the database called “Gordon’s” but this is not the same or even a variation on it. I think ‘Gordons’ here is as in ‘Gordon Highlanders’ (possibly) and is a plural as opposed to the possessive (i.e. Gordon’s tune).

I put it down as a Polka to get the right time signature but I think it is technically a March (but there’s no option for ‘march’ when submitting a tune).

It’s a well known tune that’s fun to play at a good pace.

“Gordon’s Mixer” ~ gin and what else?

Here follow, eventually, a couple of alternates to the Nigel Gatherer ABCs copied here, though that notation has the parts repeating. To give further credit, Nigel gives as his source “The Master Method for Highland Bagpipe”, 1953, with the composer for this number given as Mr. James Scott Skinner? ~ or in ‘letters’ and complete:

T:Gay Gordons, The
C:James Scott Skinner
B:Master Method for Highland Bagpipe (1953)
Z:Nigel Gatherer
e|A>B cB/A/|d>e fe/d/|ca cB/A/|cB Be|
A>B cB/A/|d>e fe/d/|ca e/c/d/B/|cA A:|]
c/e/|a>f ed/c/|d>e fe/d/|ca cB/A/|cB Bc/e/|
a>f ed/c/|d>e fe/d/|ca e/c/d/B/|cA A:|]

Anyway, here are the promised others,
notated for a pronounced 4 count march:

M: 4/4
R: march / dance
K: A Major
|: e2 |
A3 B c2 BA | d3 e f2 ed | c2 a2 cB AB |c2 B2 B3 e |
A2 AB c2 BA | d3 e f2 ed | c2 a2 ec AB |c2 A2 A2 :|
|: ce |
a3 f e2 dc | d3 e f2 ed | c2 a2 c2 BA |c2 B2 B3 e |
a2 af ef/e/ dc | d3 e f3 d | c2 a2 ec AB |c2 A2 A2 :|

K: G Major
|: D2 |
G3 A B3 G | c2 d2 e4 | B2 g2 d2 BG | B2 A2 A4 |
G3 A B2 AG | c2 d2 e2 dc | B2 d2 de dc | B2 G2 G2 :|
|: d2 |
g2 ge d2 cB | cB cd ef/e/ dc | B2 g2 G3 A | B2 A2 A4 |
ga ge d4 | c2 cd e4 | B2 g2 A2 cA | B2 G2 G2 :|

or if you prefer it the other way, 2/4:

|: e |
A>B cB/A/ | d>e fe/d/ | ca c/B/A/B/|cB B>e |
AA/B/ cB/A/ | d>e fe/d/ | ca e/c/A/B/|cA A :|
|: c/e/ |
a>f ed/c/ | d>e fe/d/ | ca cB/A/|cB B>e |
aa/f/ ef/4e/4d/c/ | d>e f>d | ca e/c/A/B/ |cA A :|

K: G Major
|: D |
G>A B>G | cd e2 | Bg dB/G/ | BA A2 |
G>A BA/G/ | cd ed/c/ | Bd d/e/d/c/ | BG G2 :|
gg/e/ dc/B/ | c/B/c/d/ ef/4e/4d/c/ | Bg G>A | BA A2 |
g/a/g/e/ d2 | cc/d/ e2 | Bg Ac/A/ | BG G :|

Now for a little dancin’ ~

As mentioned elsewhere, the Irish take on this, or even the Scottish country ceilidh, is not so mincing as this video gives or as the RSCDS (‘Royal’ Scottish Dance Society) would have us believe… Just be sure to have a dram or two of a lovely single malt and care nae more…

All Star Ceili Band version

T:The Gay Gordons
C:As played by All Star Ceili Band (transcribed by Anna Nemeth)
e |{c}A>c ec/A/ d/c/d/e/ fe/d/|c/A/e/A/ c/A/e/A/ c/B/B/A/ B>{ce}z |A>c ec/A/ d/c/d/e/ fe/d/|c/e/a/e/ c/e/d/B/ cA A :|
(3e/f/g/|a/>g/a/>f/ ec/A/ d/c/d/e/ fe/d/|c/A/e/A/ c/A/e/A/ c/B/B/A/ B(3e/f/g/ |a/>g/a/>f/ ec/A/ d/c/d/e/ fe/d/|c/e/a/e/ c/e/d/B/ cA A :|

The All Star Ceili Band has become my favorite band since I got their casette
They play Gay Gordons as a hornpipe/barndance with an exceptional swing.

“Gay Gordons” ~ The Fiddler’s Companion by Andrew Kuntz

GAY GORDONS [1]. AKA and see “The Gordon Highlanders’ March.” AKA “Gie Gordans.” Scottish (originally), New England; Country Dance Tune (cut time) or March. A Major. Standard. AB (Miller & Perron, Sweet): AABBCCDD (Cranford/Fitzgerald). This tune was included in J. Scott Skinner’s 1921 concert set romantically entitled "Spey’s Fury’s” and was composed in 1915 by the great strathspey artist The original title was “The Gordon Highlanders March” but came to be called “The Gay Gordons” through association with the famous Scottish country dance. The ‘Gay Gordons’ remains a popular couple dance, still occasionally to be found at New England contra dances, for example, and at Scottish dancing events, where it has been over time one of the most popular Scottish Country Dances. The origins of the dance are unclear, and may not have anything to do with Scotland! One story goes that it was a Continental dance from sometime in the 19th century. Others theorize that it was a turn of the 20th century member of a group of military-style dances, including such as the Military Two-Step, the Canadian Barn Dance and others. Perhaps the earliest reference to the dance dates to the year 1915, although Christine Martin (2002) says there was a previous reference to a Gay Gordons dance in 1907.
The title refers to the Gordon Highlanders, a Scottish unit in the British army first raised in 1794 as the 92nd Regiment. The word ‘gay, sometimes spelled ‘gie’ (as in Jimmy Shand’s 1942 recording) or ‘gey’, perhaps to preclude modern associations of ‘gay’ with homosexuality, in this context means ‘handsome in appearance’ or ‘decked out’ (as in formal kilted dress). The dance is performed to many tunes, however, usually a march followed by a jig, and not simply the tune given below. “Scotland the Brave” followed by “Highland Laddie,” for example, is cited as one typical medley vehicle for the steps. The famous Scottish bandleader and accordionist Jimmy Shand recorded a “Gay Gordons” medley in the 1950’s with Skinner’s tune as the lead-off piece.
It has been speculated that the original epithet ‘Gay Gordon’ referred to the courtly Continental manners of the original Norman members of the clan who relocated to the remote North East of Scotland. One famous Gay Gordon was doubtless Lord Strathven, says Emmerson (1972), who danced with Marie Antoinette and became a favorite at the court of Louis XVI for his “agreeable personality and admirable skill in dancing.” Source for notated version: Winston Fitzgerald (1914-1987, Cape Breton) [Cranford]. Cranford (Winston Fitzgerald), 1997; No. 76, pg. 34. Miller & Perron (New England Fiddlers Repertoire), 1983; No. 166. Sweet (Fifer’s Delight); No. or pg. 27 (has an alternate ‘B’ part). Alcazar Dance Series FR 204, “New England Chestnuts 2” (1981). Folkways FW8827, Arbuckle, Mikkelson & Clifton - “Old Time Couple Dances” (1961). Bobby Brown and the Scottish Accent – “Grandfather Mountain Gala.”

The Original

The original - “The Gordon Highlanders March”, was composed by J Scott Skinner on the Bochel Hill, Glenlivet in 1914.
The reverse of the original manuscript reads “Dear Pipe Major MacLennan (sic) I dedicate this tune to you on my birthday, 7th August 1914”.
The Pipe Major in question is GS McLennan, composer - for example, “The Jig of Slurs”, “Dancing Feet”, “The Little Cascade”, “Mrs A MacPherson of Inveran”. GS was to play at Scott Skinners funeral in Aberdeen.

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A welcome addition GSM, thanks…

Re: The Gay Gordons

Since we DO now have a March category, I have edited it to this, and added the composer.

Re: The Gay Gordons

I wish there was a way to slow down the speed of the audio.

Re: The Gay Gordons

This site doesn’t let you slow down or speed up the tunes, but, because many of the more common tunes can be found on YouTube, you could search there and use the settings menu to decrease speed to .75, .5, or .25 of normal speed, or you could use the slider bar in ‘custom’ speed selector to find your tempo.

Here is the Gay Gordon’s for you to experiment with:

Note: in this video the fiddler is playing the tune in the key of A.

For more advanced use of a slow downer or if you want to change key you can download Audacity which allows you to save or export your manipulated audio files for later use.