Tha Mi Sgith strathspey

Also known as The Bracken Highland Fling, Buain Na Rainich, Buinn Y Renniagh, Cutting Bracken, Cutting Ferns, Dúlamán, Dulaman, Faery’s Lament, Fairies Love Song, Heavin’ Bracken, Pullin’ Bracken, Pulling Bracken, Pulling The Bracken, The Weary Maid.

There are 41 recordings of this tune.

This tune has been recorded together with

Tha Mi Sgith has been added to 34 tune sets.

Tha Mi Sgith has been added to 331 tunebooks.

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Eleven settings

1
X: 1
T: Tha Mi Sgith
R: strathspey
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amin
|: AAa2 | g<eg2 | e>dBA | GAB<G |
AAa2 | g<eg2 | e>dBe | A2A2 :|
|: e>dBA | GAB<G | e>dBA | B<dd2 |
e>dBA | GAB<G | edB<e | A2A2 :|
2
X: 2
T: Tha Mi Sgith
R: strathspey
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Ador
|: (3AAA a2 g<e g2 | e<dB>A G>AB<G |\
(3AAA a2 g<e g2 | e>dB>e A2 A2 :|
|: e>dB>A G>AB<G | e<dB>A B<d g2 |\
[1 e<dB>A G>AB<G | e<dB<e A2 A2 :|
[2 e<dB>d g>fg<d | e<dg<B A2 A2 |]
3
X: 3
T: Tha Mi Sgith
R: strathspey
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Ador
|: (3AAA a2 g<e g2 | e<dB>A G>AB<G |\
(3AAA a2 g<e g2 | e>dB>e A2 A2 :|
|: e>dB>A G>AB<G | e<dB>A B<d g2 |\
[1 e<dB>A G>AB<G | e<dB<e A2 A2 :|
[2 e<dB>d g>fg<d | e<dg<B A2 A2 |]
4
X: 4
T: Tha Mi Sgith
R: strathspey
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amin
|:B|"Am"A<A a2 "G"g<e g2|"Em"e>dB>A "G"G>AB<G|"Am"A<A a2 "G"g<e g2|"Em"e>dB>e "Am"A/A/A A:|
|:g|"Em"e>dB>A "G"G>AB<G|"Em"e>dB>A "G"B2 B>g|"Em"e>dB>A "G"G>AB<d|"Em"e>dB>e "Am"A/A/A A:|
# Added by Tate .
5
X: 5
T: Tha Mi Sgith
R: strathspey
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amin
|: A2 a2 g<e g2 | e>dBA GAB<G |A2 a2 g<e g2 | e>dB<e A2 A2|
A2 a2 g<e g2 | e>dBA GAB<G |A2 a2 g<e g2 | e>dB<e A2 A2||
|: e>dBA GAB<G | e>dBA B<d d2 |e>dBA GAB<G | edB<e A2A2 |
e>dBA GAB<G | e>dBA B<d d2 |e>dBA GAB<G | edB<e A2A2 ||
# Added by JACKB .
6
X: 6
T: Tha Mi Sgith
R: strathspey
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Ador
|: B/ |\
A<A {f}a2 g<e {f}g2 | {f}e>d(TB>A) {F}G>AB>G |\
A<A {f}a2 g<e {f}g2 | e<dB>g {^c}B<A A3/ :|
|: g/ |\
e>d(TB>A) {F}G>AB>G | e>d(TB>A) TB2 B>g |\
e>d(TB>A) {F}G>AB>d | e>d{f}g>B {cB}A2 A3/ :|
7
X: 7
T: Tha Mi Sgith
R: strathspey
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Edor
|: ^D/ |\
~E2 e2 d<B d2 | B>AF>E D>EF<D |\
(3EEE e2 d<B d2 | B>AF<d E2 E3/ :|
|: _B/ |\
B>AF>E D>EF<D | B>AF<E F2 d2 |\
B>AF>E D>EF<A | B<Ad<F E2 E3/ :|
8
X: 8
T: Tha Mi Sgith
R: strathspey
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Ador
[M:2/4]
|: A2 aa/a/ | ge g g/g/ | ed BA | GA B/B/G |
A2 aa/a/ | ge gg/g/ | ed BG |1 A2 AG :|2 A2 A2 ||
|: ed BA | GA Bd | ed BA | B2 Bg/f/ |
ed BA | GA Bd | ed GB |1 A2 Ag/f/ :|2 A2 A2 ||
9
X: 9
T: Tha Mi Sgith
R: strathspey
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amin
[M:2/4]
|: AA ~a2 | ge ~g2 | ed B/c/B/A/ | GA BG |
AA ~a2 | ge ~g2 | ed BG |1 A2 AE :|2 A2 A(3B/c/d/ ||
|: ed B/c/B/A/ | GA Bd | ed BA | B2 Bg |
ed B/c/B/A/ | GA Bd | ed gB |1 A2 A(3B/c/d/ :|2 A2 AE ||
10
X: 10
T: Tha Mi Sgith
R: strathspey
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Ador
[M:2/4]
|: A2 ~a2 | ge gb/g/ | ed BA | GB dB |
A2 ~a2 | ge gb/g/ | ed B/A/G |1 A2 AB :|2 A2 A(3B/^c/d/ ||
|: ed BA | GA Bd | e/f/e/d/ BA | B2 Bd |
e/f/e/d/ BA | GA B/c/d | ed gB |1 A2 A(3B/^c/d/ :|2 AB dB ||
11
X: 11
T: Tha Mi Sgith
R: strathspey
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amin
[M:2/4]
|: AA ~a2 | ge ~g2 | e>d BA | GA BG |
AA ~a2 | ge ga | e>d BG | A2 A2 :|
|: e>d BA | GA Bd | e>d BA | B2 d2 |
e>d BA | GA Bd | e>d BG | A2 A2 :|

Thirty-three comments

Tha Mi Sgith

This is a strathspey (I’m pretty sure) that I had been looking for for some time. Alice Flynn found it on JC, and I decided to post it. It works quite well to break up "Raggle Taggle Gypsies" - try inserting it every 3 verses.

Tha Mi Sgith

For those interested in the lyrics, they can be found at George Seto’s mega-site of links and info:
http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Zone/6338/buain.html

The song is an old Gaelic song, collected in the Hebrides. There is a literal translation in English as well as the Gaelic lyrics at the above link. I sing my own lyrics in English, but
here is a verse I’ve heard people sing and also have found in print:

Why should I sit and sigh,
Puin’ bracken, Puin’ bracken (pulling bracken)
Why should I sit and sigh,
On the hillside dreary?

When I see the plover rising
Or the curlew wheeling,
Then I trow (trust, believe) my mortal lover,
Back to me is stealing.

Why should I sit and sigh,
Puin’ bracken, Puin’ bracken (pulling bracken)
Why should I sit and sigh,
On the hillside dreary?

alice flynn

Strathspey

It does have a strathspey kind of feel, but as such, it should be (by definition) in 4/4 time. Given the lyrics presented from the Hebrides, it’s also quite possible it predates the strathspey, and may represent a remnant of the singing style that has come down to us as a strathspey.

Stuart

I read in anohter discussion thread that strathspeys were 2/4??

JeffK

Milling Frolic Song - as sung by The North Shore Singers, Cape Breton Island

I love this stuff. Things get around. This is still sung by those fond of the Milling Frolic songs. In Nova Scotia these songs were sung by all, not just the women… These songs were entertainment for a chore, a work song, something that brought the community together, in this case to ‘full’ the woven fabric, beating it against a special table to the rhythm of the songs they sang while the singers also moved it around the circumference of the table, from singer to singer.

For proof of its recent currency, here’s the story of a song that became part of that milling frolic tradition on Cape Breton Island in the last century, the 20th, from Englishtown:

http://www.bubbaguitar.com/articles/orandoshep.html

Pipe Band Tune

I also know this tune as a bagpipe tune (with a 2/4 beat)known as "The Weary Maid".

Strathspey / Highland Fling ~ into jig?

There should have been a "?" at the end of the previous offering, carried over from someone else’s comment regarding the jig in question, "Walking the Floor". While there are ‘similarities’, the tunes are not that evidently tied, meaning the jig to this Strathspey / Highland Fling…

"The Bracken Highland"

R: highland fling
K: A Dorian
|: (3AAA a2 g*e g2 | e*dB>A G>AB*G |
(3AAA a2 g*e g2 | e>dB>e A2 A2 :|
|: e>dB>A G>AB*G | e*dB>A B*d g2 |
1 e*dB>A G>AB*G | e*dB*e A2 A2 :|
2 e*dB>d g>fg*d | e*dg*B A2 A2 ||

( * ) ~ the asterisk is given to represent a ‘snap’, in place of the ‘lesser than’ symbol which does odd things in this specific yellow realm…

Yes, thanks for the heads up, good catch. I haven’t been trolling the Straths yet, but that’s on the plans for the future. I stumbled on this one from the jig… I’ll have to return and add that link.

Hey ‘slainte’, maybe we can start and try to maintain a ‘courtesy’ ~ as an example, giving the key and the contributor and date of contribution. See the next entry…

"Drummond Castle" / "Castle Drummond"

Key signature: A Dorian (corrected key)
Submitted on February 21st 2004 by Jamie.
https://thesession.org/tunes/2540

It’s just a ‘minor’ consideration…

Tha mi sgith

This tune is usually played as a strathspey but a quick look through collections of bagpiipe music show it played as a reel, jig and i’ve even spotted a hornpipe version somewhere.

"Dulaman"

The Donegal song "Dulaman," recorded by Clannad, is another Gaelic-language song to this air. The vocal version smoothes out the "Scottish snap" figures in the fiddle setting.

"Cutting Ferns" ~ The Athole & Skye Collections

"The Athole Collection"
James Stewart Robertson, 1884, page 58

"The Skye Collection of the Best Reels & Strathspeys"
Compiled and arranged by Keith Norman MacDonald, 1887, page 105

X: 3
T: Cutting Ferns
O: "The Athole Collections" / "The Skye Collections"
N: the following transcript is as found in these books but minus any {*}, for example ‘cuts’M: 4/4
L: 1/8
R: strathspey
K: Ador
|: B |\
A<A a2 g<e g2 | e>dB>A G>AB>G |
A<A a2 g<e g2 | e<dB>g B<A A :|
|: g |\
e>dB>A G>AB>G | e>dB>A B2 B>g |
e>dB>A G>AB>d | e>dg>B A2 A :|

"Cutting Ferns" / "Cutting Bracken" / "Tha Mi Sgìth" (the song)

This is well known and well played in the Maritimes, where I re-learned it, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, and is a popular strathspey for step dancing ~ and both of us have stepped to it as well… … However, I first came across it in Ireland, in the north, Ulster, including Donegal & Fermanagh, played with swing and also used as a ‘highland fling’…

"Cutting Ferns" / "Cutting Bracken" / "Dulaman"

Now possible, the previous transcription, I’ve changed the * to < and added the headers…

X: 2
T: Cutting Ferns
T: Cutting Bracken
T: Dulaman
T: Bracken Highland, The
L: 1/8
R: highland fling
K: A Dorian
|: (3AAA a2 g<e g2 | e<dB>A G>AB<G |
(3AAA a2 g<e g2 | e>dB>e A2 A2 :|
|: e>dB>A G>AB<G | e<dB>A B<d g2 |
[1 e<dB>A G>AB<G | e<dB<e A2 A2 :|
[2 e<dB>d g>fg<d | e<dg<B A2 A2 |]

Conal O Grada

In his new album "Cnoc Bui" Conal O Grada plays this as a polka and calls it "Pulling Bracken" (track 6).

Cutting fern / seaweed

" Dúlamán na binne buí, dúlamán Gaelach
Dúlamán na farraige, b’fhearr a bhí in Éirinn"
has be sung to the second part of this tune alright

’ Seaweed from the yellow cliff, / Seaweed from the ocean’ : It is interesting that the English lyrics sent by alicflynn are about picking bracken as the gaelic version is about seaweed (that’s the meaning of Dúlamán for those who wonder). What type of seaweed it is in unknow to me but if it’s edible, it certainly not Channelled wrack -as we learn from the Dúlamán entry on Wikipedia- as channelled wrack is the toughest seaweed you could pick! (off the dry part of the cliff and the driest part of the shore)

What I may be able to contribute

In Highland piping I’d always had it as a 2/4-march — until playing with a Cape Breton fiddler who had me accent it as a Strathspey. W/in the same scene the only names that have been introduced to me are Cutting Bracken and Pulling Bracken.

The Cape Breton fiddler probably took it from the Highland tradition Don. It’s a very old Puirt a Beul (mouth music - I’m sure you know that) here in the Hebrides, played/sung like a Strathspey and called Tha Mi Sgith. It was later, probably 19th century, arranged as a march, and even a jig, and called Cutting Bracken in that form.

X:6 "Cutting Ferns"

S: James Stewart Robinson, The Athole Collection, 1884, Slow Strathspey, page 51
S: Keith Norman MacDonald, The Skye Collection, 1887, Strathspey, page 105

Tha Mi Sgith, X:8

I’ve added Conal O’Grada’s "Pulling Bracken" from his Cnoc Bui album. He changes the rhythm and calls it a polka. I wasn’t sure whether to post it here or to post it as a new polka.

Re: Tha Mi Sgith

Ive heard this played in sessions in co.kerry to polka timing, not sure if its due to Conal o’gradas album but seemed to be well known when its played so may have been known as session tune before the album

Tha Mi Sgith, X:9

From the playing of The Monks Of The Screw.

Cutting Bracken, X:10

From the playing of Tommie Cunniffe.

Re: Tha Mi Sgith

My Glaswegian dad used to play this on the piano way back when I was a child (I’m 64). He called it The Weary Maid. I’ve heard it since, but never before as a strathspey. People in sessions call it Cutting Bracken.

Pullin’ Bracken, X:11

Roughly some combination of a few settings.

Re: Tha Mi Sgith

Interestingly (if you have nerdy tendencies), the two "bracken" names of this tune reflect the two uses for bracken. Bracken was cut for use as bedding for animals and in times when the hills were stocked by black cattle (rather than the subsequent sheep), areas of bracken were relativley rare and were hugely valued - there is an account of tenant farmers on Loch Tay side in the early 19th century drawing lots to see which one would get the areas of bracken on the hill common grazings. Bracken was pulled for use as a thatching material ….. The black root (bun dubh) is harder and less fibrous than the stalk and thus doesn’t rot as quickly and is the only bit of the plant left showing / open to the elements on the thatch.
I know, I should get out more.

Posted by .

Re: Tha Mi Sgith

If you compare it to the other polka settings (X8, X9, X10), and/or transcribe/listen to other polka settings not posted here yet, you’ll see the differences from X11 and the others.

To break it down a bit more, the Scottish version of the polka (no settings of it posted here yet), play the tune more dotted, without triplets, and, without the groupings of four sixteenth notes. The few Irish musicians who’ve recorded it, play the overall melody straight, replace some pairs of notes with four sixteenth notes, sometimes substitute some of the rolls with triplets, and, have a few alternative notes in a few select bars of the tune (when compared to the Scottish settings).

X:11 is a combination of both of these types of styles, though, being a bit closer to the Scottish style than the Irish style, and, with a few alternative notes distinct from either in one or two of the bars.

I’ve heard the tune played locally as a strathspey and jig (Drummond Castle), though, not yet as a polka. Listening to many of the recordings, the polka version has quite grown on me, and X11 is how I currently feel inclined to play it.

Re: Tha Mi Sgith

I first learned this as a Gaelic song "Buain na Rainnich " (sp?) "Cutting Bracken" about 40 years ago before I was a piper.
Tha mi sgith (I am tired) is the first line. We learned it as a "Waulking" song for a milling frolic.

The "Dullamon" I’ve heard bears no resemblance to this tune that I can hear, but perhaps I haven’t heard the Clannad setting.

Re: Tha Mi Sgith

Interesting background on the tune. I’ve always known this tune as a Polka, called Pulling Bracken. It very popular in Cork, and I learned it from sessions and from Conal O’Grada’s playing (live and his awesome recording of it). I usually play it with another tune I learned from Conal, Mrs Crowley’s Polka.

There’s a bit of chit chat here at first, but the tunes start at 1:27: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sx71w7_KerQ