The Snuff Wife jig

There are 19 recordings of this tune.

This tune has been recorded together with

The Snuff Wife has been added to 7 tune sets.

The Snuff Wife has been added to 79 tunebooks.

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Seven settings

X: 1
T: The Snuff Wife
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Amix
d2c BGB|BGB BGB|d2c BGB|AAA c2A|
d2c BGB|BGB Bcd|e2d cBc|AAA c2A:|
Bcd dGd|Bcd dGd|cAc BGB|AAA c2A|
Bcd dGd|BBB Bcd|e2d cBc|1AAA c2A:|2AAA d2f||
ecA ecA|ecA e2e|fdf ece|dcd f2d|
ecA ecA|eee efg|agf gfe|dcd f2d:|
efg gfg|efg gfg|fdf ece|dcd f2d|
efg gfg|ece efg|agf gfe|1dcd f2d:|2dcd g2e||
X: 2
T: The Snuff Wife
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Amix
|: A2 | {Gdc}d2c {g}B{d}G{e}B| {g}B{d}G{e}B {g}B{d}G{e}B | d2 c {g}B{d}G{e}B| {g}A{d}A{e}A c2 {G}A |
| {Gdc}d2c {g}B{d}G{e}B| {g}B{d}G{e}B {g}Bcd | {g}e2 d {g}cBc | {g}A{d}A{e}A {gcd}c2A:|
|: {g}f | B2 d {g}dcd | {g}Bd{G}d {g}Gd{G}d| {g}cAc {g}BGB | {g}A{d}A{e}A c2 {G}A |
| B2 d {g}dcd | {g}Bd{G}d {g}GB{G}B | {g}e2 d {g}cBc | {g}A{d}A{e}A {g}d2:|
|: {g}ecA {g}ecA | {g}ecA {g}ece | {g}fdf {g}ece | {g}d{e}d{G}d {g}fed |
| {g}ecA {g}ecA| {g}ecA {g}efg| {ag}agf gfe | {g}d{e}d{G}d {g}fed:|
|: {g}efg {f}gfg | {f}gfg {f}gfg | {a}fdf {g}ece | {g}d{e}d{G}d {g}fed |
| {g}efg {f}gfg | {f}gfg {f}gfg | {ag}agf gfe | {g}d{e}d{G}d {g}fed:|
X: 3
T: The Snuff Wife
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Amix
|:d5/2 c BG GB | BB GA Bd GB | dd dc BG GB | AA AB c2 BA |
| d5/2 c BG GB | BB GA Bd dB | e5/2 d cc Bc | AA AB c2 BA :|
[M: 6/8] |:Bdd dGd || [M: 4/4] Bd dG dd Gd || [M: 6/8] cAA BGG || [M: 4/4] AA AB c2 BA |
[M: 6/8] | Bdd dGd |[1 [M: 4/4] BG GA Bd dB | e5/2 d cc Bc | AA AB c2 BA :||
[2 [M: 6/8] BGB Bcd | e2 d cBc | AAA d2 f] |: ecA ecA |
| ecA eAe | fdf ece | dcd f2 d | ecA ecA |
| ece efg | agf gfe | dcd f2 d :||: efg gfg |
| efg gfg | f2 d edc | dcd f2 d | efg gfg |
| ece efg | agf gfe |1 dcd f2 d :|2[M: 9/8] dcd f9/2
X: 4
T: The Snuff Wife
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Amix
|: B/c/dc BGB | BGB BGB | B/c/dc BGB | ABA c2A |
B/c/dc BGB | BGB Bcd | ~e3 cBc |1 ABA cBA :|2 ABA c2A ||
|: Bcd ded | Bcd efd | c3 BcB | ~A3 cBA |
Bcd dcd | Bc/B/A Bcd | ~e3 cBc |1 ABA cBA :|2 ABA c2f ||
|: eAA eAA | eAA eAe | ~f3 efe | dcd fed |
eAA egf | efd efg | agf gec |1 dfe fed :|2 d2e fed ||
|:efg gfg | ega bag | f3 efe | dcd fed |
efg gfg | efd efg | agf gec |1 dfe fed :|2 d2e fed ||
X: 5
T: The Snuff Wife
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Amix
|: B/c/dc BGB | BGB BGB | B/c/dc BGB | ABA c2A |
B/c/dc BGB | BGB Bcd | e2d cBc |1 ABA c2A :|2 ABA cBA ||
|: Bcd dGd | Bcd dGd | c3 BGB | ~A3 c2A |
Bcd dGd | BGB Bcd | e2d cBc |1 ABA c2A :|2 ABA d2f ||
|: ecA ecA | ecA ece | ~f3 efe | d2e fed |
ecA egf | efd efg | agf gfe | d2e fed :|
|: efg ~g3 | efg gfg | fdf ece | d2e fed |
efg ~g3 | ede efg | a2g fef | d2e fed :|
X: 6
T: The Snuff Wife
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Amix
|: {Bc}d2c BGB | BGB BGB | d2c BGB | ~A3 c2A |
{Bc}d2c BGB | BGB Bcd | {f}e2d cBc |1 ~A3 cBA :|2 ~A3 AcA ||
|: Bcd dGd | BdB dBd | cAc BGB | ~A3 cBA |
Bcd dGd | BGB Bcd | {f}e2d cBc |1 ~A3 AcA :|2 ~A3 d2f ||
|: ecA ecA | ecA eAe | fdf ece | ~d3 fed |
ecA ecA | ecA efg | agf gfe|1 dcd fgf :|2 dcd fed ||
|: efg gfg | efg ge/f/g | fdf ece | ~d3 fed |
efg gfg | eBe efg | agf gfe |1 dcd fed :|2 dcd fec ||
X: 7
T: The Snuff Wife
R: jig
M: 6/8
L: 1/8
K: Amix
|: d2c BGB | BGB BGB | d2c ~B3 | ~A3 c2A |
d2c BGB | BGB Bcd | e2d cBc | ~A3 c2A :|
|: Bcd dcd | Bcd dcd | cAc BcB | ~A3 c2A |
Bcd dcd | BGB Bcd | e2d cBc |1 ~A3 c2A :|2 ~A3 d2f ||
|: ecA ecA | ecA ecA | ~f3 ~e3 | ~d3 fed |
ecA ecA | ecA efg | agf gfe | ~d3 fed :|
|: efg gfg | efg gfg | agf gfe | ~d3 fed |
efg gfg | ~e3 efg | agf gfe | ~d3 fed :|

Twenty-nine comments

This is a popular traditional highland pipe reel. Picked it up from Leo McCanns’ album "If Anyone Can"

G lydian in the 1st 2 parts. Interesting tune!

Yes Dow you’re right. I didn’t see that very often, I know a tune tune from Liz Carroll which seems to have its 2nd part in E lydian, with the rest (1st part and end of 2nd) in E dor. That gives something really great… but I don’t have the name. I’d like to post it, but not with ‘Gan Ainm’ as a title.

Posted by .

Thanks for fulfilling my request! πŸ™‚

Posted by .

But I can’t get the sense of this title (got a bad English)?… it seems strange to me 😏

Posted by .

Snuff is like tobacco you snort protz


The snuff wife … a powdered tobacco seller

Very interesting tune! I’ve rarely seen anything using the lydian mode, much less anything that sounded very good…

A great Scottish jig…

One of the best pipe-jigs ever, and one of my favourites,popularised, I’d say, by the "Battlefield Band". The key changes really tie accompanists up in knots, in my experience.

Posted by .


I can’t see any reason to classify this as a B minor tune. There are grounds for G lydian and A mix in 1 & 2, and A mix and D maj in 3 & 4, depending on whether you hear the opening or closing passages as the modal centre.

Matt, the reason the tune is listed in B minor is because it has two sharps. The first two parts may be in G lydian but the last two are not. Any way you list the tune would be wrong. B minor was the best choice as it has the right amount of sharps. You can’t list a tune here in two keys.

I know you can have tunes in two keys here but they have to be listed in one key here. It’s G lydian to Amix. ??? There is no G lydian choice here though. Maybe it would be better listed A mix? Any opinions?

Comment on Mode/Key

Hi bogman - I don’t see it can be B-Min, as B is not the keynote. And even if it were, it would be the natural minor (rather than the harmonic minor), as the latter always includes accidentals.

I think that A-Mix would be a fair classification (certainly for the "A" part, although (as has already been noted) it could be argued that part of the "B" tune modulates into D-Major.

Heres a setting with some variation and grace notes.
T:The Snuff Wife
|: A4 | {Gdc}d8 c4 {g}B4{d}G4{e}B4 | {g}B4{d}G4{e}B4 {g}B4{d}G4{e}B4 | d8 c4 {g}B4{d}G4{e}B4 | {g}A4{d}A4{e}A4 c8 {G}A4 |
| {Gdc}d8 c4 {g}B4{d}G4{e}B4 | {g}B4{d}G4{e}B4 {g}B4c4d4 | {g}e8 d4 {g}c4B4c4 | {g}A4{d}A4{e}A4 {gcd}c8:|
|: {g}f4 | B8 d4 {g}d4c4d4 | {g}B4d4{G}d4 {g}G4d4{G}d4 | {g}c4A4c4 {g}B4G4B4 | {g}A4{d}A4{e}A4 c8 {G}A4 |
| B8 d4 {g}d4c4d4 | {g}B4d4{G}d4 {g}G4B4{G}B4 | {g}e8 d4 {g}c4B4c4 | {g}A4{d}A4{e}A4 {g}d8:|
|: {g}e4c4A4 {g}e4c4A4 | {g}e4c4A4 {g}e4c4e4 | {g}f4d4f4 {g}e4c4e4 | {g}d4{e}d4{G}d4 {g}f4e4d4 |
| {g}e4c4A4 {g}e4c4A4 | {g}e4c4A4 {g}e4f4g4 | {ag}a4g4f4 g4f4e4 | {g}d4{e}d4{G}d4 {g}f4e4d4:|
|: {g}e4f4g4 {f}g4f4g4 | {f}g4f4g4 {f}g4f4g4 | {a}f4d4f4 {g}e4c4e4 | {g}d4{e}d4{G}d4 {g}f4e4d4 |
| {g}e4f4g4 {f}g4f4g4 | {f}g4f4g4 {f}g4f4g4 | {ag}a4g4f4 g4f4e4 | {g}d4{e}d4{G}d4 {g}f4e4d4:|

key of this

why is this not A mixolydian? look at how all the phrases resolve…..

Who wrote this tune? Is it traditional? in which case where was it first printed ? Im looking for an old setting but its not under this name on Ceol sean… What other name might it be known by ?clues appreciated …

The earliest book it appears in under that name is, I believe, John Wilson’s book 1, published in 1937. No composer is mentioned.

Excellent , thanks Weejie , I will see what I can find .

Lydia’s Snuff

This is fascinating; it really does move through different areas. Even the first bit though, has so much emphasis on moving toward D that it’s ambiguous (typical of less typical modes …). And it does;t give a clear ending either. Somebody could make mischief by messing with the chords. But i’ll just play the tune. That’s easier.

I could not find the rec. mentioned above, but I listened to An LΓ‘r (about whom I know nothing) on iTunesβ€”they take advantage of the ending & blur into the next tune, like a turntablist. πŸ™‚

I’d be curious to hear more infoβ€”

My advice

Please allow me to offer this with sincerity and humility, and absolutely without derision:

If you believe that it is important to spend more than about a quarter of a second of your life trying to determine whether the first two parts of The Snuff Wife are in G lydian, or B minor, or A mixolydian or D major or whatever, then I urge you to at least consider the possibility that you might not yet completely grasp Scottish music.

It’s not a transcription of a Coltrane solo. It’s not an exercise from one of the Hindemith texts. It’s The Snuff Wife. Don’t try to use a bar of soap to peel an apple.


For me, it’s usefull to know the harmony to accompany tunes (maybe because I am not a great player). Adding and listening to the 7e helps me to find tonality => all the chords you might play to accompany. (I often avoid to play the 7e)
Dmaj ## but tones G, A and Em from Dmaj => basic chords
part 1: chords I and II V from Glydian
G (7M) A(7) D(7M)…
part 2: same
part 3 : chords I, II and V from Amixolydian
A(7) D(7M) G…
part 4 : chords I and VII from E dorian
Em(7) D(7M) …

and after, I play all the other chords that I think sound good…

The Snuff Wife, X:3

Second song of Cosmos Cascade medley, from the repertoire of the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band

The Snuff Wife, X:4

A few variations from The Navigators.

Harmony for The Snuff Wife

Response to posts above. Several of you are struggling with understanding pipe harmony/melody.

The whole tune is A mixolydian. This mode is dictated by the 9-note Scottish pipe scale G-A-B-C#-D-E-F#G-A.

The A and B parts start on the flat VII (G chord), resolving in A every two bars. Using the same 9-note mixolydian scale, the C and D parts describe a major scale (Ionian) in D.

The A and B parts clearly describe an A7 sonority, with a lower neighbor G sonority resolving in A. The C and D parts outline D major. The first two bars of each line are clearly A7 harmony, which resolve in D.

This is a masterwork. I wish I could give a medal to the author. The tune is beautiful and ingenious.

The Snuff Wife, X:5

Also from the playing of The Navigators.

The Snuff Wife, X:6

From the playing of Gavin Marwick & Jonny Hardie.

The Snuff Wife, X:7

From the playing of Celine Donoghue.