Farewell To Nigg waltz

By Duncan Johnstone

There are 11 recordings of this tune.

Farewell To Nigg has been added to 7 tune sets.

Farewell To Nigg has been added to 142 tunebooks.

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Two settings

X: 1
T: Farewell To Nigg
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Bmin
B>c d2 c>B|Ac B2B2|d>e f2 d>e|fa f2f2|
fa f2 B2|de c>B A2|ce f2 e>c|Ac B2B2:|
d>e f2 f2|a>e f2 B2|d>e f2 fa|f>e c2c2|
ce f2 B2|de c>B A2|ce f2 e>c|Ac B2B2:|
B>c d2 e2|cA B2B2|d>e f2 d>e|fa f2f2|
a>e f2 B2|de c>B A2|d>e f2 e>c|Ac B2B2:|
d>e f2 fa|f>e f2 B2|d>e f2 fa|f>e c2c2|
a>e f2 B2|de c>B A2|ce f2 e>c|Ac B2B2:|
X: 2
T: Farewell To Nigg
R: waltz
M: 3/4
L: 1/8
K: Bmin
|:B>c|"Bm"d2 c>B "A"Ac|"Bm"B2- B2 d>e|"D"f2 d>e "A7"fa|"D"f2- f2 fa|
"Bm"f2 B2 "G"de|"A"c>B A2 ce|"G"f2 e>c "A"Ac|"Bm"B2- B2:|
|:d>e|"D" f2 f2 "A"ae|"Bm"f2 B2 d>e|"D"f2 fa "E7"f>e|"A"c2- c2 ce|
"Bm"f2 B2 "G"de|"A"c>B A2 ce|"G"f2 e>c "A"Ac|"Bm"B2- B2:|
|:B>c|"Bm"d2 e2 "A"cA|"Bm"B2- B2 d>e|"D"f2 d>e "A7"fa|"D"f2- f2 ae|
"Bm"f2 B2 "G"de|"A"c>B A2 ce|"G"f2 e>c "A"Ac|"Bm"B2- B2:|
|:d>e|"D" f2 fa "A"fe|"Bm"f2 B2 d>e|"D"f2 fa "E7"f>e|"A"A2- A2 ae|
"Bm"f2 B2 "D"de|"A"c>B A2 ce|"G"f2 e>c "A"Ac|"Bm"B2- B2:|

Twenty-three comments

Farewell To Nigg

I was reminded of the tune when my daughter came home from school playing it yesterday. I’m amazed it’s not already here. Written be Duncan Johnstone it’s one of the best contemporary Highland pipe tunes. It’s also great on Uilleann pipes or any other instrument. It’s not really a waltz but a slow march.


The barlines are in the wrong place throughout. The first 2 notes are an upbeat to the d which is the first beat of the bar. Many (most?) retreat marches are written down incorrectly but that’s the GHB world - key signatures, barlines, what?


Strangely, the version here is not the one I submitted and yes, the version here is now wrong. I submitted the correct version in 6/4 are written by Duncan Johnstone.

“The first 2 notes are an upbeat to the d which is the first beat of the bar.”
- That is incorrect. The B is the first beat of the bar.

Barlines again

“ That is incorrect. The B is the first beat of the bar.“

I would count the first notes
and-a | One Two-and Three-and
The B is not the first beat but the upbeat or anacrusis. Where is the emphasis or downbeat? On the d, whether it’s 3/4 or 6/4.

No Matt, the emphasis is on the B. It is not an anacrusis. Where did you here it played with it being on the d?

I would agree with Matt.
When I hear this tune I hear the downbeat on the d. I would be interested to hear it with the emphasis as written but I don’t think I could.


Well I just checked other sources. The Dysart and Dondonald was the first recording I got of this tune. The emphasis is on the B. The Scots Guards book has it on the B, my daughters sheetmusic photocopied from an unknown book has it on B and myself and the other pipers here play with it on the B. Because that’s the way it’s written.

Yes, that’s usually the way that these pipe tunes are written.
But why, in the underlying harmony, do the chord changes generally take place on the second beat of the bar?

What would Duncan Johnstone care about chord changes? Listen to the Dysart and Dundonald play it - downbeat on the first note of the bar B. And are you trying to say pipe tunes are written without anacrusis?

Duncan Johnstone probably wouldn’t care anything about chord changes - he probably had no knowledge in that direction.
When I listen to this tune and other retreat marches I generally hear the downbeat on the second beat of the bar, as written. That is, if I was doing my 3/4 body swing I would start my swing on the second beat of the bar.
When I listen to Andy Stewart singing “A Scottish Soldier” (Green Hills of Tyrol) and he gets to the bit “and there were these green Highland hills” I definitely feel the pulse on “these” rather than “there were”.
In my, admittedly limited, experience of 3/4 retreat marches I’ve only ever seen one written with an anacrusis (The Kilworth Hills by GS McLennan).

This is not a feckin waltz

I was 15 when this tune made its breakthrough into the Pipe Band canon. It is in 6/4 timing and remains one of the most dignififed and frankly beautiful tunes ever written for the pipes.

It achieves a minor key feel that gives it an almost statesmanlike quality.


When will the Irish ever understand Scottish music?

I don’t see that this has anything to do with “the Irish”. There is no facility for 6/4 marches on the site (they are not common, even in the GHB repertoire). Nobody here is claiming that it is a waltz, just that it was entered as such due to the limitations in categories.
Moreover, there is a claim that Duncan Johnstone wrote this tune down in 3/4, and was not pleased that the tune appeared in 6/4 in the Scots Guards Book II:


As for the “anacrusis”: Bogman is right concerning the notation - 3/4 retreats are written as such. It’s not an error. The emhasis doesn’t conform to the 3/4 (or 6/4) that you more commonly see in western music. The same could be said of Swedish polskas written in 3/4. The time signature is there for convenience only.

Why would you write it in 6/4 when it’s clearly in triple time?

We know it’s not a feckin’ waltz……

“bogman” posted the tune, along with comments making that clear from the start. Read his last sentence. And as for “the Irish understand[ing] Scottish music”, I don’t believe a single one of the comments made above were made by anyone born in Ireland.

Posted by .

I think, Kenny, that the problem is folk getting on their high horse without bothering to take the time to read the comments above. It is a shame really. The height of ignorance.

Can I just say, this tune is not a waltz. I think it’s stupid that it’s been posted under that category. You people obviously know nothing about the music!


Does it really matter?

This is a beautiful tune however it’s written. I’ve just adapted the way I play it to suit how it should sound, but I’ve been listening to Alasdair Fraser’s/Natalie Haas’ recording from Highlander’s Farewell. Wish I could play fiddle as it doesn’t sound quite so haunting on the flute!

Posted by .

Just saying…

I have tune book written by Duncan Johnstone’s son. The tune is included in it. He is a cello player. I don’t have it with me at the moment, but will check it and report back.

Re: Retreat Barlines

From the same bobdunsire.com thread linked to above, from member pipesofdoom:

“The reason that the “up-beat” is placed after the bar-line is because of the strike-in. The up-beat in a retreat march (either 3/4 or 9/8) is at least one crotchet long (i.e. a quater note, or one whole foot-step).

Playing the up-beat before the bar would not leave enough time for a clean and clear strike-in on the “E”. Yes, it is possible, but the effect is not as good as playing the up-beat after the bar (and on the wrong foot as a result).

Interestingly, the first collection of Standard Army settings type-set many of the retreat marches in the “correct” and literal way, but this was then altered in the second book to place the up-beats after the bar. The reason for the change was not given, other than noting that the change was in accordance with practice.“

So basically pipers know the upbeat is written in the wrong place but it seems it helps with their timing.

Farewell To Nigg, X:2

I’m a piper and fiddler. I’ve read the arguments. I offer this X:2 tune version with an anacrusis and chords on the down beats. The tune is not a waltz, but rather is termed to be a triple time air. A similar set tune I use with it is “A Bruxa” (Galacian tune meaning “The Witch”) also in Bm. Enjoy.

Re: Farewell To Nigg

Australian Fiddle player Chris Duncan Plays this tune down an octave. It appears on the album The Red House – The Heritage Of The Scottish Fiddle.