I have recently been collecting scottish folk music - the traditional style; burns, neil gow, etc.

I have now written something in that style, with a few harmonic twists and turns to keep the musicians interested.

I want you to see the mist and smell the heather - tell me if I got in any way close

On the Banks of Cairnie Burn3.pdf


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  • Heather and mist yes.  Absolutely.  Prefer 2nd version as posted.

  • Very beautiful!  Nice subtle use of harmonization measures 16, 33 and so forth.

    My only criticism is that I don't think you need those fermatas.  I think it's ruins the flow of it.  Yes that harmony is beautiful, but I think it should stretch rather than stop abruptly.  Personally I think you should make it tenuto or "ten." so that it still moves though it slows a little at that point.  In any case, beautiful stuff Adrian.

  • thanks both of you for listening

    Yes, "ten" is probably what I was aiming for, but I don't see it all that often on scores, so I opted for pause - but I will do "ten" and take your advice and edit the score.

    The harmonic twist is the minor chord on the 4th degree of the scale, which is pretty common in pop music but I thought I'd import it into a folk-style song. It should really be Ab Cb Eb but for easy reading I called it Ab B Eb.

  • That's what I'd do.  Anyway, very nice work.

  • Well you have got my influences right.

    I know Kenneth Mckellar already. I have recently been buying a lot of music on e-bay and playing through all the greats - Ae Fond Kiss, Robin Adair, Annie Laurie, etc.

    Thanks for taking an interest.

  • Thanks, John - I will look into those.

    My biggest influences, Ray are probably a bit less commercial, to be honest although I like some of Kenneth's renditions, but the link you posted was too disneyeque, as you say.

    This is a good example of what I love that is Scottish. The arrangement is from Songs of the North, a book from which many Edwardians got a taste of Scottish music (and where the Skye Boat Song was first ever published).


    What you also raise is the the question of authenticity in folk music - it will never go away, and always been with us, because we can't travel in a Tardis to hear a 19th century crofter singing for his supper.

  • yes, you have a good point - this was the aim of Alan Lomax, was it not, to preserve these songs before they die out.

    Slightly before that period, a number of early ethno-musicologists recorded the songs via conventional notation. The main exponent of this approach was Cecil Sharpe. There was controversy, as sometimes the rural singer sang back popular music hall hits of the day, so their oral culture was not as pure as it seemed.

    I don't think that there are any recordings of "folk" Scottish songs from the early 20th century like the Lomax collection, but I might be wrong.

  • This was great!  thoroughly enjoyed it!

  • thanks for listening, matthew

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