I SEEM TO HAVE A THING ABOUT BOAT SONGS...



We have been working hard on the site recently, redoing the filters. I had always wanted to make it super easy for people to find music they wanted, parts for the instrumentalists they had, but from the outset I always felt that the filters on the shop page could perhaps be made more specific. I think we have now achieved that.

There is still one filter to come, a filter to indicate which pieces have alternative parts available, and that will be added very soon.

I'd like to write a bit more about the folk songs on the site. And I have noticed that I really seem to like boat songs! I think these tunes have a lovely lilting feeling. 'Skye Boat Song' is a traditional Scottish song that describes how, after his defeat in battle at Culloden in 1746, Bonnie Prince Charlie was taken by rowing boat from Uist to Skye with the help of Flora McDonald, in order that he might escape the British Soldiers. It is

a 'Rowing song' known as 'Iorram' (pronounced 'Irram'). This means that the tempo can be set by imagining that the three beats in the bar correspond with the action of lifting the oars out of the water, dipping them in again and pulling the stroke. I wrote this arrangement many years ago and I have reworked it slightly for the site. I'm not quite sure why I arranged it in B flat major! But I decided to keep it in that key because I think it works nicely.


The arrangement of 'Mingulay Boat Song' is for three violins and piano. I chose this tune because it holds such a special memory for me. My dad was an art teacher at a senior school in Northumberland for most of his career, and when I was probably about 4 or 5, we went with a group from the school on a camping trip to Dumfries in Scotland. It is amazing to me that at such a young age I have a clear memory of being on Mallaig beach one evening with pupils and staff. I can picture my dad, sitting on the hull of an upturned boat playing the guitar and singing 'Mingulay Boat Song'.


Everyone sang with him in the form of a round. It is a beautiful memory and subsequently, along with 'Ca the Yows', I arranged the 'Mingulay Boat Song' for string quartet. When I looked at it again a few years ago I decided that the quartet arrangement didn't work too well and I rearranged it for three violins and piano instead.


The tune itself was probably written by Sir Hugh Robertson from Glasgow. It depicts sailing back and forth from the now deserted island of Mingulay, which lies to the south of Barra in the Western Hebrides.


I am excited about arranging some other tunes. Some possible inclusions may be 'Loch Lomond', 'Sally in our Alley', 'Molly Malone', 'The Fields of Athenry' and also some country dance tunes. If you have any tunes that you'd like to see arranged for the site then please add them in a comment below or contact us via our email address. Thanks for reading!!


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