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Welcome to The Traditional Tune Archive
The Semantic Index of North American, British and Irish
traditional instrumental music with annotation, formerly known as
The Fiddler's Companion.

October 23 2018  Featured tune:           FLOP EARED MULE

Atholl Highlanders Regimental Silver Glengarry Badge.

THE ATHOLL HIGHLANDERS. AKA - "Athol Highlanders Jig." AKA and see "Duke of Atholl's March (1)," "Highland Fabrick," "Lord Athlone's March," "Three Sisters (1) (The)" (Shetland). Scottish (originally), Irish; Pipe March (6/8 time) or Jig. Scotland, Perthshire. Ireland, Donegal. A Major/Mixolydian (Brody, Hinds, Martin, Neil, Ross, Songer, Sweet): G Major (Kerr). Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB (Kerr): AABB' (Neil): AABBCC (Brody): ABCD (Sweet): AABBCCDD (Hinds, Martin, Songer): AABB'CCDD'EEFF (Ross). The name Athole (or Atholl) derives from the Gaelic ath Fodla, generally translated as New Ireland, and stems from the first invasion of the northern land by the Irish tribe the Scots in the 7th century (Matthews, 1972). The tune, described sometimes as a Scottish warpipes melody, is dedicated to the private army of the Duke of Atholl, the last private army still legally existing {albeit on a token level} in the British Isles (Boys of the Lough). Musically, the tune contains a characteristic melodic cliché in Scottish music in which a figure is followed by the same or a related figure on the triad one tone below or above (Emmerson, 1971). The original Athole Highlanders (and the ones associated with the tune) were the old 77th Highland Regiment, raised in 1778 and commanded by Colonel James Murray. The 77th served in Ireland and was not engaged in active service, though its garrison services were apparently useful in freeing other units for the conflicts with America and France. They were disbanded in 1783 after those conflicts ended (although the disbanding may have come about because of a mutiny). The tune was later taken up as a march past by the 2nd Battalion of the Cameronians, the 90th Light Infantry, who over the years had shed their Scottish origins. However, when pipers were introduced in 1881 they recollected their Perthshire origins and chose to play "The Atholl Highlanders" (also known in pipe literature as "Gathering of the Grahams (The)"). Susan Songer notes that when played for contra dances once through the tune is twice through a dance. The tune is associated in modern times with the dance called The Duke of Gordon's Reel, so much so that Scottish dance musicians will sometimes call "Atholl Highlanders" by the name "Duke of Gordon's Reel" (despite the fact that "Atholl Highlanders" is a jig). See also the early printing of the tune in Jane Morison's Highland Airs and Quicksteps, vol. 1 (No. 19), where it appears as "Duke of Atholl's March." A still earlier version of the melody appears as "Highland Fabrick" in Henry Colclough's tutor for the uilleann pipes (c. 1830)


THE ATHOLE HIGHLANDERS full Score(s) and Annotations and Past Featured Tunes



X:1 % T:The Athole Highlanders' March M:6/8 L:1/8 R:Pipe March B:William Ross -- Ross's Collection of Pipe Music (1869, No. 22, p. 70) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:Amix c/d/|e3 ecA|ecA Bcd|e3 ecA|Bcd cBA| e3 ecA|ecA Bcd|c<ae fed|cdB A2|

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Although we are not trained musicologists and make no pretense to the profession, we have tried to apply such professional rigors to this Semantic Abc Web as we have internalized through our own formal and informal education.


This demands the gathering of as much information as possible about folk pieces to attempt to trace tune families, determine origins, influences and patterns of aural/oral transmittal, and to study individual and regional styles of performance.
Many musicians, like ourselves, are simply curious about titles, origins, sources and anecdotes regarding the music they play. Who, for example, can resist the urge to know where the title Blowzabella came from or what it means, or speculating on the motivations for naming a perfectly respectable tune Bloody Oul' Hag, is it Tay Ye Want?
Knowing the history of the melody we play, or at least to have a sense of its historical and social context, makes the tune 'present' in the here and now, and enhances our rendering of it.

Andrew Kuntz & Valerio Pelliccioni


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