Annotation:Barren Rocks of Aden (The)

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X:1 T:Barren Rocks of Edan, The M:2/4 L:1/8 R:Pipe March B:William Ross -- Ross's Collection of Pipe Music (1869, No. 56, p. 81) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:D e|fg f>e|df A/A/d|ce A/A/e|f>A d>e| fg fe|df A/A/d|ce A/A/f|d2 d:| (3efg|a>f df|ef A/A/e/f/|ge ce|df A/A/f/g/| a>f df|ef A/A/f/g/|eA ca|d2 d(3efg| a>f df|ef A/A/e/f/|ge ce|df A/A/f/g/| a>f ef|e/c/a/f/ A/A/>f/g/|eA c/d/e/a/|d2 d|| |:f/g/|a/f/d/f/ f/a/d/f/|ef A/A/e/f/|g/e/c/e/ e/g/c/e/| df A/A/f/g/|a/f/d/f/ f/a/d/f/|ef A/A/e/f/|g/e/c/e/ e/a/c/e/|d2 d:| |:f/g/|a/f/d/A/ A/f/d/f/|a/f/d/A/ A/f/d/f/|g/e/c/A/ A/e/c/e/|g/e/c/A/ A/e/c/e/| a/f/d/A/ A/f/d/f/|a/f/d/A/ A/f/d/f/|g/e/c/A/ A/e/c/a/|d2 d:|]

BARREN ROCKS OF ADEN. AKA - "Barren Rocks of Edan (The)." AKA and see "Dan O'Leary's (1)," "Port Dálaig (3)," "Sailor's (The)," "Sailor's Polka." Scottish; "Pipe Quickstep" or "Marching Air", March (2/4 time), or Military Two-Step. D Major (most versions): D Mixolydian (Bayard). Standard tuning (fiddle). One part (Balmoral): AB (Bayard): AAB (Hunter, Martin): AABB (Miller & Perron, Sannella, Skinner, Taylor): AABBCCDD (Ross, Sweet). Bayard (1981) says the tune is well known among bagpipers and fifers in modern times, but that the piece is not particularly old; he traces it to a possible source from a Highland regiment, which version was published in McDonald's Gesto Collection in 1895. Skinner (1904) and Hunter (1988) attribute the tune to one Alexander McKellar (1824-1895), a Pipe Major of the 78th Seaforth Highlanders Regiment of the British army; the tune is sometimes attributed to others, however, and it may be that McKellar was the arranger, not the composer. David Murray, writing in his excellent volume Music of the Scottish Regiments (Edinburgh, 1994), dates the tune to the mid 19th century when the 78th was stationed in Bombay. A detachment was provided from the regiment to garrison Aden, and it was there he says that Piper James Mauchline composed the march, which has become one of the most familiar of Scottish martial airs. "The first two measures [Ed.-i.e. first two parts] went well on the flute," writes Murray, "so the march was taken up by many corps of drums, eventually becoming a standby, played frequently by the drums of English regiments which had no idea of its provenance and who would accuse the pipers of stealing their tune. 'The Barren Rocks' has been played and whistled wherever Scots soldiers have been stationed. McKellar know the march was frequently being attributed to others. "...[N]ot a note in it but what was composed by me. The air is mine. The name is mine. Who has a better right to give a name to a child but the father," replied McKellar when asked about its origin.

A former generation used to sing to the air of the first measure [ed.-i.e. first part]:

See the laddie ower there
Si; the tartan kilt and the twa legs bare,
And a' the ladies they declare
'She's a fine braw chiel is her nainsel'

"This is an example of the kind of fun which used to be poked at Gaelic speaking soldiers, always in the minority. The last line mocks the difficulty which native Gaelic speakers had with the English language. 'She's a fine braw chiel' means a handsome sturdy lad; 'her nainsel', her own self, i.e. the speaker" (p. 120).

"Barren Rocks of Aden" was turned into a polka by Munster musicians (reaching as far as the Blasket Islands off the coast of West Kerry) who apparently picked the tune up from the regional military bands, who played it as a two-step. See versions under the titles "Sailor's Polka," "Port Dálaig (3)" and "Dan O'Leary's (1)."

The Halifax Citadel Regimental Association records that Piper Mauchline's tune was un-named, and that Pipe Major Alexander McKellar re-arranged it and gave it its' name. Pipers sometimes play the air in four parts, adding an additional two to the sections given by Hunter, Martin, Miller & Perron and others. See also note for "78th's Farewell to Belgaum (The)" for another famous march of McKellar's to come out of the 78's station overseas at the time. When the British army was reorganized in 1881 older regiments were paired and given new names; thus the 78th Highlanders ceased to become a discrete unit, but instead became The Seaforth Highlanders, along with the old 72nd Highlanders.

Additional notes

Sources for notated versions: - fifer Hiram Horner (Western Pa. 1960) [Bayard]; set dance music recorded at Na Píobairí Uilleann, late 1980's [Taylor]; Mattie Toohy's Irish Minstrels [Miller & Perron].

Printed sources : - Bayard (Dance to the Fiddle), 1981; No. 374, p. 363. Bulmer & Sharpley (Music from Ireland, vol. 4); 76. Hunter (Fiddle Music of Scotland), 1988; No. 343. J. Kenyon Lees (Balmoral Reel Book), c. 1910; p. 37. Martin (Ceol na Fidhle, vol. 2), 1988; p. 11. Miller & Perron (Irish Traditional Fiddle Music vol. 2), 1977; No. 64. Miller & Perron (Irish Traditional Fiddle Music), 2nd Edition, 2006; p. 127. Moffat (Dance Music of the North), 1908; No. 44, p. 19. Morison (Highland Airs and Quicksteps, vol. 2), c. 1882; No. 37, p. 22. Moylan (Johnny O'Leary of Sliabh Luachra), 1994; 44. William Ross (Ross's Collection of Pipe Music), 1869; No. 46, p. 77. Sannella, Balance and Swing (CDSS). Skinner (The Scottish Violinist), 1900; p. 31. Skinner (Harp and Claymore), 1904; p. 54 (includes variation sets). Sweet (Fifer's Delight), 1964; p. 56. Taylor (Music for the Sets: Blue Book), 1995; p. 21.

Recorded sources: -Old Hat Music OH!02, "The Old Hat Dance Band" (1992. Learned from melodeon player Cecil Pearl of Ipswich, Suffolk). Parlophone E3435 (78 RPM), David McCallum.

See also listing at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]
Alan Ng's [2]
Hear David McCallum's 78 RPM recording at the Internet Archive [3] (1st tune in medley, followed by "Marquis of Huntly's Farewell (The)" and "Mrs. MacLeod's Reel").

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