Greig's Pipes

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X:3 T:Greig's Pipes (#271) M:4/4 L:1/8 S:O'Farrell's Pocket Companion 1804-10 Z:Paul Kinder R:Reel K:D f/2g/2|a>df>d a>df>b|a>df>d e>B Bf/2g/2|a>df>d adfd|e/2e/2e fd eB B2:| |:e|f>df>d f>dd>e|f>df>d eBBe|f>df>d A>dfd|e/2e/2e fd eB B2:| |:d|ADFD ADDd|ADFD BEEd|ADFD ADFD|GBFA GEE:| |:c|d>edA FDDc|d/2c/2B/2A/2 dA BDDc|d>edA F/2G/2AFD|GBFA BE E:||



GREIG'S PIPES (Píopaí Greig). AKA and see "Chaidh an coach 'sa Bhanarich," "Cobbler's Hornpipe (2) (The)," "Connolly's Reel," "Craig's Pipes," "Daft Dairymaid (The)," "Fiddler is Drunk (The)," "Foxhunters (Reel (1) (The)," "Greg's Pipe Tune," "Gregg's Pipes," "Gun do dhuit am bodach fodar dhomh" (The Old Man Wouldn't Give Me Straw), "Jim Seery's," "Kerry Huntsman (The)," "Kregg's Pipes," "Manchester Reel (1)," "Píopaí Greig," "Willie Winkie's Testament (2)," "Willie Wink's Testament (2),""Willy Wilky." Scottish, Shetland, Canadian, Irish; Reel. Shetland, Whalsay. Canada; Cape Breton, Prince Edward Island. G Major (Breathnach, Mulvihill, Taylor, Tubridy): A Major (Athole, Cranford, Davie, Hardie, Lowe, Martin, Perlman): D Major (Kennedy, O'Farrell). Standard, AEae or AEac# tunings (fiddle). AABB (Taylor): ABC (Feldman & O'Doherty, Tubridy): ABBC (Mulvihill): AABBCC (O'Farrell): AABBCC' (Perlman): ABBCCDD (Cranford/Fitzgerald): AABBCCDD (Athole, Davie, Gow, Hardie, Kennedy, Lowe, Martin): AABB'CDE (Breathnach).

According to John Glen (Early Scottish Melodies, 1900, p. 229) the tune is a composition of James Greg (alias Gregg or Greig) (1718-1817), a teacher of dancing in Ayrshire, and, as Fr. John Quinn points out, this is confirmed in Greg's obituary in 1817:

At Ayr, at a very advanced age, Mr. James Gregg, who for many years was well known in Ayrshire, Galloway, and Dumfriesshire as an eminent teacher of dancing. He was a many of happy temper, and of considerable originality of genius. He was remarkably skilled in musick. and performed with great taste and execution on the violin; and besides "Gregg's Pipes" and "Strathspeys" which bear his name, he composed many other excellent pieces, which his modestly prevented him from acknowledging, though he contributed to many musical publications. He had a taste for Painting, Mechanics, and Natural History, made and improved telescopes, had no inconsiderable knowledge of Mathematicks, and was frequently employed as a measurer of land, until his advanced years rendered him incapable of bearing the fatigue. He taught dancing until, by old age, he could scarcely see his own pupils, or hears the tones of his own violin.[1]

See also Robert Burns' 1788 song (or his reworking of an older song), "My Lady's Gown Has Gairs Upon It," set to a strathspey composed by Gregg.

AEae tuning was preferred for "Greig's Pipes" in the 18th century (Johnson, 1983) as it is set, for example in Neil Stewart's 1761 collection, but it is also played in ADae tuning (fiddle). Played in AEae tuning, the tune was employed on the island of Whalsay, Shetland, by fiddlers John Irvine and Andrew Polson as one of the tunes for the "bedding the bride" ritual (Cooke, 1986). AEae is also a common tuning for the piece on Cape Breton Island, especially with the early-mid 20th century generations of fiddlers, such as Mary Hughie MacDonald and Donald MacLellan (Paul Cranford, 1997) {Winston Fitzgerald, however, played it in standard tuning}. Similarly, it is played by some County Leitrim fiddlers in AEae tuning (e.g. the McNamara family). "Greig's Pipes" is a double-tonic tune that is also in the pentatonic scale; a characteristic now-a-days recognized as Scottish, but the double-tonic was also common in English music prior to 1700 when it dropped out of favor in that part of the island. To avoid the need to tune up and retune after playing the piece, it was, according to Charles Milne of Dufftown, the last item of an evening's program (Collinson, 1966). The melody appears in the Gillespie Manuscript of Perth, 1768, and Joshua Campbell's 1778 Collection of Newest and Best Reels (p.11), although John Glen (1891) finds the earliest printing in Neil Stewart's 1761 collection (p. 44). A Cape Breton bagpipe setting was printed by Barry Shears in his Gathering of the Clans Collection (1991) under the title "Gun Do Dhuit am Bodach Fodar Dhomh" (The Old Man Wouldn't Give Me Straw), and Perlman (1996) adds that another Cape Breton title is "Greg's Pipe Tune." A dorian setting of the tune also goes by the name "Gregg's Pipes" in Kerr's 4th. Several Irish versions are found as "Craig's Pipes." Glasgow piper, pipe teacher and pipe-maker William Gunn printed a pipe version of the tune in his Caledonian Repository of Music (1848) under the title "Chaidh an coach 'sa Bhanarich" (The Daft Dairymaid).

In Ireland the tune appears in print in O'Farrell's Pocket Companion (1804), a setting in the key of 'D' (without scordatura tuning) reprinted by O'Neill in Waifs and Strays of Gaelic Melody (288, 1922). O'Neill printed the tune elsewhere under the title "Limber Elbow" ("a poor version", says Breathnach), and the first part of the tune appears in his "Edenderry Reel." Other Irish names for related tunes include "Foxhunter's Reel (The)," "Kerry Huntsman (The)" and "Connolly's Reel." "Grieg's Pipes" appears in the Sutherland manuscript from County Leitrim. O'Neill (1922) remarks:

I first heard of this tune twenty odd years ago, as being a favorite with James Quinn an old time Chicago piper (originally from Cloone), familiarly known as 'Old Man Quinn'. Altho Sergt. Early his relative and pupil had learned it, the tune never got into circulation among musicians. Being unfavorably impressed by the version of 'Greig's Pipes' received with other tunes subsequently from Pat. Dunne of Kilbraugh, Tipperary, it was not included among the '1001 Gems' in O'Neill's Dance Music of Ireland. The piper in whose honor the tune had been named must have been a noteworthy performer, for almost identical with the setting in O'Farrell's Pocket Companion for the Irish or Union Pipes, is another in A Complete Repository of Old and New Scotch Strathspeys, Reels, and Jigs, Selected from the Works of Neil Gow and Sons, Edinburgh 1805. As the talented Neil Gow was much inclined to plagiarism, and from the fact that the tune in question had been previously printed by Neil Stewart in 1762 and as early as 1779 by Joshua Campbell "in a Collection of Reels composed by himself" we may assume that Campbell's claim to the composition of 'Greig"s Pipes' is indisputable.


Additional notes



Printed sources : - Breathnach (CRÉ 1), 1963; No. 96, p. 41. Bulmer & Sharpley (Music from Ireland, vol. 2), 1974; 14. J. Campbell (Newest and Best Reels), c. 1778; p. 11. Cranford (Winston Fitzgerald: A Collection of Fiddle Tunes), 1997; No. 100, p. 42. Davie (Davie’s Caledonian Repository), Aberdeen, 1829-30; p. 25. Dunlay & Greenberg (Traditional Celtic Violin Music of Cape Breton), 1996; p. 136. Feldman & O'Doherty (The Northern Fiddler), 1979; p. 169a (untitled reel). Gow (Complete Repository, Part 1), 1799; p. 24. William Gunn (The Caledonian Repository of Music Adapted for the Bagpipes), Glasgow, 1848; p. 30 (as "Chaidh an coach 'sa Bhanarich/The Daft Dairymaid"). Hardie (Caledonian Companion), 1992; p. 122. Kennedy (Fiddler's Tune-Book: Reels & Rants, Flings & Fancies), 1997; No. 58, p. 16. Joseph Lowe (Lowe's Collection of Reels, Strathspeys and Jigs, book 4), 1844–1845; p. 5. Martin (Traditional Scottish Fiddling), 2002; p. 27. Mulvihill (1st Collection), 1986; No. 6, p. 2. O'Farrell (Pocket Companion, vol. 1), c. 1805; p. 43. O'Neill (Waifs and Strays of Gaelic Melody), 1922; No. 288. Perlman (The Fiddle Music of Prince Edward Island), 1996; p. 104. Stewart-Robertson (The Athole Collection), 1884; p. 16. Taylor (Music for the Sets: Yellow Book), 1995; p. 20. Tubridy (Irish Traditional Music, vol. 1), 1999; p. 24.

Recorded sources : - Celtic SCX 57, Dan R. MacDonald et al – "The Fiddlers of Cape Breton." Drumlin Records, The McNamara Family – "Leitrim's Hidden Treasures" (1999). Green Linnet GLCD 1128, Brendan Mulvihill & Donna Long – "The Morning Dew" (1993). Green Linnet GLCD 3011, The Bothy Band – "1975" (1983). MKM7590, Mike McHale – "The Schoolmaster's House" (2000. Appears as "Gregg's Pipes," learned from piper Miko Padian). Rodeo RLP 107, Joe MacLean – "And His Old Time Scottish Fiddle" (c. 1967. Appears as "Athole Reel"). Rodeo RLP 59, Dan R. MacDonald – "Fiddling to Fortune with..." Rounder 7009, Doug MacPhee – "Cape Breton Piano" (1977). Rounder Records, John L. MacDonald – "Formerly of Foot Cape Road: Scottish Fiddle Music in the Classic Inverness County Style" (2005). Torc Music TOLCD 1, Kilfenora Ceili Band – "Set on Stone" (1997).

See also listing at :
Alan Ng's Irishtune.info [1]
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [2]
Alan Snyder's Cape Breton Fiddle Recordings Index [3]



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  1. The Gentleman's Magazine and Historical Chronical, vol. 87, pt. 2 (July-Dec. 1817), p. 636. [4]