Highland Harry

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HIGHLAND HARRY. AKA and see "Blue Bonnet (6)," "Highlander's Farewell to Ireland (2) (The)." Scottish, Strathspey (whole time). A Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. A melody popular with both fiddlers and bagpipers. It appears in Neil Stewart's Reels (1762) and in David Young's Gillespie Manuscript of Perth (1768) under the title "Highlander's Farewell to Ireland (1) (The)". It was this melody to which poet Robert Burns set his song "Highland Harry," which appeared in Johnson's Scots Musical Museum of 1790. Burns based his song on an older one that he picked up from "an old woman in Dumblane," although he reworked much of the material, save for the chorus "My Harry was gallant and gay."

The original song, remarks Peter Buchan, describes the affection between Harry Lunsdale, the second son of a Highland gentleman, and Mrs Jeanie Gordon, daughter to the Laird of Knockespock, in Aberdeenshire. "The lady was married to her cousin, Habichie Gordon, a son of the Laird of Rhynie; and some time after her former lover having met her and shaken her hand, her husband drew his sword in anger, and lopped off several of Lumsdale's fingers, which Highland Harry took so much to heart that he soon after died'. Burns' reworking gives it a political cast, and is among his 'Jacobite' songs. It begins:

Oh for him back again, oh for him back again
I wid gie a' Knockhaspie's land for Hieland Harry back again

My Harry was a gallant gay, fu' stately rade he o'er the plain
But noo they've sent him far away, we'll never see him back again

The tune appears as "Blue Bonnet (6)"/"Am Bonaid Borm" in Glasgow piper, pipe teacher and pipe-maker William Gunn's Caledonian Repository of Music Adapted for the Bagpipes (1848).

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Martin (Traditional Scottish Fiddling), 2002; p. 78.

Recorded sources: HMV B3245 30-2005 BR 2632 II triangle, Pipe Major William Ross (2nd tune in march-strathspey-reel medley).

See also listing at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]
Hear the strathspey played by Pipe Major William "Willie" Ross at Rare Tunes [2] [3] (preceded by the march "Marchioness of Tullibardine (The)" and followed by the reel "Loch Carron").




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