Ossianic Air

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OSSIAN(IC) AIR. AKA - "Dàn Oisein." Scottish, Strathspey or Slow Air (4/4 or 6/8 time). F Major (Fraser, Gow): G Major (O'Sullivan/Bunting). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (O'Sullivan/Bunting): AABB (Fraser, Gow). This hexatonic air was "communicated by Sir John Sinclair (, Bart.)" note Fraser and Gow. "Sir John Sinclair was so kind as transmit a copy of this Fingalian air to the editor, when first brought forward. In a work avowedly compiling the Celtic melodies, for the purpose of being associated with poetry, it will scarcely be deemed presumption to have inserted it" (Fraser). Sir John must have though much of the air, for he also wrote to Belfast collector Edward Bunting () in 1808, sending a copy of the melody and explaining it was "recently transmitted to me by the Rev. Mr. Cameron, Minister of Halkirk, in the county of Caithness, North Britain, who learned it many years ago from a very old man, a farmer on my estate, who was accustomed to sing some of Ossian's poems to that air with infinite delight and enthusiasm." The dotted duple rhythm of the Scottish versions translates easily to the 6/8 version printed by Bunting in his supplement to his 1840 collection. Phrases of the tune are reminiscent of "Green Grow the Rushes O."

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Bunting (The Ancient Music of Ireland), 1840; No. 6. Carlin (Gow Collection), 1986; No. 202 (Strathspey) and No. 553 (Air). Fraser (The Airs and Melodies Peculiar to the Highlands of Scotland and the Isles), 1816; No. 27, p. 9. O'Sullivan/Bunting, 1983; No. 154, pp. 211-212.

Recorded sources: RCA 09026-61490-2, The Chieftains - "The Celtic Harp" (1993).




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