Piper o' Dundee (The)

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PIPER O’ DUNDEE, THE. AKA and see “Drummer (1) (The).” Scottish; Air, Reel or Strathspey. A Dorian. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The tune can also be played as a reel or a strathspey. See also note under “Drummer (1) (The)” title, by which it appears in many older collections. The “Piper o’ Dundee” title comes from a song set to the tune in James Hogg’s Jacobite Relics of Scotland (1819-21), which begins:

The piper came to our town, to our town, to our town,
The piper came to our town, and he played bonnilie.
He play’d a spring the laird to please, a spring brent new from ‘yont the seas,
And then he gie’d his bags a wheeze, and played anither key.

Cho:
And wasna he a rougey, a rougey, a rougey,
And wasna he a rougey, the piper o’ Dundee.

Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1883, p. 443) gives the piper’s name as ‘Carnegie of Finhaven,’ and dates the song to the Jacobite rising of 1715 where it was one of the melodies used “to stir up the chiefs and their clans to join the Earl of Mar.” George Farquhar Graham (in his Popular Songs of Scotland, 1887) says of him: “The piper is said to have been Carnegie of Finhaven, who changed sides during the contest in 1715. He was a great coward, if we may believe the Jacobite writers; he certainly ran away at Sheriffmuir, but so many on both sides did the same, that his should not count for much against him.” He may be the Carnegie of Finhaven, James Carnegie, who was the central figure in a precedent-setting trail more than a decade after the Jacobite rising. James, along with a group of gentry had been out celebrating in Forfar in 1728, and were deep in their cups. Throughout the evening he had endured a number of insults by a Mr. Lyon of Bridgeton, including being pushed into a ditch and spattered with mud. Finally Carnegie could no longer stand the effrontery, and drawing his sword he prepared to run Bridgeton through. He was prevented doing so by the intervention of Charles Lyon, 6th Earl of Strathmore, who threw himself between the disputants and, in so doing, received a mortal wound from Carnegie from which he died two days later. Carnegie was tried for murder, but was ably defended by Robert Dundas of Arniston, with the result that the jury found him “not guilty” of premeditated murder rather than the usual verdicts of “proven” or “not proven” in Scottish law, thus setting a precedent.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Johnson (Kitchen Musician No. 10; Airs and Melodies from Scotland’s Past), 1992 (revised 2001); p. 15.

Recorded sources:




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