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Welcome to The Traditional Tune Archive
    The Semantic Index of North American, British and Irish
 traditional instrumental music with annotation, formerly known as
                          The Fiddler's Companion.

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Featured tune:     KILWINNING'S REEL
Featured tune:     KILWINNING'S REEL

The ruins of Kilwinning Abbey in 1789.

The reel "Kilwinning Steeple" is credited (in Manson's Hamilton's Universal Tune Book, 1853, p. 168) to Hugh Gilmour, a blind fiddler from Stevenston, Ayrshire, who died in 1822. Manson indicates the tune was published by him for the first time. The melody is similar to the Scottish song There's nae luck aboot the hoose (there's nae luck ava)."

The steeple at Kilwinning, Ayrshire, was part of a monastery dedicated to St. Winning, established in 1140. It was largely destroyed in 1560 during the Reformation by Alexander, Earl of Glencairn, acting on warrant from States of Scotland, the only parts of the structure remaining being the steeple and a gable. These were later repaired by the Earl of Eglinton, and it was from this steeple, on a pole 120 feet high, that the archers annually shot for the Popingoe. The old steeple collapsed on the 2nd of August, 1814, but was rebuilt on the same site, the foundation being laid by William Davidson Esq., "Most Wonderful Grand Master of the Most Ancient Mother Lodge of Kilwinning" (i.e. Freemanons). It was completed with a clock with four faces [1].

The curious word Popingoe is explained by Robert Forsyth, in his The Beauties of Scotland (1805).

In some measure connected with this abbey is a company or society of archers, which is said to have existed here as far back as 1488; at least this date is asserted in a minute in their records dated September 1688, which is signed by a number of gentlemen. Archery is practiced here annually, usually in the month of June. We have said that the institution is connected with the monastery. This is rendered probable from the sorts of archery which have been used from time immemorial. It is of two species. The one is an elevated mark, called a popingoe. The popingoe is a bird known in heraldry. It is on this occasion cut out in wood, fixed on the end of a pole, and placed 120 feet high on the steeple of the monastery. The archer who shoots down this mark is honored with the title of 'Captain of the Popingoe'. He is master of the ceremonies of the succeeding year, sends cards of invitation to the ladies, gives them a ball and supper, and transmits his honours to posterity by a medal, with suitable devices, appended to a silver arrow. [p. 405]


KILWINNING'S STEEPLE full Score(s) and Annotations and Past Featured Tunes

Kilwinnings Steeple





X:1 T:Kilwinning Steeple M:C L:1/8 R:Reel C:"By the late Hugh Gilmour" N:"Printed for the first time." B:Manson - Hamilton's Universal Tune Book (18, p. 168) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:A g|a2 (ec) defg|afec dBBg|a2 (ec) defg|afec A2A:| B|{d}c2 (cA) d2 (dB)|efec dBBd|{d}c2 (cA) defg|afec A2 (AB)| c2 (cA) d2 (dB)|efec dBBd|ceae defg|afec A2A||

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Who Builds The Archive
Who Builds The Archive

Although we are not trained musicologists and make no pretense to the profession, we have tried to apply such professional rigors to this Semantic Abc Web as we have internalized through our own formal and informal education.
This demands the gathering of as much information as possible about folk pieces to attempt to trace tune families, determine origins, influences and patterns of aural/oral transmittal, and to study individual and regional styles of performance.
Many musicians, like ourselves, are simply curious about titles, origins, sources and anecdotes regarding the music they play. Who, for example, can resist the urge to know where the title Blowzabella came from or what it means, or speculating on the motivations for naming a perfectly respectable tune Bloody Oul' Hag, is it Tay Ye Want?
Knowing the history of the melody we play, or at least to have a sense of its historical and social context, makes the tune 'present' in the here and now, and enhances our rendering of it.
Andrew Kuntz & Valerio Pelliccioni

Please register as a user to make the most of the many functions of the TTA, and enjoy the many ways that information about traditional tunes can be elicited and combined, from simple to complex situations. Users may make contributions, which, when reviewed by an editor, become part of this community project. Serious user/contributors may become editors through the TTA's autopromotion process, in which quantity and quality of entries allows increased levels of permission to edit and review the entire index.
Above all, the developers wish you joy in the use of the TTA.

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