Total Pageviews

Monday, 7 July 2014

The Drunken Piper

As is well known where there is piping or where pipers gather then whisky isn’t too far away. The following short anecdote was recorded by Calum Maclean on the 10th of January 1951 from John MacDonald of Highbridge, Brae Lochaber, and tells the alleged story behind a famous tune called ‘The Drunken Piper’:

MacGilleDhuinn – Pìobaire Ainmeil

Bha pìobaire ainmeil ann ris an abradh iad MacGilleDhuinn. Bha e a’ falbh feadh na dùthcha a’ pìobaireachd. Agus smaoinich e gun rachadh e an àird chun taigh duine uasail a chluich na pìob’ is an dùil aige gum faigheadh e beagan airgid. Chaidh e an àirde. Thug an duine uasal an aire gun robh an deoch air agus ’s ann a smàd e air falbh on taigh e agus thuirt e nach toireadh e dhà airgead na taing airson a chluich, is e a bhith a falbh an siud. Is thuirt e:
“Chan eil an deoch orm,” thuirt e. “Is math is aithne dhomh a' phìob a chluich,” thuirt e, "deoch orm na deoch dhiom."
Chuir e dìreach mun cuairt agus rinn e am port is chluich e sìos an rathad e. Agus their iad ris a’ phort a tha sin gus an latha an-diugh Drunken Piper.
Agus ’s ann an Grianaig a chaochail MacGilleDhuinn, ach chan eil mi ro-chinnteach dè ’n dùthaich as an robh e. Ach shiud agad fhar an tàinig a’ chrìoch air ann an Grianaig.

And the translation goes something like the following:

Brown – A Famous Piper

There was a famous piper that they called Brown. He would travel all over the country piping. And he thought that he would go up to a nobleman’s house and play the pipes in the hope of getting some money. He went up. The nobleman noted that he was drunk and waved him away from the house and the said that he wouldn’t give him any money or thanks for playing and that he had to make himself scare. He replied:
“I’m not drunk,” he said, “I know very well how to play the pipes,” he said, “where I’m drunk or not.”
He turned about and he composed the tuen and played it down the road. And they called that tune to this very day ‘The Drunken Piper.’
And Brown died in Greenock but I’m not too sure which part of the country he came from. And there you have Greenock, the place where he ended his days.

The story itself seems a bit implausible as it would appear to be that it’s simply a tune that has come down from tradition and may have been a Gaelic song or piece of mouth-music to begin with or perhaps it was a tune that was popular and words given to it. Eiether way, it is fairly old as it appears in early tune books. The Drunken Piper can played as a reel but usually as a march and like many other tunes is known by different titles such as March of the Meeatoiteen Bull, March of the Mín na Toitéan Bull, Highland Rory, Reel of the 51st Divison, We Will Take the Good Old Way, to name but a few. It also has an associated port-à-beul known as ‘Far am Bi Mi Fhìn’ (‘Where I Will Be’) which remains popular amongst singers, and here is one variation of it:

Far am bi mi fhìn is ann a bhios mo dhòchas,
Far am bi mi fhìn is ann a bhios mo dhòchas,
Far am bi mi fhìn is ann a bhios mo dhòchas,
Far am bi mi fhìn bidh mo dhòchas ann.

Siubhal air na cladaichean ’s a’ coiseachd air a’ ghainmhich,
Siubhal air na cladaichean ’s a’ coiseachd air a’ ghainmhich,
Siubhal air na cladaichean ’s a’ coiseachd air a’ ghainmhich,
Far am bi mi fhìn bidh mo dhòchas ann.

Thèid mi fhìn is Sìne null gu taigh a’ phìobair’,
Thèid mi fhìn is Sìne null gu taigh a’ phìobair’,
Thèid mi fhìn is Sìne null gu taigh a’ phìobair’,
’S nì sinn brod an ruidhle leinn fhin air an làr.

Is mura toir am pìobair’ puirt dhuinn airson ruidhle,
Is mura toir am pìobair’ puirt dhuinn airson ruidhle,
Is mura toir am pìobair’ puirt dhuinn airson ruidhle,
’S ann a bheir sinn sgrìbh chun an fhìdhleir bhàin.

And the translation goes something like the following: 

Where I will be is where my hope lies,
Where I will be is where my hope lies,
Where I will be is where my hope lies,
Where I will be my hope lies.

Jane and I will go to the piper’s house,
Jane and I will go to the piper’s house,
Jane  and I will go to the piper’s house,
And we will dance a choice reel by ourselves on the floor.
 

Chorus 
And if the piper doesn’t play us tunes for the reel,
And if the piper doesn’t play us tunes for the reel,
And if the piper doesn’’t play us tunes for the reel,
We’ll head off to see the fair-haired fiddler.
 

Chorus 
Travelling the shores and walking on the sand,
Travelling the shores and walking on the sand,
Travelling the shores and walking on the sand,
Where I will be my hope lies.

For the sake of comparison here is the tune in pipe notation:

 
Reference:
SSS NB 11, pp. 996–97


Images:
Drones of a bagpipe
‘The Drunken Piper’ in pipe notation as a 2/4 march.

No comments:

Post a Comment