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Odd Request?

Posted: Tue Jun 10, 2008 9:19 pm
by MikeS
Hello all,

I'm not quite sure where to post this so I gues I'll start here.

I am wondering if anyone out there may have the music (i.e. sheet music, etc.) to the "MacFarlane's Gathering" called "Thogail nam bò". I am trying to learn it (no, sorry, not on the pipes, on another instrument) and have found the words and sort of the melody, but am not having any luck with finding the actual music - if someone has it, would it be possible to send a copy??

I'm not entirely sure if there are two versions of it, i.e. one that's played as a Pibrochaid (sp?) and one that's sung in a sort of "port-a-beul" style.

A close friend of mine is of the Macfarlane clan and her dad is a musician, hence my reason for wanting to try and learn it.

Any help or direction would be most appreciated!!


Mike S

Posted: Wed Jun 11, 2008 11:47 pm
by Seonaidh
Tha mi duilich, ach chan eil fios agam air an òran sin. Ged-thà, nar neach-ciùil mo fhìn (uill, beagan...), tha mi a' cluinntinn òrain air an rèidio, gun fhiosrachadh mu dheidhinn na chords, agus bidh mi gan obair a-mach (duw, that must be terrible Gaelic...). So, if you have the words and the melody, try fitting chords (or other harmonising notes) around it. One presumes the instrument concerned is not a single-note one, like a pipe, tuba, alpenstock or digeridoo. :partaidh:

Posted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 1:00 am
by faoileag
Celtic/Gaelic music relies not on written sheet music but on learning (by ear) from others and adding your own grace notes, rhythms, repetitions, minor chords, etc - so try to get away from formulae and develop your own version of what you hear.

If you 'sort of' know the tune, that should be enough. Be brave! 8-)

If you base it on someone else's version, whenever you perform, give that person credit . 'I learned this from the singing/playing of...'. Technically that's called 'citing provenance', and no self-respecting Gaelic musician would fail to mention that.

Good luck! :D

Posted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 1:22 pm
by MikeS
Thanks all - yes, the source will be cited - I'm trying to learn the "puirt-a-beul" version (i.e. the version a person would sing) and you're all right, ornamentation is frequently left up to the individual singer/musician.

Again, yes, I know with folk music it's typically "by ear" that one learns th etunes (I've learned scores of them this way :priob:

I want to learn to play at least what I think would be called the "ground" of the song on a dulcimer (hammered as well as mountain), however, I'm lacking the "basic tune"/"notes" from which the versions are based.

I have a text which gived the "notes" by telling what key it's in and then indicating notes by using "d, r, m, ect. - i.e. do, re mi) so it's not so much the notes or words, it's how long to hold the notes; I've never heard the thing sung, only played on uillean pipes!

Anyone know (internet link somewhere) where I can hear the song sung rather than played on the pipes??


Mike S

Posted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 7:29 pm
by faoileag
This may be the version you have - I'm only going on an Amazon review, haven't heard the CD:

The Wicked Tinkers: Rant album.

Reviewer says:
Just a note about "MacFarlane's Lantern," it's sung in Gaelic, and it's all about cattle-raiding -- I think the Gaelic subtitle, "Thogal nam Bo," actually refers to stealing cattle. It would have been nice, as the previous reviewer noted, to have the words included in the liner notes
Unfortunately the short clip on Amazon is only instrumental, but you could buy a download of the whole song: ... cr_pr_pb_i

Posted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 1:12 pm
by MikeS
Thanks Faoileag!

I'll check it out from home (can't do it here at work) - interesting that they name to tune "Macfarlane's Lantern" - the "lantern" refers to the full moon by which the clan in olden times used to "lift kye" from neighbouring clans. As I understand it, in that area of Scotland, the full moon is still sometimes refered to as MacFarlane's Lantern.

I've been listening to the tune played on uillean pipes over and over and having the notes (but not the musical notation), between the two, I think I'm pretty close to putting it all together.

Still would like to find the "base/ground" melody in notational form somewhere though!

Posted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 3:56 pm
by Níall Beag
MikeS wrote:I have a text which gived the "notes" by telling what key it's in and then indicating notes by using "d, r, m, ect. - i.e. do, re mi) so it's not so much the notes or words, it's how long to hold the notes; I've never heard the thing sung, only played on uillean pipes!
Does it have lines, dashes, periods and colons? like:
d:-r.r.|t.t:-l| (etc)

If so, that's your timing. This notation is called the tonic solfa. It's a typewriter-friendly notation that is independent of key, so it was very popular with singers for a while.

I'm not sure where you'd find how to read it though....

Posted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 6:13 pm
by MikeS
YES!! That's it exactly! COOL!! I thought it was the timing but had no idea what this type of natation was called. Now that I know, I may be able to do a little research.

About the only thing I know is that a ' after a note indicates one octave up from "middle".


Posted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 8:56 pm
by faoileag
I use sol-fa for making quick notations of tunes I hear before I forget them.

Take each letter(note) as one beat. To halve the length, use a dot after the note, to double it, add a hyphen.

That's about all I recall from my primary school days, but it's useful enough as a reminder.

The ' and , indicate the octave above and below.

s, d- d.d m r- d.r
m.r d- d.m s l--

is roughly the beginning of Auld Lang Syne (the more popular tune)

Posted: Fri Jun 13, 2008 9:44 pm
by MikeS
Oh, excellent!!

The only other thing was a colon. I think that might be to separate the notes?

Here's the first line of MacFarlane's Gathering (key of D)


Again, not sure what the colon is used for - seems to separate the notes (?).

Thanks again!

Posted: Sun Jun 15, 2008 2:17 am
by Níall Beag
Yup -- just found out a bit more.

A vertical line seperates each bar, and a colon appears to mark each other beat in the bar.

(You'll also sometimes find short lines in compound time indicating the main divisions of a bar, so one in 6/8, two in 9/8 and three in 12/8.)

Posted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 1:42 pm
by MikeS
Yeah, found a little more too -

Bars are indicated by vertical lines and the colon does separate the beats:

2/4 time |d : d |
3/4 time |d : d : d |
In 4/4 time, the third beat is indicated by \

|d : d \ d : d |

With MacFarlane's Gathering, look slike it's in 2/4 time and I'm thinking the first three notes might be how a triplet is indicated (?)

| d.d,d: m | r.r,r: m |

I think the , might indicate a sixteenth note, so the two bars above are probably not triplets inthe first beat, probably more like an eighth note followed by two sixteenth notes.

The following bar has |d.d,d: m .,m | I think the last note in that bar is a sixteenth - sounds like it when you hear the tune played.

An octave above the note is a superscripted 1 and an octave below is a subscripted 1.

Posted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 11:16 pm
by Níall Beag
Here's more:
Deakin University wrote: Rhythmic notation consisted of vertical “bar” lines—a double bar to indicate the end of a musical section, a barline to indicate main (strong) metrical divisions, half bar lines for subsidiary (medium) metrical divisions (as with the third beat in quadruple metre)—and standard punctuation marks—a colon to indicate beat divisions, a period for half-beat divisions, a comma for quarter-beat divisions, a rotated comma for third-beat division (i.e.for triplets), with a dash to indicate the continuation of a note to a subsequent beat. Rests were notated by a blank space preceded by a punctuation mark to indicate duration. Slurring, where two or more notes are sung to a single word or syllable, was indicated by a horizontal line place below the notation. ... tation.php

So the \ must be just a computer-friendly replacement for a half-line.

| d.d,d: m | r.r,r: m |

so it's:
half beat, quarter beat, quarter beat, whole beat,
half beat, quarter beat, quarter beat, whole beat.

That was easy!

Only question now: what would people do if they did[/d] want a triplet? There's no "rotated comma" on my keyboard!

Posted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 7:53 am
by GunChleoc
No idea what they mean by a rotated comma, but you could use this: '

Posted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 9:40 am
by neoni