Auld Tunes – Stalker Castle

Here’s an interesting wee tune from The Piper’s Assistant, published by Glen Bagpipe Makers in 1854 and edited by John McLachlan.

In the book it is transcribed as a ‘Slow March’ in 3/4 with twice as many barlines but it seems to make more sense in 3/2, that is with three beats to a phrase rather than two. I’m not aware of too many highland tunes in this time signature other than some port à beul tunes such as A’ Bhriogais Uallach and An Drochaid Chliùiteach although it is much more common in the old lowland and border pipe repertoire.

The full book can be accessed on The National Library of Scotland’s website as part of their collection of printed music by clicking here. I first heard the tune on Jock Tamson’s Bairns’ 2005 album Rare.

Castle Stalker (as it is more commonly known) is on a small tidal island in Loch Linnhe, North Argyll. You can read about it on the wikipedia page or my pals Rab and Michelle at Imagine Alba can take you on a guided tour.

Photo by Gil Cavalcanti.

Below is a playable version of the tune using Paul Rosen’s ABC Notation plugin for WordPress. ABC is a great way to share simple, single staff notation and is popular amongst traditional musicians. You can learn about ABC notation here and I recommend EasyABC or Michael Eskin’s ABC Transcription Tools to convert the tunes into standard notation, for editing and playback.

T:Stalker Castle
C:Traditional (Scotland)
|: d2 a2 f2 a2 c2 BA | d2 a2 fedc f2 B2 | d2 a2 f2 ed c4 | BdcB ABce f2 Bc :|
|: d2 cB d2 cB c2 BA | d2 cB c2 BA f2 B2 | d2 cB d2 ed c2 ac | BdcB ABce f2 Bc :|
W:Note: Published in Glen’s “The Piper’s Assistant”, edited by John Maclachlan, 1854

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