Auld Tunes – Stumpie

The Reel of Stumpie, Buttered Peas, The Highland Wedding, Wap and Row, Pwt ar y Bys, Jack’s be the Daddy On’t… just some of the names connected to this auld tune. First appearing in print in the 1740s, versions of this tune became popular in Scotland, Ireland, Wales, England and even Italy. A song using this melody was popular in the ballad operas of the 1700s and Robert Burns reworked the song, as was his want.

In the Highland bagpipe tradition Stumpie has evolved into two separate tunes, a strathspey with the same name and a well known 2/4 march with six parts known as The Highland Wedding. As Matt Seattle has pointed out this march seems to have grown out of Gow’s fiddle setting.

I don’t remember learning this tune so my setting is just the way my fingers like play it. Although it’s often called The Reel of Stumpie I prefer playing it at this higher tempo with a polka feel. Some of the variation settings would require much slower playing to allow space for the semi-quaver runs but I love the energy in this simple tune at this higher tempo. I have notated it with a high G# but that being only a passing note pipers could easily replace it with a G natural. I play it at the end of a set with Jack Lattin and Maggie Lauder.

Below is the tune in ABC notation. 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.

e/2 |: ce a2 | a/2g/2f/2e/2 aA | ce a3/2e/2 | fB BA | ce a2 | a/2g/2f/2e/2 aA | ce Be/2d/2 | cA A>e :|
|: ce ed/2c/2 | df fe/2d/2 | ce Ac/2e/2 |fB BA | ce ed/2c/2 | df fe/2d/2 | ce Be/2d/2 | cA A>e :|

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