I think this was the first tune I wrote on the gaita, a bagpipe from Galicia in north west Spain, it’s certainly the first I have written down. I wrote it in 2003 having purchased my first gaita in Santiago de Compostela the previous year.


The roof structure. All the beams and rafters are original 19th century.

The tune was give the name ‘Dancing Around The Mast’ after a particularly exuberant ceilidh in the community hall on Easdale Island where I lived at the time.



The community hall was originally built as a drill hall for the island’s volunteers back in 1871. It has an interesting design being a square building with a 7 metre high central column supporting a pyramidal roof. The column is formed from a ships mast, generally agreed to be from the 630 ton sailing ship Norval which went down at the southern tip of Inish Island in December 1870. The massive rafters are supported by eight heavy struts which radiate from the central column like the spokes of an umbrella. Flying struts in turn support the intermediate rafters in the corner quadrants. It is possible that these timbers also came from the wreck, which was carrying wood from Montreal to Glasgow. The island community raised the money to rebuild the hall in the early 2000s and the hall reopened in May 2003.




I use the excellent, open-source software MuseScore for final score engraving. You can also upload your tunes to musescore.com and then embed the score in your own site.

Dancing Around The Mast by bagpie


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 to convert the tunes into standard notation, for editing and playback (a working version for 64bit MacOS is available here for the moment).

X:1
T:Dancing Around The Mast
C:© 2003 Stephen P McNally
L:1/8
Q:1/2=96
M:4/4
K:D
|: ABAG EFFD | GEGE CEEG | ABAG EFFD | GECE DAAD |
ABAG EFFD | GEGE CEEG | ABAG EFFD | GECE D2 AD 😐
|: dcBA EFFD | dcBA FGGD | dcBA cBAG | ABAG EFFD |
dcBA EFFD | dcBA FGGD | dcBA cBAG | ABAF D2 AD 😐
|: c3 B AFAF | d2 dB A2 FA | cBAG BAGF | ABAG EFFD |
c3 B AFAF | d2 dB A2 FA | cBAG BAGF | AGFE D2 AD 😐

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *