The Drummond Castle Manuscript, Book One – Border Pipe Settings

The Drummond Castle Manuscript, dated 1737, is described by the Historical Music of Scotland website as a “Manuscript collection of country dances, with both dance instructions and tunes, copied by the writing master and violinist David Young” (read the full description here). It was compiled for James Drummond, the 3rd Duke of Perth, a prominent Jacobite and lieutenant-general of the Jacobite army in 1745.

Better musical minds than mine have already written about David Young’s work and how important it is in increasing our knowledge of traditional music in Scotland during the first half of the 1700s. Pete Stewart has published articles in recent issues of Common Stock, the journal of The Lowland and Borders Pipers’ Society (link for subscribers) and also in this piece from 2017. Matt Seattle also touches on this in his article about the tune Caberfie. Pete gave a talk on David Young at the society’s 2023 collogue and informed us that there are plans to publish Young’s manuscripts.

I am neither an historian nor a musicologist, my interest is purely in finding old tunes that I like to play. As such, these settings are not intended to be accurate replicas of David Young’s dots, nor are they an attempt to authentically recreate the music as it was played in the 1700s. Many have been transposed and compressed to fit the pipe scale or have had strains altered or removed entirely. I have omitted the tunes that I couldn’t successfully squeeze onto the pipes and I probably should have left out more as this process doesn’t always lead to good pipe tunes. I have added a note to each tune, listing any changes I have made.

My pipes (Jon Swayne border pipes in A) are capable of playing C natural, F natural, top hand G sharp and also of overblowing to the high B, so in some tunes these are included. Tempo marks indicate the speed I like to play them, others may prefer a different feel. I have not added any notes on origins or concordances but instead have included a link to each tune on the Traditional Tune Archive website. I would also recommend the publications of The Lowland and Border Pipers’ Society, Matt Seattle, Pete Stewart and Gordon Mooney who have comprehensive notes on many of these and countless other tunes.

The Drummond Castle Manuscripts are available as PDF files on Ross Anderson’s Music Pages. They are scans of microfilm and in negative so I have inverted them and a copy can be found here: Book One, Book Two. There is a wealth of interesting stuff on Ross’s page including some fascinating early bagpipe recordings. I highly recommend a visit to his website.

For users of ABC notation, all my settings can be found in this file. The original settings are available in this file.

The original ABC files came from The Traditional Tune Archive and are shared under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike. Thank you to them for their work.


#01 Whip Her and Gird Her

6/4 Jig, Amix. (Original in 6/8, G with both major and minor 7ths, three strains.)
The groups of four semi-quavers in the original make tunes like this impossible to play at modern jig tempo and they are often notated in 6/4 in the older collections. When played at a steadier, straighter pace this makes more sense to my eyes and ears.
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations

Click below to hear me playing through this tune on my border pipes.


#02 Jack Leighton

2/4 Reel, Amix. (Original in Gmix, cut time (2/2), four strains.)
The ‘reels’ in this and other old collections (usually) fall most comfortably under my fingers in one of three ways: as a standard uptempo reel with two beats to the bar, as a more sedate tune with four beats to the bar (see notes to #04 Athol Braes) or as something akin to a polka (think Dashing White Sergeant or My Love Is But a Lassie). I play this tune as the latter so have decided to transcribe it using the more conventional 2/4 time signature for polkas. I haven’t used ‘polka’ as tune type however as they are not common in Scotland and, as far as I know, didn’t even exist when this manuscript was written. I have gone with ‘2/4 reel’ for the moment until something better comes along.
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations

Click below to hear me playing through this tune on my border pipes.


#03 Drummore’s Rant

2/2 Reel, Amix. (Original in Gmix.)
I couldn’t quite find the right tempo for this one when playing all four strains but it feels like a standard reel when playing the first two only. Strains three and four aren’t bad but I would probably only play the first two.
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations

Click below to hear me playing through the first two strains of this tune on my border pipes.


#04 Athole Braes

4/4 Reel, A (Original in 2/2, low notes transposed, other alterations.)
This is one of the tunes in the collection that, although in cut time (2/2), clearly doesn’t work as a standard reel. How these tunes should or could be played has been long debated in the bellows pipes revival, check out this article by John Dally in Common Stock, this article by Pete Stewart, or read the introductory notes to Matt Seattle’s books. For me they work best with four beats to the bar at around 110bpm although each tune can feel a little different, especially the variation sets with long runs of semiquavers. I sometimes add a little swing to the semiquavers.
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations

Click below to hear me playing through this tune on my border pipes.


#05 Argyle’s Bowling Green

2/2 Reel, A. (Original in C, four strains, high notes transposed.)
This reel required fairly heavy squeezing to fit on the pipes. I left out strains three and four as they relied on the full range of the original for contrast.
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations

Click below to hear me playing through this tune on my border pipes.


#06 Fairly Shot Of Her

6/8 Jig, Bm. (Original in Em, 12/8, four strains)
This jig seems to suit a slightly gentler pace although not the full 6/4 treatment (see tune #01). I have changed this to 6/8, simply as I find it easier to read, and have removed strains three and four as I didn’t feel they improved the tune (although you should check out the syncopation in strain four).
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations

Click below to hear me playing through this tune on my border pipes.


#07 Allastor

2/2 Reel, Am. (Low notes transposed, other alterations)
This is a fine A minor reel for those of us whose pipes can play a C natural.
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations

Click below to hear me playing through this tune on my border pipes.


#08 New Bigging

6/8 jig, Amix. (As original)
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations

Click below to hear me playing through this tune on my border pipes.


#09 Drops of Brandy

9/8 Jig, Amix. (Original in Gmix)
A slightly different Drops of Brandy to that most commonly heard now. Some pipers know this version as Old Drops of Brandy.
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations

Click below to hear me playing through this tune on my border pipes.


#10 Hey To Cowpar

6/8 Jig, D. (Low and high notes transposed, other alterations)
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations

Click below to hear me playing through this tune on my border pipes.


#12 We’re All Forsaken For Want Of Silver

9/8 Jig, Bm. (Original in Am, semiquavers removed)
This tune could be left in Am if your pipes have C and F naturals. I find it much more difficult to play at a decent speed in Am so have moved it to Bm.
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations

Click below to hear me playing through this tune on my border pipes.


#13 A Wife Of My Own

9/8 Jig, Bm. (Original in Em, four strains, high notes transposed)
The original has two sharps, E dorian, but the tune has no sixths so is ambiguous, I have gone with minor. I didn’t feel the extra strains added anything to this pipe setting.
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations

Click below to hear me playing through this tune on my border pipes.


#14 Euphie MacNab

6/8 Jig, Ador. (Original in Gdor)
Possibly the earliest setting of the tune I know as The Maids of Kintail.
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations

Click below to hear me playing through this tune on my border pipes.


#15 My Own Kind Dearie

2/2 Reel, A. (Original has four strains, low notes transposed, other alterations)
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations

Click below to hear me playing through this tune on my border pipes.


#16 Lady Jean Hume’s

6/8 Jig, D. (Original in 12/8 and C, low notes transposed)
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations

Click below to hear me playing through this tune on my border pipes.


#17 Lady Susan Montgomery’s Hornpipe

3/2 Hornpipe, D. (Original in G, high notes transposed)
Many bellows pipers will recognise this under its other names, Rusty Gulley, Wee Willie Gray, Wee Totum Fogg etc.
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations

Click below to hear me playing through this tune on my border pipes.


#18 Lady Christian Montgomery’s Hornpipe

3/2 Hornpipe, D. (High and low notes transposed, other changes)
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations

Click below to hear me playing through this tune on my border pipes.


#20 Drummond Castle

6/8 Jig, Ador. (Orginal in Am)
Later versions of this tune avoid the F completely, sidestepping the minor / dorian question. I do the same as neither the sharp or natural sound quite right on my pipes. I have left it in for this setting but changed the key signature to dorian. I believe this is the earliest setting of the tune and possibly composed by David Young himself.
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations

Click below to hear me playing through this tune on my border pipes.


#21 Ram’s Horns

2/2 Reel, Ador. (Original in Ddor, high notes transposed, other changes)
This could fit in either the original key by compressing the first strains or Ador by compressing the second strain. I prefer the latter and find it easier to play.
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations

Click below to hear me playing through this tune on my border pipes.


#23 Hey My Nanny

9/8 Jig. Amix (As original)
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations

Click below to hear me playing through this tune on my border pipes.


#24 Border Reel

6/4 Jig, A (Original in 12/8)
This will be familiar to many traditional musicians as it is the ancestor of the well known jig The Stool of Repentance. Matt Seattle has comprehensive notes on this tune in his book The Master Piper. Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations

Click below to hear me playing through this tune on my border pipes.


#25 Confederacy

2/2 Reel. A. (Original in D, high notes transposed)
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations

Click below to hear me playing through this tune on my border pipes.


#27 Kiss’d Yestereen

6/8 Jig, Ador (Original in Am, other changes)
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations

Click below to hear me playing through this tune on my border pipes.


#28 Lucky Black’s Daughter

2/4 Reel, A. (Original in G and 2/2, low notes transposed, other changes)
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations

Click below to hear me playing through this tune on my border pipes.


#29 Highland Laddie

2/4 Reel, A. (Original in 2/2 and Amix, high B transposed)
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations

Click below to hear me playing through this tune on my border pipes.


#31 Watie Laing

2/2 Reel, A. (Slight change to final bars)
The original key signature has two sharps, Amix, but there are no Gs so it is ambiguous.
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations

Click below to hear me playing through this tune on my border pipes.


#33 Up And Worst Them All Willy

2/4 Reel, A. (Original in Amix and 2/2)
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations

Click below to hear me playing through this tune on my border pipes.


#34 Because I Was A Bonny Lad

2/4 Reel, A (Original in 2/2 and Amix)
Young uses a G natural and a G sharp in his setting, I have gone with G sharp both times.
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations

Click below to hear me playing through this tune on my border pipes.


#35 Ranting Highland Man

2/4 Reel, Amix (Original in 2/2)
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations


#37 Lassie With The Yellow Coatie

2/2 Reel, Amix. (Original in Mix, low and high notes transposed, other changes)
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations


#38 Tibbie Fowler In The Glen

4/4 Reel, Ador (Original in Gdor and 2/2, low notes transposed)
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations


#39 Rob Shore In Harvest

3/2 Hornpipe, A. (Original in F)
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations


#40 Old Age and Young

3/2 Hornpipe, Am (Original in G minor, four strains, low notes transposed)
I have left out the third and fourth strains in this setting but they are worth checking out in the original if you like playing variations.
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations


#41 Braes of Mar

4/4 Strathspey, A. (original a reel in 2/2, in D, low notes transposed)
I have taken the liberty of changing this to a strathspey in the awareness that this manuscript was written before strathspeys, as we know them now, existed. I tried various tempos and time signatures and it always fell under my fingers more comfortably as a strathspey. I was delighted to discover that it appears in later collections as a strathspey including Archibald Duff’s Collection of Strathspeys and Reels from 1794.
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations


#42 This Is Not My Own House

2/2 Reel, A (Orignal in D, high notes transposed)
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations


#43 King Of Damascus

2/2 Reel. (Original in G, low and high notes compressed, other changes)
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations


#44 The Old Wife Beyond The Fire

2/4 Reel, Amix. (Original Gmix, low notes transposed, other changes)
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations


#45 O’er Bogie

2/4 Reel, D. (Original in 2/2 and C)
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations


#46 Kick The World Before You

9/8 Jig, Am. (Low Es transposed, other changes)
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations


#47 Unfortunate Jock

6/8 Jig, D/ (Low Ds transposed)
Traditional Tune Archive links; tune page, annotations


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