c. 1778 – Daniel Dow (Dow)

A Collection of Ancient Scots Music for the Violin Harpsichord or German-Flute. Never before Printed Consisting of Ports Salutations Marches or Pibrachs &c. By Daniel Dow.

First published Edinburgh [c. 1778]

Of the 43 pieces in Dow’s collection, five were also transcribed by Highland pipers before 1840 and have been assigned Piobaireachd Society catalogue numbers. Dow’s scores are not bagpipe settings written down by a trained piper, but adaptations for other instruments by a non-piper from Perthshire. Beyond representing what a professional violinist heard (or thought he heard), it is unclear to what extent Dow reworked these pibrochs as a result either of his unfamiliarity with the piping tradition, or of his deeper training in another musical culture.

Although Dow’s notations may not be reliable documents of pibroch practice in all details, they nonetheless provide valuable information, in particular, demonstrating that some pipers might hold an introductory E long in the 1770s. This is relevant to the interpretation of introductory cadences in all pre-MacKay sources, particularly those in which the notation is standardised, either as a stream of equal grace notes or as the vocable ‘hi’. How exactly did these notations correspond to what pipers played? This is where the witness of a non-piper is valuable.

Aside from Dow’s title page, there is little evidence that Scottish flute players in the eighteenth century played pibroch, but the possibility that they played music in this style must be considered. Dow suggests on the title page that “Where the Notes are below the Compass of the German Flute the Octave above may be Played’. In many instances, this destroys the musical sense of the pieces and does not follow the standard practice of nearly every other publication of Scottish music for violin or flute, which is to provide a fully-transposed part for the flute whenever the melody goes out of range or is in an awkward key. This suggests that his advertisement to flute players had more to do with marketing than with traditional practice.

Many thanks to Cynthia Cathcart and Keith Sanger for allowing us to mirror these beautiful facsimiles, reproduced by courtesy of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Barnaby Brown & Elizabeth Ford, 2015


This source contains material relating to 5 pibrochs:

Dow:18  PS 270  Highland Solo – the Variations composed by D. Dow
Dow:32  PS 002  Lord Bradalban’s march. or Boddich na mbrigs
Dow:39  PS 203  Pibrach Chlann Raonailt / Clan Ranald’s march to Edinburgh
Dow:40  PS 173  jsobail ni Caoidh / The Stewarts march
Dow:44  PS 161  S, fhada mar so tha sinn / Duke of Atholl’s March – a Pibrach

[source abbreviation]:[page number]

Click here for all 5 pieces

The full collection is available on the WireStrungharp website.