Thanig Gorrie – Lament for the Viscount of Dundee

Another transcription from Colin Campbell’s Instrumental Book of the Lament for the Viscount of Dundee or as he calls it, Thanig Gorrie. It is another taorluath gearr tune but requiring a very different treatment from Cille Chriosd, perhaps more along the lines of the way Allan MacDonald plays The Red Speckled Bull on his Dastirum.

The ground is substantially similar to the commonly heard version, with one or two interesting twists that can inform phrasing. The later variations have perhaps a little less variety, and seem less interesting. The main value seems to be in one or two details of phrasing implied in the ground.

In the transcription, cadences are marked where they are usually played in the modern style. They are indicated with a hopefully unobtrusive curved “roll” mark over the melody note that they introduce. They do not, of course, appear in the source itself. What does appear in the source, at the beginning of the second line of the ground, is what appears to be a rare explicitly written cadence. If taken at face value, this might suggest shifting the second pulse to the B rather than the usual D. This in turn suggests a pleasant symmetry with the second phrase of the first line. Cadences are also usually played, following Angus MacKay’s setting in the crunluath singling, but not in the taoluath.

An attractive feature is the alternate ending on A the first time through the first line of the ground. If we abandon the practice of putting a cadence at the beginning of the line, or do so but make it quite brief, the melody leads naturally back to the G at the beginnig for the repeat. Only the second time through does the line end on the dissonant G. Donaldson, in the set tunes series, marks this with sic, a suspected error in the source, but it may not in fact be for this reason.

There is a curious figure, that has been written about elsewhere, and even caused controversy, that appears in the canntaireachd as “lal”. This is written as a sort of D doubling where the first note is an F rather than the usual G. Often this F is played long.

The tone line in the taorluath and crunluath is also different from what is often heard nowadays following MacKay’s setting. There are no AD figures (“hindaenda”, “hindadre”), only GD (“himbabemba”, “himbadre”).

As always, the timing and length of the notes is not indicated in the source and has merely been asserted roughly in line with how the piece is usually played, but this is just a guide.

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