PS 108 – The Stewarts’ White Banner

      A’ Bhratach Bhàn
The White Banner
      Bratach Bhàn nan Stiùbhartach
The Stewarts’ White Banner
      Cù Dubh Shomhairle
Sorley’s Black Dog
      Cumha Dubh Shomhairle
Sorley’s Black Lament or Black Sorley’s Lament

Primary Sources

C2 Samuells Black dog C2.24: 60
D1 Cumhadh Dubh Shomhairle / A Doleful Lament for… Samuel… D1.20: 98
K1 Bratach Bhàn nan Stuartach / The Stuarts White Banner K1.57: 128
SC Bratich Bhan SC.42
Angus MacKay, ‘Specimens of Canntareachd’ (c. 1854), no. 42

Notes on Gaelic Titles

A’ Bhratach Bhàn Bhratich Bhan C1; A Bhratach Bhaan / The White Flag D2; A Bhratach Bhaan Dj; Bratich Bhan SC. The White Banner. Colin Campbell gives this title to PS 11, the MacDonalds (father and son) to PS 108, and Angus MacKay to PS 209.

Bratach Bhàn nan Stiùbhartach Bratach Bhàn nan Stuartach / The Stuarts White Banner K1; Bratich Bhan SC. The Stewarts White Banner. Since there are other tunes with the name A’ Bhratach Bhàn, Angus MacKay distinguishes this one by adding ‘nan Stuartach’. Revealingly, Peter Reid distinguishes PS 209 by adding ‘Chlan Aodh’, but only after crossing out ‘The Steuarts Salute’.

Cù Dubh Shomhairle (Cumha Dubh Shomhairle) Samuells Black dog C2; Cumhadh Dubh Shomhairle / A Doleful Lament for the Death of Samuel a Celebrated Piper D1. Sorleys Black Dog / Black Sorleys Dog (Sorleys Black Lament / Black Sorleys Lament). It was previously supposed that Colin Campbell heard ‘dog’ instead of cumha ‘lament’ (PS Book 7, p. 201). John MacInnes and Allan MacDonald, however, consider it more likely that cumha is a corruption of (audio below: ‘What is the adjective dubh referring to?’). Another pibroch title that may relate to a story about a dog is McLeods Dog Short Tail (PS 131). Donald MacDonald’s translation of dubh as ‘doleful’ is also found in Mèarsadh dubh Mhorair Bràighead Albainn (PS 74). The anglicisation Samuel for Shomhairle is in line with other replacements of Gaelic first names by English ones, e.g. Daniel for Dòmhnall and Hugh for Aodh.

      What is the adjective dubh referring to?

Roderick Cannon (2009), rev. Barnaby Brown 2016

Other Material

2001 William Donaldson: Set Tunes Notes

2008 William Donaldson: Set Tunes Notes

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