PS 178 – The Big Spree

      An Daorach Mhór

      ’S daor a phàigh thu

      Tha’n daorach ort – ’s fheàirrd’ thu cadal

Primary Sources

J [counter phrase of parts 3 and 5] J:21v
Joseph MacDonald's treatise (c. 1760), folio 21v

The Big Spree [page 1 re-written] A.1: 1
The Big Spree A.1: 2
D2 An Daorach Mhor  D2.27: 139
Dj The Little Drunkard Dj.39: 56
K1 Thà’n daorach ort S’fhearr’d thu Cadal / You are drunk you’d better sleep K1.1: 1
KK Tha’n daorach ort S’fhearr’d thu Cadal / You are drunk you’d better sleep KK.34: 59
JK An Daorach / The Great Spree JK.46: 125
SC Stir a phay u SC.41
Angus MacKay's 'Specimens of Canntareachd' no. 41 (c. 1854)

Notes on Gaelic Titles

An Daorach Mhór An Daorach Mhor D2; The Big Drunkard Dj; An Daorach / The Great Spree JK. The Big Spree. There are three Daorach tunes: The Little Spree (PS 230)The Middling Spree (PS 308), and The Big Spree (PS 178), but note that Donald MacDonald junior switches ‘little’ and ‘big’ about. The ‘middling’ spree is much less well known nowadays than the others. According to Donald MacDonald, they all refer to a MacGregor warrior who ‘would get quite deranged, occasioned by his partaking too freely of ardent spirits’ (D2 notes, p. 4). Three subtitles provided by Angus MacKay beginning ‘Tha’n daorach ort’ (you are drunk), support this story, with the sequence ‘you’ve drunk a quart’, ‘you’ve drunk the wallet’ and ‘you’d better sleep’ applied to ‘little’, ‘middling’ and ‘big’. However, a leading piper from Barra in the twentieth century, Neil Angus MacDonald, believed that they had served as a code calling Catholics to Mass in areas where they were persecuted, respectively signalling the arrival of a deacon, priest or bishop. In the first edition of these notes (2009), Roderick Cannon suggested that ‘little’, ‘middling’ and ‘big’ may have referred to the tunes themselves, e.g. the perceived complexity of the ùrlar.

’S daor a phàigh thu Stir a phay u SC. Dearly have you paid.

Tha’n daorach ort, ’s fheàirrd’ thu cadal Thà’n daorach ort S’fhearr’d thu Cadal / You are drunk you’d better sleep K1; Tha’n daorach ort S’fhearr’d thu Cadal / You are drunk you’d better sleep KK; Tha’n Daorach ort sfeard thu cadal JKA. You are drunk, you’d better sleep

Roderick Cannon (2009), rev. Barnaby Brown 2016

Archive Recordings

1954 Pipe Major Robert B Nicol: canntaireachd
1954 Pipe Major William MacLean: Highland bagpipe
1959 Malcolm R MacPherson: Highland bagpipe
1960 Pipe Major Donald MacLeod: Highland bagpipe
1961 Pipe Major John D Burgess: Highland bagpipe
1970 John MacLean: his own song to the ùrlar
1971 George Moss: ùrlar on practice chanter
1971 George Moss: 1st line of each part on practice chanter
1972 George Moss: Highland bagpipe (incomplete)
1972 George Moss: Highland bagpipe
1981 George Moss: discussion of alternative settings of 6 tunes

Other Material

2003 William Donaldson: Set Tunes Notes

Leave a Reply