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The Bob of Fettercairn Strathspey

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  • The Bob of Fettercairn Strathspey

    Anyone have a bit of background on this tune? I searched through Ceol Sean which returned several versions.

    Studying through them they are fairly similar, some intonation and phrasing changes here and there (raising vs lowering end notes, some bars in different places etc). The oddest thing to me are the different structures. The Ramsay and Fergusson collections have the same amount of played bars but different number of parts, both have 5 bars per stave to save space (I'm guessing).

    I decided to purchase Jack Lee's setting figuring it is most likely the standard played and would match one of these but its structure is even more different- almost like a blend of each with a 1/3 of the tune lopped off.
    Version Staves on Page Repeat Staves Total Staves Played Total Bars
    (including repeats)
    Parts
    The Ramsay Collection 10 no 10 48 5
    Fergusson Collection 8 Yes 12 48 6
    Setting played by Jack Lee 8 no 8 32 4
    Happy Piping

  • #2
    Historically, I do know the tune is one of the proper oldies; it is in fiddle manuscripts on both sides of the Border in the mid 18th century. There's a Scottish version which looks to have been an absolutely mighty piece. Little wonder pipers would have tried to imitate it:

    https://tunearch.org/wiki/I%27ll_Kis...ass_She_Bad_Me

    The commonly heard version is what you find in Scots Guards I, which I think is essentially the same as Ross book 2. I imagine that'll be very similar to Jack's setting, as it is to Jim MacGillivray's.

    Ramsey's setting is clearly 6 parts, a double bar has been omitted on the last eight bars. There are also some misprinted Es which should clearly be Ds, after D throws. There are some other dodgy notes; worth working though with someone wise in the ways of these things, I think.

    One useful trick I sometimes do when working through these things is to write them out as a "concordance": typeset the three versions lined up with each other:

    Screenshot from 2021-05-01 11-53-27.png
    Though you'd probably want to expand the version with the messy repeats.
    http://www.callingthetune.co.uk
    -- Formerly known as CalumII

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    • #3
      Hmmm....band played this in grade 2 in the ‘80’s..from SG ,albeit a handwritten score;
      ....maybe the adjudicators weren’t sure what to listen for ...
      Last edited by el gaitero; 05-06-2021, 06:18 AM.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by el gaitero View Post
        Hmmm....band played this in grade 2 in the ‘80’s..from SG ,albeit a handwritten score;
        ....maybe the adjudicators weren’t sure what listen for ...
        That's how I came about this tune actually, listening to Worlds again from the early 90's. The versions are pretty different in some ways, sort of reminds me of Scottish Power and others who have slightly different takes on well known tunes.
        Happy Piping

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Calum View Post
          Historically, I do know the tune is one of the proper oldies; it is in fiddle manuscripts on both sides of the Border in the mid 18th century. There's a Scottish version which looks to have been an absolutely mighty piece. Little wonder pipers would have tried to imitate it:

          https://tunearch.org/wiki/I%27ll_Kis...ass_She_Bad_Me

          The commonly heard version is what you find in Scots Guards I, which I think is essentially the same as Ross book 2. I imagine that'll be very similar to Jack's setting, as it is to Jim MacGillivray's.

          Ramsey's setting is clearly 6 parts, a double bar has been omitted on the last eight bars. There are also some misprinted Es which should clearly be Ds, after D throws. There are some other dodgy notes; worth working though with someone wise in the ways of these things, I think.

          One useful trick I sometimes do when working through these things is to write them out as a "concordance": typeset the three versions lined up with each other:

          Screenshot from 2021-05-01 11-53-27.png
          Though you'd probably want to expand the version with the messy repeats.
          You're spot on about the misprints and writing them out as a "concordance". The Fergusson version has many embellishments that don't make sense, but it also has some interesting phrases that the others do not. Jack's setting is very, very similar to Ramsey which I'm sure is very similar to the SG as you noted. Both Fergusson and Ramsey have poor 5th and 6th parts out of left field which I assume is why Jack's version omits these.

          I spent some time and arranged a setting which keeps Ramsey and Jack's public standard with small changes from Fergusson. I also added my own 5th and 6th parts which are a combination of phrases I wrote and a pieces from the "parts bin".

          Feedback is welcome if anyone has a moment and wants to listen for themselves:
          http://www.scottishoctopus.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Strathspey_The-Bob-of-Fettercairn_Will-McKenzie-Arrangement.mp3
          Happy Piping

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          • #6
            For what it's worth, I like it; I don't hear anything in there that I would imagine a judge taking exception to, beyond the usual risk of well-it's-not-in-my-book.
            http://www.callingthetune.co.uk
            -- Formerly known as CalumII

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            • #7
              If I remember correctly, it's in one of the volumes of the Scots Musical Museum, (can't remember which one, maybe vol 5?), published in 1797, as Braw Lads o' Jethart, and Oswald's Caledonian Pocket Companion Book 7, published in 1760, as Had I The Wyte She Bade Me.
              Callander Pipe Band FB page Please click and "like". Thanks
              Lowland and Borders Piper's Society

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              • #8
                Gordon Mooney has a 2-part reel setting of "Braw Lads o' Jethart" in his "Over the Border" tune book to go with the album of the same name. It's a simple, catchy wee tune, and melodically very close to the first two parts of "Bob of Fettercairn."

                I've always thought of the Scots Guard arrangement as the more-or-less "standard" modern setting, but I'm curious now to look at some of these others.
                www.portlandpipes.com
                soundcloud.com/channing-dodson

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