The Comely Tune (Snow, Jonathan)

Sheet Music


PDF typeset by J. Snow
Snowkilts (2011/4/29)

PDF typeset by J. Snow
Snowkilts (2011/4/29)

Editor J. Snow
Publisher. Info. J. Snow, 2011.
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General Information

Work Title The Comely Tune
Alternative. Title Hinbandre hobandre, The Ditty
Composer Snow, Jonathan
I-Catalogue NumberI-Cat. No. IJS 2
Movements/SectionsMov'ts/Sec's 9
Composer Time PeriodComp. Period Modern
Piece Style Modern
Instrumentation Great Highland Bagpipe

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“The Comely Tune” is a traditional tune for the Great Highland Bagpipe. It falls in the “classical” genre of bagpipe music, which is known as piobaireachd (pronounced “pibroch”).

The inspiration for this setting came from a track called “Hinbandre hobandre” on a CD entitled “Strathosphere”, released in 2006 by the contemporary folk music group Band-Re. Band-Re consists of Barnaby Brown and Gianluca Dessi. In “Hinbandre hobandre,” Brown, a well known Highland piper himself and producer of piobaireachd recordings, sings the crunluath, crunluath doubling, and part of the ground of The Comely Tune in canntaireachd, a system of vocables used for oral transmission of piobaireachd tunes. “Hinbandre hobandre” can be sampled or purchased here, track number 11. A longer sample, nearly the entire track, is available here, scroll down to the second audio sample.

The arrangement presented here follows Brown's sung version in the crunluath and crunluath doubling variations. Remaining variations (movements) in the tune were constructed using a manuscript version of the tune edited by Angus MacKay, but following the template provided in Brown's singing.

This tune is not found in the Kilberry or Piobaireachd Society books, and is not part of the modern repertoire. There are two published versions. The more recent is an obscure book called “The Piobaireachd of Simon Fraser with Canntaireachd,” edited by Dr. B. J. MacLachlan Orme, page 63-66 (self-published, 2nd ed. 1985). It is the first tune in the book. Orme gives two alternate titles: “Luineag Alainn Auiltich,” and “Patrick Mor MacCrimmon's Dream of Love.”

An earlier published version of the tune may be found in a book ponderously entitled “A Collection of Piobaireachd or Pipe Tunes, as taught verbally by the McCrummen pipers in the Isle of Skye to their Apprentices.” This book is commonly known as the Gesto Canntaireachd (NLS 9619), and was published in 1828 by Niel MacLeod of Gesto. Gesto gives the title of the tune as “Luinagich alias Auiltich.” The tune is the first of the twenty tunes in this book. It is shown in canntaireachd rather than in standard musical notation.

There are several existing manuscript versions of this tune.

Angus MacKay's manuscript (vol. 1, NLS MS 3753, tune 15, page 39), the primary source for this arrangement, was compiled in the 1830s and 40s, and gives two alternate titles. In english: “The Comely Tune or The Ditty”, and in gaelic, “A'm Port Luinneagach na A'n Ailteachd.”

The Campbell Canntaireachd (vol. 1, NLS MS 3714, tune 53, page 108), dated 1797, provides a canntaireachd version of the tune, which is left nameless.

Dr. Orme's notes about the tune in his Simon Fraser book indicate that Fraser's (and thus Orme's) setting came from a set of manuscripts “collected by Pipe Major Wm. Gray, probably from Dr. G.F. Ross of Calcutta. Some, in another hand but mostly written by Fraser – about 90 tunes with canntaireachd.” Orme further states that he purchased this set of manuscripts from PM Gray's widow in 1976.

An additional manuscript version of this tune is in the David Glen manuscript, pp. 385-387, which was completed around 1907. Glen gives the title as "The Comely Tune".