Piping the Fish

Represents Piping the Fish

The critically acclaimed and long awaited third album from Cantrip

  1. The 11/16th Hour - Piping the Fish - Hogties Reel (read more)
  2. Take me to Venlo - Am Mathan Crùbach (read more)
  3. War Hent Kerrigouarc’h - The Bear Dance (read more)
  4. The Bonniest Lass (read more)
  5. The Embezzler - Albaterua - Fionn the Hunter - Braighe Mhelnis (The Braes of Melnish(read more)
  6. Òran na Maighdeann-Mhàra (The Mermaid’s Song(read more)
  7. The Queen of Argyll (read more)
  8. Finnish Tune - L’Ogre aux Quatres Bras (The Four Armed Ogre)- Fear nam Meur Sleamhna (The Man with the Slippery Fingers(read more)
  9. Mac Kinnon’s Brook - Mrs. Stewart of Grantully - Kissin’ is best of A’ - Dr. Ross’s 50th Welcome to the Argyllshire Gathering (read more)



The exciting former new album from Cantrip

  1. Zito the Bubbleman - Opinions 1 - Mary Kelly’s  (read more)
  2. Beg ar Vann - Gavotte (read more)
  3. Sam Jones (read more)
  4. Pegasus Rests - Grey Smoke from the Mountain - El Greebo  (read more)
  5. Witch (read more)
  6. Becky Taylor’s Audacity - Harder to Jig - Snoogles Jig  (read more)
  7. Lugumleik - The Hungry Frenchman - Vitträd  (read more)
  8. Wendy’s Lament - Steppin’ on Yer Face - The Mystery of the Mud Angel - Peter on the Logging Road (read more)
  9. The 37 Bus (read more)
  10. The Evæl Dr. Gray - Mrs. Dundas of Arnston - Marianne’s Reel - The MacDonald’s (read more)
  11. Far Away - Tail End of the Tour (read more)



The debut album from Cantrip

  1. In Praise of the Whiskey Garlic Fried Rice - Tom’s Incredible Table - The Otter’s Pocket (read more)
  2. Felix The Wrestler - Siobhán Ó Donnell’s no. 2 - The Choice Wife  (read more)
  3. Hardanger Fjord - Mrs. Mary MacDonald (read more)
  4. The Ass in the Graveyard - Tha Còt’ Orm is Àrdachadh Muileinn  (read more)
  5. Pirsta - The Good Drying - Onge Bucharesti (read more)
  6. The Marquis of Huntly’s Farewell - The Leys of Luncarty - Bog an Lochan - Clem - Sheepskin and Beeswax (read more)
  7. All the Seasons in a Day (read more)
  8. The Joker’s Polska - Andro 211 - Andro 625 (read more)
  9. Panpoxa (read more)
  10. The Cantrip - Mo Cheallaichin Fionn - An Tiocfaidh tú abhaile leam - Ian’s Jig (read more)
  11. Cumha Gan Ainm - The Lambing Storm - The Splendid Isolaton - The Skye Barbecue - Dolina MacKay (read more)
Cantrip on stage, the Turning Point Café

Sleeve notes for Piping the Fish

We open this set and, indeed, this album, with a tune of Jon’s which he composed in honour of and during a horrendous coach trip back from the Lorient folk festival. Several members of the band, himself included, found themselves being transported like unto sheep for about 25 hours in the company of a mostly illiterate pipeband one member of which kept trying to coerce Jon into tearing apart the book he was reading in order to make a comb and paper kazoo. The title was originally to be The Sixteenth Hour since that was roughly the time elapsed in the voyage when the kazoo was suggested as an appropriate form of entertainment but the time signature was subsequently changed from 5/4 to 11/16 and the title to The Eleven Sixteenth Hour. The intent was that it be a pipe tune that no piper could play; particularly ones who can’t count. Piping the Fish is a march of Cammy’s the title of which was inadvertently furnished by a friend who, at the time of composition, was organising the Sandy Bell’s staff, XXXmas vegetarian dinner. The main course was to be a sizable fish and he asked if Dan might come and “pipe in the fish”. We have consulted with several ichthyologists on the subject and neither they nor we are yet convinced that a fish is actually a vegetable. This tune, however, launches the piscine theme for the album. Phil Cunningham composed Hogtie’s Reel (pronounced like the rather uncomfortable restraining position) and the title alludes to a favourite epithet used by another member of the band Silly Wizard. Said band member would use, for example, the phrase “pass the hogtied salt” in place of the more common “pass the f---ing salt, please, your holiness” or, indeed, “You said it... Nobody hogtie with the Jesus”.

Take me to Venlo is another of Jon’s pieces and was the end result of a rather frustrating search for things quintessentially Dutch (of the inanimate variety) whilst on tour in Holland. This involved an hour long post gig cab ride to the town of Venlo only to be informed that everything was closed until morning. Another hour and 100 Euros later they arrived back at their hotel to find everything including the hotel bar in a similar state of fermature.

Am Mathan Crùbach, or The Cripple Bear, was supposed to be an ironic kind of title as Dan composed it in honour of a friend who is neither cripple nor a bear. It seemed upon further reflection, however, that it might very well stand as a non-ironic metaphor for a great many institutions in the world at large; polar bears for one. This launches the ursine sub-theme in the album.

War Hent Kerrigourac’h is a kind of andro which is probably not traditional since it has a proper title. The name is Breton and means ‘on the road to Kerrigouarc’h’. We don’t yet know where Kerrigouarc’h is or if it even still exists. We’ve been told that it may likely be Brittany’s rather quirky answer to Brigadoon except that it disappears into the mist for one day every hundred years and that that day just happened to be the one on which they were making the map of the area. We had all heard The Bear Dance before. Cam was convinced that it was central French in origin; Gav, that it was Galician; Jon, that it was Breton and Dan, that it was southern French. It appears to be Flemish as much as anything and is probably very old given its ubiquity. We have heard the theory advanced that it may have been a dance for frightening bears off from local rubbish piles or as part of some bear baiting ritual. We like to play it with a two beats to the bar feel rather than four in the hopes that that way the bear might be able to catch and eat whoever might be baiting it. This concludes the ursine sub-theme of the album.

No one who has any knowledge of Scottish culture can possibly escape having heard of Robert Burns. His likeness is found on practically every advertisement that the Scottish Tourist Board (now Visit Scotland) ever produced and at any ‘Scottish’ gathering a very carefully selected subset of his poetry is recited as though ’twere holy writ. One could be forgiven for having the impression that he descended from the heights of Olympus, tartan sash fluttering in the misty highland breeze to bestow upon the Scottish people, their progeny, heirs and assigns his great and lofty wisdom. That he wrote beautiful and frequently poignant love and nature poetry is beyond question and he had an amazing talent for seeing metaphor and allegory in even the simplest and seemingly most inconsequential of situations. All this notwithstanding, an examination of the events of his life and some of his ‘other’ poetry paints a very different picture of him from that depicted on the shortbread tins. He was, amongst other things, a drinker, a womaniser who sired several children to women other than his wife and a political dissident who nearly landed in gaol for what was deemed as a treasonous support of Bonapart. The song with which we present you here, The Bonniest Lass, is one skimmed from his Merry Muses of Caledonia collection. Much of what he composed and compiled for this collection is, in the parlance of our times, nasty. The content ranges from full on pornography to quite clever diatribes against the hypocrisies of the church and it is in this later category that our song, here, falls. To properly understand the emotional impetus behind this song to one needs to be acquainted with the concept of the Stool of Repentance. Rather than a symptom of a particularly bad hangover this was an actual piece of furniture upon which transgressors of the ecumenical law of 18th century Scotland were placed, before the assembled congregation, whilst the minister preached fire and brimstone against their character for their offences. More than once Mr. Burns found himself sat thereupon and it was in just such circumstances that he found himself when he composed this song.

And now for a set of jigs. The Embezzler was originally dedicated to an unnameable scurrilous character who absconded with much of the years takings of a favourite folk club of ours near Edinburgh. This dedication could, of course, be broadened to encompass one of any number of similar people whom we’ve known. Albaterua is a composition by Basque violinist Juan Urrejola. Jon composed Fionn the Hunter in honour of the Houghton’s family dog, Fionn, who sadly passed away during the 2007 US tour. Though he aspired to heroic deeds he was never a very good hunter on account of his horrible teeth and all round pleasant disposition. In Pace Requiescat. Though it is thought of now as a traditional tune The Braes of Melnish, or Braighe Mhelnis, seems to have been composed by one Captain MacKay, according to Keith Norman MacDonald. Thanks for the tunes, oh captain, my captain.

Amhran (Òran) na Maighdeann-Mhàra, or The Mermaid’s Song, is the melody to a Gaelic song of love, deceit and sea creatures. Mermaids seem to crop up in the myths and legends of all sea-faring cultures whether in the form of fish, seals or small Asian manatees (Dugongs). In the Gaelic and Norse cultures mermaids and men take the form of seals that either metamorphose into hominibus sapientibus on terrae seccae or shed their sealskins to reveal their human form to anyone who might be secretly watching from behind a pile of rocks. It was just such a spectacle that is said to have occurred before the eyes of a young fisherman called MacCodrum, sometime a few years back. Fate also had it that as he was scampering about the rocks trying to get a closer look at the buxom, young and scantily clad maidens that he beheld dancing on the beach he came upon a sealskin hidden away in a crevice in the rock. Whether he really knew what he was doing or not, he took the skin off home with him, hid it up under the thatch of his house and thought little more about it until later that night when heard a knock upon his door. The knocking was being produced by a distraught and very beautiful young woman who was desperately looking for shelter from a storm, which had blown up and, it would seem, something to wear. MacCodrum being a gentleman of upstanding character, amongst other things, bade her come in, found her a garment, and put the kettle on. As time passed they fell in love and two cars and a plasma screen TV later she bore him several children. One fine spring afternoon, however, as she and her then four-year-old daughter were cleaning out the attic the daughter found a curious bundle hidden above the rafters and knowing no better showed it to her mother. Her mother, upon receiving that which was in fact her sealskin, was brought back into the knowledge of who she really was and realised the ruse that had kept her separated from her maritime family for all those years. Before anyone could do anything to stop her she kissed her children good-bye and fled to the water’s edge whereupon she plunged into the waves never to be seen in human form again. The song is that which she allegedly sang to her husband from the sea as she took her leave of him and their children. This track draws to a close the piscine, or at least piscivorous, theme to the album.

The Queen of Argyll is our little foray into pop music. It was composed by Andy M. Stewart then of Silly Wizard. It would appear to be about a woman or possibly a transvestite though we have heard that it might be about a ship which bore that name.

The tune which on the album we called simply ‘Finnish Tune’ is in fact called Hopeat and is the work of Maria Kalaniemi of the band Vartina. L’Ogre aux Quatres Bras, or The Four Armed Ogre, is a composition of Dan’s and is a reference to Don Quixoti and the futility of charging windmills (yet another thing quintessentially Dutch). Fear nam Meur Sleamhna, or The Man with the Slippery Fingers, is another tune of Dan’s composed for Jacob Fournel, a tremendous Irish style whistle player in the Toulouse area. We thought that this title might would better than the singular ‘Man with the Slippery Finger’...

We could not record an album without a good ol’ set of Strathspeys and Reels. The first of these, Mackinnon’s Brook, is one that Jon found behind his couch; a place where many treasures are, indeed, to be found. We suspect that the tune may be Canadian in origin which begs the question: how did it get behind Jon’s couch in the first place. Mrs. Stewart of Grantully is a grand old tune which by its name would appear to originate in Highland Perthshire. The tune is likely much older than the name and probably belonged, at one time, to several Gaelic songs. Kissin’ is the Best of A’ is another grand tune of antiquity though it would appear to have been composed by someone who at the time of composition lacked a certain amount of life experience. Dr. Ross’s 50th Welcome to the Argyllshire Gathering is an arrangement, or rather, derangement of the mighty 6/8 pipe march by the immortal Donald MacLeod.

Sleeve notes for Boneshaker

Zito the Bubbleman is yet another gem from the fingers of the illustrious, though now sadly missed Gordon Duncan. The legends tell us that at a festival in Italy Gordon saw a performer going by the afore mentioned name, who blew a gigantic soap bubble which encompased his person (Zitos not Gordon’s) and in which he proceeded to perambulate about the stage.Opinions 1 crawled out from between the ears of piper/whistler Rory Campbell. Kitty Kelly’s which is also known as Cathrine Kelly’s, Cathryn Kelly’s, Kathrine Kelly’s, Grace Kelly’s, Catriona Kelly’s, Ned Kelly’s, Aoibhneas Eilis Ní Cheallaigh,  Eibhlinn Ni Cheaillaigh, Dr David Kelly’s, Eileen Kelly’s, Evelyn Kelly’s, & would, by its polynominal nature and its extreme 9/8ness, seem to fulfill all of the prophecies telling of the coming of a trad tune. However, she’s not the messiah, she’s a very naughty girl. The tune’s real name appears to be Mary Kelly’s and it was in fact brought forth to pass by the mighty Tommy Peoples.

Beg ar Vann is the original and Breton name for the Pointe de Vann which is French for the second westernmost stickie-out bit of Finisterre Sud (south-western Brittany, go look it up on a map). Dan composed the tune in honour of an occasion when he and some friends nearly lost their lives to a large wave whilst acting the goat quite a bit closer to the water line than they really ought to have been, on Beg ar Vann. Moral of the story: Don’t follow Dan down a cliff to the Ocean’s edge. The following Gavotte, for which we have no official or polite name was learned from Toulouse-based trad rockers Wilfried and Nicolas Besse currently of the group Doolin

Sam Jones, by Richard Thompson, has been described by one writer on the subject as ‘a memorably creepy sea chantey’. This is an odd description as really the song is neither. The character Sam would appear to be an historical amalgamation of several centuries of ‘Rag and Bone’ men who started their illurstrious careers as scavengers on the cooling fields of mediæval battle. Over the years the profession developed a less morbid character. More recent ‘Rag and Bone’ men were more typically of the habit of collecting scrap metal and other odds and ends to sell. The Sam Jones in this song is but a simple worker who likes his work and having a cup of tea after.

Pegasus Rests is a sort of slow air composed by Gavin in commemoration of the laying to rest of another legendary æronautical ferro-equine beast.The following tune, Grey Smoke from the Mountain, is also by Mr. Marwick and was composed after a festival in Poland where he witnessed a performance by a group whose name in Polish translates as Grey Smo...aye, aye, you know the rest. The band consisted of about forty fiddlers, electric guitar, bass a singer and a goat which spent the gig tethered to a mic-stand looking sheepish[1]. Both history and Gav recall that after the concert when he had a chance to speak to a member of said group and mentioned that it would be great if they could come to Scotland his response was ‘...why? Though the last tune here sounds like it might be trad. Breton it was actually composed by Cammy and is called El Greebo. El Greebo was originally the title of a promo photo for an Edinburgh DJ wherein he [the DJ] is wearing a false moustache.

Cam composed this air,Witch, as part of a collaborative project with a writer/poet mate of his. The project was based on an experience of Cam’s of several years ago. He had left the pub after a night on the piss with the afore mentioned mate and several others and was on his way home when he passed by the back wall of a cemetery connected to the old kirk of a village through which he was obliged to pass. There was a hole in the wall and seeing light coming through it he stopped to investigate.There were apparently several young women engaging in some kind of weird new-age ‘ritual’ there in amongst the gravestones. When in his nervousness Cam broke a twig with his foot these lassies were not best pleased, and even a wee bit embarassed, at being discovered and gave chase with much wailing and gnashing of teeth. The full project was never really finished partly because the rhythm of Cam’s tune, a slow reel, never really worked with the metre of the poetry and Cam, in his turn, was rather less than amused about this poet continually spelling his name wrong... even if it was to protect the innocent/guilty.

We crack off this set with a very light-hearted and bouncy jig by Simon Thoumire called Becky Taylor’s Audacity (Simon, we want an explanation!). Becky is succeeded by the cracking though aptly named Harder to Jig which is an Appellation Carina Hewat Contrôlée. We finish this suite with a tune from the legacy of the immensely talented and also sadly missed Martyn Bennett.

The first of these merry melodies is a traditional Norwegian air called Lugumleik about which our Tromsø correspondent had this to say: ‘...hmmm,...Man kan onta at Lugumleik betyr noe sånn som den kule slåtten eller noe i den duren. Faktisk hor jeg ikke peiling og lider her av underliggende musikalske struktureringer så hvem vet hva det blir til slutt! Slåtten er i allefall rå bra og skottene er ikke så borte vekk de heller.’ However, our secret Olso agent was not sure and asked: ‘Om det tek el veke for ein mann ø gøi fjorten dagar, for mange epler gøi det i ei tønne met druer?’ The jury is still out cold on that one. Davie Cattanach composed the second of these tunes which was originally cried Blackwater River, a title as stately and mysterious (and contagious-sounding) as the melody whose existence it proclaims. Soon after we recorded it, however, he phoned us to let us know that he had changed the title to The Hungry Frenchman. When we first heard mention of Vitträd our collective reaction was to check if we could find it in the IKEA catalogue in either soft pine or with the birch-wood veneer. To our great surprise and delight Vitträd turned out to be available only through the Swedish band Garmarna. According to Garmarna, our Tromsø correspondent and our double secret Oslo agent Vitträd means ‘withered’. 

The first strathspey in this set, Wendy’s Lament, is a composition of the Nova Scotian fiddler/baroque violinist David Greenberg. Jon composed the second of these strathspeys in a paroxysm of displeasure over transgressions and injustices committed by a musical colleague. In keeping with the grand tradition of stepdancing strathspey titles such as ‘Stepping on the Bridge’, ‘In Step with Harvey’, ‘Steppin’ Out’ &c. he called it Steppin’ on Your Face. The Mystery of the Mud Angel was a bit of a cop out title given to tune composed by Dan after an incident which he and Jon witnessed in a pub in Paisley where Jon was performing. A young and rather inebriated female of the species, whilst gaily frolicking about in front of the stage area, knocked over an entire table of empty glasses. Following a beautiful pirouette with body held magically at 45? to vertical (for which the judges awarded her a combined score of 9.7) she fell hands down into the pile of the afore mentioned and now broken glasses. Blood gushing from her forearm, she disappeared for an all too brief few minutes and then, in stark contrast to the expectations and desires of the assembled company to see her conveyed away by practitioners of the medical (or legal) arts she reappeared, her hand mummified in bog-roll and another pint held securely therein to continue her bacchanalia minuet. The tune, composed in commemoration of this event, was originally to be called ‘The Red Hand of Paisley’ but it seemed to us, upon deeper meditation that the political connotations thereof might lead us to places where we did not necessarily want to go. Peter on the Logging Road was composed for Dan’s mate Peter the vicious, virile, victorious vespa violator of ol’ Piermont towne[2]. Over the years of their friendship they were often wont to set about cutting and splitting firewood at hours of the evening which, with the aid of particular libations and assorted machinery, frequently resulted in the local police being asked to join in the fun and games. On ya go Pete the boy ya!

The 37 Bus was composed by Michael Toner (Michael, our humblest apologies for the slanderous falsehoods formerly published here). It is, at least on the surface, an hilarious song about a Glasgow jakey beating nine colours of snot out of a large number of the Glasgow polis. Besides being a cabaret style comic song it seems a rather tongue-in-cheek though affectionate commentary on Glasgow life. It is also rather refreshing in that it is not tartan short-bread tin kind of song with a little bow tied ‘round it. 

It might, at first glance, seem rather narcissistic that a tune by James Gray should be called the Evæl Dr. Gray, but as the layers of mystery are peeled away and the mist rises from the hills we find that although the now Dr. Gray, Dan’s former flatmate, may have written the tune it was in fact Dan who named it. The tune was composed in honour of Dan discovering that if the bass drone of a set of border-pipes is tied into a sliding half-hitch knot it will sound in D rather than A thereby allowing for a more realistic approximation of the D-æolian mode. The tune was named in honour if its composer winning a PhD competition or something like that. Mrs. Dundas of Arniston provides us with a lighter, more delicate intermezzo in C-major before we unleash the hounds. The first of the hounds to be unleashed is the mighty melody, Marianne’s Reel by Fr. Angus Morris of Cape Breton[3]. Coming in behind Marianne is MacDonald’s Reel which is another transatlantic Frankenstein construction of tune. It was not, however, assembled using the pieces of dead tunes... though a bit of digging was necessary to find all its bits. It exists (and has done so for some time) as MacDonald’s March or Quickstep in the Donald MacDonald Collection (1831), J&R Glen’s Collection and Ross’s Collection (1885). In all three of t hese collections, however, only parts one and two of our version are given. Barry Shears of Glace Bay, Cape Breton, gives a version with parts one, two and three of our version and in Quebec they play a tune called the Reel de Jos Cromier which consists of parts one, three and four of our version. Thanks really must be given to the Vermont/Newfoundland band Nightingale by whom we were inspired to take up the habit.

Slow airs being the fiercely territorial creatures that they are we do not normally put two of them together in a single set. We make an exception here owing to the strong mutual attraction between these two. The first, Far Away, was composed by Pete Jung, whom we suspect of being a Vermonter. Be his nationality what it may, he composed the aforementioned after a contradance[4] in Bratleboro, VT, whereat he beheld a ‘ creature of character and feature’ with whom, but sadly not by whom, he seems to have been quite taken. Although the title, Far Away, refers to where she seems to have remained, relative to him, it turns out that she was not all that distant after all she was just very small. We finish with a semantically and musically fitting successor, The Tail End of the Tour, which Jon composed. Contrary to what some of you filthy-minded, juvenile sickos might be thinking, the tail end of the tour is not a reference to what musicians are often alleged to get up to when on tour. The tune was composed during the final days of an intense and exhausting (though ultimately very fulfilling) musical experience. At such times the impending joy of seeing loved ones and home again is starkly juxtaposed to the dread of returning to the world mundane.

Sleeve notes for Silver

We kick off with three original tunes from the band. The first strathspey and reel, Moladh an Ruis air a’ Phraidheagh le Cneamh ‘s Uisge Beatha, which translates as ‘In Praise of the Whisky Garlic Fried Rice’, was composed by Mr. Houghton in celebration of a most wholesome repast which was concocted at the end of a week of recording, in Drumelzier in the Scottish Borders. It was discovered upon a morning that the edible contents of the kitchen consisted of a bulb of garlic, half a bottle of whisky, leftover rice an egg and possibly even some cheese found behind the fridge. The rendering of the above ingredients in a wok rather unexpectedly yielded a delicious breakfast (Keep your een peeled for the up coming Cantrip Cookbook!). Jon wrote Tom’s Incredible Table to commemorate the interior decoration misfortunes of a friend (who shall remain nameless). Once upon a time this friend spent many hours at the selecting, purchasing and transporting of a beautiful antique oak table, only to discover that its presence in his living room left naught but a one foot wide path in which to move around the perimeter of the room. An Otter’s Pocket, as you might expect, would be a rather dark, damp and probably furry place.

Gav introduced us to Felix the (greased up greco-roman) Wrestler. Felix is also known as ‘Biddy from Sligo’ by some of his mates in the west of Ireland, though now he really prefers to be called Loretta. Felix has been an inspiration to us on a personal level as a fine example of how to really be in touch with oneself. We have put him next to Siobhán Ó Domhnaill’s no. 2 with The Choice Wife taking up the rear. This final tune was extracted from the grey matter of Orkney guitarist Kris Drever. Some people also call her the ‘Whinny Hill Jig’ but we like her better like this.

Gavin composed this first tune, Hardanger Fjord by carving it into a piece of frozen cheese while trying to hitch a sleigh ride from Helsinki back to Tromsø: for a concert with the Trondheim Beaver Squeezing Philharmonic. Mrs. Mary Macdonald was found, quite innocently but rather squashed, between pages 162 and 163 of the Atholl Collection. It was our friend Laura Risk who originally introduced us to her and to whom we are grateful for the arrangement.

We are assured by those who claim to know that The Ass in the Graveyard was originally neither an ass, nor indeed an arse, as some have suggested. It was composed by Terry Tully, of Dublin, and, according to our sources, was done so after a funeral whereat the entire mass was held in the graveyard. Due, perhaps, to poor elocution, to a lack of careful listening or to just plain, common garden variety inebriation on the part of the oral conduits of this piece we now find the title in the form given above. Tha Còt’ Orm ‘S Àrdach Muileinn[5], which title translates as ‘I am wearing a coat in praise of the mill’, we got from Barry Shears. It is a driving wee strathspey from Cape Breton but derives ultimately from a Scottish port a beul that satirises the soft mill-woven cloth of the lowlands while praising the rougher homespun fabric of the Gael. It also appears as a 2/4 march called Domhnall Gorm or Donald Blue’s March in the William Ross Collection. The Oceanographer is a light-hearted wee reel, which sprang from one of Dan’s frequent and often lengthy mental recesses. It was composed to commemorate one of his father’s birthdays - the number of which we are not at liberty to disclose. The tune and his father’s profession bear the same title.

Pirsta is a Finnish tune whose name means ‘silver’, or so we were led to believe. Subsequent encounters with native speakers of the Finnish tongue have left us with the distinct impression that either some nit may have fed us a pile of porkies or that our informant was speaking b dialect. The Good Drying is another stomping tune from the fingers, via the pen, of Roddy S. MacDonald who now, poor soul, lives in London... or maybe Singapore... no wait! it’s Japan. Onga Bucharesti is a Yiddish wedding reel of the type traditionally played for smashing glasses and plates to. It was infact composed by Mr. D. Taris, known to his frineds as Mr. “D”. The rehearsals for this set resulted in three or four trips to A&E for cut feet, two large domestic disputes and fifteen pounds of broken crockery to sweep up. The tune itself came to us by way of De Danann.

The Marquis of Huntly’s Farewell, by Willie Marshall and The Leys of Luncarty are two strathspey from central and north-eastern Scotland. Bog an Lochan is a tune which is very popular particularly in the north and west of Scotland and Cape Breton. There are several puirt a beul texts sung to this tune, one of the more popular being Ciamar a ni mi a dannsa direach, ‘How will I do the straight dance’. The title refers to a Water-ouzel, cinctus aquaticus, which is a small shore bird but one cannot help but wonder, given the imagery associated with certain birds and particularly their nests in Gaelic poetry, if this is not an anatomical rather than zoological reference (see the Otter’s Pocket). Clem was composed by St?phane Devineau from the French Trad-ish band Mes Souliers Sont Rouges in honour of his niece Clementine. Sheepskin Beeswax is a traditional Irish tune, which we obtained from the Montréal-based band La Bottine Souriante. When finally given the chance to ask them whence they obtained it we were so over joyed with the result and celebrated it so throughly that upon waking up later that morning we found that not only La Bottine but any useful memory of the information imparted to us had vacated the premises.

The first air in this set, All the Seasons in a Day, was composed by Cammy after an afternoon during which it snowed, rained, howled a gale and spat little balls of ice on him before sun-burning the top of his head and causing him to sweat. Three days after he first played it for us Cam was struck by lightning, fell from his roof into a burning tar-pit only then to be run over by a bus while trying to crawl back to his front door. We’re looking forward to whatever compositions are inspired by that experience. Sets a Dish Cloot was not inspired by falling off of roofs into burning tar pits but rather by the looks, charms and affections of his special lady friend, to use the parlance of our time.

The Joker’s Polska is a traditional Swedish dance tune, which has its origins in the region not far, but on the other side of the border, from where Gav hitched that lift to Tromsø[6]. Most of An Dro no. 211 was salvaged from the wreckage of an old cassette tape of Breton piping. It appears, however, that the third part may actually be a stowaway part from another tune fleeing state sponsored persecution. Gav got An Dro no. 625 from Jackie Molard in exchange for six pairs of socks (that’s a tune title, by the way). An Dros are a type of chain-link dance from the south-central region of Brittany. Individual tunes of this type traditionally take their names from the first line of the text sung to them. Since we have not yet found words to any of these tunes we have, as you can see, come up with our own indexing system for them.

Jon learned Panpoxa from a cellist in between recording sets in the basement of a multi-storey car park in Bilbao. The name means ‘a sweet young girl’ (oooh! aaah!) in Basque and was composed by Benito Lerxundi, a Basque composer who is apparently ‘very into his Irish music’. We were originally going to stuff this lovely melody into a dark and cramped, sock-drawer type of set with a bunch of other tunes but upon reflection we decided to leave it out on its own to breathe, expand and mature.

The Cantrip (not Catnip, Cantrap, Cat Trap, Cat Flap or worse) is yet another fine tune from the vast and probably criminal imagination of Mr. Bews. ‘Cantrip’ is a word in Scots which, well, rather than waste time here with etymology, go look at the first page of the website. Mo Cheallaichin Fionn, ‘My Wee Fair Kelly’ and An Tiocfaidh t? abhaile leam, ‘You Will Come Home With Me?’ are two well-known Irish Jigs which have theis roots in both the vocal and instrumental traditions. Ian’s Jig is traditional or at least a large percentage of it is. The first two parts as played here or close variations thereof, were played in Cape Breton. The hereinbefore mentioned Barry Shears has transcribed one such version from the playing of piper Alex Currie, though he notes that it is also found in the Logan Collection no. 4 under the title ‘An Irish Jig’. The third, fourth and fifth parts of this tune (and, in all probability, the name) were added on by piper Ian MacInnes during his time with the Tannahill Weavers. Ian’s Jig is here accompanied by the air to the Gaelic song Theid Mi Dhachaigh Chr? Chinn t-S?ile, ‘I will go home to the Cattle folds of Kintail’ original text to which, according to Allan MacDonald of Glen Uig, was composed by a Highland soldier, gravely wounded at the battle of Sheriffmuir.

Cumha gun Ainm or the ‘Nameless Lament’ is a piece which comes down to us solely by means of the MacArthur/MacGregor manuscript. The manuscript was compiled sometime around 1820 so the tune is at least 180 years old but as it does not appear to be one of Angus MacArthur’s compositions it is probably quite a bit older than that. It has a beautiful and haunting melodic structure and uses certain embellishments which are found nowhere in the modern Ceol M?r tradition. According to John Purser Cumha gun Ainm is rhythmically and melodically very closely related to the Pi-li-li-iu lament which, in its turn by way of the vocal lament tradition, is derived from the call of certain sea-birds. With respect to the execution of certain features, in particular the ‘echo-beats’ we have tried to follow the styles outlined by Joseph MacDonald (1763) and Alan MacDonald (1996) rather than that of the modern competition. Dagger (David) Gordon who is a shepherd and mandolin player from Easter Ross composed The Lambing Storm and Brendan MacGlinchy has expressed not only a beautiful sentiment but also a superb piece of tune writing with the Splendid Isolation. Alasdair Fraser composed the Skye Barbecue presumably in honour of a barbecue which took place on Skye rather than as an editorial comment on the social and political history of that island over the last three hundred years. Dolina MacKay has to be one of the sexiest, pelvis-gyrating reels in the repertoire so we thought she would be a good one to go out with...

Return to Index

Cantrip is represented by Itself.

Website designed and maintained by Dan Houghton.