J [The End of Inchberry Bridge: first 2 bars] J:17v.6
Notes on Gaelic Titles
Ceann Drochaid’ Innse-bheiridh Ceann Drochaid Isiberri / The End of Isheberry Bridge K1. The End (or Battle) of ~ K1 index; Ceann Drochaid Iseberry JKA. The End/Head of Isheberry Bridge.
Is fhada mar seo tha sinn S, fhada mar so tha sinn / Duke of Atholl’s March Dow; Sad Mar Sho tha Shinn C2; ’SFhadde Mar Seo Tha Sinn / Too long in this Condition D1; Is fhad mar so tha Sinn / Too long in this condition K1. We are too long like this (conventionally ‘Too long in this condition’). Campbell (C2) gives this title to PS 165 whereas Dow, MacDonald (D1) and MacKay (K1) give it to PS 161. MacDonald attributes the tune to ‘great Peter MacCrimmon’ when ‘striped of all his clothes by the English’ at Sherrifmuir. Another story, with a four-line verse, concerns a piper who played all night at a wedding and got poor refreshment – see the Historic, biographic and legendary notes to the tunes by “Fionn” (1911), p. 13.
Notes on Music
In C2, the metre flexes with the Woven cycle as follows:
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206 × 2
The D1 setting of PS 161 sheds light on this tune because of the shared title and similar musical content; the two tunes were evidently confused. As an experiment, I tried singing C2’s version in strict time, as if setting the stroke for oarsmen on a West Highland galley:
This produces a syncopation in the last cycle which would relieve the tedium for both piper and rowers on windless voyages. Although the last cycle (220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168) adds up to 20, producing an entertaining effect against a regular 4, the penultimate cycle adds up to 39. For the purposes of playing on a galley, this might need to be amended to 40 (a number divisible by the 4 beats of an oar stroke). This historical performing context, however, was extinct long before any rowing pibrochs were transcribed. The titles of this tune – and others with similar musical characteristics – are also more strongly linked with ‘gathering’, or inciting men to feats of valour in battle, than with rowing.
Barnaby Brown, 30 June 2014