October 2019 Tune of the Month: Joseph MacDonald’s Jig

A large part of my repertoire is taken from my favorite albums. One of those is Battlefield Band’s album Home is Where the Van Is. How can you match the talent of Brian McNeill, Duncan McGillivray, Ged Foley, and Alan Reid? Duncan’s playing of The Cowal Gathering has inspired me to continue using it as one of my longest running 2/4 marches for competition. Brian’s playing of James Scott Skinner’s The Iron Man is a masterclass in strathspey playing (not for highland dancers, though). If you’re not tapping your foot in Miss Thompson, you’re dead. If The Keelman Ower Land doesn’t make you want to buy Northumbrian pipes, or at least play it on your Scottish smallpipes with 1.5″ brass tubes in the end of your drones so that they tune to G and cover almost the entirety of your C# hole with tape so that it sounds C natural instead (sheet music here in the G major tunebook). The piobaireachd-ish excerpt at the end of The Boar & The Fox, itself set to Sleep Dearie Sleep, makes one actually enjoy listening to piobaireachd, especially given the brevity in this case. You should buy the album.

Getting to the point, track 6 is a set of three jigs, the latter two I’ve been playing for some time: The Snuff Wife and The Thief of Lochaber. I can’t actually play The Snuff Wife without then going into The Thief of Lochaber; they are married to each other never to be separated. I’ve fingered along with the first jig, but just recently got around to writing it down: Joseph MacDonald’s Jig. It’s a great tune and should be played more often as a 4 part jig.

The first two parts are traditional but the 3rd and 4th parts were written by Duncan McGillivray, which prevents me from publishing the entire score. I’m not going to publish any sheet music this time around. You can find the sheet music in a couple different places:

Without gracenotes in ABC notation – first 2 parts in ABC notation; if you aren’t using ABC notation what are you doing with your life? Paying for bagpipe specific notation software? Why?! ABC has a highland bagpipe setting and allows you to grab most any traditional tune (because every other folk music already uses ABC notation) and see if it transposes (which most ABC programs do automatically) to the bagpipe key. Yeah, and ABC is free as is most graphical software that interfaces to ABC. I use EasyABC (which you may need to get from sourceforge instead). Here’s your opportunity to listen to the tune played by Duncan (above) or myself (below) and finish out the 3rd and 4th parts yourself in ABC notation! Gracenotes go in curly braces {} and set the key field like this to put it in bagpipe mode: K:Hp

A highland pipe setting from Jim McGillivray – first 2 parts arranged for the highland pipes already

The 4 part version played by Duncan on the album is available in Forward With Scotland’s Past, a book of Battlefield Band’s sheet music that spans multiple albums for £12 (mine should be in the mail shortly!).

Joseph MacDonald’s Jig <- here’s me sight reading my transcription of the tune, Colin Kyo drones and chanter with Ackland 480 drone reeds and Husk chanter reed