There are three published Highland pipe settings of Maggie Lauder, two of them giving it the unaccustomed function of a march. The earliest is in John McLachlan’s The Piper’s Assistant, Edinburgh, 1854 (for an exploration of Lowland content in a Highland source see the article The Piper’s Assistant, revisited in Common Stock Vol 21 No 1, June 2006).

MacLachlan 1854  View larger (Use browser back button to return)

Courtesy Museum of Piping at the College of Piping

David Glen’s setting is from Part 1 of his 17-volume Collection of Highland Bagpipe Music, Edinburgh. The first edition of Part 1 was published in 1876, but the inclusion of this tune probably dates from some time later (at the time of writing the copy of the edition containing it is in storage after the recent floods in Morpeth).

Glen 1 Maggie Lauder  View larger (Use browser back button to return)

Courtesy Morpeth Chantry Bagpipe Museum

The third setting (which may not be the last published, see above) is in Peter Henderson’s Collection of marches, strathspeys, reels, and jigs, Glasgow, 1888. It will be referred to here under Henderson’s name, but he credits Wm. Sutherland with the arrangement.

Henderson Collection 1888  View larger (Use browser back button to return)

Courtesy Museum of Piping at the College of Piping

Versions of Maggie Lauder in the Fiddle and Irish Pipes sections here make it clear that some adaptation is required to fit the tune (understood as strains 1 and 2) into a 9-note compass.

There are two areas where this need arises, the high Bs in bars 4 and 5, and the descending scale runs in bar 7. Of the three settings (two of which, being in 2/4, have twice as many bars per strain), all substitute a grip for the high B in bar 4, and two of them an E for the high B in bar 5 (the grip is written, and in two cases also played, differently from current practice).

There is more variety in the treatment of bar 7: McLachlan has two different ways with it and Glen a further two, rhythmically similar to but melodically different from McLachlan’s. Henderson uses Glen’s second way both times. As melody, all four ways work in isolation, but as well as using different notes from other versions three of them are also at odds with the established tradition of the tune’s harmonic pattern and therefore doubly unsatisfactory to anyone already familiar with the tune. As we saw in the Fiddle section there is some variety in the way arrangers have harmonised bar 7, but they all use the dominant chord (A) under the melody note E on the 4th beat. None of these settings has the note E here, and when they mimic the rhythm of the descending runs they land on low G. One can harmonise anything with anything, but the obvious implication here is the subdominant chord (G). The one way which does work well with the traditional harmonies, despite all the notes being different, is in McLachlan’s first strain.

The three settings are of interest for what they reveal of the use of grace notes, both as articulation and embellishment, in the 19th century. There is much greater variety than nowadays, even within a single setting. McLachlan has something like the Irish roll in bar 1, and a strange trill in (his) bar 4, which Glen renders more plausibly in (his) bar 2. Henderson is closest to modern practice, but some of his melody notes would nowadays be written as grace notes within doublings (e.g. repeated Ds at strain endings), while some of his high G doublings have swallowed the F# melody note into the embellishment.

An unusual feature of McLachlan’s and Henderson’s settings is the opening of bar 1 on low A rather than D. This feature has wider traditional currency and is found in at least two other sources, the manuscripts of Lancashire musician James Winder, dated 1835-41, (online in abc notation at: )

and of the Clough family of Northumbrian smallpipers, explored in the next section.

1.Intro . 2.Songs . 3.Anster Fair . 4.Fiddle . 5.Irish Pipes . 6.Highland Pipes . 7.Northumbrian Smallpipes . 8.Border Pipes . 9.Conclusion

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