Loch Leven Castle: a reel and hornpipe

This week the Slow and Steady group took on the challenge of Loch Leven Castle, a Scottish reel that is known in Ireland as a hornpipe.

It is possible to play this tune in a number of ways, for example by including triplet runs in the and a passing G# in phrases in the B part, and these both feature in the two versions. The setting in Kerr’s Merry Melodies for the violin of c.1875 can be found at the Tune Archive. The Irish hornpipe is The Humours of Tuamgraney, or Tuamgraney Castle and can be found in various Irish collections such as O’Neill’s Music of Ireland. Both of these collections are important for building up traditional tune reference material and repertoire.

The versions of the tune are not too dissimilar to each other, but I like the more emphatic key change for the respective endings of the Irish version (B to G and C natural to A; as opposed to C natural to G and C natural to A). The version that we learned is essentially a simple amalgamation of the two and the music for it can be found on the class resources page.

An attraction of this tune is that it draws a direct connection between the structure of hornpipes and a type of Scottish reel that is referred to as a Lowland reel or Scotch Measure in this discussion on The Session, which also references this informative entry on the Fiddler’s Companion web site.

Loch Leven Castle is in Perth and Kinross and has a rich history, including being a prison to Mary Queen of Scots. Tuamgraney is in County Clare, but there is little left of the castle to see.

Photo of Loch Leven Castle by GuruAnt, some rights reserved.


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