A Hebridean rowing tune

The new term began last night with one of a handful of rowing tunes that I am aware of. Iomramh eadar Il’as Uist (Rowing from Islay to Uist) was originally published in 1815 in Captain Simon Fraser’s collection — perhaps my favourite of the older collections. If you don’t have it, a PDF of a later edition can be found on the International Music Score Library Project.

The Skye Boat Song is the best known of these tune types (see the interesting history of it on Wikipedia) and the Arran Boat Song is widely played but Rowing from Islay to Uist perhaps less so. I first heard it on Ossian’s St Kilda Wedding (highly recommended) and it has been recorded by others since.

Ossian played it in Am but it fits the whistle and flute well in Bm. It is usually written out in a slow, rocking, 6/8 time and it is often described as a jig due to this. 3/4 makes sense to me but I have adhered to the original time signature. It’s a long way from Islay to Uist, so take your time with this one. The weaker c# notes on our instruments can be bent to good effect.

Resources for the tune can be found on the Resources page for the classes.

Photo: North Uist near Solas by Scot Tares, some rights reserved.

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