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Notes from a Hebridean island

Mackenzie, William Jackson (harps/whistles/piano) Detailed performer information
Download only
Recording details: April 2000
Carlekemp Studios, North Berwick, United Kingdom
Produced by Calum Malcolm
Engineered by Calum Malcolm
Release date: April 2016
Total duration: 48 minutes 23 seconds

Cover artwork: St Cyrus Nature Reserve, Angus.
Photograph by Colin Prior

Notes from a Hebridean island features the very best Scottish and Gaelic singing and instrumental music performed by some of the most distinguished exponents of the art.


‘Wonderful recording, evoking a style of music and a glimpse of life in the Hebrides in times gone by’ (Rambles)» More

‘There isn't a weak track on the album, but it's probably worth mentioning that it's music for listening to. It's a joy from start to finish and is a near perfect example of all that's attractive about traditional—and traditional sounding—Scottish music’ (The Living Tradition)

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St Kilda’s wedding – A St Kilda’s dance
Both tunes come from the remote Atlantic archipelago of St Kilda, far off Scotland’s west coast. The second tune is also known as ‘Tha Giullan agam fhin’.

Anna bheag (Wee Anna) arr. Jackson and Mackenzie
A traditional song from the Isle of Skye, ‘Anna bheaga’, like hundreds of other traditional Gaelic songs of this genre, was used in the process of waulking the tweed. This particular song deals with a common theme of finding a suitable love match for the Anna in question.

MacPhee’s reel – Marion & Donald – Tail toddle
Three pipe reels. ‘MacPhee’s reel’ is generally associated with the Glasgow-based composer and pipemaker Donald MacPhee, who published a major collection of music in 1876 called A Selection of Music for the Highland Bagpipe. ‘Tail toddle’ is a pipe setting of the well-known (and bawdy) song of the same name.

Ba mo leanabh (O my baby) arr. Jackson and Mackenzie
Mackenzie first heard this less well-known version of a traditional song from the Canadian singer Mary Jane Lamond. The story surrounds the execution of the clan chief MacGregor of Glenstrae in 1570 when his widow composed and sang this lullaby lament to her child. There exist several versions of this song, more commonly heard as ‘Griogal Cridhe’ (‘Beloved Gregor’).

Barbara’s jig arr. Duncan Johnstone –
Kenny MacDonald’s jig arr. Norman MacDonald –
Joseph MacDonald’s jig
Three Highland pipe jigs. ‘Joseph MacDonald’s jig’ is one of the oldest recorded tunes of this type, appearing as it does in the famous Patrick MacDonald collection (A Collection of Highland Vocal Airs), published in 1784. Joseph MacDonald was a Durness man who died in his early 20s while working in India for the East India Company. He has gone down in piping history as the first person to attempt a systematic notation of pipe music on the stave, in his Compleat Theory of the Scots Highland Bagpipe, compiled in 1760.

A fisherman’s song for attracting seals
This tune is also known by the name ‘Maol Domhnaich’, which is a small island off the south of Barra.

Blue ribbon, Scottish measure
This tune is from a Neil Gow collection, and is described as a strathspey.

The battle Of Waterloo – The wee highland haddie arr. Donald MacLeod
Two marches, arranged and popularized by the famous Lewis piper Donald MacLeod.

Skye dance – Harris dance
Two highly unusual tunes from Patrick MacDonald’s A Collection of Highland Vocal Airs, published in 1784. This collection of song airs and dance tunes was one of the first to present Highland music in its purest form, free from complex and often unsuitable ‘drawing room’ arrangements.

The mermaid’s song
A pipe arrangement of the famous Gaelic song ‘Oran na Maighdinn-Mhara’. Legend has it that the song was composed by a mermaid, moved to leave her family in order to follow the free-flow of the tides.

Chaidh mi’n traigh a déanamh maoraich (I went to the beach to collect shellfish) –
Co bheir mi leam (Who shall I take with me?)

arr. Jackson and Mackenzie
Both traditional, these songs were used to aid rhythm and purpose while engaged in the lengthy process of waulking the tweed. The second song was traditionally used in the later part of the waulking process when the workers clapped the tweed and this lightening of spirit is reflected in the text where declaration of love for someone in particular is encouraged.

Rory Dall’s sister’s lament
An old harp tune found in both Scottish and Irish collections. Attributed to the blind harper of Dunvegan, Rory Dall Morrison.

Tuireadh Iain Ruiadh (Iain Ruaidh’s lament)
An old Gaelic air.

Looking south over the border
This is a piece composed by the accordionist Ian Lowthian.

William Jackson © 2001

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