I was at Balgay parish church in Dundee today, presenting the replica Queen Mary harp and playing some old Scottish harp music. One elderly gentleman who was a member of the church guild and a piper was unable to attend but had sent in a question, saying he knew of a pipe tune which was a lament for the King, and which he believed was traditionally said to have been composed by an old harper out West.
I assume this is An Caoine Rioghaill, composed in the 1640s by Iain Garbh MacLean of Coll. I know three versions of this tune, a printed set in Oswald’s Caledonian Pocket Companion, and two unpublished manuscript sets, one from the 18th century MacFarlane fiddle ms, and one rather strange and corrupt variation set from the 19th century Angus Fraser ms. All of these are fairly obscure sources from a modern piper’s point of view.
I wonder if this gentleman has a fourth version of the tune, a traditional pipe setting of it? I hope to be able to find out more information via the lady who organised today’s meeting.