My idea is that this grand geometrical composition can stand as a kind of proxy for the lost medieval Gaelic harp repertory, which would have been played on the Queen Mary harp in the great hall at Finlaggan in the 15th Century for the Lords of the Isles.
As I have been practicing the Fairy Queen for tomorrow’s concert, and I have the Downhill harp here this week, I thought I would do a quick Youtube of it as a record of where I am at the moment.
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.
Ronald Smith in Perth suggested I compose a tune with this title. There are ancient histories that tell how Irish monks associated with St Columba founded two monastic sites, at Rigmonadh and Bellathor. The former place name is now Kilrymont, better known as St Andrews where I live. The latter, also Kinbellachoir, is not really known but Ronald suggests it refers to modern day Perth. I have seen suggestions it is Scone – in any case somewhere in the area of Perth seems likely.
For this tune I have picked up on these themes, and also on the history of a Beltane fair that Ronald tells me was celebrated in the area before the Reformation.
I had hoped that my tune might come out in a form that fitted harp, fiddle and pipes. Unfortunately it twisted and turned and ended up being useless for Highland pipes, however Patrick Molard has played it on Uillean pipes and it sounds delicious! Here’s Patrick’s MP3 for you to listen to.