strathspey Archive: The Curlew

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The Curlew

Message 2774 · Sandra Knowles · 18 Oct 1995 16:37:16 · Top


I'm asking this for a friend. He would like to know if there are any
known dances that use "The Curlew" as it's signature tune. He is
especially interested in knowing if there are any official RSCDS
dances using this tune.

Same question concerning "The MacNeil's of Ugadale" (Forgive spelling
errors please).

You may respond directly to me.

Thank you in advance!!


The Curlew

Message 2775 · Anselm Lingnau · 18 Oct 1995 18:08:13 · Top

Sandra Knowles <> writes:

> He would like to know if there are any known dances that use "The Curlew"
> as it's signature tune.

This is something that Peter Hastings' tune index can help you answer. It
is accessible via a World-Wide Web form at

It doesn't cover all of the SCD world but still contains about 1700 dances
and tunes, in particular most if not all of the official RSCDS dances (as
far as I can tell). I'm using it myself all the time and wouldn't want
to be without it.

Unfortunately, in this case neither `Curlew' nor `MacNeil' produce any
results. So if there are indeed dances using these tunes, they must be
fairly obscure.

The tune index is copyrighted by Peter Hastings but free for non-profit use.
You can FTP a copy from in ASCII or
WordPerfect formats, or just use the Strathspey server to download it
if you want your own copy rather than use the WWW form.

If you want to know how to make the index into a 50+ page A5 booklet and
have a LaTeX2e system and a Perl interpreter handy (or just want the
PostScript for the booklet), drop me a message.

Anselm Lingnau .........................
FORTRAN... Then, as now, the language used by scientists with real problems.
--- Anon.

The Curlew

Message 2790 · Etienne Ozorak · 19 Oct 1995 16:03:18 · Top

Dear Sandra,

I don't know of any dance that uses either "The Curlew" or "The
MacNeills of Ugadale". "Curlew" is a pipe jig while "MacNeill" is a
pipe march. Having gotten used to playing "MacNeill" at march tempo,
it wouldn't feel right to me if I had to play it faster (same thing
with the tune "Australian Ladies").

"Curlew" is a fine pipe jig, though.


The Curlew

Message 2807 · McOwen · 20 Oct 1995 01:10:49 · Top


I responded privately to Sandra re dances for the pipe tunes "The Curlew" and
"The MacNeils of Ugadale," and because Etienne came out with 180 degrees the
opposite of what I said to Sandra I thought I'd better come out in the open!
I too pointed out that Curlew is a jig and MacNeils is a march, but (what do
you know) I said that I thought that 6/8 pipe marches make great SCD "jigs"
(they do have to be sped up a bit, and there are some exceptions where they
don't speed up well) and that pipe jigs don't make good SCD "jigs" (as they
have to be slowed down too much and don't have that "pointed" style which
makes for a good upbeat). I'm on record a number of places for saying the
above, and I go so far as to say that all 6/8s to be played for SCD should be
played like a 6/8 march, not like a jig. So there's the nub, if you
will--it's up for grabs!

There is a 6/8 pipe march which has made it into the Celtic jam-session
circuit and it's commonly thought of and played as a jig, but it's really a
march -- The Atholl Highlanders, which is the tune for the SCD Duke of
Atholl's Reel. Perhaps the SCD community would like to listen to that tune
and form their own opinions.

Fun side-note: "The Curlew" starts out with a two-note falling motif, which
is supposed to imitate the call of the bird the tune is named after.

Barbara McOwen
Arlington, Mass.

The Curlew

Message 2814 · Etienne Ozorak · 20 Oct 1995 15:31:56 · Top

Hi Barbara,

I agree with your comments. I wasn't making a generalization about
speeding up pipe tunes for dancing. It's just that I first learned
to play "MacNeill's" on the pipes at pipe march tempo and that
speeding it up doens't do much for me -- It "romps" so nicely to me
at that speed.

As you know, there are also some slow strathspeys and pastorals which
loose a lot when played up to dance tempo, but that's another story!!


The Curlew

Message 2903 · RSCDSSD · 28 Oct 1995 15:09:25 · Top

While not a SCD, Margaret Zadworny composed a two couple Step Dance named
"Smitty Piper" that uses the Curlew and the Hen's March as the suggested
tunes. The Curlew seems to appear frequently as an alternate tune and I find
I have to control myself from slipping into portions of Margaret's great step
dance while in the middle of a set.

Marjorie McLaughlin
San Diego, California

Canadian Highland Dance Championships/Gaelic College

Message 6805 · Hugh Goldie · 3 Mar 1997 22:03:24 · Top

I am seeking information or help about the Canadian Highland Dance
Championships for 1997 (Interprov97) and the Gaelic College, both located
on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.

There are www sites for these events, but I have been unable to access
them, trying different times of day for several days. If anyone knows
anything about this (dates of the events, etc.) please send me e-mail at

The www sites are:

Hugh Goldie, Saskatoon Scottish Country Dancers

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