Bonnie Rideout ~ Fiddle
A champion in a rising generation of Scottish fiddlers, Bonnie Rideout is called "the piping fiddler" for her evocative renditions of Highland bagpipe music. Here she returns to her roots in a celebration of the women of Scotland. With ancient Gaelic airs, strathspeys and reels of today's Scotland, performed on Scottish fiddle & viola with Highland bagpipe, uilleann pipes, wire-strung Celtic harp, guitar, cittern, cello, bodhran, snare & bass drum. (60:00 minutes)
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"... An unqualified triumph of inspiration and musicianship."
- Women Today
Listen to samples of tracks 1, 2, and 11.
- Mrs. Gunn's Strathspey / Sweet Molly / The Wise Maid (3:27)
- Miss Gordon of Park / Craigellachie Lassies / The Honourable Mrs. Drummond of Perth's Delight (4:00)
- Thogail A' Bhuntat! (To lift the potatoes) / Do Shrochadh Thoill Thu (You deserved to be hanged) / Ugi Nan Hu 'Smo Thriall Dachaidh / Air #41 (6:01)
- Highland Mary or Katharine Ogie (2:39)
- O' A' The Airts / My Luve's Like A Red, Red Rose (5:31)
- Roy's Wife O' Alldivaloch / Aldavaloch or O'er The Moor Amang the Heather (4:58)
- Miss Elspeth Campbell (3:47)
- Mrs. Stewart's Strathspey / My Wife's A Drunkard / Miss Susan Cooper / Annie Shand Scott (4:49)
- Bonny Jean of Aberdeen (3:24)
- A Bhanarach Dhonn A Chruidh (The brown milkmaid) / `Smi Gabhail An Rathaid / Hugaibh Air Nighean Donn Nam Meall-Shuil (The bewitching eyed brown maid) (5:52)
- Laoidh Rebecca (Rebecca's Hymn) (3:35)
- Kindred Spirits (11:27)
Bonnie Rideout ~ Fiddle, viola
Eric Rigler ~ Highland bagpipe, Uilleann pipes
Al Petteway ~ Guitar
Chris Caswell ~ Wire-strung Celtic harp, pennywhistle, bodhran, snare and bass drums
Abbey Newton ~ Cello
Robin Bullock ~ Guitar, cittern
Maggie Sansone ~ Hammered dulcimer
It has been my desire to create a musical portrait honoring the contributions, great and small, that women have made to the Scots culture over the centuries. Most of the music is written by men who were inspired by women. The titles portray women of all social levels. They are not just lovers, but patrons, employers, connoisseurs, drunkards, and cheats. On the final track of the recording is an original piobaireachd (pibroch). I wrote it as a eulogy to Scots women who have passed on the legacy of honest hard work and pride in their own traditions: a legacy which has served to nourish the human spirit.
1. Mrs. Gunns Strathspey/sweet Molly/the Wise Maid
The first strathspey is from John and Andrew Gow's collection of 1795. "Sweet Molly", also titled "Hopeton House" in Bremners Collection (mid 18th century), was later published in the "Skye Collection" (Edinburgh, 1887). The Wise Maid is popular in both Ireland and Scotland. Eric adds an eight bar riff on the pipes - one of those spontaneous indulgences that he and Al couldn't resist when the tape was rolling! (Fiddle, Uilleann pipes, whistle, guitar/Al, cello, bodhran) 3:27
2. Miss Gordon of Park/Craigellachie Lassies/the Honourable Mrs. Drummond
Of Perths Delight
The first two jigs, composed by William Marshall were published in a "Collection of Scottish Melodies, Volume 2nd" printed posthumously in 1845. Marshall often composed melodies for his patrons, and fashionable ladies were keen to have tunes named after themselves. He wrote the second tune for the lassies and for a famous bridge in Craigellachie, both of which he was grateful to have close by. A biographer of Marshalls once described how the composer decided which tunes to keep: "In the evenings he played his tunes to Mrs. Marshall, and what she condemned, he condemned, but when she approved, he immediately wrote down the favoured airs." The third tune was published by Neil Gow's sons, in 1795. (Fiddle, cittern, guitar/Robin) 4:00
3. Thogail A' Bhuntat! (To lift the potatoes)/Do Chrochadh Thoill
Thu (You deserved to be hanged)/Ugi Nan Hu 'Smo Thriall Dachaidh/#41
The first two tunes are vocal dance songs from the isle of South Uist, collected by Margaret Fay Shaw. Its lyrics tell a woman to get up on her little feet and go to lift the potatoes. It makes for a lovely lilty tune, although its lyrical quality inspired a more reflective tone. The second tune expresses great dismay with Mary:
"..You deserved to be hanged, Mary!
You did something your mother never did!
You drank the milk that was in the dish,
You broke the churn and the gravy plate:
And in spite of what the floor sucked up
There were pools in the potato corner.
You drank the milk last night, Marie."
The last two selections are from Rev. Patrick MacDonald's Collection (1784). (Fiddle, Uilleann pipes, cello, bodhran, cow bell) 6:01
4. Highland Mary Or Katharine Ogie
Two poets, Robert Burns and Allan Ramsay, wrote words to this powerful slow air. My arrangement reflects the despair and loneliness Burns endured after losing his beloved Mary:
"And mould'ring now in silent dust,
That heart that lo'ed me dearly!
But still within my bosom's core
Shall live my Highland Mary."
(Viola, fiddles) 2:39
5. O' A' The Airts/My Love Is Like A Red, Red Rose
"Airts" are directions on a compass. Burns wrote, "Of a' the airts the wind can blaw, I dearly like the west.." for his new wife, Jean Armour. The music was composed by William Marshall. Marshall worked as a butler and house-steward for the House of Gordon and he entitled the tune "Miss Admiral Gordon's Strathspey." Burns also wrote lyrics to "My Love is like a Red, Red Rose," set to the traditional melody, "Low Down in the Broom." (Fiddle, wire-strung Celtic harp, cello) 5:31
6. Roy's Wife O' Alldivaloch/Aldavaloch or O'er The Moor Amang The
Roy's wife is described as a "fickle, faithless quean", although "well could she dance the highland walloch". The second piece is a fiddle tune with variations printed in Gow's "Complete Repository". (Fiddle, guitar/Al, cello) 4:58
7. Miss Elspeth Campbell
A popular traditional pipe march played by bagpipe bands around the globe. (Fiddle, Highland bagpipe, drums) 3:47
8. Mrs. Stewarts Strathspey/My Wife's a Drunkard/Miss Susan Cooper/Annie
We start with another strathspey from John and Andrew Gow's collection. The next two reels are from the Shetland Islands. When I first heard "Miss Susan Cooper" during a session in California, I assumed that it was a traditional tune. In fact, it was recently composed by Ronnie Cooper. The last reel was written by Bert Murray, a generous, cheerful man, and one of my favorite fiddlers. (Fiddle, Uilleann pipes, whistle, guitar/Robin, cello, bodhran) 4:49
9. Bonny Jean Of Aberdeen
I discovered this tune in the Adam Craig collection (1727). Although Scottish composer Alexander Munro wrote a wonderful Sonata based on this melody, I have chosen to play it simply. (Fiddle, wire-strung Celtic harp, cello) 3:24
10. A Bhanarach Dhonn A Chruidh (The brown milkmaid)/'Smi Gabhail
An Rathaid/Hugaibh Air Nighean Donn Nam Meall-Shuil (The Bewitching Brown-Eyed
These songs are from the Isle of Skye. The first two Gaelic airs were published by the Rev. Patrick MacDonald, and the third collected by Keith Norman and published in the Gesto Collection, 1895. (Fiddle, guitar/Al, hammered dulcimer) 5:52
11. Laoidh Rebedds (Rebecca's Hymn)
This tune is the seed that grew into the concept of this recording. In Sir Walter Scott's novel, Ivanhoe, the lovely Rebecca recites a hymn from her prison chamber before she is to be burned as a witch. A footnote in my antique edition mentioned a Gaelic air as the hymns' setting. I searched for it in Scotland and in North America, and finally found it in my own back yard at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.! It was in "A Collection of the Gems of Modern Gaelic Song", edited by Malcolm C. MacLeod, Glasgow, 1913, p. 32. (Viola, fiddle, Uilleann pipes) 3:35
12. Kindred Spirits
Scottish pipe music is divided into "ceol beag" (small music) and "ceol mor" (large music). Most popular pipe tunes come from the small music repertoire (airs, marches, strathspeys, reels, etc). The piobaireachd (PEE-brok) is from the large music repertoire. A piobaireachd begins with an "urlar" or main theme, followed by variations that display a wide range of difficult ornamentation. The piobaireachd was not only played by pipers; harpers and fiddlers also performed this intricate music. To my knowledge, only fifteen piobaireachd have ever been published for the fiddle, all in the 18th century.
The possibilities for fiddle within this form of music are endless, displaying variations on bowing and fingering ornamentation, vibrato, tunings, and more. I have broken certain rules; for example, I play a high B that goes above the traditional pipe range.
To the modern ear of our "go-faster" world, the piobaireachd may seem to last forever. The listener's attention may wander. Piobaireachd to me is like looking into a tidepool. At first it is just a whole in a rock filled with seawater at low tide. But for the patient observer, it will come alive. Piobaireachd is also a form of active meditation, an extended prayer, or an invitation to trance. With this in mind, I recorded my piobaireachd in the studio live with no edits. 11:27