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Dagshai Hills

A retreat air composed by J. Wallce

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Dagshai Hills or Heights of Dargai

The retreat air Dagshai Hills is partly meant to be played along with my earlier 9/8 retreat air The Battle of the Somme in the back numbers in our website. The composer is named as J. Wallace of whom I cannot find details. The tune apparently and on good authority was originally known by the name that I knew it as in my regiment Dagshai Hills (an outpost in Northern India). The name changed somehow to Heights of Dargai, and with time has been the most common name for the tune.

The Heights of Dargai commemorates the famous battle of 1897 that involved the Gordon Highlanders regiment in present day Pakistan. The Gordons’ succeeded in storming and holding the heights urged on by their Piper Allen Findlater who kept playing while shot in both hips and propped up by comrades on a rock to allow him to keep playing. That deed won Findlater the highest award for bravery, the Victoria Cross. For more information on the battle simply search under the title of the tune.

The Heights of Dargai


Allen Findlater

Piper A. Findlater

Lesson Pointers

For a change this tune is in compound triple time, three beats in the bar played in steady march time of about 84 BPM for musical enjoyment, or a bit faster up to about 96 BPM. The common beat or pulse rhythm is 1—2, 3- with feeling on the 1-- with it's relatively longer duration mostly (or dotted 2), 2 is short, and 3- must have the remainder of the upbeat. Please notice the bridged/carried over last two beats in each part that is customary in triple time retreat airs. This tune goes well when played with the other 9/8 Retreat Air – The Battle of the Somme. There is plenty time for good clear execution and controlled rhythm/expression.

I have included the suggested tune, The Battle of the Somme, below to go with this tune of the month. The reason is to show the proper composer of the tune that was not given proper credit in the written music when released way back.

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