The Royal Scots Cap Badge


The Battle of the Somme

Pipe Major Willie Lawrie
*image courtesey of
The Battle of the Somme, a 9/8 Retreat Air commemorates the fierce battle of World War I in which many lives were lost on both sides of the conflict. Some weeks ago was the anniversary of that battle, hence my thoughts to have that tune for this month.


The battle was started on 1st of July 1916 in which the British troops lost 58,000 lives, with one third lost on the first day of the battle. A Google search on the battle will reveal details.


The composer was Pipe Major William Lawrie (1881-1916), 8thArgyll and Sutherland Highlanders. He was a composer of note with many of his fine pieces often played today, especially his fine 2/4 marches that feature in the major piping competitions, both solo and band. He won piobaireachd premier gold medals and many light music events. Please see for much interesting biography.


Lesson Pointers


In playing the tune remember the three beats to the bar, good clarity of technique, and steady controlled compound rhythm i.e. the basic beat rhythm of 1–2,3– with attention to the remainder of the upbeat 3– duration without being too short sometimes. Some settings have a grip on the F of the seventh bar each part. The low A birls in the second part alternatively may simply have a high G grace note instead. Tempo could be about 80-84 BPM give or take a little.


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