The Royal Scots Cap Badge


Catherine's Lament


A number of tunes are caught up in the confusion that flowed from not having a written record of each tune from the time of its composition. Some were reconstructed (and by more than one person at different periods of time) and given different names and classifications. It is not unusual to find a tune classed as a Lament by one and a March or Salute by another. This confusion is not surprising, given an oral tradition that was disintegrating by the time piobaireachd music began to be written down.


Angus MacKay, Raasay, thought the tune was composed by a man named Calum MacBaileart Cheaird upon the death of his wife. If that name is correct, it suggests that the composer was probably a tinker. As late as my father’s youth, 1880's and 90's, tinkers visited the Isle of Raasay annually to repair pots and pans, to sell geegaws and entertainment. Some tinkers were known to be good pipers – as an aside, Raasay people of my father's age referred to the Muckin o' Geordie's Byre as a tinker tune called The Tinker's Wedding.


A note from Colin MacRae, Seattle:

“The tune called “Lament for Catherine,” which was one of the Piobaireachd Society's selections in 1912, was taught to me as the “Fraser's Salute.” Both my father and Alec MacMillan agreed on this name. It is definitely not a Lament. It was passed down as a Salute by the Glenelg MacLeod's, by Simon Fraser, and in the MacRae's notes on Piobaireachd. It is a delightful Salute if properly played.”


Return from Catherine's Lament to Lament Piobaireachd Stories




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