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The Ewe with the Crooked Horn

A bagpipe tune taught by Pipe Major Bill Robertson

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The Ewe with the Crooked Horn

It is believed that the composer for The Ewe with Crooked Horn may have been Alwyn William. The original setting was a reel and was adapted as a strathspey for the bagpipes.

This strathspey of the competition category is unusual in construction of the melody, and as a result very interesting to play and a reasonably good challenge.

Scots Guards. Pipers in strathspey step of the Argyll Broadswords dance

Strathspey Dance

Foreground: Pipe Majors A. MacDonald and R. Kilgour
Pipers in Scottish regiments were required to be good Highland Dancers, both solo and team.

Lesson Pointers

I find the kind of key changes very effective and enjoyable, especially the third and fourth parts.

The most important points I consider are: good attention to the controlled rhythm of the dotted notes, as always in strathspeys. The dotted notes and full beat crotchets/quarter notes that might inadvertently be neglected in relative duration are:

In the first part the dotted low As and low Gs.

In the second part the full beat note Es. Also in the eighth bar the full beat high A, the controlled dotted high G and F. Some pipers prefer the optional high G grace notes instead of strikes dividing the two Es. Strikes and the like on the second beat in a bar must be right on the beat, not too early.

In the third part perhaps obviously the dotted D's with strikes spot on the next beat, not a shade too early. Also of note in this part are the short low A's that must be heard clearly enough, not as a grace note, and the dotted E's fourth and eighth bars. Third beat dotted E in the last bar each time through must have good control as that third beat tends to be neglected a little even by good pipers.

The fourth part (which ones do you think before reading farther?) – Yes, the dotted high As and dotted high Gs in the main all the way. Keep in mind the need to maintain the momentum and the lift/spirit of the dance. Tempo could be about 90-96 BPM, although take much steadier in the early stages with good concentration. Please listen to the relevant Audio file for detailed directions, more so than in the short video.

Download The Music Notation.

Click to download the tune notation for The Ewe with the Crooked Horn

Listen To Bill's Audio Instruction.

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