The Royal Scots Cap Badge


Bagpipe Lessons for: The Old Woman's Lullaby



Bill's instruction is unique and effective because rather than play the whole tune through and maybe comment on completion of the tune, Bill prefers to play a section at a time and comment about the music, the notation and anything else that he feels relevant as and when required. This makes it easier for you to learn the tune.


Some legends about the Old Woman's Lullaby:


This tune appears under several different names:
  • Seaforth's Lament
  • George Donn Mackay's Lament,
to mention only two. This is not uncommon with older tunes. Indeed it is not uncommon even today for composers of music of music to adorn an older theme according to their own image.



Haddow's comments about the background of this tune are paraphrased here:
“One story has it that the old woman in question is said to have lived in Jura. She must have been something of a witch as by various stratagems she could get men under her power. Once in her power, there was no escape except, that is, by one – a MacPhie of Colonsay who stole her magic axe which he cut the thread that held him to her in bondage. Her croon when he escaped is said to have been as follows&58:

Oh! MacPhie
My love and treasure
Hast thou left me
On the strand?

A second story from Haddow is about a hag of Ben Brech in the Lochaber area who would transform herself into a white hind. She had a song she would sing when milking the hinds. The piobaireachd is thought by some, to have flowed from her song”.



There is also a heather myth that carries the tune back in time to Gaelic bards and beyond to the pagan Celtic era. Some think it was originally a song to the Moon Goddess. In various mythologies the Moon Goddess is depicted as easily offended and prone to quick revenge for slights and neglect. Pity the poor wretch who offends her! Better to sing her praises and offer up a song in her honor.

In any event the tune is beautiful. It was at one time played at funerals. It was favored by the famous piper Donald Cameron, and it was played at his own funeral.

Please see the Lesson Notes below, for PDF download of the tune notation.


Download The Tune Notation.


Music Notation Click to download the tune notation for The Old Womans Lullaby.


Listen To Bill's Audio Instruction.


The Old Woman's Lullaby

(Note: If you are using Internet Explorer click twice on the triangle.)


Watch The Video Instruction.


The Little Finger Movement and Trills on E


E Trills Continued


Return from Old Woman's Lullaby to Piobaireachd




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