The Little Spree

For this bagpipe lesson Pipe Major Bill Robertson takes you through playing the piobaireachd - The Little Spree. Bill breaks the lesson down into sections with commentary for each section.

Listen to Bill's Audio Instruction
The Little Spree - Piobaireachd

Download the Music Notation for The Little Spree

Click to download the tune notation for The Little Spree

Lesson Pointers for The Little Spree

Additional Information

The tune The Little Spree is one of the three of the Big Spree tunes. It is said to composed by one of the Chieftains of the MacGregors, or his piper, or one of the clansmen. This clansman was a blacksmith by trade. He was a valiant man who was often the foremost in the battles in which he was engaged. However, there were times when he would get quite deranged. This condition was occasioned by his partaking too freely of ardent spirits.

His excessive drinking was said to be the cause of the tunes being composed. In words that accompany the Big Spree, he is admonished in the phrase, "Tha´n daorach ort s´feairr´d tha cadal", in English, "You are drunk; you'd better sleep."

There are three Daorachs said to have been composed on the same wild hero:

  • An Daorach Mhor (The Big Spree)
  • An Daorach Bheag (The Little Spree)
  • An Daorach Mheadhonach (The Middling Spree)

 Although the author is clothed in mystery, it is known that the MacGregors of Glen Lyon, "Clan—an—Sgeulaiche", were famous story-tellers, bards, fiddlers and pipers in their time. Duncan Mor MacGregor, who lived in the late 17th — early 18th centuries, was one in a long line of the Glen Lyon family who were pipers to the MacGregor Chieftain. He was known in his time as a composer and may have been the author of one or another of the tunes.

The tune is of uncertain origin. The most commonly held view is that it is one of a MacGregor trilogy. Others suggest that it is a hodgepodge with pieces plucked from other tunes. The late great John MacDonald of Inverness won many competitions playing this tune in the 1920's. In his view the tune is misnamed. It seems that he thought of The Little Spree as one of the greatest of the laments.

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