Marchioness of Tullybardine, The | Bowing Down Home
About this tune
The Marchionness of Tullybardine was played by a relatively small number of fiddlers scattered across PEI. Omar Cheverie (b. 1925) tells us that he learned his elegant setting from his great uncle Neil Cheverie (c.1875-1950), who won first prize at the Great Contest of 1926. It is interesting to note in this regard that systematic exposure to radio broadcasts was not a major part of Island life until well into the 1930s, and that the Cape Breton recording industry did not effectively get underway until 1935.
The Marchionness of Tullybardine almost certainly originated as a four-part pipe march, and indeed it is still an active part of the Highland bagpipes repertoire. Early fiddle versions are featured in The Skye Collection (1887) and in James Scott Skinner’s Harp & Claymore (1903-4). Skinner recorded the tune on three different occasions: in 1899, 1905, and 1906; a number of fiddlers from the Antigonish/Cape Breton region – such as Colin Boyd, Alex “Alick” Gillis, and Donald MacLellan – recorded the tune a few decades later.
A note about style of performance:
The four-part pipe march developed as a by-product of the 19th century Scottish piping-contest milieu; most four-part marches played today date from the last third of the 19th century. At that time, such tunes were played on pipes at a brisk tempo and with relatively even eighth-notes – an approach that in the Scottish tradition was carried over both to fiddle and to Scottish country-dance bands. The slower, more rhythmically complex style of march performance that one hears on pipes today, featuring dotted-pairs (i.e., a dotted-eighth note plus a sixteenth note) and Scotch snaps (reversed dotted-pairs) in lieu of straight eighth notes, did not predominate until approximately the time of the First World War.
Many cut-time pipe-marches that have been absorbed into the Island repertoire – such as Inverness Gathering, MacDonald’s March, and The Marchionness of Tullybardine – are played as slow-to-moderate paced reels. It is not clear whether Island fiddlers simply preserved the pre-World War I up-tempo style of march-performance, or converted post World-War I style marches to reels by speeding them up and "evening out" their note-rhythm.