The Barren Rocks Of Aden

  1. Martin Jonas
    Martin Jonas
    This is a famous Scottish pipe march which I am playing as a slow air in four parts based on a transcription by Alf Warnock. Octave mandolin with a simple tenor guitar and mandocello backing.

    Mid-Missouri M-111 octave mandolin
    Vintage Viaten tenor guitar
    Suzuki MC-815 mandocello

    We do already have this tune in the index, but the link points to a genric thread with the title "Scottish Tunes", so I thought it more appropriate to start a new thread. Nice version by ptarmi of the tune in that thread, though, played much faster as a reel.

  2. Bertram Henze
    Bertram Henze
    This is a strangely tame and comforting tune for a march, almost like a Christmas song (can hardly imagine the drums to go with that). I always wondered what it would sound like ever since I saw it mentioned in Neil Munro's Vital Spark stories. Thanks for clearing that up.
  3. Martin Jonas
    Martin Jonas
    Thanks, Bertram. I think the "tame" character is mainly because I have slowed the tune down and am not playing it as a march. Not entirely sure how well this works -- I quite like the effect of this accompaniment even though it does change the character of the tune. I might record another version at marching speed and stronger pulse (possibly without the last variation which might be too busy if played faster).

  4. Bren
    I have a sudden impulse to buy me a banana.
    (Anyone who's raised kids or been a kid in Scotland in the 1980s or 1990s will understand)
  5. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    Bertram and Bren, you are taking me back through the years with the memories you are conjuring up. I used the Para Handy stories regularly when I was teaching, Bertram. Bren, my two daughters, born in 1976 qnd 1980 and very fine pipers, loved the Singing Kettle with Cilla and Artie. The Barren Rocks is such a fine pipe march dating back to the 1880s, I believe - not as has been claimed elsewhere as coming from the 1960s when the 1st Battalion of The Argyll And Sutherland Highlanders was stationed in Aden and saw some fierce action in the Crater district under Lieutenant-Colonel Colin Mitchell.
  6. Bertram Henze
    Bertram Henze
    Bren, to me, who used to listen to Cilla Fisher and Artie Tresize as serious Folk Singers in the 80s, this is slightly disturbing. I always wondered if Tresize is French for "extra big", and now this banana song... This is like William Wallace drinking a can of IRN-BRU before battle for strength.

    John, Para Handy was practically pressed on me during my first visit to Scotland. I wandered into a small exhibition of Hamish Haswell-Smith's watercolour illustrations of the book in Lochgilphead only minutes after a psychic experience in an empty pub and a few days later saw the real Vital Spark moored in a tiny port in Crinan on a wet day, the air being filled with raindrops and midges. I ended up buying the illustrated book and have been reading it again and again on summer afternoons in the backyard.
  7. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    Martin, you have inspired me with your current Scottish postings to have a go at this one. I also decided to follow you and go in closer with the camera (as we used to do a few years back on our videos before we started including our faces). I notice that the focus is slightly out with the limited depth of field the dull day was providing indoors.

  8. Martin Jonas
    Martin Jonas
    Very nice, John -- yes, that is more like marching tempo! I slowed it down because of that busy final variation which I see you (wisely) didn't play.

  9. Frithjof
    That sounds livelier, John.
    Both versions with their own rights.
  10. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    Thanks, Martin and Frithjof. There has been discussion over the years about just how many parts this tune has, Martin. I have always played it as a three part tune and I know some dance bands only play the first two parts in dance sets. A grand tune, however it is performed.
  11. John W.
    John W.
    Nice tune, Martin and John K…and it’s the differing versions that creates much of the pleasure for us.
  12. Bertram Henze
    Bertram Henze
    John, now the tune conveys a modestly merry marching mood. This way, the tune indeed sounds like it should have words - not the banana thing, though; I thought of something more historically significant:

    The barren rocks of Aden
    can't slow us down, never slow us down
    let's go and chase Bin Laden
    let's go and make him frown...
  13. Martin Jonas
    Martin Jonas
    Bertram, there very much are words to The Barren Rocks Of Aden. Here is the late great Andy Stewart (not to be confused with Andy M. Stewart):

    He doesn't even need instruments for a march feel!

  14. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    Andy Stewart was a stalwart on the Scottish entertainment scene particularly in the 1960s when he was the host of the very popular BBC television programme The White Heather Club. This presented a nostalgic view of Scotland with kilted dancers and folk musicians performing their stuff and generally having a great time with the studio audience. I think of Andy as coming from that long line of Scottish entertainers which goes back to the likes of Sir Harry Lauder. The image they presented was of a Scotland such as was portrayed in the Holywood film Brigadoon starring Gene Kelly.

    Andy had several big hits during this time by taking popular pipe marches and adding lyrics to them, his most famous probably being A Scottish Soldier which took the march The Green Hills of Tyrol and added suitably sentimental lyrics. It was one of the first singles I ever bought! As Robert Burns had done about 200 years before, Andy helped to preserve some great tunes and bring them to a much wider audience by adding lyrics to them.

    In The Barren Rocks video that Martin links to you will notice that Andy uses only the 1st and 2nd parts of the tune - what else can you do when you have a verse and chorus format!
  15. Bren
    There's often confusion at a session about whether the third part will be played at all or the variations are being included in the second part, if at all.
    Not that it gets played much at sessions these days, but common enough at ceilidhs.
  16. Bertram Henze
    Bertram Henze
    Martin, you're right, Andy Stewart doesn't need pipes for a pipe march - this calls for a male choir, though, enhancing the chorus in the style of a sea shanty.
  17. Christian DP
    Christian DP
    Two fine versions, each in its own style.
Results 1 to 17 of 17