Scottish Lute Music

Scotland is currently part of the United Kingdom but in the sixteenth century it was a separate kingdom and even after 1603 when King James VI of Scotland came to the English throne as James I of England the two kingdoms remained administratively separate until the Act of Union in 1707. The majority of lutenists active in the UK during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were employed by the royal courts or members of the nobility. For this reason it seemed appropriate to create this page specifically for Scottish music - especially as most of this music is found in four manuscript sources;
1) Rowallan Manuscript (c. 1612 - 28)
2) Straloch Manuscript (1629)
3) Wemyss Manuscript (1643 -48)
4) Balcarres Manuscript (c. 1700)
In addition the Skene Manuscript (c.1630) contains music for the related instrument, the Mandore and the
Pickering Lute Book contains some Scottish music. There are also Scottish sources for the Cittern and the Lyra Viol. The history of Scottish lute music is dealt with in chapter 13 of Spring (2001).

Balcarres MS This manuscripts is the most extensive source of Scottish lute music and also the largest British source of lute music after 1640.
More about…

In some pieces I have added ornament signs; it should be borne in mind that this music can be decorated ad lib (following or ignoring my ornaments and/or adding them elsewhere).

Buckingham’s Sarabande [PDF] [MIDI] [XML] Mr. Lesslie/Mr. Beck Grade 06
This piece is based on a French tune
La Marion Pleure (Tears of Mary); my arrangement was made by splicing together two versions of the piece ascribed in the MS to Mr. Beck and Mr. Lesslie.

The Canaries (the old way) [PDF] [MIDI] [XML] John McLauchland Grade 03
In the
Balcarres MS this appears adjacent to a piece entitled ’The Canaries, the new way.'

Greensleeves (Beck)
[PDF] [MIDI] [XML] Mr. Beck Grade 04
Mr. Beck’s version of the popular tune.

I wish I were where Helen Lies [PDF] [MIDI] [XML] David Grieve Grade 05
Wikipedia has the story behind this piece (Helen of Kirkconnel, Accessed 26/11/18). It concerns fair Helen who stood between two suitors, the one trying to kill the other. Instead Helen herself was killed and this is the lament of one of the lovers. Walter Scott’s poem relating this story begins thus:

I wish I were where Helen lies!

Night and day on me she cries;
O that I were where Helen lies,
On fair Kirconnell Lea!
Curst be the heart, that thought the thought,

And curst the hand, that fired the shot,
When in my arms burd Helen dropt,
And died to succour me!

There’s a lovely YouTube recording of Thomas Berghan playing this piece on the theorbo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLIcMer9Ekg.

Minuet Jean More, Mr Beck’s Way [PDF] [MIDI] [XML] Grade 04
Jean More appears as one of the composers in the Balcarres MS, so presumably this is one of her tunes as arranged by Mr Beck.

Tarphicken [PDF] [MIDI] [XML] Mr. Beck Grade 07
According to
Spring (2010) Tarphicken (modern form Torphichen) meaning ‘raven’s hill’ is a village near Linlithgow where, at various times in the Middle Ages, Knights Templar and later Knights of St. John of Jerusalem were based.

Tweedsyde [PDF] [MIDI] [XML] Mr. Beck Grade 07

When She Came in She Bobbed [PDF] [MIDI] [XML] Mr. Beck Grade 07
A song tune.


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