The Sheepwife – Gracing the Famous Competition Reel

Denis Browning in Australia: ‘I was flicking through some music books recently, your ‘Glasgow Collection’ being one of them.

‘I read your notes at the beginning regarding the gracing of certain parts of the Sheepwife i.e. G,D,E,D as opposed to G,D,G,D,  and I realised that I had seen this written elsewhere.

‘My first tutor was P/M Mick Haggerty (Cameron Highlanders) and I am lucky enough to have in my possession his manuscript from his Pipe Major’s course (under P/M Willie Ross) and I have attached his setting of the tune.

P/M Haggerty’s setting of the Sheepwife showing the G,D,E,D gracing

Download a copy of the tune here:

‘I have also attached photos I took at Cameron Barracks pipers’ hut showing Mick’s name on two honour boards. These may be of interest.’

Robert Wallace writes…Very interesting Dennis. Subtleties regarding the gracing of light music are important and ill thought out arrangements can significantly alter the character of a piece.

Strange that P/M Haggerty did the course under Willie Ross yet the Scots Guards Book 1, in which I presume P/M Ross had a good deal of influence, has the G,D,G,D setting. The W Ross Bk 2 setting is the same as the Guards’.

G gracenotes are not the be all and end all of piping technique and the chirping effect of the G,D,G,D style, obvious to the trained ear in the Sheepwife, can be off-putting.

So well done to your tutor, P/M Haggerty, and the Camerons for putting you on the right road. David Murray would have been pleased!

This recording from the 1980s has the ‘G,D,E,D’ Sheepwife at the end:


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1 thought on “The Sheepwife – Gracing the Famous Competition Reel

  1. John A Clark was a pupiil of John Center and my Father’s original tutor. John Clark was a Master on this tune and insisted on GDED always and pointed out it fits the modal gracenite structure of the Highland bagpipe scale.

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