Dedicated to the thousands of men and women of Kappa Kappa Psi
and Tau Beta Sigma who have served university bands because of their love of bands and music.
Culloden (pronounced cuh-LAH-d’n) is an attempt to present the folk & Gaelic "commoners’" music from the 1745-6 period of Scotland in my own way, without losing its original charm and flavor. To be exact, the goal was to compose one large, flowing, multi-movement work, a symphony for band, using as many as I could of those 8 and 16 bar tunes/songs. The melodies were originally for bagpipe, fiddle or voice, and had either no accompaniment or only a drone. The hundreds of hours of research alone would have prompted me to compile them into a work of some kind, but after immersing myself in the history, the music and overall "flavor" of the period, I became extremely fond of these tunes and my desire to see them breathe the air of the 21st century became overwhelming.
I have set, in the past, a very strict rule for myself: I compose. I do not arrange or use anybody else’s music. Period. I have more than enough imagination than is good for me, so this has never presented a problem...until now. With the music of Culloden, I had to use the tunes. It would have been a million times easier to compose Culloden from scratch, which was my original intent. But thanks to a lengthy conversation with James Barnes, I came to see the historical and creative merit in doing variations or sets of ancient and/or folk music. None of the tunes I used could be traced to a composer. This is a sad fact. It will be a rare person indeed who, upon listening to Culloden, even recognizes more than a couple of the tunes I used. That is another sad fact – one that I hope will be altered by this work.
I came across so much American heritage in these little tunes, that I became even more enthralled with the whole project. I got to see "London Bridge," "Yankee Doodle," "The Arkansas Traveler" (who HAD to have been Scottish or Irish), "Oh Susannah," and at least 60 other standard "American" folk tunes in their earlier forms (some were almost exactly the same, not to mention a few of Stephen Foster’s tunes which popped up! Whoops!). Needless to say, after all has been said and done, I have found that folk music belongs to no one and, at the same time, to us all. I just tried to shake a few cobwebs off some folk tunes that never should have been forgotten in the first place.
(In the course of my research, I came across another interesting fact: The "Scots" STILL love a good fight! You should see some of my e-mail!) Additional historical notes follow the first movement.
Additional background information
The Battle of Culloden, commonly referred to as "Bloody Culloden," April 16, 1746, is a subject of musical importance as well as historical. The battle itself lasted less than thirty minutes, ending the attempt of "The Bonnie Prince Charlie’s" gaining of the throne, leaving 1,500 Scots/sympathizers dead on the field compared to the minimal English loss of 300. Following the battle, the English continued to hunt down and murder wounded and stable alike, (over 1,000 on the immediately succeeding days) and any possible threats for years afterwards. This period of years is referred to as "The Clearances." Torture, death, imprisonment, relocation and the shipping of prisoners as indentured slaves to foreign countries continued. This scattered not only the people, but their music as well to the four corners of the earth. The burning of all the Jacobite music directly following Culloden is also noteworthy.
My objective was to locate and present the popular Scottish/Highland/Gaelic music leading up to this battle and the music that came about because of it – virtually, the "Top-40" of 1745-6 Scotland. I was simply amazed at the quantity and quality of music researched and documented from the period. Not only did I find a vast number of wonderful airs, strathspeys, reels, jigs, laments and many others, in Gaelic and English, but I also had never heard most of them before.
I was able to locate music written by actual survivors of Culloden (some composed in prison) and obtained several works belonging to Niel Gow, who won the National Fiddling Competitions in Scotland in 1745, The Simon Frazer Collection, and several other worthy publications from that time period. Being folk music, it was traditionally passed on by ear with words changing to fit the occasion. Hundreds, probably thousands of scant melodies were little more than 8 to 16 bars in length, some with many variations boasting separate titles, with many having been "ancient sets." Only a handful bore a composer’s name (those being from the period directly after the "’45 Rising"). I found their music and lyrics riveting, bawdy and comical, yet wondrous in simplicity.
Culloden is an attempt to present these works in my own way without losing their original charm and flavor. For the men, women and children whose lives were forever changed by the uprising of "Bonnie Prince Charlie" and for their beautifully passionate and glorious music, which has certainly changed my own, I pay this tribute.