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The Glasgow Reel (Daeol)

“The Glasgow Reel” is more often called “Tam Lin” around KC and some other environs.  It has been set in Daeol, Eaeol, and Aaeol, primarily. It is often heard in sessions played first in Daeol, then in Aaeol for a variation — and I have both here.  Dublin musician Davey Arthur (originally from Edinburgh, Scotland) is credited, on Steeleye Span’s CD Time (1996), with writing this tune.  Paddy O’Brien (b. 1945) liked the tune, but not the name “Tam Lin,” so he played a version in Daeol, as I have it here first, but he called it “The Howling Wind.”  Now, the name “Tam Lin” is derived from the famous Child ballad about fair Janet and her lover, both enchanted by elves. Francis James Child (1825-1896) collected 305 traditional ballads, each with numerous versions, from England and Scotland and their American variants, and published them in four volumes entitled English and Scottish Ballads (Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin & Co, 1882-98). These are commonly referred to simply as “The Child Ballads,” but some people will mistakenly think that this means they are children’s ballads.  As very many have at least one version with purposeful perfidia and some resultant murder and mayhem, they are, like the Brothers Grimm fairy tales, not Disney stories.

Currently the melody of “Tam Lin” is played for Irish step-dancing competitions, and has been recorded for step dance practice (and canned competition music) by piano-accordion player Pat King. Fèis musicians tend to refer to this tune as “The Glasgow Reel,” and dancers tend love it — btw, a Féis is a traditional Gaelic arts and culture festival, and feiseanna (pl.) are really centered on Irish Dancing rather than music.  Marci Phelan’s Playing for Irish Dancers offers a brief but informative introduction to playing live for step and céilí dancers. It is certainly worth consulting if you do plan on playing for dancers. This tune was recorded the Furey Brothers as “Tam Lin, Prince of Pipers” on the album Emigrant (Polydor, 1977), the first album in which the group was named “The Furey Brothers and Davey Arthur.”


/ Dm    / Bb     / C    / Bb  C  / Dm    / Bb    / C    / Dm              : |

/  Dm   /          / C     / Am     / Dm     / (F)   / Bb   / C    (Dm)  : |


The Glasgow Reel,


The Glasgow Reel,


Tam Lin

Tam Lin


Glasgow Reel  (Aaeol)

Glasgow Reel (in Aaeol)


One Comment

  • Caroline giacobbe
    Posted January 7, 2018 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    A haunting, mesmerising piece of music!!!

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