Archives For Folk Songs

The Laird O’Cockpen

March 22, 2015 — 61 Comments

Getting Ready

This weekend we have been rehearsing with Scottish Opera Connect for the coming production of “The Walk From The Garden”. It has been fantastic to practice alongside the string quartet today and the excitement of feeling it all to come together makes it all so worthwhile.


My Score From Today’s Sitzprobe Rehearsal

Over the last few weeks I have been totally absorbed with several projects; learning the music and lyrics for our Chamber Choir performance on April 17th playing catch up because I’d missed a couple of rehearsals due to Dido, seeing all the aspects of “The Walk From The Garden” take shape and learning the music and dance routines as member of the chorus of “Sir John In Love” I have enjoyed being put through my paces.

For tonight’s post I wanted to leave you with the last of the songs from my album, “The Laird O’Cockpen”. This humorous Scottish folk song was written by Carolina Oliphant, Lady Nairne ( 1766 – 1845 ). She wrote several beautiful songs which have become thought of as traditional Scottish songs. As the daughter of a staunchly Jacobite family she often wrote in sympathy of the cause, setting her songs to old established tunes.


The Laird O’Cockpen – A Painting By Watson Gordon

Following her marriage to Major William Murray Naine she moved to Edinburgh becoming Lady Nairne. Whilst in Edinburgh she carried on writing her songs under a pseudonym as it was considered a “queer trade” for a titled Lady. The songs were kept secret from her husband and her work “Lays From Strathearn” was eventually published in her own name in 1946 after her death.


Carolina Oliphant ( 1766 – 1845 )

The Laird o’ Cockpen

The laird o’ Cockpen, he’s proud an’ he’s great,
His mind is ta’en up wi’ the things o’ the State;
He wanted a wife, a braw house to keep,
But favour wi’ wooin’ was fashious to seek.

By the dyke-side a lady did dwell,
At feast he give he thocht she’d look well,
M’Leish’s ae dochter o’ Clavers-ha’ Lea,
A penniless lass wi’ a lang pedigree.

His wig was weel pouther’d and as gude as new,
His waistcoat was white, his coat it was blue;
He put on a ring, a sword, and cock’d hat,
And wha could refuse the laird wi’ a’ that?

He took his grey mare, and rade cannily,
And rapp’d at the yett o’ Clavers-ha’ Lea;
‘Gae tell Mistress Jean to come speedily ben, –
She’s want to speak with the laird o’ Cockpen.’

Mistress Jean she was makin’ the elderflower wine;
‘An’ what brings the laird at sic a like time?’
She aff her apron, and on her silk goun,
Her mutch wi’ red ribbons, and gaed awa’ doun.

An’ when she cam’ ben, he bowed fu’ low,
An’ what was his errand he soon let her know;
Amazed was the laird when the lady said ‘Na’,
And wi’ a curtsie she turned and awa’.

Dumfounder’d was he, nae sigh did he gie,
He mounted his mare – he rade cannily;
An’ aften he thought, as he gaed through the glen,
She’s daft to refuse the laird o’ Cockpen.
Over the last couple of months I have been asked a couple of times if I have any CDs for sale rather than having to download the tracks from Amazon or iTunes. I do have about 30 that I have signed so my Dad has added a page to my blog where you can order one from (link).  


Now Available As A CD To Buy From My Store

The Little Horses

February 8, 2015 — 81 Comments


This past ‘reading week’ at the Conservatoire I have been putting the final touches to my essay on Wagner and just wanted to relax and chill out for a couple of days so I took the opportunity to go home for the weekend.

I arrived back in Glasgow about 8:30 pm so tonight’s post will only be a short one but nevertheless I hope that you enjoy it 😊. Following my post on Aaron Copland and the songs that I performed for my exam in January I was asked if there was any chance to record them.  During the week I was able to put some time aside and record the songs and tonight I would like to share the first of those songs with you.

“The Little Horses” is a lullaby and evokes images of the Old American West. When I told my Dad he said it reminded him of a TV programme that he watched growing up, “The Little House On The Prairie” based on the stories written by Laura Ingalls Wilder.




This month we have been recording four short accompanied folk songs of our own choice for examination.  Folk music is generally music that has been passed down through generations.  When taking ABRSM exams (the exam board of the Royal Schools of Music) for singing they always test unaccompanied tradition songs (folk songs).  It is seen as an important part of each singing exam.  They may seem like an easy choice, however, they are one of the most difficult songs to perform to an optimum standard.  ABRSM themselves says the testing allows examiners to “assess the elements of unaccompanied singing through a more natural, musical and ‘singerly’ genre.  Singers have to pitch and produce the notes from within, and accommodate the extra elements of language and meaning with nowhere to hide”.


The choice of folk song can be vital some of them can have a very wide range required.  I’ve always sung British folk songs but I saw a concert at City Halls in Glasgow with work of the composer Aaron Copland and decided at that moment to research more of his work to consider performing a program of his.  People consider his music to evoke the vast American landscape and pioneering spirit.


Aaron Copland 1900 – 1990 was one of America’s best modern music composers born in Brooklyn, New York.  He wrote for voice, piano, orchestra; for plays, movies and dance he was also a conductor, pianist, teacher and author.  He studied in Paris, France for four years in his early twenties and decided that the French had a very ‘French’ way of writing and that the Americans had nothing like that so he decided to compose music that was truly American.  He used ideas from jazz music, cowboy songs, American folk songs and popular songs during the time of the American civil war, he even wrote a ballet about Billy the Kid the famous gun-slinger.


Scene From Appalachian Spring


He was a highly decorated man.  In 1945 he won the Pulitzer Prize for his music for a ballet called ‘Appalachian Spring’, the last part of the ballet is based on ‘A Gift to be Simple’ a traditional song.  In 1950 he won an Academy Award for his compositions for the film ‘The Heiress’ following nominations for his scores for ‘Of Mice and Men’, ‘Our Town’ and ‘The North Star’.


Olivia de Havilland And Montgomery Clift In The Heiress ( 1949 )


In 1964 President Johnson presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom America’s highest award to civilians. In 1987 he was awarded a special Congressional Gold Medal by the United States Congress.

His work in the late 1940’s and 1950’s include the use of the Schonberg twelve-tone system but found it ran contrary to his desire to reach a wide audience.

The four songs I chose to sing were:

The Boatman’s Dance

Long Time Ago

The Little Horses

Ching-A-Ring Chaw