Tunes from James Oswald's The Caledonian Pocket Companion
fitted for C and F Recorders, Baroque and Modern Flutes, and Other Treble Instruments
By Alison Melville
Published by Pipistrelle Music
For any instrumentalist fan of traditional Scottish song melodies, the Caledonian Pocket Companion is a bountiful and invaluable source. First published for solo flute or violin in fifteen volumes between 1745 and about 1770, and re-appearing in many editions, the CPC contains a multitude of well known Scots song tunes, many with variations and appended jigs, and a number of dance tunes. Its creater and publisher was James Oswald (1711-1769), a celebrated Scottish composer, singer, dancer, music publisher, concert promoter, and music teacher whose early successes in Scotland multiplied when he moved to London in 1741. Though most of the CPC tunes are traditional, Oswald penned the variations, as well as some compositions of his own.
I was introduced to the CPC long ago and have played and recorded many of its pieces. Scottish Airs was created to provide transposed versions of several excellent tunes for the use of recorded players, as well as for flutists, oboists, and players of any melody instrument. Each tune is provided in at least two different keys, and most have been transposed from their original CPC tonality for the sake of variety and technical challenge.
The first version of each tune is fitted for C recorders, and the second for F recorders. If there's a third option, it could be for either (or both). For further key options, you can play the C recorder version on the alto, using C fingerings, or the F version on a C instrument, using F fingerings. Players of other instruments can just check the range of each version and choose the one which best suits you.
The straightforward charm and expressiveness of this music is undeniable, and the question of how best to play it never gets old: do you blend a traditional or 'folk' feel with eighteenth century performance practice, and if so, how? Finding the right balance between 'folk and Baroque' is an intriguing challenge and there are as many solutions as there are players. I've made some general suggestions, but rather than prescribe many very specific 'rules,' I'd recommend exploring information from the Baroque and Irish traditional flute worlds, both in written and recorded form.
As always, many, many thanks go to Colin Savage for his editing, proof-reading and patience, Yesim Tosuner (Backyard Design), and Red Hot Printing; to my students; and to Stephanie Archer, Marco Cera, Stephanie Conn, Emily Fowler, Naomi Lea Grosman, Mariele Haase, Francine Labelle, Jeremy Nasmith, Juan Olvares, Maria Reyndal, Gordon Reynolds, Alejandro Valencia and Gunther Vanderven. Thanks also to Kathleen McMorrow, former Chief Librarian at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Music, who first introduced me to the CPC, and Nick Parkes, whose CD-ROM of the entire collection was a great gift to us all.
Playing these tunes has always been a delight for me, and not just because Scotland is in my genes. I hope it'll be the same for you.
– Alison Melville
Toronto, January 2019
1. My Apron Dearie
2. Wallace's Lament
3. Morland Willie
4. Laddie lay near me
5. My Mother says I Mannot
6. Bonnie Dundee
7. The Shepherd's Pipe
8. The Blossom of the Raspberry
9. The Ale Wife and her Barrel
10. Carrallen's Lament
11. Sour Plums
12. The Lazy Mist
13. For the Love of Gean
14. Bonnie Lad lay your Pipes down
16. O Onochie O
17. Sleepy Body