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.
SYMPHONY NO. I
Symphony No. I Culloden
Mvt. I. Heilan Lochs, Bairns & Heather
(6:00) Grade 4
Mvt. II. I Hae Grat for Tho' I Kend
(I have wept for those I knew)
(6:00) Grade 5
Mvt. III. "We Toomed Our Stoops for the Gaudy Sodgers"
("We Emptied Our Glasses for the Handsome Soldiers")
Movement III, Finale (8:40) Grade 5