Island Spinning Song is an arrangement of the traditional Scottish reel Alastair o’ the Dun. The lyrics contain a chorus composed of highly rhythmic Gaelic nonsense syllables. Its companion piece, an arrangement of the slow, hauntingly beautiful Scottish melody chosen by ‘Robbie’ Burns to accompany Ae Fond Kiss (soon to be published by earthsongs), his tender poem of unrequited love, completes the Scottish Contrasts suite.
Reels, one of four traditional Scottish dance types (the others being jigs, strathspeys, and waltzes) are found in both sung and instrumental versions. Whichever version, reels are linked with dance, and so should be performed with dance very much in mind.
Tempo and energy: Reel performances generally range from 96 to 132 beats per minute. The important aspect to remember when performing Island Spinning Song is that it is also a ‘work song’, and so is related to that large group of songs intended to be sung while working. In this particular case, it is useful to link the song to the energy of both a danced reel and a spinning wheel. ‘Energy’, besides being related to tempo and momentum, is also a state of mind. So think ‘energy’, ‘dance’, and ‘spinning wheels’ and the tempo will likely take care of itself!
A separate piano part is available for free on our website: see S-406a.