All the basic points to remember for Nadurra's "Skye Waulking Song"

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  • Created by: Phoebe
  • Created on: 23-02-12 15:58

Folk Instruments

  • Bodhrán-Irish drum struck with the hand or a double ended stick called a "tipper."
  • Bouzouki-Greek string instrument with four groups of two strings tuned in unison or octaves.
  • Concertina-Similar to an accordian but smaller.
  • Hurdy Gurdy-Similar shape to a violin but played by rotating wheel in contact with the strings. Pitch of strings is changed by a set of keys rather than direct contact with the fingers.
  • Uillean pipes-Similar to the bagpipes, but using bellows operated by the elbow. Produces a sweeter and quieter sound than bagpipes.
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Background to Nadurra

  • Nadurra was released in September 2000.
  • The line-up was acclaimed as a "match made in heaven" because of their individual virtuosity on their own instruments, and the way they worked so well together. 
  • This particular line-up stayed together for years. 
  • Donald Shaw: accordion, piano, synth
  • Michael McGoldrick: flutes, whistle, uillean pipes
  • Karen Matheson: vocals
  • Ewan Vernal: acoustic & electric bass
  • Charlie McKerron: fiddle
  • Manus Lunny: bouzouki, guitar, bodhrán, vocals
  • James MacKintosh: drums, percussion

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Intro (Bars 1-8)

  • Starts with sustained keyboard chord which hints at key of E minor
  • Fiddle joins in with tremolo note (mainly for effect).
  • Drum and 2nd keyboard sound join after a few bars working in counterpoint with the bouzouki. 
  • Bass plays staccato almost imperceptible notes working as though one instrument with bass drum. 
  • By the end of the sequence, the key is established as Em-G.
  • The time signature is ambiguous - seems as though it should be 6/8 or 12/8 but the hi-hat and shaker give it more of a triple time effect. 
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Verse 1 (Bars 9-11) & Break (Bars 12-15)

Verse 1

  • The instruments continue in the same way as they for the introduction. 
  • Voice enters to sing first line of verse.
  • Voice sings characteristic lilting rhythm.
  • Lilting rhythm of voice works against what the other instruments are playing which makes the time signature still a little ambiguous


  • Backing instruments continue.
  • Fiddle becomes slightly more prominent, but still concentrates on the effects not melody. 
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Verse 2 (Bars 16-20) & Verse 3 (Bars 21-24)

Verse 2

  • Voice begins to establish itself as the main rhythmic feature
  • The voice sets the 12/8 time signature. 

Verse 3

  • Continues seamlessly from verse 2.
  • Last line is sung unaccompanied, this serves as a link for verse 4.
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Verse 4 (Bars 25-28) & Verse 5 (Bars 29-32)

Verse 4

  • Accordion joins in with strummed accompaniment on acoustic guitar/bouzouki.
  • Backing vocals join in for nonsense syllables, leaving main singer for lyrics.
  • Drum clearly setting 12/8 time along with rest of band.
  • Bass part now has more substance than previous parts.
  • Chord sequence changes to C-G-Em-G for harmonic effect. 

Verse 5

  • Accordion provides counterpoint melodies to vocal.

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Verse 6 (Bars 33-36) & Instrumental (Bars 37-43)

Verse 6

  • Same as verse 5


  • The uillean pipes and fiddle play a solo in a heterophonic texture.
  • Accordion provides accompaniment and occasional melodic doubling.
  • The instruments (especially accordion) emphasise the 2nd and 5th beats which adds rhythmic interest.
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Verse 7 (Bars 44-48) & Verse 8 (Bars 49-52)

Verse 7

  • Chord sequence changes to Am7-Em-Em-G for 1 verse.
  • Dynamics drop considerably with all instruments for intimate vocal sound.
  • All instruments drop out for the last line to add contrast.

Verse 8

  • Chord sequence returns to C-G-Em-G.
  • Full band plays.

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Outro (Bars 53-end)


  • Vocals improvise to nonsense syllables as instruments weave counterpoint with each other.
  • Chord sequence alternates between C and G for the rest of the song.
  • A long fade out brings the song to an end.

End of song.

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Important points to note

  • Harmony in this style is less important than melody and rhythm. The harmony is simple throughout but the few changes in the chord sequence are clear.
  • Melodic lines are played in folk style. The instruments improvise around the melody simultaneously, sometimes playing a very similar melody in slightly different ways which creates a heterophonic texture. They also sometimes weave an improvised counterpoint around the melody and scale (G major)
  • The vocal part is sung using the scale of E minor pentatonic (or G minor pentatonic) throughout.
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Samuel Richardson


This set of revision cards contains a brilliant bar by bar analysis of the song 'Skye Waulking'. The detail included is excellent! Listen to the song while reading these cards to make sure you can hear in the music what these notes are describing. 

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