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  • Created by: Callum
  • Created on: 31-05-14 14:53


  • Capercaille is a folk band made up of 8 musicians mainly from Scotland and Ireland (one is from Manchester) formed in Oban in 1984.
  • Their music is a mix of traditional Celtic songs and modern ideas - a fusion. Celtic music is music that comes from Wales, Ireland or Scotland. Their style of music is often referred to as Folk Rock.
  • 'Waulking' is the name for a stage in clothmaking - when women pounded the cloth against a table or trampled on it to clean, thicken or soften the cloth.
  • The women would sing songs to pass the time and keep the rhythm of the pounding. They needed to be in time with each other and singing helped because of the strong rhythm. It also lifted their spirits as it was hard work. The songs were usually in call and response form.
  • 'Skye Waulking Song' comes from Capercaillie's album Nadurra, which was released in 2000.
  • The text for this song is taken from a lament called John, Son of the King of Ireland.
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  • The song is structured in a call and response pattern. There is no 'chorus' in the popular song sense. The structure is strophic - the melody is the same for both verses.
  • There are two main sections - Section 1 (1-22) and section 2 (25-end). The song ends with a coda - short vocal phrases echo the refrain and then fade out.
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Instrumentation and Texture

A layered texture is created: a rhythmic pattern on the drum kit, a bass line played by the bass guitar, chords on the synthesiser and accordion, the main melody sung by the voice and countermelodies on the other melody instruments (violin, Wuriltzer piani, Uilleann pipes and bouzouki.

The three most unusual instruments in the piece are:

  • The Wurlitzer piano - a type of early electronic piano
  • The uilleann pipes - like the bagpipes but with a softer tone
  • The bouzouki - a type of lute that comes from Greece

Overall the texture is mainly homophonic.

There is also use of heterophonic texture in the instrumental between the fiddle and pipes.

Countermelody - a melody that goes 'against' the main melody

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  • The melody is based on a pentatonic scale (D E G A B)
  • Uses a low register of the voice - the soloist's part in the score is notated in the vocal tenor clef, which means the vocal sounds an octave lower than printed
  • Is mainly syllabic
  • Alternates between one bar phrases in Gaelic (the call) and phrases that use vocables (the response). Gaelic is a language spoken in parts of Scotland and vocables are nonsense syllables.
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Rhythm and Metre / Harmony

  • The song is notated in 12/8 (compound quadruple metre)
  • There is frequent syncopation in the vocal line and instrumental countermelodies.
  • At the start of the piece the hi-hat is playing a 3/4 based rhythm against the rest of the band's 12/8 in the first section which creates cross rhythms.
  • The song is in G major, and is enriely diatonic
  • The three main chords are G, Em and C
  • Because the dominant chord (D) is avoided, the music has a modal feel.
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