Sunday, February 24, 2008

Fairy Music

In The Good Fairies of New York, the young fairies Heather and Morag both play the violin, and they both pride themselves on their versions of Tullochgorum. This was a famous Scottish tune, back when traditional tunes were famous. It's a strathspey, a sort of slow reel. It was first recorded in a Scottish manuscript in 1734, and is presumably older than that.

The tune is important throughout The Good Fairies. Last time I did a reading, someone asked me what it sounded like. I considered humming it but restrained myself, fearing I'd sound ridiculous. Which I would have, undoubtedly. So that I may never be tempted to hum this tune to anyone, here it is on Youtube, played by Natalie MacMaster. Tullochgorum is the first tune here, it's followed by a few other reels.

After my tale of the injuries suffered during last week's life or death struggle with a spider in the kitchen, sympathy poured in from the general public. Most of it for the spider, I must admit. There was widespread anxiety about the spider's health. Apparently these creatures have friends and supporters everywhere. Hah. When giant mutant spiders are marauding through your home, spreading destruction, don't say I didn't warn you.


  1. Thanks for the Natalie MacMaster vid, she's so good. That's a tune I need to learn, truly. Been meaning to since I first read Good Fairies...

    And, uh, Martin. They ( The Spiders ) DO have friends everywhere...Haven't you ever read Neil Gaiman's "Anansi Boys?"

    You might want to....

  2. No, I haven't! Because I know what 'anansi' means so I thought it might be too upsetting. Damned arachnids.

  3. Ok, I can sense a "feeling" here for the spiders. You or them, and I am backing you. Kind of like me and wasps, if they stay outside, they are welcome to live their lives in peace, but if they come in...It's war!

    I am getting excited about the US release of Lonely Werewolf Girl, so many people are going to get what I am sure, all of you reading Martins books for years in Europe, already know...

    Can anyone tell me things to pass onto people here? What do you love about his writing? What's your favourite book?

  4. I am just starting Good Fairies and I am really enjoying it. Thank you for the link to the Tullochgorum. I was just wondering what it sounded like, having recently had the pleasure of hearing the Fabulous Lorraine play for a weekend. Fablo, it would be a delight to hear you do this piece.

    Anansi Boys isn't bad for a person who isn't fond of arachnids. Really, I've been leery of eight-legged critters for a very long time and Anansi Boys is great fun, even the parts with spiders.

  5. How nice you could find a recording!
    I too had wondered how it sounded like (and if it was a real tune or you just had made it up).

  6. what Lorraine said, y'all! About to put Lonely Werewolf Girl to the test here in the US. And of course, my favorite MM book is the one I'm publishing right now--that's just the sort of mentality a publishers' gotta have though :-)

  7. Richard, you struck GOLD when you took on Lonely Werewolf Girl!

    And I will learn that tune. In my spare time...

  8. I Like strathspeys, though I don't often hear them played. Most traditional musicians I've heard in London play Irish music though, so that's probably why. Maybe in Scotland they play some strathspeys.