How Can We Abstain from Whisky?


Is this an edict, a query, or an exasperated response? According to Capt. Simon Fraser in his 1745 work The Airs and Melodies Peculiar to the Highlands of Scotland and the Isles, the tune was also heard as an Irish melody titled “The Legacy.” The original though, was composed in Scotland in the early 1700s by John MacMurdo, who was “one of the most sentimental composers of song ever known in the north.” Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, whisky was a valuable commodity in the Highlands, so much so that it was used as a form of currency. MacMurdo’s lyrics to the tune speaks to this and tells of man who “though his wife may sometimes brawl at him for consuming [whisky], in convivial excess, his means of supporting her and his young family, he must devote a part of it to social friendship, that often links men closer than chieftainry or relationship.”

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About the author

Whisky Tunes is the first online, bagpipe music tune book presented in a serial format. Tunes are collected and arranged by Vince Janoski. Vince is the former editor and publisher of The Voice, the magazine of the EUSPBA and publisher and writer for Pipehacker.com.