Sir Patrick Spens/Over the Sea to Skye/The Man from Skye
Date 1977
Track ID 60164
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Any tune can be diddled, if suitable syllables are used; Sandy Cameron's way with canntaireachd; a good woman diddler; a versatile piper.

Duncan Williamson diddles 'Sir Patrick Spens' and says that any tune, including ballads, can be diddled, so long as suitable syllables are chosen. He performs 'Over the Sea to Skye' as canntaireachd. Being a slow tune it lends itself more to this than to diddling. He then diddles a faster tune, the hornpipe 'The Man from Skye'. A man called Ronald is mentioned as being a good diddler. Old Sandy Cameron was good at canntaireachd, and would show you the chanter fingering on your wrist as he did it. Moving the fingers helped the canntaireachd. The interviewer likens this to the way a woman she interviewed improvised step-dancing.

Duncan opines that diddling and canntaireachd are dying out. Many women used to be good diddlers. Mention of [Maggie?] Bell, who diddled with a dancing doll at a festival where Hamish Henderson was present. A fiddler would diddle differently from a piper, but a good fiddler or piper could play any type of music. Duncan's cousin, Sandy Townsley from Campbeltown, is a versatile piper.








R41; GD17; C58;