There are three strands to my professional self: librarian, musicologist and educator. But there’s a fourth strand which stays at home – creativity. That’s not to say, of course, that I’m not creative at work, but I don’t get the opportunity to sew or arrange tunes during my working day!
During my doctoral studies, I encountered Georgian Scottish song-collector Alexander Campbell, of Edinburgh (and the Highlands). The tunes he collected are in a 2-volume collection called Albyn’s Anthology. There are some lovely tunes, but his accompaniments are pretty dire. (Sorry, Alexander, but they are!) I have had very many hours of innocent pleasure arranging them for small instrumental ensembles. This week I was challenged to arrange something for soprano and flute, and I ended up with this: ‘The Lone Wanderer‘.
A bit of background: the poet of this tragic song was “Anon” (maybe tune-collector Alexander Campbell himself?), and he set it to an “ancient Lowland melody” that he had collected on his song-collecting travels. The lyrics tell the story of a girl who went out of her mind with grief, when her fiance was taken from her on their wedding day. The theme is strongly reminiscent of a very popular song, “Crazy Jane.”
Whether he died, was conscripted, or some other disastrous circumstance, is entirely up to the listener’s imagination in the present song.
Campbell went on two song-collecting tours in Scotland in 1815 and 1817, publishing a song collection after each trip. It is with relief that I ditched his accompaniment for this one and wrote an alternative flute accompaniment!
I decided to put some of my arrangements on Sheet Music Plus – they’re all here if you’re interested!