Mairi's Wedding Harmony Parts Sheet Music Arrangement
Also appears in Celtic Fiddle Harmony Sheet Music Multipack 1
Key: G major
Melody range: D4 up to E5
Harmony 1 range: F#4 up to A5
Harmony 2 range: G3 up to C5
(Pitch ranges are specified in Scientific pitch notation)
Also included: MIDI files, and "practise mixes" which are recordings with the harmony parts turned louder up the mix and the tune and chords turned down - these are to help people who prefer to learn by ear.
About the Arrangement and Harmonies
My three part instrumental arrangement of the Scottish folk song ‘Mairi’s Wedding’ can be played as a trio, or either of the two harmony parts can be used as a duet when played with the melody. The digital sheet music score comes with the original melody line and two harmony lines. It’s scored for three violins, but one of the harmony parts doesn’t go very low and would fit on a flute, whistle or recorder.
My sheet music download comes with a demonstration recording, in which I play the tune alone, then the tune with one harmony part, then the tune with the other harmony part, and then all three parts at once. The score also has chords printed, for an accompanying instrument to play. In my recording I play these as an improvised piano part, but they could also be used by a guitarist or accordion player.
As well as the sheet music pdf and audio recording, I also provide a MIDI file, which some people find useful if they want to change the key or transpose an octave, or make any other edits using a score editing program (e.g. MuseScore or Sibelius.)
About the Original Melody
My arrangement of this song is instrumental, but – as the word “song” indicates - it was originally written to be sung, and most people know it in its most popular form which of course has lyrics and is performed by a singer.
The origins of the song date back to 1934. Curiously, it wasn’t written for a wedding at all, but to celebrate a gold medal in a singing competition, which was won by Mary C. MacNiven. The composer of the song was John Roderick Bannerman (1865–1938). Bannerman’s original lyrics, in Gaelic, come from the perspective of someone so very taken with Mary’s singing talent, physical appearance and other positive attributes that they repeatedly declare an intention to marry her. (Whether Mary herself has any input or agency in the planning of this event is not mentioned! Today it seems extremely strange to me that someone would write a song like this - but it is a prodcut of its time, I suppose.) Mary herself liked the song very much and continued to perform it throughout her life.
Mary did get married six years later - but not to Bannerman! She married a sea captain from Skye, called John Campbell.
You can read the original Gaelic words and their closest English translation on Wikipedia here.
Later, an English version of the lyrics was devised by Sir Hugh Roberton. These lyrics are rather different, and describe what appear to be an entire community’s appreciation of a bride on her wedding day, and their celebrations taking them dancing through the streets – hence the opening line, “step we gaily”, which some people use as an alternative title for the song.