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Lady Keith's Lament guitar part help?

10 Jan 21 - 02:13 PM (#4087408)
Subject: Lady Keith's Lament guitar part help?
From: GUEST,James Phillips

Hi all. I know this is a long shot. I'm currently going nuts trying to work out the lovely guitar part from Lady Keith's Lament by Jock Tamson's Bairns. I'm normally good at this sort of stuff but this particular tune is a real problem. I can't get started because I can't seem to work out what tuning is being used. Just transcribing the first few measures, I'll be absolutely certain that it's in drop-D with capo at 5th fret (I can hear the open B string being used in a very obvious way), and then I'll hit upon a phrase which makes me absolutely convinced that I'm hearing an open A string and that it's in DADGAD. Similar conundrums ensue when I advance through the intro. I've also tried alternatives like DADEAE and even EADGAE. Usually, once I've hit upon the right tuning, everything just snaps into place. But for the life of me this one is alluding me. Am I also right in assuming that the guitar part is being doubled? It's not exactly helping matters! Would love to hear from someone who has attempted this tune or can give me a clue.

10 Jan 21 - 05:39 PM (#4087426)
Subject: RE: Lady Keith's Lament guitar part help?
From: Helen

Hi James,

We have some very clever guitarists here and I'm sure they'll be able to help you so I'm putting this back up to the top of the list to catch their attention.

11 Jan 21 - 12:22 AM (#4087451)
Subject: RE: Lady Keith's Lament guitar part help?
From: GUEST,James Phillips

Thank you!

11 Jan 21 - 09:17 AM (#4087486)
Subject: RE: Lady Keith's Lament guitar part help?
From: Nick

First thought on listening was is this being played on a guitar? It sounded to me like it was reminiscent of something played on a bouzouki/octave mandola type of thing. It has a sound of a double stringed instrument of that sort of family. And there does seem to be an absence of the lower notes associated with the bottom two strings of a guitar. It does have the sound of a 4/8 string instrument. In which case it could be tuned any number of ways

I might be completely wrong of course and it may be a guitar (or even a twelve string...)

But I reckon you can play something similarish in normal tuning without a capo if you wanted to. Or make your own arrangement with a nod to this one rather than a transcription?

11 Jan 21 - 09:50 AM (#4087494)
Subject: RE: Lady Keith's Lament guitar part help?

Hi Nick,

Thanks for your reply. I agree that it's tempting to think that it's something other than a guitar, but the track notes only list guitar and credit both Jack Evans and Rod Paterson as the guitar players. So I'm in two minds whether they're playing 2 different parts, or doubling the same part. The absence of the lower notes can be partly explained by the guitars being capoed at the 5th fret.

The thing that's frustrating me is that for the first few phrases it really is 100% doable in drop D and indeed works perfectly like that and sounds exactly like it does on the record, but then they play something which sounds like it's in DADGAD. It might even be the case that both guitars have different tunings and/or a different capo position, in which case I'm chasing my tail. You're definitely right that I could play something that's 95% there just by going with the tuning I started with - I'm just trying to avoid a "gotcha" point halfway through the piece where something turns out to be impossible or not nearly doable because I have the wrong tuning (I think this piece is going to take me longer than usual!)

11 Jan 21 - 11:03 AM (#4087503)
Subject: RE: Lady Keith's Lament guitar part help?
From: GUEST,johnmc

A lovely tune, though I see it's called "Boyne Water' at a faster tempo.
My only contribution would be that the intro starts on notes C and B on a high string
and then plays the A and F of the F chord; the A then descends scalewise.

The opening chords seem to me to be F, C Gm Am Dm.

As regards tuning, there is a colourful chord in the intro which precedes the tonic which might give a clue.
You might be tempted to think it's in a minor tuning, but standard a possibility.

11 Jan 21 - 01:15 PM (#4087522)
Subject: RE: Lady Keith's Lament guitar part help?
From: Nick

Transcribed it supports the thought in my head that it is played on a 4 string instrument Keiths but I'm happy to be wrong

A quick mess about suggests it's fine on a guitar in standard tuning with a capo at fifth. I can't see the parts that would need a retune to make it easier.

11 Jan 21 - 01:58 PM (#4087525)
Subject: RE: Lady Keith's Lament guitar part help?
From: Helen

Nick, I had the same thought, that it might not just be guitars because of the sound quality which reminded me of the instruments you listed.

I just looked up the album credits for Jock Tamson's Bairns: The Lasses Fashion and the musicians are listed as:

Ian Hardie: fiddle [1, 4-8, 10], viola [1, 3-5, 9], bass [2, 5, 10], vocals [2, 6];
John Croall: bodhrán [1, 5-7, 10], vocals [2, 9], whistle [4, 6], bones [7, 9];
Jack Evans: guitar [1, 4-7], flute [2], cittern [3, 10], mandolin [5], bass [7], melodeon [9];
Derek Hoy: fiddle [1-10];
Norman Chalmers: concertina [1-5, 7, 10], whistle [1-2, 5-6], piano [9];
Rod Paterson: mandola [1, 5-7, 9], guitar [2-4, 8, 10], vocals [2, 4, 6, 8], cittern [7], trump [9]

Track 4 is When the King Comes O'er the Water (Lady Keith’s Lament) (Roud V42891) so the only instruments listed for track 4 are fiddle, whistle, Jack Evans and Rod Paterson on guitars.

11 Jan 21 - 02:01 PM (#4087526)
Subject: RE: Lady Keith's Lament guitar part help?
From: GUEST,cnd

I'd be willing to bet it's some nasty harmonic stuff with twin guitars. If you hit the right chords and are in perfect tune you can make them sound like totally different instruments

11 Jan 21 - 03:35 PM (#4087536)
Subject: RE: Lady Keith's Lament guitar part help?

johnmc: yes you're right about the opening notes - with the capo at the 5th fret, it's basically an open E minor shape with the melody notes C and B on the high E. That colorful chord you mention, I have that notated and it sounds exactly as on the recording. Everything works perfectly and sounds as on the record until I reach (I think) the 5th or 6th measure, and then I hear things that make me sure that they're using some other tuning.

Nick: Did you run that through some automatic transcriber? Does Musecscore do that (I use it for notation but haven't explored it fully). Odd that it read the time signature as 3/4, if that's so. As for the parts that need a retune - when you get into it in more detail, those become apparent. I have some experience in the "close forensics" of this stuff, having been part of the transcribing team that did the official Bert Jansch songbook. There's a lot of detective work goes into things like finding out tunings. For example, if I hear two successive notes of the same pitch but which sound a little different in tone, there's usually two possibilities. One, they're on adjacent strings in a tuning that has a close interval between strings (like the 2nd and 3rd strings in DADGAD), and two, that it's a fretted note played with an open string of the same pitch. If the notes are in the range of the higher strings, that first possibility must be considered. But if they're lower notes, that's usually a sign that you're hearing an open string since I don't think there are any common tunings with such a close interval in the lower strings that it allows for easy playing of unison notes on adjacent strings. In Lady Keith's Lament, there's a bit where I hear an A note played on the D string, after another A note of the same octave, but with an obviously different tone. And I'm like "huh? that doesn't work in standard/drop D tuning!" Hence the puzzlement...

cnd: yes you're quite right, it could well be twin guitars harmonizing each other. Or even in different tunings, or capoed at different frets. In which case, I'm kind of screwed if I want an accurate transcription. I already knew I wasn't going to get that though, since much of the guitar is masked by the vocal, which is mixed way louder. So when I get to those parts, there's going to be a lot of guesswork and Sherlock Holmes-style deduction anyway. Usually when it's something like another instrument or two guitars, and you're transcribing for solo guitars, you have to make a lot of compromises. I'm just keen to at least get the right tuning from the get go, in order to make the harder parts easier.

11 Jan 21 - 03:39 PM (#4087537)
Subject: RE: Lady Keith's Lament guitar part help?
From: GUEST,James Phillips

Sorry, didn't sign my name above! Should also point out that there's always the possibility they're using some freaky "repeating" tuning, where you have the top 3 strings identical to the bottom 3 (like Davy Graham used on Bloody Fields of Flanders.

13 Jan 21 - 12:40 AM (#4087698)
Subject: RE: Lady Keith's Lament guitar part help?
From: leeneia

That's a lovely melody. Helen, thanks for mentioning "When the King Comes Over the Water." I found sticks & dots for that in a book called Jacobite Relics of Scotland, and I've written the tune down. I think it will be beautiful on recorder and dulcimer.

I can tell you guitarists that the singer from Jock Thompson's Bairns is singing it in some form of F. At first you think it's C/Am, but then you ask yourself if it might not be F. How do you tell? You see if the B's are indeed B's or if they are B-flats. Unfortunately the song has not one B or B-flat in it. So you can't really say from the melody whether it's in the C family or the F family. I've been trying various chords, and I think it's in the F family. That agrees with johnmc's statement that "The opening chords seem to me to be F, C Gm Am Dm."

I think that soft mystery chord in the intro is a 9th chord. Figure out what the chord is, identify the tonic, add one whole note to the tonic at the top and add that to the mixture. For example, Gm9 is G B-flat D A

I don't think the tune was meant to be as mournful as the lyrics make out.

13 Jan 21 - 03:05 PM (#4087788)
Subject: RE: Lady Keith's Lament guitar part help?
From: Nick

James some resources for you.

The time signature may be how some of the things translated from program to program and how it interpreted things

So it goes as follows -

1 Mp3 extracted from Youtube
2 Mp3 into Reaper and Melodyne added as an FX on the channel
3 It has a polyphonic setting and just reads the file in and will import pretty much anything and return you the notes so you can fix/change manipulate/do what you want. It's probably the most astonishing piece of software I have ever come across. Mostly used for tuning vocals etc in mixing but you can pick out and change guitar note pitches in a tune with multiple parts. Just astonishing! There are some odd notes that could be tidied up but I don't think it's needed.
4 Exported the file to midi and imported it into Musescore

Things for you that may help or not. The video is what Melodyne worked out and then me just playing the file in real time and making a little screen grab/video

IMHO - I reckon it's a bit like playing Stairway to Heaven - ie no capo Am shape at the fifth. Then a lot of the things just seem to walk down the guitar. It isn't a "using the bass notes" sort of tune. I like the bits where it flips between B and Bb and the odd bits where it throws in an E major if I remember. Perhaps Jimmy Page got it from here rather than Spirit - he was partial to a the odd bit of folk I believe

All good fun

You'll be telling me that Blackwaterside is in DADGAD next

13 Jan 21 - 03:16 PM (#4087789)
Subject: RE: Lady Keith's Lament guitar part help?

Thanks for that Nick. I have the polyphonic version of Melodyne but haven't used it for a while. My own experience of it (from using it to translate guitar parts to MIDI) is that it's easily confused by overtones, and so complex polyphonic parts usually need a lot of tidying up - oftentimes notes will be confused with notes an octave or a fifth higher.

Haven't used Reaper for a while either - last I used it, they were talking about a deeper Melodyne integration of some kind, I wonder if they progressed from that. I used to use Sonar, and that had awesome Melodyne integration. You could simply right click on a clip and turn it into a Melodyne clip - no need to insert as FX, or "load" audio into Melodyne. You could even drag a clip to the time ruler, and it would create a tempo map based on the clip! Absolutely awesome for synchronizing drums/synths etc to a guitar part that was played without a click. It's actually quite clever at time sigs/tempo which is why I was surprised it misread the time sig for this track.

Ha, Blackwaterside in DADGAD. I wonder why everyone seems to presume this? I went for years thinking it was in DADGAD until I actually transcribed it and realized it was plain old vanilla drop-D.

13 Jan 21 - 03:17 PM (#4087790)
Subject: RE: Lady Keith's Lament guitar part help?
From: GUEST,James Phillips

Once again forgot to sign my name. I am useless!

13 Jan 21 - 03:39 PM (#4087795)
Subject: RE: Lady Keith's Lament guitar part help?
From: Helen

Forgetting to sign your name is the universe's way to tell you it's time to join up at Mudcat. We welcome anyone interested in music of the folk and blues varieties and other music as well.

It's a wonderful musical community. I think the process to join starts with sending a message to Joe Offer by going to the Contact page. It's the last link on the dropdown menu called Quick Links at the top of each page.


13 Jan 21 - 03:59 PM (#4087798)
Subject: RE: Lady Keith's Lament guitar part help?
From: Nick

There you go James I sensed that you could have done it all yourself. Yes Reaper is integrated with Melodyne and so is very easy. I don’t use it a lot but have started to use it when preparing vocals for our bands CD which is a bit of a lockdown project that plods along.

But I don’t think it is the hardest guitar part in the world. Just nicely put together and suits the song.

13 Jan 21 - 04:32 PM (#4087801)
Subject: RE: Lady Keith's Lament guitar part help?
From: Felipa

yes the tune is very close to Boyne Water or Rosc Catha na Mumhan (battle cry of Munster - province of Ireland). Under those titles, the tunes are usually played as marches [and lyrics are occasionally sung], though I've also heard Boyne Water played faster and more jauntily as an American old-timey tune.

The guitarist singing the Boyne Water here is only playing two chords.
(c and f?) but it isn[t a very appealing accompaniament

13 Jan 21 - 04:50 PM (#4087802)
Subject: RE: Lady Keith's Lament guitar part help?
From: Felipa

as there is more than one set of lyrics to Boyne Water, I refer anyone interested to this background information
though I wonder why the older Ros Catha na Mumhan isn't mentioned as a source for the tune

The Session gives the chords G, Am and Em; scroll to the third setting at

And here are the lyrics and info re Lady Keith's Lament from Connie Dover's album, "If Ever I Returned"

“Lady Keith’s Lament” was published in 1819 in James Hogg’s collection, The Jacobite Relics of Scotland, being the Songs, Airs and Legends of the House of Stuart, and appeared under the title “When the King Comes O’er the Water.” The Jacobites were partisans of Scotland’s ruling family, the Stuarts, who, by 1603 sat on both the English and Scottish thrones, and who were ultimately deposed. This song was either composed by or written in behalf of the daughter of the Earl of Perth, whose maiden name was Lady Mary Drummond, and who was strongly attached to the Stuart clan. That she looks for her king’s return and her country’s salvation with the eager anticipation of a bride awaiting her groom is typical of the romantic view many Scots held of the exiled Stuart kings.

LADY KEITH’S LAMENT LYRICS, Traditional Scottish
From the CD, If Ever I Return:

I may sit in my wee old house at the spinning wheel to toil so dreary
I may think on a day that is gone, and sigh and sob till I grow weary
I ne’er could brook, I ne’er could brook a for-eign king to own or flat-ter
And I will sing a ranting song the day our King comes o’er the water

I have seen the good old day, the day of pride and chieftain’s glory
When royal Stuart held the sway and none heard tell of Whig or Tory
Though silver be my hair one day, and age has struck me down, what matter
I’ll dance and sing that happy day, the day our King comes o’er the water

If I live to see the day that I have begged and begged from heaven
I’ll fling my rock and reel away, and dance and sing from morn till evening
For there is One I will not name who comes the beingin bike to scatter
And I’ll put on my bridal gown the day our King comes o’er the water

A curse on dull and drawling Whig, the whining, ranting, low deceiver
With heart so black and lies so big, the canting tongue of clishmaclaver
My father was a good lord’s son, my mother was an earl’s daughter
And I’ll be Lady Keith again, the day our King comes o’er the water