twitter Facebook donate
London for Ceremonial
Band of the Scots Guards

Band of the Scots Guards


Music Programme Notes


Hielan' Laddie

arr. J Kappay

Hielan’ Laddie, or Highland Laddie, is a traditional Scottish melody which has had many regimental affiliations across both the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, being used as a Regimental March to this day in places as far flung as Canada, Australia and India. Although the original composer is unknown, the tune to Hielan’ Laddie is first found in a 1692 manuscript, before appearing again in 1701 under the name of Cockle Shells. Although a slightly different tune to the one we play today the tune is first referred to as The Highland Laddie in 1710.

Also known as the popular folk song If Thou’lt Play Me Fair Play’, many people have set various words to the tune with the most famous being the poem Highland Laddie by Scotland’s very own ‘National Bard’, Robert Burns.


Garb of Auld Gaul

J Reid

It is not known for certain when The Garb of Old Gaul (or ‘Auld’ Gaul) first became associated with the Scots Guards, but it is known to have been used as a march by the regiment since 1839. Originally a quick march, The Garb of Old Gaul was written by General John Reid, a former officer of the Black Watch who went on to become colonel of the Connaught Rangers. The lyrics to the tune are attributed to Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Erakine, and the tune itself was composed as a rousing patriotic song about Scottish soldiers during the Seven Years’ War. Although a very distinguished soldier, Reid was also a proficient flautist and a very keen and able composer, and upon his death he chose to leave his ample fortune to Edinburgh University to allow them to found a chair of music.

The title The Garb of Old Gaul refers to the traditional Highland dress of the Scottish people with Gaul being thought of as the ancient homeland of all Celtic people.


The Hebrides Overture, Opus 26

F Mendelssohn

After a busy concert season in London, Mendelssohn toured Scotland and was so struck by the country’s rugged beauty that he was inspired to compose two of his most famous works, his Symphony No. 3 in A minor and The Hebrides Overture.   Written in 1829, Mendelssohn perfectly captures the sights and sounds of Fingal’s Cave on the remote Island of Staffa; this ocean-washed cathedral-like basalt cave was home to the legendary giant of Scottish and Irish mythology. The cave was extremely popular with the Romantics of the 19th century and there are literally dozens of paintings and poetic descriptions remaining from the era.  Sir Walter Scott proclaimed it as "one of the most extraordinary places I ever beheld, it exceeded every description I had heard of it”.

Mendelssohn claimed in a postcard to his sister that the opening theme was jotted down at the mouth of the cave, however his travelling companion, Karl Klingemann, stated that the composer was far too seasick to write anything that day, particularly the beautiful melody that so perfectly captures the wild seas around the North West coast of Scotland.

The Hebrides does not precede a play or opera but is instead a stand-alone composition and is considered to be an early example of a tone poem. The work soon became a standard part of orchestral repertoire and retains that position to the present day. This transcription from 1912 by Dan Godfrey, himself a Bandmaster, perfectly captures the richly atmospheric mood of one of the composer’s most evocative and powerful works, and Mendelssohn could count Queen Victoria and Schumann among its greatest admirers, as well as Wagner who praised the overture as a masterpiece.


Perthshire Majesty

S R Hazo

Samuel R Hazo resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and is a prolific American educator and wind band composer whose works have featured in film and television and were performed at the 2012 London Sumer Olympic Games.

Perthshire Majesty is an original Scottish ballad that finds its musical roots in the heritage of the composer’s friend, David Gregory, the conductor who led the premiere. A gentle, elegant work in a broad, cinematic style, it evolves from an opening phrase by the solo soprano saxophone with an engaging inevitability into a full symphonic wind band, depicting the rolling hills of Perthshire and the majesty of the vast highland mountain ranges beyond.  Hazo’s writing is beautifully lyrical and perfectly captures the mood.

Commissioned in 2003 by the Tara Winds of Atlanta and the winner of the 2003 William Revelli Composition Award, Perthshire Majesty remains one of the composers most celebrated works and is regularly performed by wind bands around the world.


Crags of Tumbledown Mountain

Pipe Major J Riddell - 2nd Battalion Scots Guards

The Crags of Tumbledown Mountain is a pipe tune with a fascinating history. Composed in 1982 by Pipe Major James Riddell of the 2nd Battalion, Scots Guards, it commemorates the battle of Tumbledown Mountain.

On the 2nd of April, 1982 Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands in an attempt to take sovereignty of the archipelago from the United Kingdom.  The invasion was, in part, an attempt to distract the Argentinian public from domestic issues and generate some national pride.  The Argentinian Government felt that the British would give up the islands without recourse. They were gravely mistaken. Mount Tumbledown guarded the approach to Port Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands, and its height gave the Argentinian 5th Marine Battalion control of the area. The first attack started at 2030hrs on June 13th and the fighting continued through the night in what was the last battle of the war.  By 0900hrs the following morning, the mountain had been captured after a fierce fighting and hand to hand combat. After the battle, James Riddell climbed to the top of the mountain and played a tune he had written in commemoration of the event. That tune was ‘The Crags of Tumbledown Mountain’.

Performed here in an arrangement that combines Military Band and Pipes, the reflective start evolving into a march serves as an ideal musical tribute to one of the finest hours of the Regiment.


Edinburgh Castle

Lieutenant Colonel D Beat

The quick march ‘Edinburgh Castle’ has been a firm favourite of the Scots Guards band for many years and is often featured on state occasions, and when the band performs alongside the Pipes and Drums. It was an original composition by the band’s Director of Music at the time, Lieutenant Colonel Duncan Beat, and was written to commemorate the band’s long history at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Lieutenant Colonel Beat based the main musical theme around the Burns Poem ‘Duncan Gray’, whilst incorporating the famous pipe melody ‘The Soldiers Return’ in the trio. The two themes are cleverly interwoven to create a rich musical tapestry which pays tribute to the Regiment’s Scottish heritage.

Find out about cookies and changing your settings. If you continue without changing your settings, you are consenting to the use of cookies on our site.Close