December 16, 2021

Extending Roddie Campbell’s ‘Colinton Dell’ with two new parts

Colinton Dell is an idyllic spot along the Water of Leith on the west side of Edinburgh, and was the inspiration for an equally lovely two-art strathspey by the great composer Roderick Campbell.

The creator of such classics as “The Royal Scottish Pipers Society,” “Edinburgh City Police Pipe Band.” “Tulloch Castle” and “Cecily Ross,” to name only a few, Campbell was based in Edinburgh, where he taught the great John Wilson.

Colinton Dell, the place, has connections with the famous Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, who used to play in this sweet wooded riverside spot as a boy when staying with his maternal grandfather, Lewis Balfour, the parish minister of Colinton. There’s a statue to Stevenson and some verse that he wrote along the Water of Leith pathway.

Colinton Dell along the Water of Leith in Edinburgh. [Creative Commons]
Dr. William Donaldson, a frequent contributor to pipes|drums with his Set Tunes Series and the author of the seminal work The Highland Pipe and Scottish Society, 1750-1950, is a fan of Campbell’s work and “Colinton Dell” (the tune) is a favourite.

“I have long liked the nice two-parted strathspey ‘Colinton Dell’ by Roderick Campbell – one of the composing greats, and have wondered if it might make up to four parts to become a decent competition strathspey,” Donaldson writes. “I have managed to arrive at a version that I think might do. It tries to develop the melody in an idiomatic, unshowy kind of way, to make explicit what was already implied, to retain as far as possible the style of the original, and the result sits quite nicely under the fingers. The first two parts are by Roderick Campbell; the second two by me. There are not enough good competition strathspeys, and this might make an attractive addition to the list.”

We’re pleased to provide a manuscript of the four-part tune and a recording, both by another frequent contributor, Jim McGillivray, who has included Donaldson’s rendition on his PipeTunes.ca pipe music resource.

Click for full pdf.


Willie Donaldson adds that another of his books, Pipers: a Guide to the Players and Music of the Highland Bagpipe, will see a revised and updated second printing from publishers Birlinn in February 2022.

Our thanks to Willie Donaldson and Jim McGillivray for these terrific contributions.



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The elusive Roderick Campbell: who was this master composer? – Part 2
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