Jigs, reels and other Scillonian session tunes
Click on the name of the tune to open a PDF of the sheet music. Some tunes also have a link to an audio version.
- Gig Race Trip-Jig - 'Trip Jig' is a bit of a cheeky coinage: it's the love-child of a Cornish Kabm Pymp (in 5/4) and a slip jig (in 9/8). AUDIO
- Gig Shed Jig - This tune began its life as part of an island nativity in which the baby Jesus is born in a Scillonian gig shed. AUDIO
- Ker Syllan - Ker Syllan means 'Dear Scilly' in Cornish. By Cornish piper Merv Davey: certainly not from an ancient tradition - but the start of something perhaps...
- The Newquay - The oldest gig in existence - built in 1812 when Napoleon was still running around Europe AUDIO
- Ralph Bird's - Ralph Bird had long-standing connections with the Isles of Scilly and is best known for having built over 30 modern Cornish pilot gigs. AUDIO
- Slippen (Slip Jig) - Slippen is one of Scilly's two oldest pilot gigs, built in 1830 along with the Bonnet. AUDIO
- The Morning After - Written by Nick Hooper after a particularly fine St Agnes session.
- Wingletang Down - This Jig, by Hilary Herbert, is a homage to the beautiful Wingletang Down on St Agnes. Hilary has also written a set of dance steps to go with the tune.
- Conger Reels (No. 1, No. 2, No. 3). - Porth Conger is the main landing quay on St Agnes. Also an eel. Witty. AUDIO
- Duke of Cornwall's Reel - This is one of the few trad. tunes with a Scillonian connection. The Duke of Cornwall is the much revered landlord of the islands. AUDIO
- First Day on the Mainland - This tune is normally played after the hornpipe of the same name. AUDIO
- Newman Reels (The Jug of Mead, Potter's Wheel). - These tunes are inspired by the life of Humphrey Wakefield, for many years a potter plying his trade on the Garrison. AUDIO
- Piper's Hole - A tune from the Scilly-inspired Swedish band, West of Eden; written by band member Martin Schaub. Piper's Hole on Tresco is a long narrow cave. There is also a Piper's Hole on St Mary's and legend maintains that a dog, lost on Tresco, was later found on St Mary's - minus its fur.
Kabm Pymps (Cornish 5 steps):
- Bells of St Mary's - Written to mark the installation of a brand new and very beautiful ring of bells in St Mary's church tower. AUDIO
- Elliott's - This tune grew out of an instrumental part for John Elliott's Scilly-inspired song, written for the Rough Island Band - 'Pulling a Rope'. AUDIO
- Fall of Lyonesse - This tune is written by Cornish Traditional Music legend, Neil Davey. It evokes the lost land between Land's End and Scilly. Cornwall's 'Atlantis' myth tells of submerged villages and watery, still audible, church bells.
- Hunt's 50th 5 Step - For Stephen Hunt - grandee of folk - and original mainstay of the Scilly Folk Festival. It was written on the occasion of his 50th birthday. AUDIO
- Lyonesse Dance - Another tune by Neil Davey, often played together in a set with 'Fall of Lyonesse'
- New Inn - Can be played together with 'Turk's Head' and 'Old Town Inn' as a set of Scilly 'Kabm Pubs'. AUDIO
- Nut Rock - Another tune inspired by the world of gig rowing. Nut Rock is a small rock off Samson which marks the start line of Friday night races in Scilly.
- Old Town Inn - Cornish supergroup, Dalla, wrote this tune for dancing at the Scilly Folk Festival.
- Rowing Home - These are the best rows of all: everyone mellow after a race and a few pints; the sun setting; phosphorescence glinting on the blades... AUDIO
- Rowing Out - Inspired by the rhythms of gig rowing.
- Seasick Scillonian Hornpipe - A rather queasy 'hornpipe' this. It's in 5/4 and anyone who has travelled on Scillonian III on a rough crossing might find themselves re-living the experience. AUDIO
- Spirit of St Agnes - Our favourite catamaran. AUDIO
- Turk's Head - Our favourite pub. AUDIO
- Bar Point - A tune by Scott - founder member of the weekly session in the Bishop and Wolf on St Mary's. His tunes have a knack of sounding Cornish. Bar Point is on the North end of St Mary's.
- Breakfast At Bryony's (polka) - Another Dalla/Davey tune. This time inspired by the quality of the breakfasts at Mincarlo Guest House on St Mary's. Bacon, hog's pudding, Island eggs...
- First Day on the Mainland (hornpipe) - Played before the reel of the same name. AUDIO
- Milk Jigger (polka) - Another of Scott's tunes. A milk jigger is one of those tiny milk cartons that you get in B&Bs and, as Scott used to run the dairy on St Mary's, seems like an appropriate source of inspiration. Can't help but put this tune before 'Breakfast at Bryony's' in a set of polkas - 'The Guest House Polkas' perhaps? (Not that Bryony would be seen dead serving milk in a 'jigger')
- Puffin Polka - Written whilst rowing around Annet. Check out the video...
- Sevenstones - A tune in 7/8 anyone? Named after the pub on St Martin's. Thank you Joe Keelan. AUDIO
- St Agnes Waltz - Written on St Agnes by renowned folk fiddler Giles Lewin. AUDIO (Track 4)
- St Martin's - A Playford Tune. Probably not written on St Martin's, Isles of Scilly but beggars can't be choosers...
- The Garden On Gugh (Waltz) - This tune was inspired by the life of Rhondda Wraith who cultivated an extraordinary exotic garden on the barren sands of Gugh. There is also a poem which goes with the tune. AUDIO
- The Weymouth Postman (hornpipe) - This is a Hornpipe by Nick Hooper who, when staying on St Agnes, was mistaken for the regular postman in Weymouth. (As it happens he is a very eminent film composer.) It goes very well with some of the Cornish Hornpipes, particularly 'Calstock Step Dance' and 'Plethen a Beswar'.
- The Wreck of the Delaware - A tune inspired by the account of the wreck of the steamship Delaware written by Scillonian poet Robert Maybe. It tells of a dramatic rescue performed by the men of Bryher in a pilot gig. AUDIO
- Trip to Bishop - Another tune from Scott which he often pairs with the traditional Cornish tune 'Quay Fair'.
- Turks' March - Written by James Sills (of the Rough Island Band) to accompany the evening stomp to the Turk's Head pub on St Agnes. Inhabitants of St Agnes are traditionally known as 'Turks' on account of their supposedly swarthy appearance. (Watch out for the 10 bar A section) AUDIO
Shipwrecks, shanties, campfire singalongs and other Scilly songs
Click on the name of the song to open a PDF of the lyrics. Some songs also have a link to an audio version.
- Across the Waves - A wistful and nostalgic song from the Rough Island Band's Second album. AUDIO
- All Here Now - Island Nihilism with a human face, from Tom Dyson. AUDIO
- Ballad of the Schiller - A setting by James Sills of verses from a 19C Broadside Ballad depicting the wreck of the Schiller (one of the worst of Scilly's many wrecks, in terms of loss of life). AUDIO
- Bishop Rock - One of a handful of Scilly-inspired songs from Swedish folk rock band West of Eden. It is from their Cornwall-based album Safe Crossing - well worth a listen, but not currently available, apparently. This is the band's website.
- Church on the Beach - Inspired by Periglis church on St Agnes. AUDIO
- Endurance - Another song from West of Eden's Safe Crossing album. This tells the story of a shipwreck that ended up on Tresco.
- Find an Island - Uncharacteristically cheery. AUDIO
- Flotsam and Jetsam - Tom Bliss's working of the story of the Wreck of the Association in 1707 and the death of Sir Clowdisley Shovell.
- Hagenes - An epic song by John Elliott. Hagenes is one of the ancient names for St Agnes meaning 'the island off the main island'. Thus St Agnes was the original 'off island' when all the other islands were one land mass - an independence it still retains. AUDIO
- Home to Scilly - Richard Gendall's song of island homesickness, written for Brenda Wootton. Available on the 'Gwavas Lake' album - download here.
- The Kelping - A song by Tom Napper and Tom Bliss about the historic island industry of kelp burning, which produced valuable chemicals for glass and soap making industries. On the album of the same name.
- Lullaby for an Island Child - A Lullaby by songwriter Richard Gendall and sung by Brenda Wootton for Roz Hicks (of the Isles of Scilly Folk Club) on the birth of her son Andrew. This song is on the 'Gwavas Lake' LP which comes up on Ebay sometimes and is available to download here.
- Lyonesse - Another Richard Gendall/Brenda Wootton collaboration. Brenda sings of the lost land of Lyonesse (between Scilly and Land's End, according to myth).
- Midsummer Bonfire - A proper beach fire song, courtesy of singing specialist and 'Spooky Man' James Sills. AUDIO
- The Minor Blues of the Man on the Shore - A poignant blues sung from the point of view of a retired fisherman, nostalgic for his life afloat. AUDIO
- Mostly Gone - This is a song by John Elliott about the pain and drudgery of not being on the islands. AUDIO
- O Beautiful Islands of Scilly - Heartfelt stuff from Cornish songwriting legend, Harry Safari. AUDIO
- On Periglis Sands - Inspired by watching a meteor shower on Periglis beach, St Agnes. Written by Joe Keelan. AUDIO
- Pulling a Rope - Poetry of geology and ephemerality from wordsmith extraordinaire: John Elliott. AUDIO
- Safe Crossing - A prayer for safe passage. The title song from West of Eden's Safe Crossing album.
- Sea Shahnty - A rollicking recreation of life in a 19C pilot gig. In those days, inter-island rowing rivalry was even more intense: livelihoods and lives depended on winning the race. Shah is one of the surviving Victorian gigs (hence the name of the song). AUDIO
- So Many Stories - A lovely piece of songwriting from Joe Keelan of the Rough Island Band. AUDIO
- Spanish Ladies - Here is a Scillonian version of the ever popular farewell Shanty. The original and traditional song contains the refrain: 'From Ushant to Scilly is 35 Leagues'. This idea has simply been extended to create this version. AUDIO
- Terryans Syllan (Scilly Wreck) - Uniquely and importantly, Scilly's ONLY SURVIVING TRADITIONAL SONG: telling of an unspecified shipwreck on the islands. The one man to survive the disaster returns to shore only to discover that his sweetheart has run off with someone else. A cheery number... Here is another version with the name Rocks of Scilly. There are several versions recorded: AUDIO (Andy Clarke and Steve Tyler), AUDIO (Richard Trethewey), AUDIO (Rough Island Band)
- The Chris Lethbridge Songbook - Chris came to live on Scilly for a year or so and produced this wonderful collection of songs inspired by the islands. AUDIO: Granite, Living the Dream, The Grand Ball on Rosevear, Chapel Down, Where Will the Islander Go, Sanctuary, The Hills of Dartmoor, Carol for Scilly, Hellweathers, Twin Hills, The Gry Maritha Sailed Today.
- The loss of Sir Clowdesley Shovel - Another version of the story of Sir Cloudesley Shovell and the wreck of the Association. This one uses the poem by Scillonian poet Robert Maybe and is set to music by Nick Hunt, who was part of island folk band 'Crow Sound' during the 1970s.
- The Wreck of the Delaware - Isles of Scilly Folk Club regular, Leigh Kendrick, has set Scillonian poet Robert Maybe's account of the wreck of the steamship Delaware to music. The poem tells of survivors being rescued in dramatic fashion by the men of Bryher in a pilot gig. Here is Leigh's tune, which fits the words of the poem.
- To My Lordless Sons - John Elliott's beautiful hymn to the hopelessness of all things. AUDIO
- Waiting for the Storm - That sense of foreboding before a big Scilly blow is caught here by West of Eden.
- The Wind's Song - The unspoken mental pressures of island life... AUDIO