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The Standing Stones:
Wedding Repertoire


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You think you might like the Standing Stones to perform at your wedding? We have (as it says on the repertoire page) a large repertoire of traditional songs and music of all kinds—funny, spirited, mysterious, tender and heart-breaking.

The instrumental pieces we perform also demonstrate a wide range of types. We play a lot of dance music, but we avoid the "all reels" syndrome of some players, performing as well regional dances such as highlands, mazurkas, germans, polkas and slides. We try to avoid rehashing tunes recorded by well-known performers, instead making our own selections from original sources. We also like to play the older types of tunes such as marches, slow airs and harp compositions.


Celtic cross Basically, it's your wedding, so we will play whatever you like. However, we like to stick pretty much to traditional material. If you want the march from "Lohengrin" or "Pachelbel's Canon", we will be happy to recommend someone who does that sort of thing. We would prefer to avoid getting involved with the mainstream wedding market (lucrative though it may be).

However, we have collected some interesting traditional wedding music over the years, which we have available for performance. There are also other tunes not originally associated with weddings, but which seem to have the right sort of mood. The following are some suggestions based on past experience.


The ceremony

Generally, people prefer some nice slow airs played on harp with fiddle, whistle or flute. (Sometimes people who are dance enthusiasts want to do a jig down the aisle.) The following are some tunes we've used in the past:


A Mhàiri Bhàn Òg
This beautiful Scottish air was used for a Gaelic song composed by Donnchadh Bàn Mac an t-Saor (often said to be the last of the Gaelic bards) as a wedding present for his wife. Sometimes you hear a version in which the fine modal melody is spoiled by a horrible wrong note—probably introduced by some Victorian editor who thought the Scots were too ignorant to know how their own music should be played. Rest assured we play the true modal version, which can be found in Patrick MacDonald's collection of tunes published in 1783. (Harp, fiddle or flute)
Oro, Sé Do Bheatha Abhaile
This a traditional Irish "hauling-home" song. In Ireland the hauling-home (when the bride's possessions were moved into the husband's house) was celebrated much more than the actual wedding. There is one short verse preserved, which translates: "Oro, welcome home. I'd rather have you than a dowry of 100 milk cows. You will bring luck into the house." In modern times the first half of the tune was borrowed for a song of political allegory (Ireland being the bride, etc.). We stick with the original version. (Harp, fiddle)
The Unst Bridal March/Da Bride's a Bonnie Thing
Two traditional wedding tunes from the Shetland Islands, where Scottish music takes on a Scandinavian influence. Good "walking down the aisle" tunes. (Harp, fiddle)
The Wedding Jig
Traditionally played at Donegal weddings, this tune would suit the more lively type of ceremony. (Cello, banjo or fiddle)
Mull of the Mountains
A beautiful Scottish air about a beautiful Scottish island, which would be a very romantic honeymoon location. (Harp, whistle)
Arrane Ghalbey
A tune from the Isle of Man that is a favourite with harpers. Said to have been learned from the singing of an old man who rowed into the harbour of Dalbey, sang the song and rowed away again. The Isle of Man could be another honeymoon location, particularly for couples interested in motorcycle racing, narrow-gauge steam railways or old Celtic carvings. (Harp, fiddle)
The Juggling Bride
On one occasion I was playing at a wedding in Marin County, California, during which the bride and bridesmaids started juggling Indian clubs back and forth. We didn't have any appropriate music to play! Determined never to be placed in that awkward situation again, I composed a tune suited to this eventuality. It could also be used for weddings featuring trapeze artists, sword swallowers, hot air balloon ascensions, etc.—in general the more active type of wedding. (Cello, fiddle)
Carolan tunes
The 18th century Irish harper and composer Turlough O'Carolan left behind quite a number of nice tunes, many with a influence from the Italian Baroque. Some we do on harp and flute; we have arranged others as guitar solos with cello accompaniment. However, without amplication the cello tends to drown out the guitar.
Medieval and Renaissance music
If you like the concept, there is a lot of nice early music. We can't perform pieces with more than two parts except in a guitar arrangement (or a lute arrangement, but lute is an almost inaudible instrument). However, there are lots of nice two-part pieces. Some of them can be done nicely on harp with whistle or flute. The later pieces tend to have too many chromatic notes for the harp; however, they work well on fiddle and cello—not an anachronism since these instruments first appeared in the 1500s.

There are a lot of Scottish and Irish dance tunes with "wedding"- or "bride"-related titles. So far we haven't bothered to construct sets made up entirely of such tunes, but it could be done!

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The reception

At receptions the guests usually like to talk a lot. Hence the role of musicians is typically to sit in a corner and provide some pleasant atmosphere. Usually that's the time we like to do a lot of dance music mixed in with the slower stuff. It is fairly useless to attempt singing unless we use amplification, or if a small knot of interested people gathers around us.

If your guests like to dance we can teach some simple Scottish and Irish social dances such as The Gay Gordons, The Walls of Limerick, and the like.

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Costumes

Doing a costume wedding? We can fit in!—provided you want Renaissance, 19th century California or Scottish costume. Other themes might be possible by special arrangement.

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We get asked to play at a wide variety of different events. Therefore, we have had to develop different classes of material for many different performance situations. These can be incorporated into weddings if desired:

Fees

It's hard to give a hard and fast rule about what we charge. It depends on many factors, including the following:


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Please note that fine hand-made musical instruments are made of very expensive wood. Because of the difficulties of keeping the instruments in tune, not to mention the possibility of damage to the instruments, we must request the following with respect to the performing environment:


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Additional information:

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Traditional Celtic Music
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