The Standing Stones:
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 kindsfunny, 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.
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
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 noteprobably
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.
- The Unst Bridal March/Da Bride's a Bonnie
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 cellonot 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!
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
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.
Doing a costume wedding? We can fit in!provided you want Renaissance,
19th century California or Scottish costume. Other themes might be possible by
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:
- Music appropriate for various Celtic holidays
- Music of the Celtic diaspora, i.e., traditional music of Canada, Australia,
- Presentations for groups interested in traditional culture and poetry
- Presentations for groups interested in the Irish language
- Dance music
- Pub music
- Historical re-enactments
- Medieval and Renaissance music
It's hard to give a hard and fast rule about what we charge. It depends
on many factors, including the following:
- How far we have to go to get there?
- How many instruments we need to bring?
- Whether we need to bring amplification?
- How long we have to play?
- Do we need to learn any "special tunes"?
- If so, how much time will be required?
- Do we need to wear costumes or other special clothing?
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:
- Not in direct sunlight
- No exposure to rain or other moisture
- No extremes of hot or cold temperatures
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Traditional Celtic Music
Ceol na nGael