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Scots and Waters (2014)

Instrumentation: Soprano and Piano
Duration: ca. 12'
Text: Traditonal Scottish
Premiere Date: November 23, 2014, Baltimore, MD

Program Note

Scots and Waters sets three texts unified not by theme (though there is mention of water in each), nor by motive (though in each I have endeavored to honor the folk traditions of Scotland), but by a general sense of wanderlust and nostalgia, the overwhelming feelings that I have when away from Scotland. The first movement, sung in the Scots dialect, is realized in an originally composed pseudo-folk melody. The piano makies use of an “activated drone,” honoring the oft-quoted bagpipe and fiddling harmonies of the Scots tradition. The Skye Boat Song alternates between flexible, chant-like lines (inspired by the practice of Gaelic Psalm-singing on the Inner and Outer Hebrides) and more metric impulses (a tempic alternation that is at the core of the Piobaerachd bagpiping tradition). Again, the melody is newly composed, but with hinted references to the original tune. The only movement to quote an original Scottish tune in its entirety is Loch Lomond; I found its melody too beloved and engrained to tamper with. However, I endeavored to express the feeling of separation, departure, and nostalgia in the accompaniment through the expansive ranges utilized, canonic devices, and up-and-down (“high road” and “low road”) modulations – but endeavoring to never the original melody.

The work was composed for Danielle Buonaiuto, soprano, and pianist Bethany Pietroniro between November 6 and November 18, 2014, and was premiered on November 23, 2014 at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Baltimore, Maryland. It is also dedicated to my father, Bruce Allan Buchanan, who first instilled in me a love for Scotland. Clarior hinc honos.  It will be released on the CD O Sea-Starved, Hungry Sea in the 2019-2020 season.

— Douglas Buchanan


1. Psalm 23


2. The Skye Boat Song


3. Loch Lomond



Scots and Waters, performed by Danielle Buonaiuto, soprano, and Bethany Pietroniro, piano


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