GCSE Music Notes - Capercaillie - Skye Waulking Song
This set work is from the album Nadurra, released in 2000 by the band Capercaillie. They are a Scottish band, and they explore Gaelic folk music fused with western rock features.
This piece has 8 verses, alongside an introduction, a break, an instrumental and an outro. The verses are constructed with phrases and refrains, each 1 bar long. The phrases are in Gaelic whereas the refrains are responses to the phrases sung in vocables (Nonsense syllables).
Melody (Word Setting)
The melody is based on the pentatonic scale and is sung with a very low alto voice, notated in the vocal tenor clef. It is mainly syllabic and alternates between the call in Gaelic and the response in vocables, The instrumentalists play short motifs and counter melodies based on the vocal melodies.
A layered texture is apparent, created from a rhythmic pattern on the drum kit, bass line by bass guitars and counter-melodies from the other instruments in the piece, such as the accordion. A heterophonic texture can also be found when the Uillean pipes play a solo alongside the fiddle in the instrumental.
The band uses modern western instruments such as the acoustic guitar, the electric bass guitar, Wurlitzer piano and modern drum kit. There is also use of traditional Celtic instruments such as the Uillean pipes, the fiddle, the bouzouki and the accordion.
Harmony and Tonality
The song is in G major, however has a modal feel due to the dominant D chord being avoided. The harmonies are very simple and completely diatonic, using only 4 chords in the whole song. The coda alternates between chords G and C, creating the feel of repeated plagal cadences. A cluster chord at the start of the piece uses modulation, where the pitch fluctuates slightly.
Rhythm, Metre and Tempo
The song is notated in 12/8, which is quadruple compound time. Syncopation is frequently used in the vocal line as well as in the instruments. The hi-hat pattern at the start creates cross rhythms. There is a slow and calm tempo, and a lilting feel is created by the vocalist.