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The Skye Boat Song

Soul Music, Series 14 Episode 3 of 5

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 11 September 2012

For many hearing The Skye Boat Song brings back a wealth of childhood memories, as the words "Speed Bonnie Boat Like a Bird on the Wing" tell the story of the escape of Bonnie Prince Charlie, dressed as a maid to the Isle of Skye, after this defeat at the battle of Culloden.

Originally written by Sir Harold Boulton and Anne MacLeod back in the 1870's, we explore the beauty of this song and how it continues to touch people's lives across the world in very different ways.

Contributors in this programme include:

The Queen's Piper, who has played this tune in happy and sad times, recalls playing it outside the Queen's window and leading Princess Margaret's cortege. A New Zealand artist shares his memories of time spent with his father, and the sound of him whistling the song on their way home as dusk fell. A sailor from the Isle of Skye, describes his connection with the spirituality of piece and the Loch on which he sails.

Acclaimed violinist Tasmin Little shares her own arrangement of the piece and explains why it works so well musically. An Australian mum, tells how important this song has been in connecting with the two girls she has adopted from China. Gaelic Singer Maggie MacInnes tells the history of the piece.
The programme includes music by Julian Lloyd Webber, The Corries and Pete Lashley.

Producer - Rachel Matthews.


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