About the Tunes
The Barrowburn Reel
This must be one of my most popular compositions. It came to me while on holiday in Northumberland just south of the Cheviot Hills near the little district of Barrowburn. It was the ideal setting for creating music. Later that night I sat down by the roadside at a little village called Henshaw near Bardon Mill and composed "The Barrowburn Reel".
The Edinburgh Caithness Gathering Waltz
We have played at the Edinburgh Caithness gathering since the year 1983. Before that it was Jimmy Shand and his Band. The function was organised by my cousins John and Mary Lockie of Edinburgh. Previously, it was felt that the band was too far North and would never make it in winter conditions. However, John and Mary said, "We'll chance it", and through many a severe snowstorm and dubious roads we have always managed to get there. I made a promise to write a tune and going "Down that Road Again" and "Within a mile of Edinburgh Toon" I came up with this one. Later my friend, David Topping, wrote the lyrics " Take Me Back to Caithness".
Pipe Major Jim Christie of Wick
This is one of my earlier compositions. Jim was the founder and Pipe Major of the famous Wick Girls' Pipe Band who travelled the length and breadth of the country and also abroad. He was a very good friend and I relied upon him greatly for musical information.
Manola - by Addie Harper Jnr
Composed by Addie Harper Jnr in 1978 shortly after the death of his mother, Manola Harper. Manola, who was Spanish came to Caithness from La Coruņa, North Spain to work for Col. Hildrith of Stirkoke in the year 1952. This melody has a strong Spanish flavour. If one listens carefully the title name can be heard throughout. Written for guitar but is equally effective on fiddle.
John Sinclair - Younger of Ulbster
The band played in The Ross Institute, Halkirk for the twenty-first birthday party of John - Elder son of Lady Thurso and the late Lord Thurso. It was suggested I could perhaps write a tune for the occasion. After some time I came up with this one.
Wick Rotary Club's Compliments to Addie Harper Sen
Another by Addie Jn composed when I was presented with the Wick Citizen of the Year Award in 1997.
When the band first played at dances down in Dumfries-shire we met Jenny and Alex Hyslop. Over the years we became very good friends and often stayed with them at their farm - West Denbie. We had many enjoyable nights there and were always made very welcome.
Andrew Elliot of Haliburton
I wrote this one for a very fine gentleman. Andrew always made us very welcome at his home. Each time we visited him he would say, "Bring in your fiddle and play me a tune". I always did. Then it was not just one tune, but lots of his old favourites such as the "Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen" and good old Harry Lauder songs. Andrew died at the age of ninety four. His grave is in the family cemetery at Caddenfoot, Clovenfords, Berwickshire.
A Waltz for Annella - by Bob Macleod
Composed by button box player, Bob Macleod from the Isle of Lewis.
Young Addie's Two-Step - by Alastair J MacDonald
Composed for Addie Harper Jnr. in the early days. Alastair has been a very good friend of the Harper family for many years. He has played with me in the band since the age of twelve.
Kathleen McRae's Wedding March
This one was written for Kathleen on her wedding day. Her mother and father, Dennis and Margo live in Lonmay, Aberdeenshire and have been close friends of the family for many years.
This is another of my earlier compositions. The melody came to me while crossing the Bay of Biscay from La Coruņa in North Spain to Southampton. The boat was Spanish and called "El Begoņia". The motion of the sea - the roll of those big Biscay waves - gave me the inspiration. When I got home I put it all together on my button box.
The Helmsdale Highland Games
Composed for the event in Helmsdale sometime in the eighties.
Nan of the Strath
Composed for Nan Sutherland, Ardivall Terrace, Strathpeffer.
Stephanie Manola Harper's Reel
Stephanie is the daughter of Christina and Addie Harper Jn. This one was written by Addie Harper Jn for Stephanie's birthday on the 23rd February 1996.
Noel and Marjorie's Silver Wedding
I wrote this one for my friends Marjorie and Noel Donaldson of Wick on the occasion of their silver wedding on the 10th April 1994. Noel is well known for his articles in the John O' Groat Journal - "Wickers World".
The Blackadder Waltz
This tune was composed for Alexander Beveridge of Newton Church Road, Danderhall, Dalkeith. Alex, who was fishing on the River Blackadder, found a bottle containing a message I had written saying I would write a tune for whoever found the bottle with the message. He had to wait a long time for the tune, but being a man who was keen on fishing, he understood he had to be patient to get a good one.
The Wedding of Charlie McColl
By the Harpers for Marie and Charlie McColl's wedding in Fort William on the 8th October 1983.
Maclennan Marches On 4/4
Composed in 1987 for Robert McLennan who, at that time, had been MP for Caithness and Sutherland for twenty one years.
Dick Stewart's Welcome to the Lonach Gathering
Another of my favourite marches, composed by Sandy Guald of Banchory, Aberdeenshire.
The Ackergill Tower Waltz - by Gordon Gunn
Gordon Gunn is one of Scotland's leading fiddle players. He has composed some very fine tunes. The "Ackergill Tower Waltz" is one of his most recent compositions. In fact he wrote it one night while playing at the tower.
Wick's Compliments to Bill Mackay
This one was written for Chief Superintendent Bill Mackay on the 30th March 1983. Bill served thirty years with the police.
Betty of Glendyne - by Robert George Harper
Composed by my brother Robert George Harper who lives in New Cumnock, Ayrshire. He wrote this one for a very good friend.
The New Year Waltz - by Gordon Gunn
Composed by that fine fiddle player from Wick, Gordon Gunn.
A Tune for a Queen
Composed on the 14th August 1980 for Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother on the occasion of her eightieth birthday. I was greatly honoured to be granted permission to write this tune.
Dave and Isabel Rodger of Spittal
This is one of my most recent compositions. Dave and Isabel (originally from Fife) came here to Caithness sometime in the eighties. They are both very enthusiastic dancers and started off Old Time dancing classes in Wick in 1991. They now run the very successful Spittal Ceilidh Dancing Club.
George Steven of Lhanbryde
One night after having played at a dance in Lhanbryde we were about to set out on the journey back to Wick. The van wouldn't start and George who was a very keen supporter of the band came on the scene and said, "Let me have a look." It did not take him long until he had us on the move. I asked how much and his reply was - "Nothing - write a tune for me". So here it is.
The Wind that Blew like ...
This unfinished title always seems to create a smile. I know how strong the wind blows here in Caithness and so do most people. I'm sure that with a little imagination it would not be difficult to find the missing word. I composed this tune in the early eighties, the same night as part of the Station Hotel in Wick was destroyed by fire. The wind was certainly blowing that night. In fact it blew like B...
Anne, Duchess of Westminster's Waltz
I wrote this one for Anne, Duchess of Westminster in celebration of her sixtieth birthday. During that week we played at a dance in the Achfary Hall, Sutherland. The Duchess and her family were present and we had a most enjoyable evening.
Addie Harper's Jig - by Fergie McDonald
On my travels in the early days I had often heard of Fergie McDonald and his band. If we were playing in Plockton, Fergie would be playing in Kyle. If we were in Kyleakin, he would be in Broadford, even if we went to Benbecula in the Outer Hebridies then he would be there too. Of course we both knew the good places to be. It was in a big queue at the Kyleakin Ferry that I first met Fergie. I was walking along, counting the cars to see how long it might be before we could get across when I met someone coming towards me. I knew it was none other than Fergie himself. I said, "Ah, you must be Fergie McDonald." He replied "You must be Addie Harper." It was a great get together and we discussed many good tunes. A few weeks later when crossing to Benbecula we met again. Fergie brought out his box and said, "Now see what you think of this tune". I though it was a winner. There and then he gave it it's title - "Addie Harper's Jig".
The Stempster Sisters - by Alastair J MacDonald
This tune was written by Alastair MacDonald for Michelle (age 13) and Rhona (age 2) who live at Stempster, Westfield near Thurso. This is an idyllic and peaceful location in Caithness where it has been known for a Barn Dance to take place on the single track road leading to Stempster.
La Mariposa (The Butterfly)
This is yet another specially for the accordion. Again, it has a Spanish flavour. On a second visit to La Coruņa I presented a copy of the music to a band called "Los Diamanties". A few nights later they played it at an open air show, and in the still of the night the music could be heard for miles around floating above the city. It made me feel music was really worthwhile.
The Benderloch Ploughing Association
Another of my early compositions on the button box. We (The Wick Scottish Dance Band) played for the Association at a couple of dances in 1964 - one in the Benderloch Village Hall and the other in the Argyllshire Gathering Hall, Oban. After those two great nights I wrote this tune for the organiser, Ewen McPherson of Dalrannoch, Barcaldine, Argyll.
Dennis and Jane's Wedding
Written for the wedding of Dennis Auld and Jane Miller on the 10th October 1996 in the Portland Arms Hotel, Lybster. It sounds good in either the key of G or A.
Patricia Ann's Birthday
Composed for Patricia Ann Grant of Wick on the occasion of her 50th birthday.
Our Silver Wedding Day
This tune was written for the 25th anniversary of the wedding of Christabel and William Smart of Lornefield, Thurso Road, Wick on the 2nd October 1986.
One of my favourite tunes, composed by that great fiddler Alastair (Pibroch) McKenzie of the Bobby Macleod Band.
Jean Hunter of Rachan Mill - by Addie Harper Jnr
This one by Addie Harper Jnr was composed in 1984 for Jean who was a very good friend of ours.
A March For Morven May
This one is for Morven May Watt and was written shortly after she was born. Her father and mother, Dougie and Marina, were the proprietors of the Lion Hotel, Auldearn. We had many good nights there.
The Garden of Skye
Written quite a number of years ago after having played in Ardvassar on the south end of the island. That area is known as "The Garden of Skye" or in Gaelic "Gāradh An Eilean Sgiathanaich." Later my friend David Topping wrote the lyrics "The Pipers of Scotland".
Julie and James Rollo's Wedding March
Written for their wedding on the 22nd April 1995 at the Thainstone House Hotel, Kintore, Aberdeenshire.
A Tribute to Allan Michael
This tune was written for Police Sergeant Allan Michael in appreciation for the work he has done for the blind.
Walking on the Moon
In the year 1969 on the 21st July at 5.36am BST Neil Armstrong and Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin landed on the moon. It was after having watched that historic event on television I got the inpiration to write this reel "Walking on the Moon".