Robert Burns
Scottish poet

and Viola music

Bookmark and Share

Robert Burns is the most important Scottish poet, born on 25 January 1759, three years after and two days before Mozart. Scots everywhere celebrate this day, with a Burns supper with haggis, whisky, kilts, poems, bagpipes, music and dance.

Besides writing his own poems, Burns worked to collect Scottish folk songs, in many cases he wrote poems set to traditional tunes.

Even Google in UK time ago celebrated his birthday with a special logo with a few words from the poem My love is like a red, red rose.

Google celebrated Robert Burns's birthday with a special logo (doodle)

So, what does Robert Burns have to do with the viola? Well, simply there are a few songs based on poems he wrote that I like playing on the viola, they sound really gorgeous. So, being his birthday, I want to share with you the transcriptions I've done for viola of two songs based on Burns poems, together with two other popular Scottish song.

Here are the poems:

Ye Banks and Braes

Here is a song by Robert Burns in one of his more soulful moods as he describes a love-lost girl as she wanders by the banks of the river Doon in Ayrshire.
I like to play it followed by The Skye Boat Song, they form a nice set.

Ye banks and braes o' bonnie Doon,
How can ye bloom sae fresh and fair?
How can ye chant, ye little birds,
And I sae weary, fu' o' care!
Thou'll break my heart, thou warbling bird,
That wantons thro' the flowering thorn!
Thou minds me o' departed joys,
Departed, never to return.

Aft hae I rov'd by bonnie Doon
To see the rose and woodbine twine;
And ilka bird sang o' its luve,
And fondly sae did I o' mine;
Wi' lightsome heart I pu'd a rose,
Fu' sweet upon its thorny tree!
And my fause luver stole my rose -
But, ah! he left the thorn wi' me.

Meaning of unusual words:
braes=hillsides
ilka=every


The Skye Boat Song

This Scottish folk song is about the escape of Bonnie Prince Charlie, over the sea to Skye, after his defeat at Culloden in 1746. Prince Charles Edward Stuart (1720-1788), commonly known as Bonnie Prince Charlie or The Young Pretender, was the pretender to the thrones of England, Scotland, and Ireland. The author of this song's music, often used as a lullaby, is unknown.

I like to play it after Ye banks and Braes, they form a nice set.

(Chorus)
Speed bonnie boat like a bird on the wing
Onward the sailors cry
Carry the lad that's born to be king
Over the sea to Skye

Loud the wind howls, loud the waves roar,
Thunderclaps rend the air
Baffled our foes, stand by the shore
Follow they will not dare

Chorus

Many's the lad fought on that day
Well the claymore did wield
When the night came, silently lain
Dead on Culloden field

Chorus

Though the waves heave, soft will ye sleep
Ocean's a royal bed
Rocked in the deep, Flora will keep
Watch by your weary head

Chorus

Burned are our homes, exile and death
Scatter the loyal men
Yet e'er the sword cool in the sheath
Charlie will come again.

Chorus


My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean

This is really very famous. The origin of the song is unknown, though it is often suggested that the subject of the song may be Charles Edward Stuart (‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’), the subject of also the previous song.

My Bonnie lies over the ocean
My Bonnie lies over the sea
My Bonnie lies over the ocean
Oh bring back my Bonnie to me

REFRAIN:
Bring back, bring back
Bring back my Bonnie to me, to me
Bring back, bring back
Bring back my Bonnie to me

Last night as I lay on my pillow
Last night as I lay on my bed
Last night as I lay on my pillow
I dreamt that my Bonnie was dead

REFRAIN

Oh blow the winds o'er the ocean
And blow the winds o'er the sea
Oh blow the winds o'er the ocean
And bring back my Bonnie to me

REFRAIN

The winds have blown over the ocean
The winds have blown over the sea
The winds have blown over the ocean
And brought back my Bonnie to me

REFRAIN


Auld Lang Syne

This song on another of Robert Burns's poems is a very well known in many countries, especially in the English-speaking world. People use to sing it during new year's eve parties at midnight.

It is about friendship and a reminder that old friends should not be forgotten. Therefore it's also sung as a farewell song at the end of gatherings, funerals, someone's departure.

I've been a scout for many years and that's how I first heard it and sung it.

Burns’ original Scots verse

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne*?

    CHORUS:
    For auld lang syne, my jo,
    for auld lang syne,
    we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness
    yet,
    for auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp!
and surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

    CHORUS

We twa hae run about the braes,
and pu’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin auld lang syne.

    CHORUS

We twa hae paidl’d i' the burn,
frae morning sun till dine†;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin auld lang syne.

    CHORUS

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
and gie's a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught,
for auld lang syne.

    CHORUS

English translation

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne?

    CHORUS:
    For auld lang syne, my dear,
    for auld lang syne,
    we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness
    yet,
    for auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
and surely I’ll buy mine!
And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

CHORUS

We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.

CHORUS

We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine†;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.

CHORUS

And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give me a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

CHORUS

† dine = "dinner time"
* syne = "since" or "then" – pronounced like "sign" rather than "zine".

Download free MIDI file

Buy sheet music, pdf with Mp3 file


My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose

And, last but not least, maybe the most popular love song by Robert Burns. Actually, it's very likely that Robert Burns didn't compose it himself but drew inspiration from an existing old Scottish song. Anyway, enjoy it in these videos, the viola version and the song and then, if you are a player, get the sheet music below and enjoy playing it, like a song.

O, my luve is like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June:
O, my love is like the melodie,
That's sweetly play'd in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry.

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun!
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only luve,
And fare thee weel a while!
And I will come again, my luve
Tho' 'twere ten thousand mile!


And here is the music

Only for a very short time, here is my Robert Burns birthday gift for you: Download FREE my transcriptions of Scottish and Robert Burns songs

Ye Banks and Braes
My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose


Buy Viola in Music's Collection of 13 famous tunes (19 pages)
£7.99 and download them instantly
They are on their original keys, so you can play them in sessions with other instruments

Jesu, joy of man's desiring
Michael Turner’s waltz (2 versions)
The greenwood tree
The south wind
Fanny Power
Ye banks and braes
Skye boat song
My Bonnie
My love is like a red, red rose
Sportsman’s hornpipe
The road to Lisdoonvarna
Danny Boy (Londonderry Air)
Iron legs

Buy Now

For more folk viola tunes, go from Robert Burns to Folk Viola Music


Read to learn more

Great website all about Robert Burns
and Robert Burns wikipedia


Custom Search

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.
Custom Search

Related pages

Folk viola music sounds great!

More viola folk music





Viola folk music collection for St. Patrick's day

Viola folk music collection
for St. Patrick's day





Bela Bartok, folk music and his viola concerto

Folk music, Bela Bartok
and his viola concerto





Differences between violin and viola: size, strings, clef, fingerings and more

Differences between
violin and viola





Berlioz's Harold in Italy inspired by Italian folk music

Berlioz's Harold in Italy
inspired by Italian folk music






Buy Viola in Music's Collection of 13 famous tunes (19 pages)
£7.99 and download them instantly
They are on their original keys, so you can play them in sessions with other instruments

Jesu, joy of man's desiring
Michael Turner’s waltz (2 versions)
The greenwood tree
The south wind
Fanny Power
Ye banks and braes
Skye boat song
My Bonnie
My love is like a red, red rose
Sportsman’s hornpipe
The road to Lisdoonvarna
Danny Boy (Londonderry Air)
Iron legs

Buy Now

Do you like
Viola in Music?

Support it by buying sheet music here

Download Sheet Music

Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads