This dance is commonly associated with a fairly idiosyncratic tune that no two CDs seem to be able to agree on what it is called. Also, some people claim that it is actually from Germany. What gives?

asked 31 Oct '11, 19:03

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Hamish McGon...
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edited 07 Nov '11, 00:17

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anselm ♦♦


This is what the deviser of the dance, Mr. James MacGregor-Brown, himself wrote via email (dating April 6, 2011):

In this it is danced to a close approximation to my original, “original tune”. Many a dance music record or CD offers a putative “original”, which isn’t mine. The follow-up second tune I chose is “Dyster Laddie”, which I thought worked nicely with both the dance and the little original tune I “wrote” (much too grand a word for thirty-two bars of dance music), so many years ago.

And continuing (dating April 19, 2011):

There is no other published version of my original tune, than that in the video to which I referred earlier today. Its title - its only title (and this is simply no surprise at all) - was and is “A Trip to Bavaria”. In very fact, and I think I mentioned this in an earlier email, “Eine Reise nach Bayern”. This is the title I used myself in a spoken (in German of course) foreword to a short film of the dance sent to our tour hosts in Munich. I would however like to remind you that “all this” was a long time ago, and, though I can vouch for the veracity, I can’t do the same for its accuracy.

And, continuing again (dating April 21, 2011):

It was kind of you to send me the music some dance bands, it seems, play for “A Trip to Bavaria”. It is neither, of course, my original tune, nor like it. How could it be!? Further, I believe that mine, written for the dance, is better; a dreadful example, I readily allow, of vanity and bias!

Kindest regards

Edwin Werner Netherlands


answered 06 Nov '11, 18:15

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Edwin Werner
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edited 06 Nov '11, 20:27

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anselm ♦♦

This is interesting. While there is by now probably little chance of popularising Mr McGregor-Brown's elusive original tune over the one generally associated with the dance, is there a way of finding out how it goes?

(06 Nov '11, 20:28) anselm ♦♦

Hi Anselm,

Well, I asked him several times about the availability of this "original original" but at last I unfortunately had to give up... It is, as he said, only in this video sent to tour hosts in Munich; I am afraid this is the only source related to the tune. The Remmerts of Herford (or Hamish's Tune) is, by this story, unfortunately a myth (it is even disliked by the deviser himself). I am afraid to tell that the "both hand switch" at the end of bar 30 of the dance is a myth as well, as the "original original description" tells us that it should be a RIGHT hand turn only (performed "deftly", almost discretely)... The only written source related to the dance description is Collins Pocket Reference (edition 1996). However, I can still try to find the original tune (as we should never give up the searching for recorded or written music!), but it will be hard to find - that's for sure.

This is what the deviser himself said about how the dance should be performed (dating April 7, 2011):

The directions in the Collins Reference Book are indeed what I had in mind. This tiny section of four bars, i.e. 29 - 32, will take longer to describe than to dance:

For “tidyness” and “covering” (the importance of these having been drilled into us as dancers with an RSCDS touring demonstration team) this end part looks more pleasing, perhaps even impressive FOR AUDIENCES - which are not in the least necessary for us to enjoy our dancing!

THE THREE COUPLES advance in a straight, well-covered line, hands joined, and then...

the first couple, in fourth position, on the “wrong side”, as you know...

DEFTLY, even “discretely”, DROP HANDS at the end of BAR 30, then...

taking ONE HAND – the RIGHT, which for the lady is already ”free”, TURN, thus changing sides, close enough to the other two couples to...

REJOIN the other two couples BEFORE THEY START TO RETIRE, together once again...

ON BARS 31 AND 32 .................... "in two beautifully tidy and beautifully covered lines” ................................ (Well! It’s the thought that counts!)

To think that all this is over in a flash and one has to be ready to start all over again, so that a new couple can “STAR”!

CODA: You must feel free, for you are, to do it in whatever way you like! What’s wrong with small changes that don't confuse others?

Amusing perhaps? Not so very long ago, I was at an RSCDS dance, and A Trip to Bavaria happened to be on the programme. I was “told off” by a fellow from Australia, who told me I had done that end part the wrong way. I of course said nothing, being just rather pleased to think that people in Australia are enjoying this little dance, which does have, I suppose, an amusing, entirely new movement.

And (dating April 19, 2011):

You asked me about a leaflet copy of A Trip to Bavaria. I could not refer you to one, as I have never published it in anything other than the Collins book and the companion video, in which, as I believe I may have mentioned, it is danced to the original tune; that is to say, mine. However, I’m delighted that the group [i.e. TACBooks], to whose site you referred me, makes it available to others who may enjoy the dance. Their leaflet does, as you point out, call for a two-handed turn.

Just a word on that:

Being, as they call it, “a full certificate teacher”, when “grooming” dancers for theatrical presentations, I use my original deft almost surreptitious one, i.e., RIGHT hand turn. Ideally the turn should be tight and fully effected, in the middle of the set, so that the impression is given to the audience, of a preferably unnoticed “correction“ of side, for couple number one.


This nicety is not called for, when we are dancing just for pleasure and delight – what better reason!? So, as I have already recommended, dancers should dance ‘that bit’ in whatever way they like best.

Regards Edwin

(06 Nov '11, 23:03) Edwin Werner

So the name of the original tune has been cleared up, but that leaves the question: How does the original tune go? I have a copy of a tune called "The Remerts of Herford (Hamish's Tune)", which was on a page that claimed to be from "Collins Pocket Reference", but I'm guessing that the page is wrong. Or maybe it's right, but that isn't the same as the "Collins book" referenced above.

Anyway, does anyone have an authentic copy of the "original original" Trip to Bavaria tune, printed or recorded (or ABCized)? And how would we verify that such a submitted tune is actually authentic?

Curious SCD musicians want to know ...

[Edited once to verify that I can edit. ;-]

(18 Nov '11, 23:45) jmc

I am also a musician so I am curious as well... I sent several e-mails to James MacGregor-Brown himself, but unfortunately he hasn't responded so far... It is for sure though that the "Remmerts of Herford" tune is not the original tune. As soon as I have news about the very original tune, I will "spread" it!


(19 Nov '11, 01:34) Edwin Werner

The tune in question appears on CD inlays both as »Hamish's Tune« and »The Remmerts of Herford« (often spelled »Remots«, among other varieties). Usually credited to Hamish Menzies, it bears an uncanny resemblance to a German song, Die Fischerin vom Bodensee (The Lake Constance Fisherwoman), which was written by Franz Winkler in 1947 and used in 1956 as part of the soundtrack of a (cheesy) eponymous film.

Hamish Menzies was a Scottish fiddle player and dance band leader; some of his recordings, including a version of The Dashing White Sergeant with the »Remmerts of Herford« tune as an alternative, have recently been re-issued on a compilation CD (»Scottish Sounds of Yesteryear, Volume 2«, from Beracah Music).

Herford is a town in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. »Remmert« is a fairly plausible German family name, and indeed the Herford local telephone book includes 20 entries for people or businesses named »Remmert«. We have no information about the connection between any of those people and Hamish Menzies.

The alternative title »Hamish's Tune« is said to go back to Andrew Rankine, who when recording the dance on his album, »Barn Yard Party«, couldn't remember the original title, only the composer's name.

Thanks to Mike Briggs for doing most of the leg-work on this one.


answered 31 Oct '11, 19:12

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Asked: 31 Oct '11, 19:03

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Last updated: 19 Nov '11, 21:14

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