The Devil Among The Tailors is used in Scottish Country Dance for The Dashing White Sergeant : accordionists play it at an upper tempo (122) that may not be suitable for the bagpipe.
The name of this tune comes from the game Table/Bar Skittles often called Devil among the Tailors : the game was named this way due to a riot that occurred in 1805 after some London tailors became upset about a satiric play about their craft. The tailors have been dispersed like skittles…
The Reel is a Scottish and Irish dance but also the music that goes with it. It is often played after a strathspey, offering a release of the rhythmic tension of that one.
The score is in 2/2 with a variable tempo, depending on the air, the background and the piper or even on the instrument :
- pipe bands play generally at 83-88 during Championships (even until 96); apart from that, the beat is often higher, near 100.
- soloists play within a range of 89-122; Gordon Duncan also displays many various tempi depending on the air : he's of course one of the fastest (up to 122).
- in Scottish Country Dance (Dashing White Sergeant), with others instruments than the bagpipe, the tempi are frequently higher, between 120 and 128.
Apart from dancing, the melodic structure and the grace notes are decisive to choose a tempo which will respect the musicality : you'll have to try with different values and to take the one that will fit well to the air - it's the most subjective element - and will allow a good clarity of the grace notes - depending of course on the piper skills.
The reels submitted here - with one exception - have been chosen to follow the same beat (94) for being played together during my show : you must keep in mind that it's only an indicative beat, as a working base.
1 - in the Scots Guards « Standard Settings of Pipe Music - vol.1 - page 192 » each part is played only one time; I've chosen to play them two times, providing a total theme of 32 bars, specific to the reels.
2 - sometimes credited to James Scott Skinner (1843-1927), the tune is probably older and is known and played in different parts of the English-speaking world.
The Devil Among The Tailors