BRIAN BORU’S MARCH – A chord/melody arrangement explained with free downloadable tablature in PDF format
YOU TUBE PERFORMANCE OF BRIAN BORU’S MARCH
Brian Boru’s March is a traditional Irish tune.
Brian Boru was a High King of Ireland who founded the O’Brien dynasty.
In 1969, the song was recorded by The Chieftains. Horslips used it in 1976, as the intro and basis for “Trouble (With a Capital T)” from the album The Book of Invasions
This a tune of great antiquity belonging to the class of tunes known as “clan
marches”, i.e. pieces that are the “property” of a particular family and are closely
associated with that family (the musical analogue to the Scots highland tartan
There is an excellent Wikipedia article on Brian Boru which makes it unnecessary
for me to go into great detail about him here. Born into a family of local chieftains
around 941, he was the “High King” of Ireland at the time of his defeat of the
“Danes” at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014. Prior to his death in that battle, he
established the O’Brien dynasty as successors to the O’Neills. He is sometimes
referred to as “the Emperor of the Irish” from the fact that by the year 1011, all the
regional rulers of Ireland acknowledged Brian’s authority – a situation that might
have had a profound effect on subsequent Irish history if it had lasted.
There are no records actually relating this piece of music to Brian Boru or his any
of his exploits – as “Chief” Francis O’Neill points out, the style of the tune suggests
an origin much later than the 11th Century. That it is clearly in the clan march
tradition, however, cannot be disputed, even if the actual origins of the tune are
lost in the mists of time.
In his Irish Minstrels and Musicians, O’Neill quotes as follows from the journal of
a German traveller named Kohl, who heard Brian Boru’s March performed on the
pipes in County Louth in the mid 1800’s:
“The music of this march is wildly powerful and at the same time melancholy. It is
at once the music of victory and of mourning.”
O’Neill also quotes the poet Thomas Davis, who writes in regards to the music of
the clan marches:
“No enemy speaks slightlingly of Irish music and no friend need fear to boast of it.
Its antique war-tunes … stream and crash upon the ear like the warriors of a
hundred glens meeting, and you are borne with them to battle …
Brian Boru’s March Tablature CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD FREE PDF
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