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A Burns Flute Cycle for Alto Flute and Piano or Guitar

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  • Award-winning product
  • Staff Pick

Staff Pick

“This is both lovely and useful!”

Chris Hankin Just Flutes staff member - [email protected]

This really good piece is based around the poetry of Robert Burns and all the movements are gently engaging. The other great thing about it is the fact that there is very little music for alto flute that is pitched at this level. The choice of either piano of guitar for the accompaniment opens up different performance possibilities and there is an additional descant part for C flute which is a little more difficult. There is even a really easy bass line for bass flute! So this is both lovely and useful - a winning combination!

From the Publisher

In his poetry, Robert Burns (1759-1786) depicts mundane scenes with wit, salient perceptiveness and sweet tenderness. Although steeped in his time, Burns’ poems have a universal beauty and poignancy that are timeless. Clara, my daughter, and I always choose a different poem to read on Burns’ Night. We connect especially with their sylvan charm and faunal characters.
‘A Man’s a Man for a’ That’ is particularly special to me. I read it at my father’s memorial service, as he had the qualities advocated by Burns: a character of ‘gowd’ (gold), an honesty devoid of ‘tinsel show’, and he was a ‘man o’ independent mind’ whose mission in life was to bring some ‘Sense and Worth o’er a’ the earth’.
The pastoral imagery of ‘A Rose-Bud by my Early Walk’ expresses tender, I would say parental, love. Burns lyrically depicts a linnet (small finch) who ‘shall see her tender brood, The pride, the pleasure o’ the wood, [in] beauteous blaze upon the day’. As a keen bird-watcher, I particularly enjoy the avian metaphor.
‘The Gard’ner wi’ his Paidle’ conjures an idyllic, bucolic imagery in spring. Burns takes us on an enchanting walk ‘When rosy May comes in wi’ flowers’; where ‘the chrystal waters gently fa’’; and ‘the purple morning starts the hare’.
In the final poem, ‘To a Mouse’, Burns, the poet-farmer, apologises sorrowfully to a ‘tim’rous beastie’ (field mouse) for destroying its little house as ‘crash! the cruel coulter past’. Despite Mousie’s ‘mony a weary nibble’ to construct its home, the ‘poor beastie’ faces a bleak, cold Scottish winter without shelter. Burns, the empathetic poet-philosopher, laments that ‘The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men, Gang aft agley’ (often go awry). Yet it’s more Burns as the compassionate animal-lover and campaigner who moves me: ‘I’m truly sorry man’s dominion, Has broken nature’s social union […] Which makes thee startle At me, thy poor, earth-born companion, An’ fellow-mortal!’

Winner: Newly Published Music Awards 2020

Performance duration (approx): 4'

Difficulty guide: 4-6
Difficulty level, roughly compared to ABRSM exam grades. 0 is total beginner, 9 is advanced (beyond grade 8).


  1. 'A Man's a Man for a' That'
  2. 'A Rose-Bud by my Early Walk'
  3. 'The Gard'ner Wi' His Paidle'
  4. 'To a Mouse'

Item Details

Category: Accompanied Alto Flute Music
Publisher: Forton Music
Publisher's reference: FM838
Our Stock Code: 1459647
Media Type: Paperback - Score and parts (10 pages [score])

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