Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Duncan Gray

Scottish Country Dance Instruction

DUNCAN GRAY (R8x40) 3C (4C set) John Drewry Rondel Book

1- 8 1s and 2s turn partners RH, set and 1s cast to 2nd place as 2s dance up
9-16 2s+1s+3s dance reel of 3 on sides with 1s crossing down to 3rd place opposite sides (2s out and down to pass 3s - LSh Men's side and RSh Ladies' side)
17-24 1s cross RH, cast RSh round 3rd corner to meet partner and turn LH 1½ times to face 1st corners while 2s+3s set and dance RH across ½ way and chase clockwise to own places
25-32 1s dance ½ diagonal reel of 4 with 1st corners, pass RSh and repeat with 2nd corners 1s ending in 2nd place opposite sides
33-40 3s+1s+2s turn RH and chase clockwise ½ way to own sides

(MINICRIB. Dance crib compiled by Charles Upton, Deeside Caledonian Society, and his successors)


Keith Rose's Crib Diagrams


Dance Instruction Videos

Duncan Gray - Scottish Country Dancing Instruction Video

Dance Information

Duncan Gray is the title of many Scottish poems written by Robert Burns around 1792, sung to a tune by the same name, believed to be composed much earlier by Duncan Gray, a carter in Glasgow.

The tune predates Burns, appearing in the Caledonian Pocket Companion 1751 and in the Scots Musical Museum, 1788 (with an older version of the words).

Here is a transcription taken from the text at the foot of Glen Collection Of Printed Music, Illustrations of the lyric poetry and music of Scotland, page 148-149, c. 1853.

It is generally reported, that this lively air was composed by Duncan Gray, a carter or carman in Glasgow, about the beginning of last century, and that the tune was taken down from his whistling it two or three times to a musician in that city. It is inserted both in Macgibbon and Oswald's Collections.

The comic verses to which it is united in the Museum, beginning "Wearie fa you, Duncan Gray - Ha, ha, the girdin o't," are taken from the old song, with considerable alterations, by Burns. Our poet, however, wrote another exceedingly humorous song to the same tune in December 1792, which is here subjoined. Duncan Gray cam here to woo... Ha, ha, the wooing o't.

Burns, in a letter to Mr George Thomson, dated 4th December 1792, says, "The foregoing I submit, my dear Sir, to your better judgment. Acquit them or condemn them, as seemeth good in your sight. Duncan Gray is that kind of light-horse gallop of an air which precludes sentiment. The ludicrous is its ruling feature."

So we have one poem beginning 'Duncan Gray cam' here to woo' and one beginning 'Wearie fa you, Duncan Gray', however WikiSource adds a third beginning 'Can ye play me Duncan Gray'.

It is worth noting that Robert Burns both collected other peoples material and wrote his own, so there is great difficulty in establishing for sure what material is actually, wholly his.

Robert Burns regularly 'cleaned up' the more suggestive phrases in other peoples material, to make them palatable for a wider audience, however the words to all versions of Duncan Gray leave little to the imagination. Look away now if you are of a sensitive disposition.

The poems are all about a chap called Duncan who is looking for love, around Christmas. He attempts to persuade Maggie but she doesn't seem to want to know.
Duncan really trys his best to impress Maggie but she is still not interested. He's distraught, so fed up with trying he tells her where to go.
Maggie swiftly changes her mind about Duncan. Playing hard to get didn't work, now she's lovesick.
Duncan forgives Maggie, asks her to marry and they settle down to married bliss.

For clarity here, I have renamed all the poems with their first line, they are however all named simply 'Duncan Gray'.


  • Duncan Gray Cam' Here To Woo

Duncan Gray Cam' Here To Woo - Poem

Duncan Gray cam' here to woo,
Ha, ha, the wooing o't,
On blythe Yule nicht, when we were fou,
Ha, ha, the wooing o't;

Duncan Gray Cam' Here To Woo Song - Information Video


  • Weary Fa' You, Duncan Gray

Weary Fa' You, Duncan Gray - Poem

Weary fa' you, Duncan Gray,
Ha, ha, the girdin' o't;
Wae gae by you, Duncan Gray,
Ha, ha, the girdin' o't;

Weary Fa' You, Duncan Gray Song - Information Video


  • Can Ye Play Me Duncan Gray

Can Ye Play Me Duncan Gray - Poem

Can ye play me Duncan Gray,
Ha, ha, the girdin' o't,
O'er the hills an' far awa',
Ha, ha, ha, the girdin' o't.

Can Ye Play Me Duncan Gray Song - Information Video


Duncan Gray, From Inglis Collection Of Printed Music
Duncan Gray, From Inglis Collection Of Printed Music, Composite Music Volume, Caledonian Pocket Companion, Page 8, c. 1747-1760?


Dance information licensed under this Creative Commons Licence 3.0.
Text from this original The Book Of Scottish Song Duncan Gray 2 article on Wikisource.
Text from this original The Book Of Scottish Song Duncan Gray 1 article on Wikisource.
Text from this original Merry Muses of Caledonia/Duncan Gray article on Wikisource.
Image copyright (cropped) https://digital.nls.uk/special-collections-of-printed-music/archive/94596632 under this Creative Commons Licence 4.0.

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