In My End Is My Beginning

by MacGillivray

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This album, funded by Creative Scotland, is inspired by the words of Mary Queen of Scots. The lyrics are set to dulcitone and embedded with air recorded at many of the places she lived, was imprisoned and died in. With influences from French Chanson, the troubadour tradition and contemporaneous composition by William Byrd, for example, the record showcases lyrics by the doomed hunchback secretary and guitar tutor David Riccio or Rizzio and transposes sonnets and letters by Mary herself. Two pieces 'Quand Vous L'Aimiez' and 'Que Suis-Je Helas?' are in French - Mary Stuart's first language - to capture the exact meaning of her words, while other songs such as 'Dry My Hair, My Feet Are Clean' are influenced by the history and settings of Mary's life. The record, 'In My End is My Beginning' will be accompanied by a poetry publication of 35 sonnets (one for each step she descended on her way to execution) and fifteen minutes of 'chaw ups'; the sonnets chewed, masticated, ground up and spat out for the fifteen minutes her lips were said to move after decapitation. The dulcitone was chosen for two reasons; as a Scottish instrument (made in Glasgow in the 1800s) and for its diamantine, crystal sound in reference to Mary's frequent use of diamond imagery in her work - particularly 'The Diamond Speaks'.

I would like to thank Ian Smith at Creative Scotland, the staff at: Westminster Abbey; Buckingham Palace and the Palace of Holyrood House; Linlithgow Palace; the Talbot Inn, Oundle; the Special Collections, National Library of Scotland; Edinburgh Castle, Abbotsford; Inchmahome Priory; Loch Leven; Jedburgh House and St. Giles' Cathedral. Thanks also to Lady Maxwell Stuart at Traquair House, A.R. Thompson, Ben Chatwin, Dovile Simonyte, Atzi Muramatsu, Crisdean MacDonald, Anonymous Bosch and Cairine MacGillivray.


released February 20, 2019

Lyrics, arrangements, instrumentation and performance by MacGillivray with the exception of bagpipes on Love Is a God! (Rizzio's Bloodstain), performed by Crisdean MacDonald on location in Bonnie Prince Charlie's Cave, Elgol, Isle of Skye. Mixed and co-produced with Ben Chatwin (Talvihorros), Chatwin performs electronica on tracks 6, 7, 9 and 10. With many thanks to Cairine MacGillivray.


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MacGillivray Scotland, UK

MacGillivray is a Scottish poet and musician, signed to Antigen Records and 100 Acre Recordings and published by Bloodaxe, 'The Nine of Diamonds: Surroial Mordantless' 2016 and 'The Last Wolf of Scotland' (2nd edition) Redhen, Los Angeles. MacGillivray has performed with The Fall, Arlo Guthrie, Thurston Moore, Alan Moore, Shirley Collins and many others. ... more

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Track Name: Dry My Hair, My Feet Are Clean
Dry my hair, my feet are clean. Dry my hair, I'll be your queen. And my young fire-blown skeleton, like new born glass is gently quivering, I hold death in my lap, I suckle him, new born lips gently spittling, sweating life from every pore. Dry my hair, my feet are clean. Dry my hair, I'll be your queen. And once my heart had a skeleton, a brave young heart, young fire-blown skeleton, like newborn glass, sugar, open. But flame headed death is now my companion, as we walk barefoot the glass rattling garden, my bled-out, love flushed, young wild skeleton, winter's gaze where flame has broken, burns my tears, my heart outspoken, shaken down red and burning, the fire trees wildly sing. Dry my hair, my feet are clean. Dry my hair, I'll be your queen. Dry my hair, on falling stars. Dry my hair in young death airs.
Track Name: Though Death May Use My Bones As Trophies
Though death may use my bones as trophies, black and sown with tears. Though death may souse the stars in my galaxies, perfume all my fears. I had a young head, full of fresh, sweet flowers, iris, rose bouquet. Flowers pressed in between life's pages, blossoms cut to stem. Though death may use my bones as trophies, black and sown with tears. Though death may souse the stars in my galaxies, perfume all my fears. My face grew pale as my death grew long; shadow cast on a waning moon, though violets fade no fade to my pallor will flush the face of my marble tomb. All my days I've been wandering in wondering, flowers pressed thin and fair. Though death may use my bones as trophies, I alight on air.
Track Name: Haar Cradle Song
Oh my son, go capture the moon, thistles grow wild in your heart.
The haar is gone and with it, the sun, foreign the night, its black art.
I'll turn in my dream, more mother than queen, wait for your breath in the dark.
The stars I fear are born on a tear, the eagle has dust in his eye.
Oh my son, the haar is gone and with it the cold white moon.
But stay asleep, no eagle shall weep til your breath is still in the dawn.
Track Name: Love is a God! (Rizzio's Bloodstain)
Love is A God! By those who feed his fires. Some die for him, others he keeps, shackled in locks and chains.
Track Name: In Dreams that Snow In Dream
My falling court of snow, would you crush a fallen star? Sweet tear struck rivulet, to reveal its dying scent. France I lift your mouth, to the sleep kiss of my eyes, whose flame headed girl danced with the birds in the childhood of her life. I rise by the silver stream, O driftwood of my dream, you have my throne of cold blue flame, when I look back in my sleep. In dreams that snow in dream, mermaids swim my inner fields, I hold my breath, see how they feel in the snowy pass of sea.
Track Name: Quand Vous L'Aimiez
Quand vous l'aimiez, elle usait de froideur. Si vous souffriez pour l'amour. La tristesse de coeur, votre grande ardeur. Ce loyal coeur, tristesse heure.
Qui vient d'aimer de trop d'affection, son doigt montrait la tristesse de coeur. Quand vous l'aimiez.
Trans. When you made love, she lay with cold disdain. If you were suffering the heat of passion. Sadness of the heart, your fervent love. Your loyal heart, sadness hour, that comes from loving with too much feeling, her hand would make heart sadness, when you made love.
Track Name: In Angel's Weed
In angel's weed, I saw a noble Queen above the skies in sphere of crystal light. Who on earth not long before was seen, of diverse heinous crimes to be indict. By false suspect and jealousy of those whom fear had wrought to be her mortal foes.
Track Name: As She Folds Quiet Into Milk
I am god-filled, a storm on its knees. Listing, blind, rescinds. Nothing just the symptom of sky. As she folds quiet into milk, I unfold quiet into death. My blindfold hides churning eyes that beat buttermilk gold. Wet lashes trembling on the mermaid spy. The cockle-shell cuckold, chained to the air.
Track Name: Que Suis-Je Helas?
Lyrics are transposed from the words of Mary Queen of Scots in her final poem, Sonnet Written at Fotheringhay Castle, (trans. Robin Bell)

Que suis-je helas? Et de quoi sert ma vie?
Je ne suis fors qu'un corps prive de coeur,
Une ombre vaine, un objet de malheur
Qui na plus rien que de mourir en vie.

Alas what am I? What use has my life?
I am but a body whose heart's torn away,
A vain shadow, an object of misery
Who has nothing left but death-in-life.

Plus ne me portez, O ennemis, d'envie
A qui n'a plus l'esprit a la grandeur.
J'ai consomme d'excessive douleur
Votre ire en bref de voir assouvie.

O my enemies, set all your envy aside;
I've no more eagerness for high domain;
I've borne too long the burden of my pain
To see your anger swiftly satisfied.

Et vous, amis, qui m'avez tenue chere,
Souvenez-vous que sans coeur et sans sante
Je ne saurais aucune bonne ouevre faire,
Souhaitez donc fin de calamite

And you, my friends who have loved me so true,
Remember, lacking health and heart and peace,
There is nothing worthwhile I can do;
Ask only that my misery should cease

Et que, ici-bas etant assez punie,
J'aie ma part en la joie infinie.

And that, being punished in a world like this,
I have my portion in eternal bliss.

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