Tha bean agam

I have a wife

Music: Sheena Phillips, Words: Trad. Anon

Voicing: SATB

Performance time approx: 0m 55s (sung twice through)

traditional Gaelic words and tune

Price code: A


This piece is part of the set "Mouth music set 1".

The set also includes:

This is a mischievous piece of Gaelic puirt-a-beul (‘poorsht-a-beel’) or mouth music – the name for songs written to accompany dancing. It’s well known in Scotland and presents the musings of a man who would like to go out but needs a clean shirt to go out in; what can he do, he wonders, with the combination of dirty shirt, stream, soap and wife?
Traditionally, puirt-a-beul is sung unaccompanied and in unison but the tunes harmonise very well. Frequently they are sung in sequences of three or four, each song leading without a break into the next. Tha bean agam works well as the first song in the following set of four: Tha bean agam; Chuala mi e; Còta fad air Dòmhnull lòm; ‘S ann an Ile (all published by Canasg).
The piece has not been marked dynamically – feel free to experiment. I would suggest singing it at least twice through in performance so as to give the audience a proper taste of it.

Tha bean agam (I have a wife)

Tha bean agam, tha taigh agam,
Tha allt aig ceann an taighe agam,
Tha bun de shiabun geal agam,
'S mo lèine salach, grannda.
Dè ni mi gun lèine ghlan,
Gun lèine gheal, gun lèine ghlan,
Dè ni mi gun lèine ghlan,
'S mi 'falbh an taigh' a-màireach.
traditional Gaelic song

I have a wife, I have a house
There's a stream by the end of my house
I have a lump of white soap
And my shirt is really dirty!
What will I do for a clean shirt,
For a clean, white shirt?
What will I do for a clean shirt
When I want to go out tomorrow?
Canasg editors

Full pronunciation guide provided

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