This set of tunes was arranged for the Huntington Fling, a Scottish Highland dance written by Laura Scott for her spirited Beginning Highland class on Huntington Avenue. It is dedicated to everyone in that class, where this record was born: to Ed Rawson, Bob and Mary Louise Schecter, Richard Lirnbursky, Linda Micheli, Howard Lasnik, Anne Schofield, David Emerson and Pete Fleeson.
Lord Huntly's Cave was written by James Scott Skinner (1843-1927), the most prolific and well known of Scotland's fiddler/composers. The Rocket Hornpipe is a traditional tune learned from the playing of Cape Breton fiddler Joe Cormier, although our performance is not in the Cape Breton style. Cape Breton music is a distinctive style of playing that derived from the playing of the Scottish Highlanders, who emigrated in large numbers to Nova Scotia during the past 200 years.
Mill Mill 0 set
The first four of these tunes are from the Gow Collection, which was published in installments by fiddler and bandleader Nathaniel Gow in and around 1800. Many thanks to Isolde Lamont for sharing with me an original edition of the Gow Collection from about 1810, including Repositories, Beauties, and Vocal collections. The Mill Mill 0 was learned in part from the playing of piper Jamie MacDonald Reid on the Scottish bellows pipes. This tune, from an old song, was used by Robert Burns for a song of his own that he called "The Soldier's Return."
New Claret and Earl of Breadalbane's Hermitage were tunes also found in the Collect,Jn although they are not entirely unknown elsewhere. Ron Gonnella suggests that the B part of the latter tune was inspired by the echoing cascade of water that can be heard in the long mirrored entryway to the Earl of Breadalbane's hermitage.
Bob Johnson's Reel is our interpretation of a transcription by Duncan Smith from a recording by concertina player Alastair Anderson of his interpretation of this tune as it was published in Edinburgh in the 19th century. . . yes, this is folk music!
Laura's Slow Reel
Written for Laura Scott, this tune came about at a time when Laura was using slow reels quite a bit during her
classes and was working on a beautiful solo Highland dance, later called "Flight of the Fair," a dance she performed at Pinewoods 1985 to two slow Cape Breton reels. Laura's Slow Reel won the 1985 Scottish-style composition competition sponsored by the U.S. Scottish Fiddling Revival organization.
Mostly William Marshall
William Marshall (1748-1833) was a masterful Scottish fiddler/composer, a servant to the Duke of Gordon and a self-taught man in music and many other endeavors. Marshall published his own compositions late in life, and all these tunes are taken from Marshall's publications, except for Lady Madelina Sinclair, which is attributed to Marshall only in James Hunter's collection. I owe my feeling for this tune to a performance by Hector MacAndrew.
The Marshall books, as now available, are facsimiles of the originals and not easy to read, so perhaps it isn't surprising that there are some beautiful but little known tunes lurking in their pages. Banks of Spey and Lord John Scott are fine examples of this; discovering them was like mining precious gems. I first heard Mrs. Gordon's Reel on a record by Jock Tamson's Bairns, but went back to Marshall's books for this version.
These three tunes are Highland in style. Barbara and I first learned Lachlann Dubh from a recording by George Jackson and Maggie Macinnes and later found it also in Capt. Simon Fraser's 18th century collection of Highland melodies. Keep It Up was written by Capt. Fraser and is the kind of tune that could be kept up almost endlessly. Lexi McAskill, by Dr. John MacAskill, was learned partly from the playing of fiddler Johnny Cunningham and piper Jimmy Fee, and partly from the dancing of Laura Scott (there is much music to be learned from good dancers), as well as from the written version. Gary's drumming is almost melodic in this arrangement, adding ideas to the tune as well as supporting it.
Ruthie taught us this Danish tune and we found it irresistible. The dance itself is not well known, even in Denmark, but the music dances by itself!