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Welcome to The Traditional Tune Archive
The Semantic Index of North American, British and Irish
traditional instrumental music with annotation, formerly known as
The Fiddler's Companion.

April 20 2019  Featured tune:           COUNTESS OF SUTHERLAND

Lady Sutherland, age seventeen, by George Romney

According to W.B. Laybourn (Köhler's Violin Repository, Book 1, 1881) the reel was composed by George Jenkins, a dancing master in London who may or may not have been of Scottish birth. Several writers have pointed out that many of his compositions seem to lack a genuine Scottish idiom. However, Robert Petrie ascribed the composition to Daniel Dow in his Third Collection of Strathspey Reels (1802, p. 24).

On the death of the 18th Earl of Sutherland, William Gordon, without male issue, the title passed to his daughter Elizabeth (1765-1839). She became the 19th Countess of Sutherland only a few weeks after her first birthday, in 1766. She married an Englishman, George Granville Leveson-Gower, Marquis of Stafford, in September, 1785, and later became Duchess when Stafford was created Duke of Sutherland in 1833. Elizabeth was a distinguished artist and painter. Their reputation has been marred by their ill-treatment of tenants in the matter of the Highland clearances, initiated to "improve" their estates by displacing people in favour of sheep. She is said to have pursued the depopulation of her lands with "vigour and cruel thoroughness," so that "her name is still reviled in many homes with Highland connections across the world today." Karl Marx wrote an article condemning her practices, entitled "The Duchess of Sutherland and Slavery" (The People's Paper, March 12, 1853). Artist George Romney painted her portrait in 1782, at age seventeen, three years before she married Leveson-Gower. [George Romney also painted a number of paintings of Emma Hart, Lady Hamilton, for whom see the alternate title of "Countess of Sutherland"].

See also the related Irish reels "Tansey's Favourite (1)," "Bloom of Youth (The)," "Dr. Taylor," "Downshire Reel (The)," and "Gardiner's Favourite (1)." Resercher Conor Ward also finds versions of the tune in the music manuscripts of Patrick O'Farrell (Aughadowry, Ballinamuck, Co. Longford, c. 1870's) as "Highland Bonnet (The)," and in Larry Smyth's MS (Abbeylara, Co. Longford, c. 1900) as "Highland Lament (The)."

COUNTESS OF SUTHERLAND full Score(s) and Annotations and Past Featured Tunes

X:1 T:Countess of Sutherland’s Reel [1] M:C| L:1/8 R:Reel B:Aird – Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 4 (1796, No. 26, p. 10) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion N:Resercher Conor Ward also finds versions of the tune in the music N:manuscripts of Patrick O'Farrell as "The Highland Bonnet" K:D f|Td2 Ad BdAd|GdFd Ee-ef|Td2 Ad Bdbg|faeg fd-d:|| a/b/4c'/4|d'afa gbeg|fadf eA-Aa/b/4c'/4|d'afa gbeg|faeg fdda/b/4c'/4| d'afa gbeg|fadf eAAa|Tb>abc' d'bag|faeg fd-d||

Why TTA Who builds the Archive

Although we are not trained musicologists and make no pretense to the profession, we have tried to apply such professional rigors to this Semantic Abc Web as we have internalized through our own formal and informal education.

This demands the gathering of as much information as possible about folk pieces to attempt to trace tune families, determine origins, influences and patterns of aural/oral transmittal, and to study individual and regional styles of performance.
Many musicians, like ourselves, are simply curious about titles, origins, sources and anecdotes regarding the music they play. Who, for example, can resist the urge to know where the title Blowzabella came from or what it means, or speculating on the motivations for naming a perfectly respectable tune Bloody Oul' Hag, is it Tay Ye Want?
Knowing the history of the melody we play, or at least to have a sense of its historical and social context, makes the tune 'present' in the here and now, and enhances our rendering of it.

Andrew Kuntz & Valerio Pelliccioni

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