X:1 T:Archie Menzies C:John Lowe M:C R:Reel L:1/8 B: Joseph Lowe - Lowe's Collection of Reels, Strathspeys and Jigs, B:book 1 (1844–1845, p. 20) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:F C|~F2 CF (AF)EF|Acde fcAF|G2 DG (BG)DG|Bdef gecA| ~F2 CF (AF)EF|Acde fcAF|BdGB AcFA|GBCE F2F|| e|~f2 cf (af)ef|cfag fedc|~g2 dg (bg)^fg|dgba gfef| cfef afef|cfag fedc|BdGB AcFA|GBCE F2 F||
ARCHIE MENZIE'S REEL. AKA and see "Bells of St. Louis (1) (The)." Scottish, Canadian, New England; Reel. Canada; Ontario, Cape Breton, Prince Edward Island. F Major (most versions): D Major (Bégin, Bohrer/Kibler). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Hunter, Lowe): AABB (most versions). Composed by Scottish musician and dancing master John Lowe, father of the Joseph Lowe who published a collection in 1840, who also wrote the classic tune “Rachel Rae.” Menzies was originally a Norman name, introduced into Scotland in the half-century after the conquest of England by William the Conqueror; it is pronounced in Scotland ‘Minghees’. Lowe may have composed his tune in honor of Archibald Menzies (1754–1842), a Perthshire doctor/surgeon who gained fame as the naturalist attached to a Royal Navy expedition to explore the west coast of America. More likely, the title honors Archibald Menzies, born in Dull, Perthshire, about 1806. Menzies earned a reputation as one of the best strathspey and reel players of his day, taking many prizes at competitions. He played at the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh, for several years until his death in that city in the year 1856 [George Robertson].
A later Archie Menzies, also a fiddler but born in 1846, would have been too young to have been the subject of Lowe's composition. This latter Archibald eventually became first conductor of the Highland Reel and Strathspey Society in 1889. See his composition “Miller of Camserney (The)" for more.
The reel is a very popular tune among Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, fiddlers and has been frequently recorded. Perlman (1996) notes that Prince Edward Island fiddlers often play the ‘b’ flat notes almost natural at several points in the tune. See also the Québec version called “Rêve du Quêteux Tremblay.”