Annotation:Ayr Races (1)

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X:1 T:Ayr Races [1] M:6/8 L:1/8 R:Jig S:Gow - First Collection of Niel Gow's Reels (1784, revised 1801) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:D (A/4B/4c/)|~d>cB AFA|(DF).A (AF).D|~d>cB AFD|EFA TB2 (A/4B/4c/)| {Bc}d>cB AFA|(DF).A (AF).D|(GB).G (FA).F|EFA TB2:| |:(A/4B/4c/)|~d2(a a)fd|~c2(e e)cA|d2(a a)fd|AFA TB2A| d2(a a)fd|~c2(e e)cA|{Bc}d>cB AFD|(EF).A TB2:||

AYR RACES. AKA - "Air Races." Scottish, Jig (6/8 time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. One of the few enduring compositions by Niel Gow's youngest son, John Gow (1764-1826). He was named for Niel's father, John, a plaid weaver. John went to London in 1788 and established a publishing and music-selling firm with his brother Andrew. They were the English distributor for Nathaniel Gow's publications.

Racing at Ayr, Ayrshire, on the Firth of Clyde, appears to have taken place as early as the 16th century, however, the first official meeting of the Racing Calendar took place in 1777. A special race, the Ayr Gold Cup was instituted in the early 19th century, and won on the first two occasions by Chancellor, in 1804 and 1805. The racecourse is still the premier course in Scotland. The popularity of the venue drew musicians to help entertain at pre- and post- event festivities, sometimes days in advance, and even at the race itself. The following was noted for September, 1805, at the Ayr races:

The company in the race stand were entertained by the celebrated Murphy, Lord Elginton's Piper with many favourite airs on the Irish bagpipe in his best style.

A few years later, in 1809, Murphy published A Collection of Irish Airs and Jiggs with Variations by John Murphy, performer on the Union Pipes at Eglinton Castle. His obituary in 1818 gave: "Mr. John Murphy long celebrated as an eminent professor of the Union pipes. A man steady in friendship and of sound integrity. His loss will be long felt by the admirers of Scots and Irish music" (Edinburgh Evening Courant, Thurs. 15 Oct., 1818,). [Quotations from Brian McCandless, Historical Links among Pastoral, Union and Uillean Bagpipes, 2005].

Additional notes

Printed sources : - Carlin (The Gow Collection), 1986; No. 319. Gow (The First Collection of Niel Gow's Reels), 1784 (revised 1801); p. 33 (appears as "Air Races").

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