Braes of Mar (1) (The)
X:1 T:Braes of Mar Old Set, The M:D L:1/8 R:Reel B:J. Anderson - Anderson's Budget of Strathspeys, Reels & Country Dances B: for the German Flute or Violin (Edinburgh, 1820, p. 11) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:D (A/G/)|FA A(f/g/) afed|gfed BdBA|FAAf afed|egfa e2d:|| A|(FA)AB (AB)AF|G/G/G G2 GABG|(FA)(AB) (AB)(AF)|GAFd E2 (Da)| (fa).a.b (ab).a.f|g/g/g g2 gabg|(fa).a.b (ab).a.f|gafg e2d|]
BRAES OF MAR , THE. AKA – "Braes o' Mar," "Braes of Marr," "Braes of Mor." AKA and see "Down the Meadows (2)," "Johnny Will You Marry Me," "Lasses of Donnybrook," "Lord MacDonald (1)," "Love Won't You Marry Me?," "Reel des noces," "Sir Alexander McDonald's Reel," "Some Say the Devil's Dead." Scottish, Canadian; Strathspey. Canada; Prince Edward Island, Cape Breton. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB (Gow, Milne): AABB (Athole, Kennedy, Kerr, Skye [Old Set version]): AABB' (Perlman, Skye): AABBC (Cranford/Holland): AABCD (Dunlay & Greenberg/Campbell): AABBCCD (Davie, Martin): AABBCDD (Dunlay and Reich): AABB'CCDD' (Skinner). Attributed to John Coutts of Deeside, and used for the dance the Highland Fling or Highland Schottische. David Baptie (Musical Scotland: Past and Present, 1894) says that he was said to have been a "talented composer...but of his biography little seems to be known" (see also Merry Makers Schottische. James Scott Skinner, in Harp and Claymore (1904), remarks the tune "is almost a parody of "Lord MacDonald's Strathspey" (as printed in MacDonald's Skye Collection). A set of "Braes of Mar" (see "Braes of Marr (2) (The)") appears in the Drummond Castle Manuscript (also called the Duke of Perth MS), in the possession of the Earl of Ancaster (at Drummond Castle) as a country dance; it is inscribed 'A Collection of Country Dances written for the use of his Grace the Duke of Perth by Dav. Young, 1734.' In that MS the title is "Sir Alexander McDonald's Reel." Glen (1891) finds the tune earliest in print in Robert Bremner's 1757 collection, Part 3 (p. 34), where it appears as "Sir Alexander McDonald's Reel."
Imported by Scottish emigrants to the new world, "Braes of Marr" is considered an old tune in the Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, fiddling repertoire. Dunlay & Greenberg mention that one of Buddy MacMaster's aunts recalled that the strathspey was often played by Domhnull Iain an Taillear (Donald John the Tailor) Beaton (1856–1919). The third turn may be of Cape Breton origins. From there it perhaps entered into French-Canadian fiddling repertoire, for Willie Ringuette recorded the melody as a reel in 1927 under the title "Reel des noces." Interestingly, Dunlay & Greenberg report that Cape Breton fiddler Jackie Dunn (in her 1991 Master's thesis "The Sound of Gaelic is in the Fiddler's Music") states the strathspey is known to have Gaelic words and is called "'S Math a Dhannsadh" (It is good to dance). Paul Stewart Cranford (2000) notes that Cape Breton versions are often four parts, although the one he prints (sourced to Mike MacDougall) condenses the 3rd and 4th part into one.
In western Ireland the tune is known as "Johnny Will You Marry Me," and is used for the dance "the Fling;" Irish versions of strathspeys usually are played as reels, without the distinctive dotted rhythm. Set in jig time, an Irish variant is "Kate/Katy Carnery." The melody as "Braes of Marr, a Strathspey" appears in the music manuscript copybook of fiddler John Burks, dated 1821. Although nothing is known of Burks, it appears he may have been from the north of England. French Canadian versions can be found under the titles "Reel des noces," "Belle Catherine (2) (La)" (a different tune the more famous tune by that title) and "Reel de Pius Boudreau."