Annotation:Caledonia's Wail for Niel Gow Her Favourite Minstrel

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X:1 T:Caledonia's Wail for Niel Gow Her favourite Minstrel T:Caoidh na h-Alb airson Neill Ghobha M:C L:1/8 R:Slow Strathspey S:Simon Fraser Collection (1816/1874) Z:AK/Fiddlers' Companion K:D F|:D<B, B,>C D>EFB|A>FF>E DA,A,(F/E/)|D<B, B,>C D>E Fg|f>d (e/d/)c/d/ B2 (Bc/d/)| D<B, B,>C D>EF>B|A<F F>E D>E/F/ A,(F/E/)|D<B, B,>C D>E Fg|f>d (e/d/)c/d/ (B2B):| f/^a/|b>c' d'>c' b>=af>d|a<f f>e dAAf/^a/|b>c' d'>c' b>a f/^a/b/c/'|d'f (e/d/)(c/e/) B/d/f/d/ B(d/e/)| f[fd'][fd']e/>d/ c[ca][ca]d/>c/|[DB]>c d/c/d/^e/ f[F^A][F^A] D/=E/|[DF][DF][DF] (C/D/) [CE][CE][CE] (D/C/)|B,/C/D/^E/ F<^A, (B,2 B,)||

CALEDONIA'S WAIL FOR NIEL GOW, HER FAVOURITE MINSTREL (Caoidh Na H-alb Airson Neill Ghobha). Scottish, Slow Strathspey. B Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Emmerson, Hunter): AAB (Fraser, Skye): AABB (Skinner). The air was the work of the Scottish fiddler and composer Captain Simon Fraser of Knockie (1773-1852), born at Ardachie near Fort Augustus. Regarding the composer, Hunter (1988) reports that Fraser's contemporary, a fiddler named Captain Macdiarmid, said of him "I never heard anyone make the fiddle speak Gaelic so beautifully." Fraser himself says of his tribute to that most famous of Scots fiddlers, Niel Gow: "This is an effort of the editor's to pay a public tribute of admiration to the memory of that sterling and original genius, Niel Gow, attempted in his own strain. The editor is aware how unnecessary this was, as while there exists any taste for the sprightly national style, brought to such perfection by this individual and his family, his name will live in the models his genius carved out for the cheerful, innocent, and rational amusement of youth; the strain of his music inducing a style of dancing highly conducive to health, athletic agility, and a general elevation of the spirits; and when prudently combined with their juvenile lessons for acquiring a prompt and genteel address, tends to the same effect throughout their advance in years, by giving universal delight. Were this tribute, therefore, worthy of its object, it becomes more due to a self-taught genius, who has rendered it innecessary by bequeathing to posterity so very captivating a memorial of himself. Vide Vignette." The front cover of Fraser's 1816 collection depicts Fingals Cave, a blind harper, and a fiddle player thought by many to be Niel Gow.

The great Scottish fiddler-composer, James Scott Skinner (1843-1927), included the tune in his Harp and Claymore (1904) collection, and appended in his handwriting on the manuscript page below the music: "The above is a beautiful melody."

Additional notes

Printed sources : - Emmerson (Rantin' Pipe and Tremblin' String), 1971; No. 99, p. 177. Fraser (The Airs and Melodies Peculiar to the Highlands of Scotland and the Isles), 1816; No. 148, p. 60. Hunter (The Fiddle Music of Scotland), 1988; No. 15. Köhlers’ Violin Repository Part Third, 1881-1885; p. 288. MacDonald (The Skye Collection), 1887; p. 183. Skinner (Harp and Claymore), 1904; p. 11.

Recorded sources : - AVSA 9865, Jordi Savall - "The Celtic Viol" (2008). Lismor Records, Ron Gonella - "Fiddle Gems" (1976). Scottish Records, Yla Steven - "Back to the Hills" (c. 1977). Rounder Records 82161-7032-2, Bill Lamey - "Full Circle." Rounder 82161-7032-2, Bill Lamey - "From Cape Breton to Boston and Back: Classic House Sessions of Traditional Cape Breton Music 1956-1977" (2000).

See also listing at :
Alan Snyder's Cape Breton Fiddle Recording index [1].

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