Duchess Tree (The)

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DUCHESS TREE, THE. Scottish, "Pastoral" Air (4/4 time). A Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). One part. Composed by J. Scott Skinner (1843-1927) as a song to words by William Martin, and first published in his Logie Collection (1888). Skinner originally composed the melody in the third position on the violin, although it is often played an octave lower in the first position. He wrote the tune on a manuscript [1] c. 1885 and included it in a scrapbook of various tunes, compositions and accompaniments that he presented to Mrs. Barclay of The Gordon Arms Hotel, Keith [see Univ. of Aberdeen's J. Scott Skinner site]. The composer stayed with her after his bankruptcy and breakup of his marriage.

The Duchess Tree was a lime tree in the grounds of Gordon Castle at Fochabers. It spread to vast proportions and, when measured in 1911, had a girth of 17 feet 5 inches and a circumference of 144 yards. Unfortunately, it has not survived. Skinner lived for a time at Fochabers and would have been familiar with it.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Hardie (Caledonian Companion), 1992; p. 79. Martin (Traditional Scottish Fiddling), 2002; p. 33. Skinner (The Scottish Violinist) 1900; p. 86.

Recorded sources:

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