Annotation:Forbes Morrison

Find traditional instrumental music

Back to Forbes Morrison

X:1 T:Forbes Morrison C:J. Scott Skinner M:C L:1/8 R:Strathspey B:Skinner - The Logie Collection (1888, p. 94) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:A d|c<A E>D C>EA,>C|D>FB>A (3Gfe .d/.c/.B|c<A E>D C>E A,>C|(3.D.F.B (3G.E.G {G}(A2A):| g|a<f g>e f>d e>c|d>Bc>A B/c/.d e/f/.g|a<f g>e f>de>A|(3Gfe (3dcB {G}(A2 A>)g| (3afa (3geg f>de>c|d>Bc>A (3Bcd (3efg|(3aga (3efg (3aed (3cBA|(3Gfe (3dcB {G}(A2A)||

FORBES MORRISON. AKA - "Agnes Campbell." Scottish, Strathspey. A Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Hardie, Hunter): AAB (Martin, Skinner). Composed by fiddler-composer and dancing master biography:J. Scott Skinner (1843-1927), it appears in his Logie Collection (1888). It was included as one of the tunes Skinner used in 1921 concert tours in the romantically entitled set "Spey's Fury's." Forbes Morrison (1833-1906), according to Hunter (1979), was a fiddler and dancing master in Tarves, Aberdeenshire, expert in the use of the Scottish fiddle ornaments of short snap bow and syncopated triplets. Purser (1992) states the tune "gives a good idea of the rhythmic vigour characteristic of the Scotch fiddle style (Skinner) so loved, and which was carried on by fiddlers such as James Dickie and John Murdoch Henderson..." Morrison's reputation was enhanced when he placed second to Skinner in the strathspey competition in Inverness in 1863.

Forbes Morrison participated in a fiddle competition arranged by J. Scott Skinner's elder brother, Alexander 'Sandy' Skinner, as recorded in The Aberdeen Journal of April 23, 1856[1]. Note that fiddler-composer Alexander Walker was one of the four judges.

Competition of Scottish Music.–On Friday evening [21st April 1856], Mr Skinner gave a musical entertainment, including a competition by violin players from different parts of the country. The entertainment consisted of singing and piano-forte playing by Miss Wilson and Miss M. Wilson–both of whose efforts were very well received. Mr Skinner himself played the solos for which he was recently awarded a prize at Edinburgh, effectively, and to the satisfaction of the audience. For the prizes, 15 competitors entered the lists for reel and strathspey playing, and 8 for slow airs. They were Messrs William Blair and James Blair, Balmoral; Forbes Morrison, Tarves; John Thomson, George Paterson, Peter Milne, John Melvin, Sen., Alexander Adam, J. Nisbet, A. Wilson, John Melvin, Jun., Andrew Henry, and John Smart, Aberdeen; George Gaul, Whitehouse, Tarland; and Mr Hardie, Knockespock. The Judges were Messrs John Marr and William Smith, Aberdeen; Alexander Walker, Castle Newe, Strathdon; and David Mortimer, Birse. The competitors played behind a screen, where they were sufficiently heard by the audience and yet not seen by the Judges. The playing generally was not of so high an order as might have been expected. There were several pretty good reel players, but there were only two or three performers who could lay claim to much ability at slow airs. The first prizeman, however, played admirably. The Judges awarded prizes as follows: –

For Strathspey and Reel–1st prize (Silver Medal), P. Milne, Aberdeen; 2d (Silver Medal), Forbes Morrison, Tarves; 3d (Fiddle Bow), G. Patterson [sic[, Aberdeen; 4th (Merit), A. Henry, do.

For Slow Airs–1st prize (Silver Medal), P. Milne, Aberdeen; 2d (Merit), J. Nisbet, do.

-The after part of the entertainment consisted of the competitors playing before the audience in solo and combination. There was a considerable audience.

See also Alexander Walker's tune for Forbes, "Mr. Forbes Morrison."

The alternate title for Skinner's strathspey, "Agnes Campbell," comes from County Donegal fiddler Francie Dearg Ó Beirn, who learned the tune in Glasgow while killing a few hours waiting to sail home. He came upon a Scottish fiddler playing the strathspey in the street, and, taken with it, he surreptitiously listened until he had it memorized. Ó Beirn played the tune when he came home, where it became a favorite of a neighbor, Agnes Campbell, and Ó Beirn, having no name for it, rechristened it for her [2].

Additional notes
Source for notated version : - Hector MacAndrew [Martin].

Printed sources : - Hardie (Caledonian Companion), 1992; p. 55. Hunter (Fiddle Music of Scotland), 1988; No. 123. Martin (Ceol na Fidhle, vol. 4), 1991; p. 19. Martin (Traditional Scottish Fiddling), 2002; p. 129. Purser (Scotland's Music), 1992; Ex. 15, p. 238. Skinner (The Logie Collection), 1888; p. 94. Skinner (The Scottish Violinist), 1900; p. 10.

Recorded sources : - Lismor LCOM5017, Ron Gonnella - "Fiddler's Fancy" (). Regal Zonophone G6617 (78 RPM), J. Scott Skinner. Topic 12TS268, "The Music of J. Scott Skinner" (1975). Archie McAllister - "A Fiddler's Tapestry" (2009).

See also listing at :
Alan Snyder's Cape Breton Fiddle Recordings Index [1]
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [2]

Back to Forbes Morrison

(0 votes)

  1. As quoted in Ronnie Gibson's blog entry "Fiddle Competitions", September 13, 2013 [3]
  2. Caoimhín Mac Aoidh, "The Donegal 'Highland' tunes: origins and movement of a dance-driven genre," in Ón gCos go Cluas/From Dancing to Listening, Liz Doherty & Fintan Fallely, eds., Aberdeen, 2019.