Highlands of Banffshire (The)

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HIGHLANDS OF BANFFSHIRE, THE (Braigh Bhanbh). Scottish, English, Canadian; Strathspey. Canada, Cape Breton. England, Northumberland. F Major (Athole, Fraser, Hunter, Kerr, Skinner, Skye): G Major (Hall & Stafford, Johnson). Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB (most versions): AABB' (Kerr). MacDonald's (The Skye Collection) source for the tune was Captain Simon Fraser's Knockie Collection, and the editor notes it can be found in the Inverness Collection, where the composition is also attributed to Capt. Fraser. Lowe also believes the tune originated with Fraser, though he notes Fraser himself did not claim it in his collection. Banffshire is located in the North East of Scotland between Aberdeenshire, Moray and Inverness. "The Highlands of Banffshire, extending south of the Spey, have been long famous for the best dancers of the strathspeys, which must have been well performed to inspire them sufficiently. In this district also lie the most picturesque scenery, the finest sporting grounds and deer forests, perhaps in Great Britain, belonging to the Duke of Gordon, Earl of Fife, &c., long inaccessible to strangers, from the badness of the roads, and want of bridges" (Fraser). Scottish violinist J. Scott Skinner added variations to Fraser's melody. See also the similar Northumbrian tune "Black Cock o' Whickham (The)."

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Fraser (The Airs and Melodies Peculiar to the Highlands of Scotland and the Isles), 1816/1874; No. 35, p. 12. Hall & Stafford (Charlton Memorial Tune Book), 1974; p. 38. Henderson (Flowers of Scottish Melody), 1935. Johnson (Kitchen Musician No. 10: Airs & Melodies of Scotland's Past), 1992 (revised 2001); p. 8. Kerr (Merry Melodies), vol. 2; No. 193, p. 22. Köhlers’ Violin Repository vol. 1, 1881; p. 91. MacDonald (The Skye Collection), 1887; p. 161. Moffat (Dance Music of the North), 1908; No. 16, p. 6. Skinner (The Scottish Violinist), 1900; p. 15. Skinner (Harp and Claymore), 1904; p. 123. Stewart-Robertson (The Athole Collection), 1884; p. 216.

Recorded sources: Culburnie COL 113D, Aladair Fraser & Tony McManus - "Return to Kintail" (1999). Rounder Records 7052, Buddy MacMaster - "The Cape Breton Tradition" (2003). Rounder Records 7057, Jerry Holland - "Parlor Music" (2005).

See also listings at:
Alan Snyder's Cape Breton Fiddle Recording Index [1]
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [2]
See Alexander Grant's handwritten manuscript copy of the tune, along with an untitled reel by J. Murdoch Henderson at Am Baile [3]




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