Johnny MacGill

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JOHNNY/JOHNNIE McGILL/MACGILL. AKA and see "Come Under My Plaidie," "Black Rogue (1)," "Life is All Checkered," "Rogaire Dubh (An)," "Before I Was Married (2)," "Billy O'Rourke's Jig (1)," "My Silly Auld Man," "Paddy McNicholas." Scottish & Irish, Jig: American, March. USA, southwestern Pa. G Major (Aird, Bayard, Carlin, Howe, Johnson {1992 & 2003}, Milne, Skye): F Major (Alburger, Athole, Gow, McGlashan, Sharp, Skye): E Flat Major (Emmerson, Johnson). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Emmerson, Johnson): AAB (Sharp): AABB (most versions). "A splendid jig tune" says Collinson (1966). It is generally accepted to have been the composition of Ayrshire musician John MacGill (c. 1707-1760), from Girvin. Besides being a fiddler, he has also been described (by Robert Riddell of Glenriddell, 1794, as the town piper, and, elsewhere, a violincello player (see also Riddell's version under the title "My Silly Auld Man"; Riddell attributes it to MacGill). What is certain is that he was a dancing master in Girvan in 1752 as there is a MS of country dance and reel instructions for his pupils (Alburger, 1983). John MacGill was also said to have been an associate of Ayr fiddler-composer John Riddell (not to be confused with the aforementioned Robert Riddell). The tune was used by Burns for his song "Tibbie Dunbar" ("O, Wilt thou go wi' me, sweet Tibbie Dunbar"), and by Hector Macneil of near Roslin, Midlothian, for "Come Under My Plaidie." John Glen (1891) finds the first appearance of the tune in print in Joshua Campbell's 1778 collection (p. 31). Bayard (1981) called the tune a "fifer's favorite" as well as a popular song and dance tune in slow and quick versions. The tune is properly categorized as a Scotch jig, as its phrases are punctuated in the manner of a Scottish Measure (see Emmerson, 1971, p. 159). The melody is close to the Irish jig "Battering Ram (1) (The)."

John Macpherson Muholland's "Jig of Johnny Macgill (The)" is a similarly-titled jig, but is a different tune with an Irish provenance (according to Mulholland).

Sources for notated versions: Hiram Horner (fifer from Westmoreland and Fayette Counties, Pa., 1944) [Bayard]; Dr. John Turner, director of the Jink and Diddle School of Scottish Fiddling, held yearly in Valle Crucis, North Carolina [Johnson/2003].

Printed sources: Aird (Selections of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 2), 1785; No. 119, p. 44. Alburger (Scottish Fiddlers and Their Music), 1983; Ex. 88, pp. 141-142. Bayard (Dance to the Fiddle), 1981; No. 635, pp. 540-550. Carlin (Master Collection), 1984; No. 168, p. 98. Cole (1000 Fiddle Tunes), 1940; p. 71. Emmerson (Rantin' Pipe and Tremblin' String), 1971; No. 83, p. 160. Gow (Complete Repository, part 1), 1799; p. 28. Graham (Popular Songs of Scotland), 1908; pp. 268-269 (as "Come Under My Plaidie"). Howe (1000 Jigs and Reels), c. 1867; p. 120. Hopkins (American Veteran Fifer), 1902 & 1927; No. 98. Johnson (Scots Musical Museum, vol. 3), 1787-1803; No. 207. S. Johnson (The Kitchen Musician's No. 10: Airs & Melodies of Scotland's Past), vol. 10, 1992 (revised 2001); p. 6. S. Johnson (A Twenty Year Anniversary Collection), 2003; p. 2. McGlashan (Collection of Scots Measures), c. 1780; p. 33 (appears as "Johnny McGill"). MacDonald (The Skye Collection), 1887; p. 175. Milne (Middleton’s Selection of Strathspeys, Reels &c. for the Violin), 1870; p. 47. Stewart-Robertson (The Athole Collection), 1884; p. 141.

Recorded sources: Fiddletree F2580, John Turner – "Fiddling Rogues and Rascals, vol. 1" (1981).

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]




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