Laird o' Drumblair Strathspey (The)

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X:1 % T:Laird o' Drumblair, The M:C L:1/8 R:Strathspey N:(Play with) "Fire and force" C:J. Scott Skinner B:Harp and Claymore Collection (1904) B:The Scottish Violinist (1900) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:A E | {G}[A2A2] c>A [AE]<A c>A | {A}a2 g>a f>ae>c | (3.d.e.f (3.e.f.g (3.a.e.d (3.c.B.A | (3.B.c.d (3.c.B.A (3.G.F.E (3.d.c.B | {G}[A2A2] c>A E<A c>A | {A}a2 g>a f>ae>c | (3.d.e.f (3.e.f.g (3.a.e.d (3.c.B.A | (3GFE (3dcB {G}[A2A2] A || g | {g}a2 e>a c>aA>a | (c/B/A) (e>g) a>A ca | {^a}b2 f>b d>fB>f | (d/cB f>)B {^a}b>B d<b | {g}a2 e<a c>>a A>>a | (c/B/A) e>g a>Ac>A | (3.d.e.f (3.e.f.g (3.a.e.d (3.c.B.A | (3GFE (3dcB {G}[A,2A2A2]-[A,EA]|| "Last"GFE DCB, (A,2 A,) || [E8A8]!fine!!fermata!||



J. Scott Skinner

LAIRD O' DRUMBLAIR STRATHSPEY, THE. Scottish, Strathspey or Schottische. A Major (Alburger, Bain, Brody, Cranford, Emmerson, Phillips, Skinner): G Major (McCutcheon). Standard or AEae (recommended by Skinner in 1904) tunings. AB (Alburger, Hardie, Hunter, Johnson, Skinner): AA'B (Emmerson): AABB (Bain, Brody, Cranford, Phillips): AA'BB' (Perlman). The mansion of Drumblair lies in the Parish of Forgue, on the north-western borders of Aberdeenshire in the North West of Scotland. The tune was composed by J. Scott Skinner (1843–1927) for his friend and benefactor William F. McHardy of Drumblair, who gave Skinner use of a rent-free cottage for many years to support his art. In his autobiography (My Life and Adventures, Wallace Music, 1994) Skinner wrote that McHardy, the Laird, was so impressed with the composition that for the remaining 15 years of his life he sent Skinner a thank-you check at Christmas-time. McHardy could apparently well afford to be magnanimous, for he had made a fortune of over 100,000 pounds in South America with engineering enterprises before returning to live at Forgue near Huntly. The tune is considered one of the finest and most famous of Skinner's 600 compositions, and appears in his Harp and Claymore collection. It was one of the tunes included by him later in his career in the romantically entitled 1921 concert set "Warblings From the Hills." Skinner, writing in his autobiography My Life and Adventures (first serialized in The People's Journal, 1923), described his inspiration for the tune: "Suddenly [one night] a tune, 'pat' and complete, flashed into my head in his honour. I jumped out of bed [looking for music manuscript paper]...but a search produced nothing better than a piece of soap paper, and on this I promptly dashed off 'The Laird o' Drumblair.' And the tune was dispatched as it had been written." "Ye're no' gaun tae send that awfy-like paper tae the Laird," protested his wife, "He'll jist licht his pipe wi' it!" It was sent anyway. Skinner also rendered the same melodic motif as a reel called "Angus Campbell."

Skinner recorded "Gladstone" in 1910 in London with pianist Ethel Stuart, one of a series of Skinner recordings from that session heard by a young Donegal fiddler John Doherty, and added to his own repertory [1].



Additional notes

Source for notated version: - Jean Carignan (Montreal, Canada) [Brody, Phillips]; Bill Hardie (Scotland) [Hunter]; Francis MacDonald (b. 1950, Morell Rear, North-East Kings County, Prince Edward Island) [Perlman]; Winston Fitzgerald (1914–1987, Cape Breton) [Cranford].

Printed sources : - Alburger (Scottish Fiddlers and Their Music), 1982; Ex. 111, p. 187. Bain (50 Fiddle Solos), 1989; p. 13. Brody (Fiddler's Fakebook), 1983; p. 162. Cranford (Winston Fitzgerald: A Collection of Fiddle Tunes), 1997; No. 77, pg. 34. Emmerson (Rantin' Pipe and Tremblin' String), 1971; No. 9, p. 104. Hardie (Caledonian Companion), 1992; p. 73. Hunter (Fiddle Music of Scotland), 1988; No. 134. S. Johnson (A Twenty Year Anniversary Collection), 2003; p. 13. Perlman (The Fiddle Music of Prince Edward Island), 1996; p. 197. Phillips (Fiddle Case Tunebook: British Isles), 1989; p. 33. Skinner (The Scottish Violinist), p. 10. Skinner (Harp and Claymore), 1904; p. 93.

Recorded sources: - Green Linnet SIF 3011, The Bothy Band – "1975" (fiddler Tommy Peoples renders it as a strathspey, then a reel). Green Linnet SIF 3037, Silly Wizard – "Golden, Golden" (1985). June Appal 003, John McCutcheon – "How Can I Keep From Singing" (1975. Learned from Malcolm Dalglish, who learned it from a recording of a Scottish accordion player). Philo 2001, "Jean Carignan" (appears as third tune of "J. Scott Skinner Medley"). Philo 1031, Boys of the Lough – "Lochaber No More." Topic 12T280, J. Scott Skinner – "The Strathspey King."

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]
Hear the tune played by accordion player Chrissie Leatham at Rare Tunes [3] (1st tune in set with "Mrs. MacLeod's", "Fairy Reel (1) (The)" and "Mason's Apron").


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  1. Thomas Caldwell, "Did you hear about the poor old travelling fiddler?’ - The Life and Music of John Doherty", Doctoral Thesis, 2013, pp. 90-91.