Maggie Brown's Favorite

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MAGGIE BROWN'S FAVORITE. AKA - "Maggie Brown," "Margrett Brown's Favorite," "Margaret Brown's Favorite," "Miss Brown's," "Miss Brown's Fancy (2)," "Miss Margaret Brown (Now Lady Camden)," "Peggy Browne," "Planxty Browne," "Planxty Maggie Brown." Scottish, Irish, English, Canadian, American; Single Jig or Set Dance. USA, New England. Canada, Cape Breton. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB (Cole, Gow, S. Johnson, Miller & Perron, Raven, Silberberg, Sweet): ABB (Harker/Rafferty): AABB (Brody, Allan's): AA'AA"B (Phillips): ABC (Kerr). The tune appears to have been composed by Nathaniel Gow, included with his name in the Gow publications Third Collection of Niel Gow's Reels, 3rd ed. (originally 1792) and Beauties of Niel Gow (1819). It was included under the title "Miss Margret Brown's Favorite" in the former and "Miss Margaret Brown. Now Lady Camden" in the latter. No publications of the "Maggie Brown" tune have been found that predate Nathaniel Gow's (1792).

It is sometimes attributed to the blind Irish harper Turlough O'Carolan (1670-1738), probably due to its appearance in O'Neill's Music of Ireland (1903) under the title "Planxty Browne." Donal O'Sullivan, in his definitive work on Carolan (The Life, Times and Music of an Irish Harper, 1958), inserted the melody as an untitled air (No. 180) in a section of unidentified tunes, but was of the opinion that there was no evidence that it was a genuine work of that bard. "I have failed to trace [the tune] to [it's] source," he says, "whether printed or manuscript. [It's] style resembles that of Carolan, and accordingly it is not improbable that [it] was composed by him. But [O'Neill's "Planxty Browne"] title [is] almost certainly not authentic" [O'Sullivan, 1958, p. 288).

O'Neill may have based his attribution to Carolan on the fact that one Miss Margaret Brown, a real person, was the object the harper's affection for some time. Unfortunately for Carolan, his Maggie Brown married Theobald, Sixth Viscount Mayo, in July, 1702, who incidentally became a great patron of Carolan. The melody is employed for the Scottish song "Twa Bonnie Maidens," about Bonnie Prince Charlie's flight to the Isle of Skye after his defeat, disguised as a woman.

Source for notated version: Cathie Whitesides [Silberberg]; New Jersey flute player Mike Rafferty, born in Ballinakill, Co. Galway, in 1926 [Harker].

Printed sources: Aird (Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 4), 1796; No. 167, p. 63. Brody (Fiddler's Fakebook), 1983; p. 180. Carlin (The Gow Collection), 1986; No. 348 (appears as "Margrett Brown's Favorite"). Cole (1000 Fiddle Tunes), 1940; p. 53. Complete Collection of Carolan's Irish Tunes, 1984; No. 180, p. 123 (Untitled). Gow (Third Collection of Niel Gow's Reels), 3rd ed., 1792; p. 29. Harker (300 Tunes from Mike Rafferty), 2005; No. 295, p. 96. S. Johnson (The Kitchen Musician No. 6: Jigs), 1982 (revised 1989, 2001); p. 10. Kennedy (Fiddler's Tune Book), vol. 2, 1954; p. 40. Kerr (Merry Melodies), vol. 2; No. 304, p. 33. McDermott (Allan's Irish Fiddler), c. 1920’s; No. 110, p. 28. Miller & Perron (New England Fiddler's Repertoire), 1983; No. 50. O'Neill (Krassen), 1976; p. 243. O'Neill (Music of Ireland: 1850 Selections), 1903; No. 692, pg 127. O'Sullivan (Carolan: The Life, Times and Music of an Irish Harper), 1958; No. 180, p. 201 (appears as untitled air). Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes), vol. 2, 1995; p. 371. Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; p. 105. Ryan's Mammoth Collection, 1883; p. 82. Silberberg (Tunes I Learned at Tractor Tavern), 2002; p. 94. Spadaro (10 Cents a Dance), 1980; p. 43 (includes a harmony part). Sweet (Fifer's Delight), 1965/1981; p. 33. Tolman (Nelson Music Collection), 1969; p. 20.

Recorded sources: Alcazar Dance Series FR 204, Rodney Miller - "New England Chestnuts 2" (1981). Cló Iar-Chonnachta CICD 148, Mick Conneely - "Selkie" (2001. Appears as "Planxty Maggie Brown"). Green Linnet 1015, Eugene O'Donnell- "Slow Airs and Set Dances." Rounder 7008, "Jerry Holland." Topic 313, "The Battlefield Band."

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]
Alan Ng's [3]

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