Marquis of Huntly's Snuff Mill

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MARQUIS OF HUNTLY'S SNUFF MILL, THE. AKA and see "Lassie would you love me?" "Miss Dallas('s Reel)," "Royal Gift (The)." Scottish, "Very slow" Strathspey. F Major (Davie, Gow): G Major (Anderson). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Hardie): AAB (Alburger, Anderson, Athole, Davie, Gow). Published and claimed by Niel Gow (1727-1806) in his Fourth Collection of 1800, however, the tune is actually a composition of William Marshall's called "Miss Dallas's Reel" (published in his First Collection, 1781) presented in a different key with a few notes altered. The identity problem is charitably thought by some to be not one of outright plagiarism, but perhaps arises from the fact that many of both Gow's and Marshall's tunes were in general circulation long before they were published by each of them. Others believe the plagiarism despicable. Marshall undoubtedly knew of the usurpation of his melody, but there is no record of his pursuing whatever grievances he might have had, if any. Gow gives the alternate title "Royal Gift (The)."

John Glen, ever one to point out instances of the Gows supposed plagiarism, writes in his Glen Collection of Scottish Music (1891):

Nathaniel Gow paid particular attention to Marshall’s work.‘ The Countess of Dalkeith ‘Honest men and bonny lassies' ‘Johnny Pringle' ‘Look before you' ‘Look behind you' ‘The Doctor' ‘The Duchess of Manchester’s Strathspey' and ‘The North Bridge of Edinburgh' were not the names originally bestowed by the composer upon his tunes, but were those given them by Gow, who at the same time suppressed Marshall’s name. Not confining themselves to altering names, the Gows tinkered some of their victim’s tunes. A notorious instance is ‘ Miss Dallas/ which is found in Gow’s fourth collection as ‘ The Marquis of Huntly’s Snuff-Mill,' or the Royal Gift,’ and asserted to be a composition of Neil Gow’s. One or two notes are altered, the main difference being that the tune is lowered one note from G to F major.” Marshall, however, was not the man to give himself much trouble about such treatment. The labour of composition was for him its own reward. He continued writing reels and strathspeys to the end, happy if his melodies gained the approbation of his wife, his severest critic, and of his cultured patrons at the castle. In 1845, after had been twelve years dead, appeared the second volume of his compositions, consisting of 81 airs, jigs, and melodies, named, for the most part, after his own private friends, or the friends of the ducal circle.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Alburger (Scottish Fiddlers and Their Music), 1983; Ex. 68, p. 106. Anderson (Anderson's Budget of Strathspeys, Reels & Country Dances), 1820; p. 22. Carlin (The Gow Collection), 1986; No. 134. Davie (Davie's Caledonian Repository), Aberdeen, 1829-30; p. 28. Gow (Fourth Collection of Niel Gow's Reels), 2nd ed., originally 1800; p. 2. Hardie (Caledonian Companion), 1992; p. 57. Henderson (Flowers of Scottish Melody), 1935. Stewart-Robertson (The Athole Collection), 1884; p. 234.

Recorded sources: The Barra MacNeils - "The Barra MacNeils" (1986). Iain Fraser & Christine Hanson - "Touchwood." TOPIC 12-TS-268, Bill Hardie (accompanied by son Alastair on piano).

See also listing at:
Alan Snyder's Cape Breton Fiddle Recordings Index [1]

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