Back to McDonald's Reel
McDONALD'S REEL. AKA and see "Lord MacDonald (4)," "Virginia Reel (1)" (Ford), "Leather Breeches/Leather Britches" and related tunes. Scottish, American, Canadian, Irish; Reel. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. This reel is the American version of the Scottish "Lord MacDonald (4)/Lord MacDonald's Reel", a popular dance tune in North America since post-Colonial times. "Often used for the Virginia Reel," says a note in Ryan's Mammoth, and dance directions were printed with the melody, however its association with the dance Virginia Reel long predates that 1883 volume. It was cited as having been commonly played in Orange County, New York, under the "McDonald's Reel" name for country dances in the 1930's (Lettie Osborn, New York Folklore Quarterly). It appears in a list of the repertoire of Maine fiddler Mellie Dunham; the elderly Dunham was Henry Ford's champion fiddler in the late 1920's. See also "Duke of Perth"/ "Love in a Village (3)" family of tunes, which shares the first strain.
Paul Gifford (Fiddle-L, 7.15.2013), notes that "McDonald's Reel" "...appears in William Blanchard's A Collection of the Most Celebrated Country Dances (Windsor, VT, 1809). I have references to the dance from Michigan and New York State. When (Henry Ford's fiddler Jasper) Bisbee played for a big dance in 1926 at the seat of his home county (Big Rapids, MI), "McDonald's Reel" was on the program. The history of Bisbee's home county, Mecosta County, Michigan, mentions "McDonald's Reel" as one of the dances popular with the pioneers there (so, 1850s)." "McDonld's Reel" was entered into the music manuscript copybook of musician M.E. Eames, frontispiece dated Aug. 22nd, 1859; nothing is known of the fiddler, save that he may have been from Philadelphia (judging from other tunes in the MS).
Source for notated version:
Printed sources: Cole (1000 Fiddle Tunes), 1940; p. 22. Ryan's Mammoth Collection, 1883; p. 46. Sweet (Fifer's Delight), 1965/1981; p. 47. White's Unique Collection, 1896; No. 55, p. 10.
Recorded sources: Edison 51278 (78 RPM), Jasper Bisbee (Michigan), 1923.
See also listing at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources 
Hear Jasper Bisbee's 1923 recording on youtube.com 
Hear a field recording of "McDonald's Reel" played by Manitoba fiddler Lawrence "Teddy Boy" Houle at Anne Lederman's site