Mhàiri bhàn òg (1) (A)

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MHÀIRI BHÀN ÒG [1], A ("Fair Young Mary" or "Mary Young and Fair"). AKA - "Mary Young and Fair." Scottish, Slow Air (6/8 time). A Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. The tune is the opening to a Gaelic love song written by the celebrated poet Duncan Ban MacIntyre (b. Glenorchy, Argyllshire, 1724) in honor of his wife. The air is traditional, one of the many variants of "Gilderoy (1)," but (according to Simon Fraser) words were written by MacIntyre. MacIntyre was "a Breadalbane man, who published a volume of Gaelic songs; the air was previously known, as sung by the gentlemen alluded to in the prospectus" (Fraser). John Purser says the air is one of the most famous of all Scottish Gaelic love-songs (adding that in addition to her youth and pulchritude, Mary brought talents as a fine whiskey distiller to the union). Emmerson (1971) says this "well-known and beautiful air" has the character of the ancient 'ports' of the harper's repertoire. Martin (2002) says the tune is popular both as a fiddle and pipe solo, and that many versions exist, including one in the Patrick McDonald Collection (1784).

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Fraser (The Airs and Melodies Peculiar to the Highlands of Scotland and the Isles), 1816; No. 47, p. 17. Kerr (Merry Melodies), vol. 1; No. 22, p. 49. Martin (Traditional Scottish Fiddling), 2002; p. 60. Neil (The Scots Fiddle), 1991; No. 157, p. 203.

Recorded sources: Redwing Music RWMCD 5410, Abby Newton - "Castles, Kirks and Caves" (2001).




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