Mr. Forbes Morrison

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MR. FORBES MORRISON. Scottish, Reel. A Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. Composed by Aberdeeshire fiddler-composer Alexander Walker in honor of Mr. Forbes Morrison (1833-1906), who was, according to Hunter (1979), a fiddler and dancing master in Tarves, Aberdeenshire, expert in the use of the Scottish fiddle ornaments of short snap bow and syncopated triplets.

Forbes Morrison participated in a fiddle competition arranged by J. Scott Skinner's elder brother, Alexander 'Sandy' Skinner, as recorded in The Aberdeen Journal of April 23, 1856. Note that composer Alexander Walker was one of the four judges.

Competition of Scottish Music.–On Friday evening [21st April 1856], Mr Skinner gave a musical entertainment, including a competition by violin players from different parts of the country. The entertainment consisted of singing and piano-forte playing by Miss Wilson and Miss M. Wilson–both of whose efforts were very well received. Mr Skinner himself played the solos for which he was recently awarded a prize at Edinburgh, effectively, and to the satisfaction of the audience. For the prizes, 15 competitors entered the lists for reel and strathspey playing, and 8 for slow airs. They were Messrs William Blair and James Blair, Balmoral; Forbes Morrison, Tarves; John Thomson, George Paterson, Peter Milne, John Melvin, Sen., Alexander Adam, J. Nisbet, A. Wilson, John Melvin, Jun., Andrew Henry, and John Smart, Aberdeen; George Gaul, Whitehouse, Tarland; and Mr Hardie, Knockespock. The Judges were Messrs John Marr and William Smith, Aberdeen; Alexander Walker, Castle Newe, Strathdon; and David Mortimer, Birse. The competitors played behind a screen, where they were sufficiently heard by the audience and yet not seen by the Judges. The playing generally was not of so high an order as might have been expected. There were several pretty good reel players, but there were only two or three performers who could lay claim to much ability at slow airs. The first prizeman, however, played admirably. The Judges awarded prizes as follows: –

For Strathspey and Reel–1st prize (Silver Medal), P. Milne, Aberdeen; 2d (Silver Medal), Forbes Morrison, Tarves; 3d (Fiddle Bow), G. Patterson [sic[, Aberdeen; 4th (Merit), A. Henry, do.

For Slow Airs–1st prize (Silver Medal), P. Milne, Aberdeen; 2d (Merit), J. Nisbet, do.

-The after part of the entertainment consisted of the competitors playing before the audience in solo and combination. There was a considerable audience.

See also J. Scott Skinner's composition "Forbes Morrison."

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Walker (A Collection of Strathspeys, Reels, Marches, &c.), 1866; No. 24, p. 9.

Recorded sources:




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