Niel Gow

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X:1 T:Niel Gow M:C| L:1/8 Q:"Moderato" B:Aird - Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, B:vol. 5 (1797, No. 1, p. 1) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:G e|d>Bgd eAAe|d>B gd e2 (ef)|(g/f/e/d/) gd eAAe|gedB G2G:| |:A|G<GG<G AEEA|G<GBd g>deg|dgBg AEEf|gedB G2G:|]



NIEL GOW. See also spellings "Neil Gow" and "Neal Gow." Gow himself insisted on the spelling 'Niel' for his name.
AKA – “Neil Gow," "Niel Gow's Reel (2).” AKA and see "Irish Jig", "Keep Your Country Bonnie Lasses" (Shetland) {?}, "New Gun Reel," "Niel Gow's Strathspey." Scottish (originally), English; Strathspey. England; Northumberland, East Anglia. A Major (most versions): G Major (Peacock, Surenne): D Major (Gow). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Surenne): AAB (Athole, Gow): AABB (Carlin/Gow, Honeyman, Kennedy, Kerr, Lowe, Peacock). "Niel Gow" was composed by Edinburgh musician, and music and dance teacher Duncan MacIntyre (c. 1767-c. 1807) and was first printed in his Collection of Slow Airs, Reels & Strathspeys (1794), set as a strathspey. MacIntyre was active in Edinburgh in the latter 19th century, but around 1790 he moved to London and at some point embarked for India, after which he has not been traced.

The tune is often misattributed to the most famous of Scots fiddler-composers, Niel Gow (1727-1807), Dunkeld, Perthshire. It is worth remembering Gow’s wry epitaph, inscribed on his gravestone:

Niel Gow

Gow and Time are Even Now,
Gow Beat Time and Time Beat Gow.

The witticism, however, long predates Niel's death. Richard Baldwin's periodical The London Magazine of October, 1749, printed a few pages of "Humourous Epitaphs", among which can be found (on p. 495):

On Stephen, the Fidler. [sic]
Old Time and Stephen are now even,
Stephen beat Time, and Time has beat Stephen.

Musician William Clarke of Feltwell, Norfolk, East Anglia, entered the tune as "New Gun Reel" in his mid-19th century music manuscript collection, mishearing the title "Niel Gow."


Additional notes



Printed sources : - Carlin (The Gow Collection), 1986; No. 482. Gow (Fourth Collection of Niel Gow’s Reels), 2nd ed., originally 1800; p. 36. Honeyman (Strathspey Reel and Hornpipe Tutor), 1898; p. 34. Kennedy (Traditional Dance Music of Britain and Ireland: Reels and Rants), 1997; No. 149, p. 35. Kerr (Merry Melodies, vol. 2), c. 1880's; No. 9, p. 4. Joseph Lowe (Lowe's Collection of Reels, Strathspeys and Jigs, book 1), 1844–1845; p. 2. Peacock (Favorite collection of tunes with variations adapted for the Northumberland small pipes violin or flute/Peacock’s Tunes), c. 1805; No. 7, p. 2. Stewart_Robertson (The Athole Collection), 1884; p. 15. Surenne (Dance Music of Scotland), 1852; pp. 20-21.






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