Annotation:Niel Gow's Second Wife (1)

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X:1 T:Neil [sic] Gow's Second Wife [1] M:C L:1/8 R:Strathspey B:Milne – Middleton’s Selection of Strathspeys, Reels &c. for the Violin (1870, p. 33) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:Gmin d|B<GG>B A<FF>A|B<GG>A B>AB<g|B<GG>B A<FF>A|B>B d/c/B/A/ F<BB:| d|B<B(d>B) (f>B)d>B|F<F(A>F) (c>F)A>F|B<B(d>B) (f>B)d>B|g>g b/a/g/f/ d<gg>a| f<D'D'>f e<cc<e| d<BB<d c>BA>G|G<GB<B c<cd<d|(B>G) (B/A/)G/^F/ D<GG|]

NIEL GOW'S SECOND WIFE [1]. AKA and see "Athole Brose," "Bird in the Bush (2) (The)," "Loch Erroch Side," "Mr. MacDonald of Staffa's Strathspey," "Niel Gow's Wife (1)," "Watchmaker (The)." Scottish, Strathspey. G Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Kerr): AAB (Milne). As "Mr. MacDonald of Staffa's Strathspey," the tune is credited to Daniel McLaren of Edinburgh, a native of Taymouth, Perthshire, who published it in 1794 (unfortunately, little else is known of him). It was published several years later by the Gows as "Niel Gow's Wife" and because of that title it is frequently, but probably incorrectly, attributed to Niel Gow. Even so, the tune is not properly called "Niel Gow's Second Wife. The 'Second Wife' title variant refers not only to the second of Niel's two wives (Margaret Urquhart from Perth, whom he married in 1768 and who remained his wife until her death in 1805) but also accommodates the apocryphal story of his fiddle being the famous fiddler-composer's 'second wife' in his affections. An instrument being likened to another lover is an association has been made with other fiddlers as well, and stems from the old saying that the minstrel's 'second wife' was his harp. A somewhat simplified version appears under this title in the music manuscript of John Burks, dated 1821, who may have been from the north of England (photocopy in ed. collection). "Niel Gow's Second Wife" was entered into the music manuscript collection in the possession of curate and fiddler biography:Rev. Luke Donnellan[1] (1878-1952), Oriel region, south Ulster, and a version of the tune was also entered as "Bird in the Bush (2) (The)" into Book 2 of the large c. 1883 music manuscript collection of County Leitrim fiddler and piper biography:Stephen Grier (c. 1824-1894).

Additional notes
Source for notated version : - Rev. Luke Donnellan music manuscript collection [O'Connor].

Printed sources : - Kerr (Kerr's Collection of Reels and Strathspeys), p. 11. Milne (Middleton’s Selection of Strathspeys, Reels &c. for the Violin), 1870; p. 33. O'Connor (The Rose in the Gap), 2018; N0. 87, p. 61.

Recorded sources : - Ron Gonella - "A Tribute to Niel Gow."

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  1. Donnellan researcher Gerry O'Connor came to believe the ms. is not the work of the curate but rather was originally compiled by an unknown but able fiddler over the course of a playing lifetime, probably in the late 19th century. The ms. later came into the possession of Donnellan, who was also a fiddler.