Niel Gow's Second Wife (1)

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NIEL GOW'S SECOND WIFE [1]. AKA and see "Athole Brose," "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).

Source for notated version:

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.

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




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