Perrie Werrie (The)

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PERRIE WERRIE, THE. AKA – “Peerie Weerie,” "Pirrie Wirrie." AKA and see “Avonmore (The),” "Blackwater Foot," "Blackwater," "Banks of Avonmore (The).” Scottish, Reel. G Mixolydian. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. Perrie or Peerie is dialect in the Shetlands and some parts of the Orkneys, meaning ‘little.’ Its origins are unclear, although the word may have derived from the Norwegian dialect word piren, meaning niggardly or thin. Weer is sometimes used as a superlative of wee or small. In this context the title may mean “the smallest of the small.” The AUP Scots dictionary gives the meaning of the phrase peerie-weerie as a ‘small creature’ and says the it dates from the 19th century, found in Shetland and Perthshire. Irish variants go by the titles “Avonmore (The)” and “Blackwater Foot” or “Blackwater Reel.” Paul Stewart Cranford remarks that Cape Breton fiddler Bill Lamey played the tune with a raised 7th tone, similar in mode to the Irish variants rather than the mixolydian (lowered 7th) mode Scottish settings.

The tune was entered into the large 1840 music manuscript collection of multi-instrumentalist John Rook, of Waverton, near Wigton, Cumbria [1].

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Carlin (The Gow Collection), 1986; No. 459. Cranford (Jerry Holland: The Second Collection), 2000; No. 199, p. 74 (Cape Breton setting). Gow (Complete Repository, Part 2), 1802; pp. 16-17. MacDonald (The Skye Collection), 1887; p. 101. Stewart-Robertson (The Athole Collection), 1884; p. 167.

Recorded sources: Culburnie CUL 113D, Alasdair Fraser & Tony MacManus – “Return to Kintail” (1999. Learned from Cape Breton fiddler Buddy MacMaster). Green Linnett GLCD 1137, Altan - "Island Angel" (1993. Learned from Edinburgh fiddler John Martin). Iona Records, Ossian - "St Kilda Wedding" (1978). Rounder 82161-7032-2, Bill Lamey – “From Cape Breton to Boston and Back: Classic House Sessions of Traditional Cape Breton Music 1956-1977” (2000).

See also listings at:
Hear the tune played by Ossian on youtube.com [2] (2nd tune in set).
Hear the tune played by Altan on youtube.com [3] (2nd tune in set).
Alan Snyder’s Cape Breton Fiddle Recording Index [4]
Jane Keefer’s Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [5]
Alan Ng's Irishtune.info [6]




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