X:1 T:Picnic Reel M:2/4 L:1/8 R:Reel C:George Saunders B:George Saunders - New and Scientific Self-Instructing School for the Violin B:(Providence, R.I., 1847, No. 7, p. 51) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:A A,(A,/C/) E/A,/C/E/|A/C/E/A/ (cTB/A/)|F/A/E/A/ .c/(e/a/f/)|e/c/B/A/ F/A/E/C/| A,(A,/C/) E/A,/C/E/|A/C/E/A/ (cTB/A/)|F/A/E/A/ .c/(e/f/e/)|c/e/B/e/ Az:| |:AA/c/ B/A/F/A/|a/g/a/f/ e/c/B/A/|d/f/c/e/ B/e/A/c/|d/B/c/A/ B/A/F/A/| E/A,/C/E/ A/C/E/A/|d/B/c/A/ B/A/F/A/|E/A/c/f/ e/c/B/A/|EAA z:||
PICNIC (REEL) . AKA and see “Flowing Tide (1) (The),” “Higgins' Best,” “Seventh Regiment.” American (originally), Canadian; Hornpipe or Reel. Canada, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. A Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The tune is associated with Belfast fiddler Sean Maguire, and was a signature tune for Cape Breton fiddler Winston ‘Scotty’ Fitzgerald on a long-running, Sydney, Nova Scotia, based live radio show (Cranford). “Picnic Reel” was learned by many via Ryan’s Mammoth Collection (1883) and its later iteration, Cole’s 1000 Fiddle Tunes (1940), but Seattle fiddler, researcher and publisher Vivian Williams finds the “Picnic Reel” earliest in George Saunders’ tutor entitled New and Scientific Self-Instructing School for the Violin (Providence, R.I., 1847, republished by Oliver Ditson in the 1850’s). Saunders, who billed himself as a “Professor of Music and Dancing,” claims authorship of the reel in the publication. Vivian writes: “I think Saunders probably did compose the tunes he claimed. In his book he seems quite conscientious about marking his tunes with his initials, and leaving the rest unmarked. He comments that he wrote all the cotillion sets himself, and they are all initialed...On the other hand, he didn’t initial any of the standard ‘Contra, Spanish and Fancy Dances’ in the book, including his very idiosyncratic version of ‘Durang’s Hornpipe’, that is very different from the usual ‘book’ versions.”
The alternate title “The Flowing Tide” is a hornpipe setting of the melody, popular among Irish musicians today, although the tune was collected as a hornpipe by the great Chicago compiler Francis O’Neill from fiddler John McElligot and titled “Higgins' Best” (as O'Neill already had a tune called "Higgins' Hornpipe." The Higgins title may stem from the tune’s appearance elsewhere in Ryan’s Mammoth Collection (1883), under the title “7th Regiment” and credited to one Conn. Higgins (about whom nothing is known at this time). Ryan’s Mammoth (1883) was published in Boston by Elias Howe and company, and in an earlier Howe volume (1000 Jigs and Reels, c. 1867), the melody appears in the hornpipe section.