Rachel Rae

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X:1 T:Raecheal Rea's [sic] M:C| L:1/8 R:Rant B:Archibald Duff – Collection of Strathspey Reels &c. (1794, p. 22) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:D D2 FA d2 AF|d2 fd e2cA|d2 AF B2 GE|A,2 FE FDDE:| d2 df a2 fd|g2 bg e2cA|d2 df a2 fd|A2 fe fddf| d2df a2 fd|gbgb e2 cA|d2 AF B2 GE|A,2 GEFD D2||



RACHEL RAE. AKA - "Raecheal Rea's." AKA and see "Bashful Bachelor (1) (The),” "Courting Them All," "Don't Bother Me," “Jimmy Holmes' Favorite,” "Moving Bog of Allen," “Moving Bog (2) (The),” "Miss Rae's Reel.” Scottish, Reel (cut time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Honeyman, Surenne): AAB (Athole, Duff, Kennedy, Kerr, Raven, Skye): ABB' (Hardie). Attributed often to Scottish fiddler-composer John Lowe, "Rachel Rae" was printed in son Joseph Lowe's Lowe's Collection of Reels, Strathspeys, Jigs, Book 1 (1844–45). Joseph added the footnote: "This favourite reel has been published in many collections, but none have subscribed the Author's name; it was composed by Mr. Lowe's father, many years ago, when he was teaching Dancing in Marykirk, Kincardineshire." MacDonald, in his Skye Collection (1887) opines, "This excellent reel is in Mr. (John) Lowe's best style and very popular." John Lowe of Brechin[1] was a dancing master in Marykirk whose famous reel first appeared in Archibald Duff's Collection of Strathspey Reels &c. (1794) as "Raecheal Rea's Rant."

John was also admitted in 1785 as a Master Shoemaker to the Incorporated Craft of Shoemaking, and married a year later (to Ann Clark) on Dec. 29, 1786. His third son (and fourth child) was the Joseph Lowe (1796–1866) who published a collection of melodies in the 1840's. See also “Archie Menzies” and “Sir David Davidson of Cantray," other famous John Lowe compositions.

Emmerson (1971) poses a class of Scottish reels defined by the rhythm quarter note-two eight notes-quarter note-two eight notes per measure. Tunes in this category include "Rachel Rae," "Wind that Shakes the Barley (The)," "Largo's Fairy Dance," and "Devil Among the Tailors (1) (The)." Bill Hardie (1986) thinks it is a "particularly suitable" tune to follow the triplet close of "Stirling Castle." It has been suggested that the melody of "Rachel Rae" is the basis for the popular American old-time tune "Forked Deer."

Irish derivatives are several, and include "Bashful Bachelor (1) (The),” "Courting Them All," "Don't Bother Me," “Jimmy Holmes' Favorite,” "Moving Bog of Allen," “Moving Bog (2) (The),” and “Danny Meehan's Reel (2),” recorded on Altan’s first album. The tune appears in the large mid-19th century music manuscript collection of County Cork cleric and uilleann piper Canon James Goodman under the title “Miss Rae's Reel” on a page with other Scottish tunes, suggesting a Scottish tune book or manuscript source.


Additional notes



Printed sources : - Cameron's Selection of Violin Music (Glasgow), 1859; p. 15. Archibald Duff (Collection of Strathspey Reels &c.), 1794; p. 22. Hardie (Caledonian Companion), 1986; pg. 23. Honeyman (Strathspey, Reel and Hornpipe Tutor), 1898; p. 7. Hunter (The Fiddle Music of Scotland), 1988; No. 215. Kennedy (Fiddler's Tune-Book, vol. 2), 1954; p. 13. Kerr (Merry Melodies, vol. 1), c. 1880; Set 2, No. 2, p. 4. Laybourn (Köhler's Violin Repository, vol. 1), 1881; p. 93. Joseph Lowe (Lowe's Collection of Reels, Strathspeys and Jigs, book 1), 1844–1845; p. 6. MacDonald (The Skye Collection), 1887; p. 32. Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; p. 178. Stewart-Robertson (The Athole Collection), 1884; p. 89. Surenne (Dance Music of Scotland), 1852; p. 143.

Recorded sources : - Beltona 2103 (78 RPM), Edinburgh Highland Reel and Strathspey Society (1936). Fife Strathspey and Reel Society – “The Fiddle Sounds of Fife” (1980).

See also listing at :
Alan Snyder’s Cape Breton Fiddle Recording Index [1]
Jane Keefer’s Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [2]
Alan Ng’s Irishtune.info [3]
See article on five generations of the Lowe family as dancing masters [4]



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  1. Not to be confused with his son John, Joseph's brother. John Lowe Jr. also was a musician and dancing master in Perth, while Joseph plied the same family trade in Inverness.