Sail Her ower da Raft Trees

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X:1 % T:Sail Her ower da Raft Trees M:C L:1/8 B:Anderson & Swing - Haand Me Doon da Fiddle (1978) R:Shetland Reel K:G (D2|:G2) (BG) AGB(G|DG)BG G(gfg)|G2 (BG) AGB(G|G,A,)B,C D(cBA)| G2 (BG) AGB(G|DG)BG G(gfg)|(3ddd [df]d d2 (cB)|AGAB cBAF-:| |:G2 gg gage|(3ddd [df]d d(gfe)|(3ddd [df]d d2 cB|AGAB cBAF:|]



SAIL HER OWER DA RAFT TREES. AKA - "Sailor Ower da Raft Trees/Rough Trees/Rofftree." AKA and see "Lady Mary Ramsay (1)." Scottish, Shetland Reel. Shetland, Whalsay. G Major. ADae tuning (fiddle). AABB. A traditional Shetland reel from the island of Whalsay which Anderson (1970) notes is a "different version from the one played by the Shetland Fiddlers Society." However, the tune is a reel time setting of the Scottish strathspey "Lady Mary Ramsay (1)," which, like many strathspeys was played as a reel on Shetland (where strathspey playing was rare in the tradition); as researcher Peter Cooke (1986) writes, it was "moulded in the Shetlands to the faster vigorous and choppy bowing action common to Shetland reel playing." The reel version has some age, for Cooke found reference to it in a dialect account dating to 1886 of a fiddler taking his 'throne' at a wedding[1]:

Dan da fluir wis cleared, in cam' Jermy Tarl wi' his posh [i.e. a 'kit', or slender fiddle] an climmed up ipun a aald hyist o' Hendry's 'at wis standin' i' da coarner. He took aff his jacket and hung ipo da back o' da shair 'at we wir pitten up ipo da kyist fur him ta sit on. Dan he set him doon, screwed his pins, an' brook inta 'Da sailor ower da roff tree' lack horra! Faith, he cud wiggle his elbie, n een i' do hael perrishin cud come near him. 'Juist gie him a dram o' da best; pit some o' da young eens ipo da fluir for a rael aald Shetlan' reel, an' dan wait you.

"Lady Mary Ramsay('s) [1]"was originally a Scottish strathspey, There is more than one tune by this title. Source for notated version: Andrew Poleson (Whalsay, Shetland) [Cooke].

Additional notes

Source for notated version: - Arthur Peterson (Shetland) [Anderson & Georgeson]; Andrew Poleson [Cooke].

Printed sources : - Anderson & Georgeson (Da Mirrie Dancers), 1970; p. 26. Anderson and Swift (Haand Me Doon the Fiddle), 1978; No. 41. Cooke (The Fiddle Tradition of the Shetland Isles), 1986; Ex 19, p. 69 and Ex. 60, p. 119.

Recorded sources: - Leader LED-2 052, Forty Fiddlers - "Shetland Fiddlers" (1973).



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  1. Burgess, "Geordie Twatt's Bridal", in Shetland Sketches, 1886, p. 113.