Shetland Fiddler (The)

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SHETLAND FIDDLER, THE. Scottish (originally), Irish; Pipe Reel (4/4 time). Scotland, Shetland Islands (?). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The origins of this tune are somewhat obscure. It was published for the Highland pipes in Donald Shaw Ramsay’s The Edcath Collection, vol. 4 (1954), apparently its first appearance in print. Pipe-Major for the Edinburgh City Police Pipe Band, Ramsay only claims credit for arranging the tune, and his source is unknown. Scottish recorded versions date to 1966 (Ian Powrie), and Derek Hoy remembers the tune was in currency in the 1970’s with the Edinburgh Shetland Fiddlers. However, it does not appear in older Shetland collections, nor is it mentioned in older Shetland repertoire. Paul Stewart Cranford (1995) finds this tune related to (or derivative of) a 19th century hornpipe called “<incipit title="load:hawk" width=850 link=" Hornpipe (The)">Hawk Hornpipe (The)</incipit>,” by Tyneside fiddler and composer James Hill (although Hill’s tune is in the key of ‘E’ major). The tune was popularized by the group Altan, from whom the melody has gained some currency throughout Ireland. It is usually now paired with “Leslie's Reel” in County Donegal.

Additional notes

Source for notated version: - Altan, via fiddler Jerry Holland (Inverness, Cape Breton) [Cranford].

Printed sources : - Cranford (Jerry Holland’s), 1995; No. 118, p. 34.

Recorded sources: -Green Linnet SIF-1095, Altan - "Horse with a Heart" (1989. Learned from Derry fiddler Dermot McLaughlin, who brought it home after a trip to the Shetlands). IONA 047, Barra MacNeils – “Traditional Album” (appears as 3rd tune of “Clumsy Lover” set). Nimbus NI 5320, Paula Doohan, Liz Doherty - “Fiddle Sticks: Irish Traditional Music from Donegal” (1991). Odyssey ORCS 1051, Jerry Holland – “Fiddler’s Choice” (1999). EMI CLP 3754, McBains Country Dance Band - "English Folk Dances" (1961).

See also listing at:
Alan Ng's [1]
Alan Snyder's Cape Breton Fiddle Recordings Index [2]

Back to Shetland Fiddler (The)

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