Sir Archibald Dunbar

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X:1 T:Sir Archibald Dunbar M:C| L:1/16 R:Strathspey B:Stewart-Robertson – The Athole Collection (1884) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:D F2|DDD2 F3D G3E =C3E|DDD2 F3D A3DF3D|A3DF3D G3E=C3E| Dd3 A3F DDD2 D2:| |:f2|dd3 f3d g3e=c3e|dd3 f3d a3df3d|1 a3df3d g2e2=c2e2|Dd3 A3F DDD2 D2:| |2 a3df3d g3e=c3e|db3 a3f ddd2 d2||



SIR ARCHIBALD DUNBAR. AKA – “Sir Alexander Dunbar.” Scottish (originally), Canadian; Strathspey (cut time). Canada, Cape Breton. D Mixolydian. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB (Cranford/Holland, Gow): AABB (Perlman, Skye): AABB' (Athole, Kerr). There is a confounding of titles between 'Alexander' and 'Archibald'. The melody was first published as “Sir Alexander Dunbar” in Edinburgh fiddler, composer and bandleader Alexander McGlashan’s 3rd collection (1786). Sir Alexander Dunbar of Northfield (1742-1791) succeeded to the title of 5th baronet Dunbar in 1776. Sir Archibald Dunbar (1772-1847) was his son, and succeeded as 6th baronet. The Dunbar men appeared to have been typical Scottish aristocrats, concerning themselves with hunting, fishing and drinking, however one was truly remarkable. Alexander’s half-brother William Dunbar (1750-1810, by their father’s second wife) was an explorer, merchant, naturalist and astronomer who emigrated to America at the age of 21. Establishing himself as a merchant the increasingly successful Dunbar parlayed himself into a plantation empire along the Mississippi at Baton Rouge and Natchez. A corresponding friend of American President Thomas Jefferson, Dunbar’s scientific achievements became known to the American establishment and Jefferson choose him to lead an expedition into the unexplored Red River territory west of the Mississippi.

The strathspey has been frequently recorded by Cape Breton fiddlers. See another composition for Archibald by William Christie, "Sir Archibald Dunbar of Northfield's Strathspey."

Additional notes

Source for notated version: - Paul MacDonald (b. 1974, Charlottetown, Queens County, Prince Edward Island) [Perlman].

Printed sources : - Cranford (Jerry Holland: The Second Collection), 2000; No. 137, p. 52. Gow (Complete Repository, Part 3), 1806; p. 36. Kerr (Merry Melodies, vol. 2), c. 1880’s; No. 155, p. 18. MacDonald (The Skye Collection), 1887; p. 41. McGlashan (A Collection of Reels), c. 1786; p. 7 (appears as “Sir Alexander Dunbar’s Strathspey”). Perlman (The Fiddle Music of Prince Edward Island), 1996; p. 191. Stewart-Robertson (The Athole Collection), 1884; p. 107.

Recorded sources: -A & M Records 79602 2000-2, Ashley MacIsaac - “Close to the Floor” (1992). Jerry Holland – “Master Cape Breton Fiddler” (1982). Rounder Records 7057, Jerry Holland – “Parlor Music” (2005).

See also listings at:
Alan Snyder’s Cape Breton Fiddle Recording Index [1]



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