Sir David Davidson of Cantray

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SIR DAVID DAVIDSON OF CANTRAY. Scottish, Canadian; Reel (whole time). Canada, Cape Breton. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB (Kerr): AA’B (Cranford). Composed by John Lowe (to whom John Glen credits the compositions “Archie Menzies” and “Rachel Rae”), either the father or brother of the Joseph Lowe who published collections in the 1840's. There were four Lowe brothers born to John Low who did not use an 'e' at the end of his name) of Brechin and his wife, Ann Clark, who married in 1786. She died in May, 1829, with the Perthshire Courier recording that she was "Ann Clark, relict of the late Mr John Lowe, teacher of dancing," indicating she survived John by an unknown number of years. The elder John was also an excellent shoe-maker. The four brothers (there may have been a fifth Lowe son, who died at sea, and a daughter, Ann, born in 1787) followed their father's trade to become dancing masters and musicians in their own right, dispersing to various regions of Scotland. The eldest, also named John (1793-1839), remained in Perth where he opened a dancing school. He also sponsored balls (some in conjunction with his brother Robert) and collaborated in family music publishing projects. John also had a reputation as a fine violinist, as reported in the Perthshire Courier of March 4th, 1830, after a ball in Dundee where he assisted his brother James:

The Music was excellent, Mr John Low, from Perth, being the leader, whose abilities as a player on the violin are well known. We have seldom an opportunity of hearing such music in Dundee as that of the Messrs Lowe, and to their skill in this department no little of their great success as teachers of dancing may fairly be attributed.

The tune is heard in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, fiddle repertoire, as well as Scottish traditional fiddle repertoire. The Battlefield Band recorded a slow version of the tune in the mid-1970’s, influencing for a while the popular tempo of the tune, although the original tempo seems to have been restored in modern sessions. There were two David Davidsons of Cantray, father and son. David Davidson (Sr.), son of William Davidson and Agnes MacKercher, built the estate, purchasing in 1767-8 the lands of Cantray and Croy (in the valley of the Nairn, Inverness-shire) and afterwards adding Clava. This laird married Mary, daughter of George Cuthbert of Castlehill, Sheriff-Substitute of Inverness, and is alluded to in the statistical account of 1842 as "a man of singular sagacity, of most active powers of mind, and practical good sense," and as "a liberal-minded and fatherly landlord." David and Mary’s son was David Davidson (Jr.), of who was born around the year 1788. It was David Davidson (Jr.) who was knighted by King George III. See also “Lady Davidson of Cantray.”

Additional notes

Source for notated version: -

Printed sources : - Cranford (Jerry Holland’s), 1995; No. 106, p. 31. Henderson (Flowers of Scottish Melody), 1935. Kerr (Merry Melodies, vol. 3); No. 14, p. 4. Martin & Hughes (Ho-ro-gheallaidh), 1990; p. 18.

Recorded sources: -Lismore LILP 5099, Ron Gonnella - "Scottish Fiddle Master" (1980). Rounder 82161-7032-2, Bill Lamey – “From Cape Breton to Boston and Back: Classic House Sessions of Traditional Cape Breton Music 1956-1977” (2000). Rounder Records 7057, Jerry Holland – “Parlor Music” (2005). Topic Records 12TS, Alex Green - “The Caledonian Companion” (1975).

See also listings at: Alan Snyder’s Cape Breton Fiddle Recording Index Jane Keefer’s Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources



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