Spey in Spate (The)
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SPEY IN SPATE (An Tuile sa Spé). AKA and see “John Stewart (1).” Scottish (originally), Irish, Canadian, Reel. Canada, Cape Breton. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). One part (Hunter, Martin & Hughes): AABB (Hinds): AA’BB (Cranford): AA’BB’ (Breathnach). "The Spey in Spate" is a turn-of-the-20th century composition composed by the renowned Scottish concert fiddler and composer James Scott Skinner (1843-1927), who dedicated it to Mrs. MacKenzie Hay (spouse of the President of the Highland Strathspey and Reel Society in London around that time), and included the couplet:
Hail! noble Spey, what barriers can oppose,
Thy headlong course, when swollen Badenoch snows.
Meant to be an evocative work as much as a dance tune, the sheet music has a section labelled "Rinnin' water" near the beginning of the piece, with crescendos towards the end. It does not appear in any of his own volumes of collected compositions, rather, the tune was published on a single sheet  along with his "MacKenzie Hay." Skinner recorded the tune in London around the year 1906 for Beltona Records (77534) issued as "Medley No. 1", which consisted of "MacKenzie Hay," "Johnnie Steele" and "The Spey in Spate." He also included the tune in his 1921 concert set romantically entitled "Warblings From the Hills.”
The Spey in Morayshire is the swiftest-flowing river in Scotland, and a vigorous and impressive sight when in spate. During the “Muckle Spate” of 1829 two of the four arches of the stone bridge over the Spey at Fochabers were carried away by the torrent. The Spey is famous for its angling.
The reel is popular among Irish and Cape Breton fiddlers, as well as Scottish musicians, and has been frequently recorded. "Spey in Spate" was recorded on 78 RPMs by both Cape Breton fiddler Bill Lamey and Irish fiddler Seán Maguire. There is a County Donegal version, played by John Doherty and others, and the tune is well known among fiddlers from that northern region; it has since become part of the greater Irish repertory.