Weeping Birches of Kilmorack (The)

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J. Scott Skinner

WEEPING BIRCHES OF KILMORACK, THE. AKA – “Weeping Birches (The).” Scottish, Slow Air (4/4 time). E Flat Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. Composed by J. Scott Skinner [1] (1843–1927) after visiting the site of a tragedy in Scotland with two friends, Donald Morrison and Dr. McDonald, both of Beauly, Inverness-shire. (Skinner dedicated the tune to the latter; the former was an excellent fiddler and owned an ironmongers business. See also Alex "Battan" Grant's strathspey "Donald Morison"). A note in the Cairngorm Series No. 2 explains:

Above the Falls of Kilmorack on the River Beauly is the Pass called the Dhreim whence the river runs through a very deep gorge, and most romantic surroundings. The Birches growing on the river banks are very fine, and are the near relations of those further up the river, at Cannich and Glen Affric, so often painted by MacWhirter.

A Traction Engine, with two trucks, fell from the road a hundred feet into the gorge, causing the death of two men. Curiously most of the Birches within thirty yards of the scene of the accident died, and at the time of Scott Skinner's visit they stood leafless, decaying, and covered with fungi. He suggested they died from fright, and immediately proceeded to put his idea of their emotion into the language of music. Hence The Weeping Birches of Kilmorack.

On Cape Breton the tune is known simply as “The Weeping Birches.”

Source for notated version: Winston Fitzgerald (1914–1987, Cape Breton) [Cranford].

Printed sources: Cranford (Winston Fitzgerald: A Collection of Fiddle Tunes), 1997; No. 222, p. 89. Hunter (The Fiddle Music of Scotland), 1988; No. 64. Skinner (Cairngorm Series No. 2), 1922.

Recorded sources: Alasdair Fraser – "Portrait of a Scottish Fiddler."

See also listing at:
See J. Scott Skinner's handwritten manuscript of the air [2]
Alan Snyder's Cape Breton Fiddle Recordings Index [3]
Hear Alasdair Fraser's recording on youtube.com [4]
Hear Skinner's own recording of his tune [5]
Hear another fiddle version at Tobar an Dualchais [6]

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