East Neuk of Fife
X:1 T:East Nook of Fife, The M:C| L:1/8 Q:"Brisk" S:McGibbon - Scots Tunes, book III, p. 89 (1762) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:G D2 | G4G2 Bc | dBGB dBGB | TA4A2(gf) |Te3d (ef g2) | dcBA GABc | dBGB Td3B | ABcd BcAB | G2(E2E2) :| |: dc | B2(G2G2)dc | B2(G2G2)ed | T^c2(A2A2)(fg) | a2(A2A2)Bc | d2G2B2G2 | g2G2d2cB | ABcd BcAB | G2(E2E2) :| |: (D/E/F) | GFG)A (BAB)c | dc"BA" (GAB)G |T(AGA)B (cBc)d | (edcB) (ABc)A | (GFG)A (BAB)c | (dcBA) (GAB)G | ABcd BcAB | G2(E2E2) :| |: ef | T(gfg)d BcdB | T(gfg)d BcdB | T(aga)e ^cdec | (aga)e ^cded | T(gfg)d BcdB | gage (d/c/B/A/) GB | ABcd BcAB | G2(E2E2) :| |: ef | (gab)g (dg)(dg) | bgdg dgbg | (abc')a dada | c'adb abc'a | (bc'd')b gabc' | (d'/c'/b) (d'/c'/b) d'3b | abc'a d'c'ba | g2 (e2e2) :| |: dc | (B/A/G) dG gGdG | (B/A/G) dG gGdG | (^c/B/A) eA aAeA | (c/B/A) eA aAeA | (B/A/G) dG (B/A/G) gG | (B/c/d) (c/d/e) (d/e/f) gG | AB (c/B/A) (d/c/B) (c/B/A) | G2(E2E2) :||
EAST NEUK OF FIFE. Scottish, Country Dance Tune. "East Neuk of Fife" was composed by Scottish cellist-composer James Oswald (c. 1711–1769) and included in his Caledonian Pocket Companion (Bk. 4, 1752) as She griped at the greatest on't<@@@TAG177160@@@> It first appears under the "East Neuk of Fife" title in William McGibbon's (c. 1690–1756) Third Collection (1755) and Robert Bremner's 1759 Scots Tunes (Bremner negotiates the double tonic by using G and A Major in even numbered strains and G and A Minor in odd numbered strains"). Skinner (1904) says: "The 'East Neuk o' Fife' is an example of a kind of tune not unknown in Scottish melody, where the opening is in the major mode, and the close in the minor. Here also reference may be made to the difficulty sometimes experienced in the arranging of tunes that modulate, as it were, from the Tonic (Doh) into the Supertonic (Ray), and back again [Ed.—what is now often referred to as "double-tonic"]. To avoid consecutives, theorists are tempted at times to introduce Dominant chords. This, however, tends to overlay the real character and effect of such passages. In the older class of Strathspeys and Reels this kind of modulation is quite common. Modern composers also use it. In 'The Laird o' Drumblair,' and 'Angus Campbell,' for instance, it is introduced with striking effect." It is still a popular Scots tune today, including the variations which uncharacteristically have survived in the popular repertory (variations were published by Nathaniel Gow in 1823—the first three were recorded by J. Scott Skinner in the first part of the 20th century). The East Neuk of Fife is that part of Scotland's county of Fife that juts into the North Sea and contains the town of St. Andrews, the ancestral home of the game of golf. In the eighteenth century Fife sported a profusion of decaying architectural marvels, a trade in thread, the making of calico, and the shooting of porpoises in the firth for their blubber-oil" (Williamson, 1976). The tune has become associated with a Robert Burns song, though it was not his choice of an air for the words, but rather an editor's substitution (Alburger). Bayard (1981) collected versions of the tune as "Green Grow the Rushes O" or by the floating title (in America) "Over the Hills and Far Away." His march "Snouts and Ears of America (The)," collected from Pennsylvania fiddler Sarah Armstrong, is also a distanced derivative. Johnson (1984) retells an anecdote about the tune which was first published in Murdoch's Fiddle in Scotland, p. 59 (Murdoch learned it from Baillie's grandson): "One day in about 1805, the fiddler Peter (Pate) Baillie of Loanhead, near Edinburgh, was on his way to play at a ball in Fife. The journey involved crossing the Firth of Forth by ferry, and when Baillie boarded the boat at Leith the other passengers noticed the violin he was carrying. As everyone had an hour to kill before the boat reached Burntisland, Baillie was soon holding an impromptu musical session on deck, with the other passengers calling out requests for tunes:
A gentleman asked Pate if he could play the 'East Neuk of Fife' with ten variations, to which the minstrel replied in his homely way: 'Weel, sir, I'll try it'. Off Pate set at a brisk pace with both theme and variations, till the number bargained for was completed. But Pate did not stop here. He dashed into fresh variations of his own improvising, more wonderful than the first, and went on, and on, and on, the gentleman looking at him with astonishment, till at last the fiddler did make a halt. 'Well I declare!' said the gentleman. 'Every one of the variations must have turned out twins since I last heard them!' (pp. 66–67)
The tune has currency among Cape Breton fiddlers, having been popularized by mid-20th century fiddlers Angus Chisholm, Winston Fitzgerald and Arthur Muise. The melody appears listed in only a few musician's music manuscripts of the latter 18th/early 19th centuries: that of fifer John Buttery of the 37th Regiment c. 1797 (also called the John Fife ms.), and in the c. 1785 (p. 114) music manuscript collection of John Sutherland, a pastoral piper from Aberdeenshire.