Ewie Wi' the Crooked Horn (1) (The)
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EW(I)E WI' THE CROOKED HORN , THE/MY ("A' Chaora chrom" or "Ard Mhacha"). AKA and see "Bob with the One Horn (2)," "Carron's Reel," "Crooked Horn Ewe (The)," "Ewe Reel (The)," "Kerry Lasses (1) (The)," "Ram with the Crooked Horn (The)." Scottish, Strathspey; Irish, Highland. G Dorian (Athole, Gow): G Minor (Fraser, Hunter, Kerr, Ross): A Minor (Honeyman). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Kerr): AAB (Athole, Fraser, Gow, Hunter, Ross): AABB (Honeyman). The title comes an old song, in both Scots and Gaelic. Perhaps the most famous adaptation of the lyrics is by Reverend John Skinner, set to the tune of "Carron's Reel," although some find his set wanting. Fraser further explains: "This set of the Ewe with the Crooked Horn appears to be a standard, formed a century ago, by three neighboring gentlemen in Nairnshire, eminent performers,--Mr. Rose of Kilravock, Mr. Campbell of Budyet, and Mr. Sutherland of Kinsteary. It may not be generally known, that the Ewe thus celebrated is no other than the 'whisky still, with its crooked horn (distilling tube),' which gave more milk than all the sheep in the country." The following words are from an old Scots version appearing in Chambers' Songs of Scotland prior to Burns.
Ilka ewe comes hame at even (x3)
Crookit hornie bides awa
Ewie wi the crookit horn
May ye never see the morn
Ilka nicht you steal my corn
Ewie wi the crookit horn
Ilka ewie has a lambie (x3)
Crookit hornie she has twa
A the ewes gie milk eneuch (x3)
Crookit horn gies maist of a
Alburger (1983) retells the persistent tale, probably not true, of Niel Gow and this tune: "One (story) concerns a violin which is supposed to have been given to Neil by a London dealer, when Niel was up with the Duke of Atholl. After some discussion the dealer ('said to have been a Mr. Hill') told Neil 'I shall give it you if you play 'The Ewie wi' the Crooked Horn,' in anything like the style in which I heard it in your own country.' Niel played his best, and the dealer presented the violin, 'a veritable 'Gaspar di Salo in Brescia,' to the understandably sceptical Gow, who 'said to his son, 'Come awa, I'm feared he may rue and take it back.'" Niel Gow's own "Cheap Mutton," published in his Fourth Collection (1800), is a simple variation on this tune. Nathaniel Gow printed the melody again in his Sixth Collection (1822), "as sung by Captain Skene R.N.," referring to Alexander Skene, of Lethenty, co. Aberdeen, a Captain in the Royal Navy, "and well known as a beautiful musician." He married a Miss Fordyce of Ayton at Bath in 1814, and died at Edinburgh in 1823. Skene was captain in 1808 of HMS Guerrière (defeated by the USS Constitution in the War of 1812), just after her capture from the French, having been refitted and commissioned into the Royal Navy.
John Glen (1891) thought the earliest printing of the melody was in Robert Ross's 1780 collection (pg. 16), although Bruce Olson finds the melody (under the title "Crooked Horn Ewe") in Rutherford's 24 Country Dances for 1758 (see abc below) and Jack Campin notes it is in the c. 1740 MacFarlane Manuscript in dorian mode under the title "Caora crom (An)." The title also appears in Henry Robson's list of popular Northumbrian song and dance tunes which he published c. 1800. "Ewe/Yowie wi' the crookit horn" is also the name of a Scottish song whose singing was mentioned by Alexander Jaffray in his scketch of the assembly at Aberdeen in 1777 in Recollection of Kingswells. Jaffray gives an account of the various assemblies or country dances and recalls them as convivial affairs:
After the dance, followed a supper, where cheerfulness and good humour prevailed. Those who could sing entertained the company, which remained to a late, or rather early hour...I particularly noticed Mrs. Grant of Caron, a very pleasant sensible woman. Her two songs were "Yowie wi the crookit horn," and "Tibby Fowler in the Glen."
Irish versions appear in reel or hornpipe form (see Ewe with the Crooked Horn (3) (The), but in County Donegal it is popularly played as a highland (see version #5). The title appears in a list of tunes in his repertoire brought by Philip Goodman, the last professional and traditional piper in Farney, Louth, to the Feis Ceoil in Belfast in 1898 (Breathnach, 1997). Paul Cranford remarks the tune is among the favorite strathspeys of Inverness County, Cape Breton, fiddlers.
Source for notated version:
Printed sources: Carlin (The Gow Collection), 1986; No. 55. Fraser (The Airs and Melodies Peculiar to the Highlands of Scotland and the Isles), 1816; No. 19, p. 7. Gow (The First Collection of Niel Gow's Reels), 1784 (revised 1801); p. 9. Gow (Sixth Collection of Strathspey Reels), 1822; pg. 14. Honeyman (Strathspey, Reel and Hornpipe Tutor), 1898; p. 17. Hunter (Fiddle Music of Scotland), 1988; No. 169. Jones [Ed.] (Complete Tutor Violin), c. 1815; p. 8. Kerr (Merry Melodies), vol. 3; No. 187, p. 22. Köhlers’ Violin Repository, Part Third, 1881-1885; p. 230. McGlashan (A Collection of Reels), c. 1786; p. 31 (appears as "Crooked Horn Ewe"). Robert Ross (Choice Collection of Scots Reels or Country Dances & Strathspeys), Edinburgh, 1780; p. 16. Stewart-Robertson (The Athole Collection), 1884; p. 191.
Recorded sources: Culburnie CUL 113D, Alasdair Fraser & Tony MacManus - "Return to Kintail" (1999). Greentrax CDTRAX243, Tony Cuffe - "Sae Will We Yet" (2003). Plant Life PLR017, "The Tannahill Weavers" (1979). Rounder CD 11661-7033-2, Natalie MacMaster - "My Roots are Showing" (2000).