Garey Cottage

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GAREY COTTAGE. Scottish, Strathspey. F Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. "Garey Cottage" was composed by Samson Duncan (1767‑1837), born at Kinclaven. He was an excellent fiddler and played with some of the most famous fiddlers and bands of the time‑‑Niel, Nathaniel and John Gow. He is also the composer of the well-regarded "Perth Assembly" (sometimes "Perthshire Assembly"). Alister Duncan, in his sketches of Niel Gow, writes:

On one occasion at Aberdeen a conceited local musician had said to Niel, "I can play music at first sight but you cannot." Niel was crestfallen at this but his right hand man Samson Duncan instantly challenged the Aberdonian, "I'll bet five shillings I'll write a piece of music you'll not play at first sight." The challenge accepted, Samson wrote a difficult piece high on the shift; this was 'not fair' so when asked to name a tune the Aberdonian said, "I'll tak Niel Gow, the strathspey." Samson Duncan wrote the tune but transposed it from A to Ab. This again was not fair but the referee judged against him. On another occasion Niel and Samson Duncan were having an evening's fiddling at Meiklour where Samson stayed. After they had both played solos Niel asked a listener "Wha's best, Charlie?" "Deed ye're baith guid" was the cautious reply. "Aye," said Niel. "Weel ye ken that Samson's as guid as me; only he has na the fame."

Samson was a miller by trade, and although talented, he did not make his living from his music. He married in November 1802 at Kinclaven, Perthshire, and he and his wife had three sons, John, Peter, and Thomas, and a girl, Janet. In 1802 the family moved to Perth. Son Thomas (1807-1845) was a gifted painter and the "Brightest Ornament" of the Scottish Academy, until his untimely death at the age of 38 from a brain tumor.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Kerr (Merry Melodies), vol. 1; No. 3, p. 14. MacDonald (The Skye Collection), 1887; p. 141. Stewart-Robertson (The Athole Collection), 1884; p. 217.

Recorded sources:




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