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Musical Journeys

Latest update: 3rd Feb 2018

Musical Journeys

Mrs MacLeod

When the Gow family published Mrs McLeod of Raasay in the 5th Collection of Strathspey Reels (1809), they must little have realised that they were unleashing one of the most popular and widespread of traditional tunes. In that book it said "Communicated by Mr McLeod. An original Isle of Skye reel", perhaps suggesting it was old then. A study of how it has changed as it travelled is most interesting.

Scotland: Mrs McLeod of Raasay (traditional)

The Fairy Dance

Like The Fairy Dance this is a tune most people in Scotland recognise from hundreds of weddings, ceilidhs, television and radio programmes, etc. Likewise it's ubiquitous in Ireland and all across the US. It's a favourite at sessions, and extensively used in the dance The Eightsome Reel.

Ireland: Miss McCloud's Reel

Miss McCloud's Reel

The Irish variant of Mrs McCloud - known as Miss McCloud's Reel - is firmly entrenched in the traditional Irish repertoire - every Irish player likely knows it. Notable recordings include ones by Michael Coleman, Sean Maguire, the Donegal fiddlers Johnny and Micky Doherty, Kevin Burke, Michael Gorman and Patsy Tuohey. Other Irish names for it include Cor Ingean Ni Mic Leod and The Enterprising Boxer.

USA: Muskrat Rag

Muskrat Rag

The tune is known in the United States under many titles, such as The Cake's All Dough, Did You Ever See the Devil Uncle Joe?, Hop High Ladies, Hop Light Ladies, Old Mammy Knickerbocker and Walk Jaw Bone. The setting above is based on a 1929 recording by Reese Jarvis and Dick Justice. I can't remember where I learned the one below, but it's similar to quite a few American recordings from the 1920s and 30s.

USA: Did You Ever See the Devil, Uncle Joe?

Grandma Blair

Nigel Gatherer, Crieff, Perthshire |