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The John Neilson Music Book
A manuscript of tunes hand written by Mr. Neilson, a fiddler living in Cuilhill, Scotland, and others, in 1875. Unlike the usual collections of tunes from many music publishers, it presents a repertoire of tunes actually used by the musicians who wrote the manscript, from which they played dances and entertainments for their friends and neighbors. Suitable for historians of mid to late 19th century popular dancing and fiddle music in Scotland and musicians in general who are interested in music from this period of history.
120 Tunes in Standard Music Notation, with suggested chords. History of the manuscript and of the Cuilhill region of Scotland, and information about dance music of Scotland in the late nineteenth century, history and annotations about the tunes, etc.
Edited and typeset in SCORE from the original hand written manuscript by Vivian Williams.
102 pages, 8.25 X 10.75 inches, soft cover, perfect bound
$20.00 Postpaid within the U.S.
The Story of the Manuscript
The history of the making of the manuscript and of Mr. Neilson and the other musicians who played for it is unknown. Somehow, this manuscript made its way to California, and ended up in the possession of a person in Arcata, California. He donated it to the Victorian Documents collection at the archive of the Fort Steele Historic Park, British Columbia. He allowed a neighbor to make a photocopy of the manuscript before donating it to the archive, and the neighbor sent the photocopy it Vivian. After setting the tunes, Vivian was able to compare her setting directly against the original at the Ft. Steele archive. Several individuals handwritings (tune titles and music notation) appear in the manuscript.
The manuscript contains examples of many of the dance forms popular in Scotland in the late nineteenth century. These include reels, hornpipes, jigs, polkas, marches, waltzes, strathspeys, and country dance tunes. Some of the tunes are well known to present day to Scottish violinists and fiddlers, in general. Others are unknown. The tunes in the manuscript are written as single melody lines, with no harmony parts and only a few chords, which are easily playable as double stops on a violin. Since the violin was the most common dance instrument of the era, and the tunes in the manuscript contain violin fingerings, it can be assumed that the tunes were intended to be played on it. Some of the tunes can be found in published sheet music of the era; others may have been original compositions of the contributors.
This is a rare opportunity to see and share the music that actually was danced to in Victorian era Scotland.
The music from the manuscript has been set in the SCORE music engraving computer program. The original order has been retained. Obvious errors were corrected, while some idiosyncratic notations were left as in the original. This is sometimes a judgment call: one persons error can be another persons alternate setting!
There is nothing authentic about the chords in this book; no chords were written in the manuscript. They are merely suggestions, added by Vivian and Phil Williams, according to their own preferences, in order to make the tunes more immediately accessible to casual players. Musicians should feel free to alter them according to their own taste and skill level and familiarity with Scottish traditions. Some of the mystery tunes may have been original compositions of the contributors. It has not been practical to make an exhaustive search for the probable source of every single tune: there is room for much more research on this subject.
Following is a listing of the tunes in the book, preserving the names and spellings as they appear in the manuscript. The tune names in brackets [ ] were not in the original manuscript, but were discovered by research by the editor. The book includes research notes with the original names of the tunes and their source, where known. Some of the tunes appear in tune books of the nineteeth century and later, some were identified from collections of sheet music of the period and personal knowledge of the editor. Most are relatively unknown to contemporary fiddlers and dance musicians. The tunes run the gamut from relative simple to ones requiring a fairly high degree of technical mastery of the instrument.
Whittel's Celerbeth Clog Hownpipe amarica
Sample pages from the book: (Click on an image below to view the page full size.)
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