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 Transcriptions

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 person’s error can be another person’s 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.

The Tunes

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.

London March
The Farries March
My Skiff is On the Shore - Waltz
Lancers Quadrille [Figure 5]
King Pipings Polka
Lilling Polka
Dickey Gossips Hornpipe
Drummond Side Strathspey
Peterburg Reel
Dove Waltz
Why did My Masssey Sell Me Waltz
Harvest Home Hornpipe
Bothwell Polka
Within a Mile of Dublin Reel
[My Boy Tammy]
Jenkins Hornpipe
Dalketh Maiden Bridge
Ballochmyle Brig Strasthspey
Jacksons Morning Brush Jig
Irsh Jig [The Old Horned Sheep]
The Black Haired Girl Reel
Brick Work Lases Reel
Gavatteen Quadrille
Maids on the Green Jig
Plantation Hornpipe
The Nut Country Dance
Don Side Strathspey
Culcuttie Hornpipe
Bochen Logan Strathspey [Drumnagarry]
Queen Victory Country Dance
Lord Macdonald
Cameronian Quadrills No. 1 [Wha Wadna Fecht for Charlie;
Wilt Thou Be My Dearie]
No. 2 [Charlie, Ye Are Welcome]
No. 3 [Logie of Buchan; The De'il's Awa' wi' the Exciseman
No.4 [Lass o' Gowrie; Green Grow the Rashes O]
No, 5 [The Birks of Abergeldie]

Flirtation - Johny Comes Marching Home
Little Drummers Jig
Reel [The Bridge of Garry]
Lough Leven Castle Country Dance
Bogolchan - A Strathspey
Mary Elezaleth Liddle - Strathspey
[Blue Bells of Scotland; Hazeldean]
Oxford Polka
Edwards Delight
Hornpipe [College Hornpipe]
Jig [Rakes of Kildare]
The Rockey Road [to Dublin]
March [Lord Lenox's]
Hownpipe [The Wonder]
Barler Bell Hornpipe [The Barber's Pole]
English Hornpipe
Polka Mazurka
The Original Schottische
Braes O'Mar
New Coined Sovering - Reel
Willie Davie - Country Dance
Old Scotch Songs
Cuckos Nest
The Belfast Polka
Lorn Hornpipe
Earl Grays - Strathspey
Cramon House - Strathspey
Dickie Gossips Hornpipe
Gipsy Hornpipe
Glasgow Hornpipe
John Pringle Stathsay
The Trip to the Cottage - Jig
Clack na Cudin - Strathspay
English Jim Hornpipe
Bob of Fettercarn

Whittel's Celerbeth Clog Hownpipe amarica
Old Bridge of Dee Strathspey
The Speaking Waltz
Rosa Lee Waltz
Marseillaise Hymn
Guracha Waltz
Waltz C. D.
Peirthshire Strathspey
Lases Look Before You Strathspay
The Bottom of the Punch Bowl
The Wife and the Wee Pickle Tow
Captin White - Country Dance
The Duke of Peirth Country Dance
The Duble Jig
Rights of Man - Hornpipe
March [British Grenadiers]
Miss M___s Horpipe [Astley's Hornpipe]
La Vasuvana
Waltz [Hungarian Waltz]
Spanish Dance
The Grand March
[Speed the Plough]
[Jenny Bell Schottische]
Gillie Callum
The Reell of Tulloch
The Lee Rig
[Biodag Air Mac Thomais]
Fishers Hornpipe
The Barry Quadrills N. 1
N. 2
N. 3
N. 4
Barray Quadrilles N. 5
[set of jigs] No. 1st [Light and Airy]
No. 2nd
No. 3rd [The Rover
Work for the Night is Coming


Sample pages from the book: (Click on an image below to view the page full size.)


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