SMM 149 Duncan Davison (‘There was a lass, they ca’d her Meg’)
Duncan Davidson: A Strathspey
Robert Petrie A Second Collection of Strathspey Reels 1796
Ye’ll ay be welcome back again
Robert Bremner A Collection of Scots Reels 1757-61
Though Johnson does not name a source for the tune ‘Duncan Davidson’ (SMM 149), the setting bares a close resemblance to a number of versions for fiddle from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, such as those by Robert Petrie (1796), and in the first volume of the Complete Repository by Niel Gow and Sons (Edinburgh, 1799). The version in SMM maintains many of the features of the fiddle settings: a frequent use of dotted rhythms, a wide range from d’ to a’’, and large leaps of up to a minor seventh in the tune; and a simple, pulsing, four-beat bass-line. The final words of Burns’ song (‘A man may kiss a bony lass, / And ay be welcome backagain’) may refer to Bremner’s version of the tune, which has the alternative title ‘Ye’ll ay be welcome back again’.
In this recording, we have included Robert Petrie’s 1796 strathspey version, with its characteristic back-dotted rhythms, and four in a bar feel; followed by Bremner’s earlier version, in more of a standard reel character, in cut-time with fewer dotted rhythms.
Aaron McGregor, October 2016
Recorded by Neil McDermott
Produced by David McGuinness
Recordings ©2016 Concerto Caledonia
Licensed to University of Glasgow for non-commercial use by the Editing Robert Burns for the 21st Century project, and associated projects