Mrs. McLeod of Rasay | Bowing Down Home

About this tune

Mrs. McLeod of Rasay has been played on Prince Edward Island for generations. In fact, contemporary newspaper accounts indicate that it was played by competitors at the Great Contest of 1926.

Many of the versions included here depart in various ways from what might be considered the “standard” (tunebook) template. Here are some things to listen for:

Joe Albert: uses an ending on both parts that is more usually associated with Scottish piping tunes

Victor Doucette and Francis MacDonald: each part ends with an extra “flourish” that leads ahead to the following part

Leonard MacDonald: the melody of the low turn is altered to accommodate strong bowing accents, both parts also feature extra flourish

Reg Banks, Lem Jay, and Attwood O’Connor: unusual versions of both high and low turns, both of which also feature extra flouish

Elliott Wight: high turn similar to Banks, Jay, and O’Connor; melody of low turn altered to accommodate strong bowing accents

Elmer Robinson: Extended extra flourishes at the end of each turn; melody of low turn altered to accommodate strong bowing accents

An early appearance for Mrs. McLeod of Rasay in print was in the Gow Collection, vol. 5 (1810), where it was described as having originated on the Isle of Skye. It was then carried through the 19th and early 20th centuries in a succession of popular tune books, notably Lowe’s Collection of Reel`s, Strathspeys, Jigs [. . .] (1844), Kerr’s Merry Melodies (1875), Ryan’s Mammoth Collection, aka 1000 Fiddle Tunes (1882),The Athole Collection (1884), The Skye Collection (1887), and O’Neill’s Music of Ireland (1903). Patsy Tuohy cut an early recording of the tune in 1919; it has since been recorded dozens of times by musicians from the Irish, Scottish, and various North American traditions.

Mrs. McLeod of Rasay has been played in both the keys of G and A throughout its history. Nowadays, most fiddlers from the Scottish, New England, and eastern Canadian traditions line play the tune in A, while most from the Irish and Southern US traditions play it in G. Almost all Island fiddlers play the tune in A, but there is a very similar G-tune in the repertoire, known as The Chaisson Reel.

In the Evangeline region this tune is known by some as Sur la montagne du loup because of its resemblance to the refrain of an Acadian song.

Tune Selections

Albert, Joe - Cotton-Eyed Joe / Mrs. McLeod of Rasay Accompanied by: Ivan Albert, gtr
West Prince
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Banks, Reg - Mrs. McLeod of Rasay Accompanied by: Harry Buell, gtr
Central Kings
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Beairsto, Jimmy - Mrs. McLeod of Rasay Accompanied by: Fred Bertram pno
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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Chipman, Gary - Flowers of Edinburgh / Mrs. McLeod of Rasay Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, bjo
Messer / Maritime
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Desroches, Anastasia - Acadian Reel / Mrs. McLeod of Rasay / Ste. Anne's Reel Accompanied by: Megan Bergeron, pno
New Wave
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Doucette, Victor - Mrs. McLeod of Rasay Accompanied by: Vincent Doucette, gtr; Cathy Doucette, bass
West Prince
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Jay, Lem (from 78s) - Mrs. MacLeod of Rasay / Lord MacDonald's Reel Accompanied by: Roland Jay, pno
Eastern Queens
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MacDonald, Francis - White Cockade / Mrs. McLeod of Rasay Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, bjo
Northeast Kings
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McDonald, Leonard - Mrs. McLeod of Rasay Accompanied by: Margaret Ross MacKinnon, pno; Claire McDonald, gtr
Western Queens
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Morrissey, Johnny - Mrs. McLeod of Rasay Accompanied by: Margaret Ross MacKinnon, pno
Eastern Queens
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Nicholson, Keith - Mrs. McLeod of Rasay Accompanied by: Howard Hancock, gtr; Norman Gillis, bass
Eastern Queens
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O'Connor, Attwood - Mrs. McLeod of Rasay Accompanied by: Stanley Bruce, gtr; Mac MacKinnon, mand; Ken Perlman, bjo
South Kings
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Poirier, Zelie-Anne Arsenault - Mrs. McLeod of Rasay Accompanied by: Jacques Arsenault, gtr
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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Poirier, Zelie-Anne Arsenault - Mrs. McLeod of Rasay (harmonica) Accompanied by: Jacques Arsenault, gtr
Evangeline Coast / East Prince
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Queens & Kings County Fiddlers' Societies - Space Available / Mrs. McLeod of Rasay / Ste. Anne's Reel Accompanied by: Kevin Chaisson, pno
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Robinson, Elmer - Mrs. McLeod of Rasay Accompanied by: John Cousins, gtr; Ken Perlman, bjo
West Prince
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Wight, Elliott - Trip to Windsor / Mrs. McLeod of Rasay Accompanied by: Judy Low, pno
Eastern Queens
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