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