James Scott Skinner’s Music

[Old Scottish Music Contents]

Paul Burns has reproduced in his inimitable way for us some of James Scott Skinner’s Music.

This tune is by James Scott Skinner (5th August, 1843 – 17th March, 1927), who was a Scottish dancing master, violinist, fiddler and composer. He is considered to be one of the most influential fiddlers in Scottish traditional music, and was known as “the Strathspey King”.

He brought us a different tune with his Ballindalloch Castle, and the difference is of stark contrast to William Marshall’s version. The dance scene in Scotland was all about ceilidhs and this was Skinner’s more up-tempo style for dances like the Gay Gordons.

Now we look at three tunes composed by James Scott Skinner.

Tune 1 – The Flower o’ the Quern.  Circa 1884.

A quern is used for grinding corn and it is believed that Skinner meant the Lassies who worked on this process and not the product of flour.

Tune 2 – The Miller O’ Hirn, composed to honour James Johnstone of Banchory. Circa 1881.

Tune 3 – The Auld Wheel Mill, a reel composed by Skinner and is played in a style to imagine the wheel turning for the mill. Circa 1881.

Listen to the music and imagine the lassies at work grinding corn, horses at work ploughing the corn and barley, and the Auld Wheel spinning for the mill.

Paul says; “This tune I recorded a year or two back and I think it is my best ever recording of it. The Flower o the Quern, truly my own arrangement.”

This piece of music was composed by James Skinner and published in 1888. It was composed to compliment Dr Norman McDonald of Ord in Skye and is Titled ‘Scott Skinner’s Compliments to Dr McDonald.’ The tune is played in March tempo.

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