The Floating Bow

By John Doherty

Seven comments

John Doherty

Surely one of the most amazingly talented fiddlers to have emerged in Ireland, much of this recording was captured while Doherty was already well-advanced in years and yet the power, fluidity and intricacy of his fiddling belies his age.

From the opening bars of The Spirits Of Wine, through the jaw-dropping technical mastery of floating bow and dragging bow techniques in Miss Patterson’s Slipper, the cheeky Highland Pipes homage of the Enniskillen Dragoons set … artistry of the highest calibre.

And just to prove the point, listen to what Doherty does with that old standard “The Wind That Shakes The Barley”!

Available on Claddagh Records.

And what is bothering me….

Is the Madame Bonaparte played here after the Spirits of Wine really Another tune? I listen… and it sounds just like a typical Doherty Variation on Spirits of Wine…



It’s got a lot of tracks so we have a lot of examples of Doherty’s music. I suppose its an important album to have and certain good for picking up new variations and hearing the roots of tunes played by the likes of Paddy Glackin (who was very influenced by Doherty in his younger days).

Track 7

The march “Willie McLennan’s” on track 7 is clearly an epic variation of J. Scott Skinner’s composition “The Cameron Highlander”. Should link correctly now. Fabulous recording by all accounts.

Willie MacLennan’s March

Does anyone know what the second march is that Doherty plays as part of this? The first is “The Cameron Highlander”. The second is something else that starts something like:

e2||:AAAB cBcd|ef^ga e2cA|ef^ga e2cA|defg dGBG|
A2AB cBcd|ef^ga e2cA|aecA ecdB|c2A2 A2|:|

And a variation goes:

AAAB cBcd|e2f2 e2cA|e2f2 e2cA|d2e2 d2BG|

Etc., etc. Any ideas?

Re: The Floating Bow (Traditional Fiddle Music From Donegal)

Daniel, here’s Dermot McLaughlin’s liner notes on this track.

‘James Scott Skinner’s composition The Cameron Highlander appears to be the inspiration for this march which John develops to include fragments of other marches. His use of phrasing and ornamentation show strong influences from bagpipe music.’

Dermot’s a well-known fiddler from Derry who’s immersed in the Donegal fiddle tradition (and also happens to be married to Frankie Kennedy’s sister Ursula).

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Re: The Floating Bow (Traditional Fiddle Music From Donegal)

@Gonzo I believe I’ve seen that before. Not to disrespect his expertise in any way, but listening to it again it seems that after the initial melody of “Cameron Highlander”, Doherty essentially plays a 2-part march with a few variations. So while the first part would be what I wrote out above, the second part goes something like:

fg|a2cA e2cA|a2cA e2cA|g2BG d2BG|g2BG d2BG|
a2cA e2cA|a2cA e2cA|aecA ecdB|c2A2 A2||

Those 2 parts seem to make up the rest of the march. I was just wondering whether we could collectively figure out which march(es) he used.