The Highlands Of Banffshire strathspey

Also known as The Braes Of Banffshire, Braigh Bhanbh, The Highland Of Banffshire.

There are 12 recordings of a tune by this name.

A tune by this name has been recorded together with Carnie’s Canter (a few times), Mrs Gordon Of Knockespoch (a few times) and Reichswall Forest (a few times).

The Highlands Of Banffshire has been added to 23 tunebooks.

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One setting

X: 1
T: The Highlands Of Banffshire
R: strathspey
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Fmaj
d|c<F c>B A>F F<f|c<F c>B A2 A>f|c<F c>B A<F c>A|B>G _E/F/G/_A/ B2B:|
b|a>fc>f A<fc<b|a<f c>B A2 A>b|a>f c<f A<fc<A|B>G _E/F/G/_A/ B2 B>b|
a>f c<f A<fc<b|a<f c>B A>B cf/g/|(3afa (3geg (3fed (3cBA|B>G _E/F/G/_A/ B2B||

Nine comments

The Highlands of Banffshire

2nd in the set on track 7 of Alasdair Fraser’s ‘Return to Kintail’ CD. I really like this set, though fiddle and guitar (Tony McManus) aren’t quite together the triplets in the penultimate bar.

A.F. plays triplets the 3rd time through, rather than the strathspey dotted rhythm.

I got the ABC from Fiddler’s Companion, as it fitted the version on ‘Return to Kintail’ pretty well.

“The Highlands Of Banffshire”.

More info, shamelessly copied and pasted from Fiddlers’ Companion:

HIGHLANDS OF BANFFSHIRE, THE (Braigh Bhanbh). Scottish, English; Strathspey. England, Northumberland. F Major (Athole, Fraser, Hunter, Kerr, Skinner, Skye): G Major (Hall & Stafford, Johnson). Standard tuning. AAB (Athole, Fraser, Hall & Stafford, Hunter, Johnson, Skinner, Skye): AABB’ (Kerr). MacDonald’s (The Skye Collection) source for the tune was Captain Simon Fraser’s Knockie Collection, and the editor notes it can be found in the Inverness Collection, where the composition is also attributed to Capt. Fraser. Lowe also believes the tune originated with Fraser, though he notes Fraser himself did not claim it in his collection. Banffshire is located in the North East of Scotland between Aberdeenshire, Moray and Inverness. "The Highlands of Banffshire, extending south of the Spey, have been long famous for the best dancers of the strathspeys, which must have been well performed to inspire them sufficiently. In this district also lie the most picturesque scenery, the finest sporting grounds and deer forests, perhaps in Great Britain, belonging to the Duke of Gordon, Earl of Fife, &c., long inaccessible to strangers, from the badness of the roads, and want of bridges" (Fraser). Scottish violinist J. Scott Skinner added variations to Fraser’########. Fraser (The Airs and Melodies Peculiar to the Highlands of Scotland and the Isles), 1874; No. 35, pg. 12. Hall & Stafford (Charlton Memorial Tune Book), 1974; pg. 38. Henderson (Flowers of Scottish Melody), 1935. Johnson (Kitchen Musician No. 10: Airs & Melodies of Scotland’s Past), 1992 (revised 2001); pg. 8. Kerr (Merry Melodies), vol. 2; No. 193, pg. 22. MacDonald (The Skye Collection), 1887; pg. 161. Skinner (The Scottish Violinist), pg. 15. Skinner (Harp and Claymore), 1904; pg. 123. Stewart-Robertson (The Athole Collection), 1884; pg. 216. Culburnie COL 113D, Aladair Fraser & Tony McManus – “Return to Kintail” (1999). Rounder Records 7052, Buddy MacMaster – “The Cape Breton Tradition” (2003).

Who wrote this tune?

Re: The Highlands Of Banffshire

Quite a popular strathspey in Cape Breton; I would describe the key as F mixolydian other than F major…don’t know why none of the collectors transcribed it that way…

Re: The Highlands Of Banffshire

"don’t know why none of the collectors transcribed it that way…"

Well, you don’t get that choice when submitting a tune.

Re: The Highlands Of Banffshire

Sorry, Nigel. I was unclear. According to the Traditional Tune Archive, most of the collections transcribed it in major rather than mixolydian, e.g., Andrew Kuntz’s ABC rendering of the version from the Athole Collection. That’s what I was referring to.

Re: The Highlands Of Banffshire

I see - sorry. However, I would be interested to know of any collection before 1960 which categorised tunes in modes. I can’t think of any; I’ll have a quick look…

I’ve had a very quick look and I haven’t found any collection which mentions modes. Interesting.

Re: The Highlands Of Banffshire

I’ve had another quick look and come up with:
Historical Memoirs of the Irish Bards (1786) - which talks of the modes in terms of psalms and hymns.
Ancient Scottish Melodies (1838) - which explores Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Hypo-Dorian, etc relating to tunes from an manuscript from the time of King James VI
The Song Lore of Ireland (1910) - which mentions Mixolydian and Hypodorian.

I’m sure there are more books which talk about modes, but I can’t think of any collection which use modes in the same way we might do today.

Re: The Highlands Of Banffshire

Fair enough, Nigel. However (and note that I’m blind and don’t read tunebooks much), I’m assuming that in Gow’s collections or the Athole and Skye collections, etc., you could notate a tune in, say, A dorian by using the key signature of 1 sharp, as for G major. So it’s interesting to me why none of the books seem to use a key signature of 2 flats for this tune to put it in Fmix, when there are already lots of B-flat tunes around.