The Left-Handed Fiddler

The Left-Handed Fiddler is a well-known traditional Scottish tune written by James Scott Skinner, who is an iconic Scottish fiddle player from Banchory. (1843-1927) Skinner rose to fame during his time and left a vast legacy of music with his own compositions and collections that are still played widely to this day. Skinner gave himself the nickname “The Strathspey King”. He was quite a character and there’s a good article on him here for further reading. http://www.folkworld.de/25/e/skinner.html

Skinner’s Tune – for George Taylor.

My neighbour David Cumming had heard that Skinner wrote a tune for a relative of his. It was called “The Left-handed Fiddler”. Because he was not familiar with the tune I learnt it for him and recorded another YouTube video. I was pleased Dave liked it and he sent it to his relatives around the world.

The Left-Handed Fiddler

The next day, a relative of his asked if his name was ever mentioned in music scores, “George Taylor”. So I had a quick Google and discovered quite a few things.

George Taylor was a left-handed fiddler who also had a son called George who was also a left-handed fiddler. The author of the tune, Skinner had a father who was also a left-handed fiddler due to an accident that meant he had to relearn and play left handed. There are some who thought that Skinner wrote this tune for his father, but that has been dismissed by reliable sources on the internet who agree it was for George Taylor. https://www.abdn.ac.uk/scottskinner/display.php?ID=JSS0083

J. Murdoch Henderson’s tune – George I. Taylor.

The next morning I then also discovered that there is another tune written for George Taylor, though I’m not clear if it is for the same person, It may be that the father is George Taylor of the tune “Left-Handed Fiddler” and George I. Taylor is the son. In either case, it’s quite exciting in my mind to find this extra gem of musical history.

George I. Taylor – Strathspey

The tune “George I. Taylor” was written by J. Murdoch Henderson, from New Deer (1902-1970) and moved into Aberdeen to teach Maths. He loved to play fiddle but had some difficulties in playing as he injured both wrists in a childhood accident. He collected and wrote many tunes and published them. One of Henderson’s books I am aware of is called “The Flowers of Scottish Melodies”. It’s out of print now and I don’t seem to be able to source a copy. It’s the sort of book that will be lying someone’s house, hidden in a piano stool or in a second-hand shop. George I. Taylor is in this book.

The same time I discovered this tune I become aware that there is an online trend I was not aware of, it was #playastrathspeyday. Well, George I. Taylor is a strathspey. David, of course, wants to hear the tune so I drop what I am doing and learn the tune and upload it to the net. The morning after the official play a strathspey day, but, better late than never. 🙂

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