These tunes are taken from manuscript obtained from cousin John McKay in Forres and plugged into a music application by Bill, the website author. They were composed by ‘one of the McKay loons or quines’ from Montgrew, and written no doubt for fiddle or piano accordian. No more information currently available.
Ida McKay from Montgrew was musical and apparently played piano well, and Roger played fiddle well (and could knock a tune out of other instruments). They were known for playing together on occasion (Guild meetings perhaps or local dances??) but the other musicians from Roger’s generation are unconfirmed. It is known that Roger’s brother Bill made more than one fiddle in woodwork classes in retirement in Elgin in the 1980’s and the author has heard of Bill’s entertaining prowess with a ukelele in earlier years, so it’s just possible he is another candidate for having written one or more of these tunes.
Another Keith fiddler of some repute was Hebbie (Macrae) Gray (1930-2018), a younger second cousin to Roger. He taught and performed music mostly in and around Morayshire and Banffshire. Hebbie’s grandmother (Elizabeth Newlands) was a sister of Roger’s grandmother (Mary Newlands). He had no direct connection with Growies as far as is known. There was an uncanny facial resemblance in appearance between Roger and Hebbie, some would have said.
Tune 1 – The Hills of Our Country (a March) (click to listen, click to view): The first of half a dozen or so tunes from manuscript. Bill, the website author, put the melody into a music app on computer note by note. Only the melody of the tunes is in the manuscript, so the rest is ad hoc and limited by Bill’s untrained ear, apologies to the musical experts amongst you.
Tune 2 – Strathisla (a March) (click to listen, click here to view): The river Isla runs through Keith and past Montgrew. For the uninitiated, the name Strathisla translates to english as ‘the valley of the Isla’, so good association with Growies. Google the name of the tune and you’ll get a number of references to Keith businesses. Maybe the tune was dedicated to the Strathisla distillery!! Bill has added bass and electric guitar here, also electronically by trial and error without manuscript.
Tune 3 – June (a Waltz) (click to listen, click to view). Again, only melody available, this time ‘played’ by fiddle. Bill added a vamping accordian, bassoon, and a few bars of bass guitar as well as accoustic guitar. Get your dancing pumps ready! Was June a sweetheart of the composer of this waltz ?
Tune 4 – The Muldearie (a Jig) (click to listen, click to view). The Muldearie could be a reference to The Mains of Muldearie farm near Keith, or one of the street names in Keith named after Muldearie, or more likely the Hill of Muldearie itself, lying a couple of miles west of Keith.
Tune 5 – Compliments to Keith (click to listen, click to view). Transcribed for fiddle.
Tune 6 – The Balloch Jig (click to listen, click to view). Transcribed for fiddle. The Balloch is a hill to the south of Keith. Roger and Lizzie climbed the Balloch hill (1200 ft.) on lazy summer afternoons for sport, much as Bill did when holidaying a couple of times at Glen Barry with cousins Jimmy, Mary and Robina Coull (at the croft with uncle Bert and auntie Zena), where the Knock Hill was the target.