Date: 1740 [circa]
Extent: 74 pages
Manuscript of dance tunes, possibly Scottish. Once part of the music library of the Scottish antiquarian Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe (1781-1851) this manuscript along with many other Scottish items was purchased by the Dukes of Buccleuch, and now forms part of the Montagu Music Collection at Boughton House, the Duke’s residence in Kettering, Northamptonshire. The manuscript has been given the erroneous title of the “Hugh Cameron MS”, likely in error after the name inscribed on the front endpaper, which is in fact “Robrt Cameron”, written in a juvenile hand, almost certainly different to that of the musical scribe. On the back endpaper there is a long passage of writing, now only partially legible after having been violently crossed out, but some words can be made out, including the name “Archibald”, the date “21st of febry 1733”, and the words “at a distance like Arthur’s Sate”, likely a reference to Arthur’s Seat, the volcanic hill overlooking Edinburgh.
Whilst the pages of the manuscript remain in good condition, its cheap board binding is falling apart. The binding was clearly partly made from using old music as waste paper, with parts of the original paper now clear through the heavily worn cover.
The manuscript likely belonged to a professional dance musician. It is scored for a solo treble instrument throughout (probably violin), and its 297 pieces largely consist of dance tunes, including a sequence of 159 numbered (but mostly untitled) minuet tunes. Several of the minuets have a subtitle, such as “King of France”, “Storm”, and “Pretty Follies”. Most notable is Minuet 122, “Lochaber”, clearly constructed from the Scots tune “Lochaber No More”. This practice of constructing minuets from triple-time Scots tunes was known from other Scottish sources, including the Gillispie MS of 1768 (GB-En MS 808). The numbered sequence of minuets is followed by a selection of dance tunes with French and English titles, a few Scots airs, and some sonata movements, including pieces by Corelli and Marchand.
The manuscript is almost entirely copied in a single hand, probably that of a professional musician, neat and accurate throughout. Three additional scripts appear: Hand B is probably another professional, and has copied one piece on p. 68 (“Minuet in the opera of Ariedne”); Hand C is far more amateur, appearing for a selection of pieces on pp. 69-71; and Hand D is another messy, amateur script, copying the final untitled tune on p. 74.