A Collection of Strathspey or old Highland Reels
by Cumming, Angus

Tunes list

Copy details


Edinburgh, Angus Cumming






Glasgow University Library (GB-Gu)




GB-Gu copy is 1st edition of 1780, self-published in Edinburgh by Cumming of Grantown. A second, subsequent edition was published in Glasgow in 1782 with two fewer tunes and an altered title: A Collection of Strathspeys or old Highland Reels. Subscribers list contains a very extensive list of Grants from around the globe, also 'the celebrated' James McPherson and Scottish antiquarian William Tytler. The tunes are confidently chosen, and the volume includes a Preface about the Strathspey and primitivism. Many tunes appear with English and Gaelic titles.


In the basses there is much use of dotted rhythms, though a good variety of single note patterns, and some piano chords, octaves and dyads. There is fairly sparse provision of trills, and there are even fewer grace notes. There is a long variation set on 'Reell of Tulloch'. 'The Dutchess of Athole Reell' appears in D major as 'A favourite Strathspey' in Aird's Selection of Scotch, English and Irish Foreign Airs, vol.2 p.18.

Copy notes

Prefatory material supplied in photocopy.


20 p




26 x 35





Biographical info

Cumming (c.1730-1780) was born into a family of whom generations had been musicians at Grantown, Strathspey. (Glen 1, x; HMT Highland Collections, iii; Alburger, 75-77)
Keith Sanger notes that Cumming was a piper in one of the Laird of Grant's Independent Companies raised for the government side in the '45, so he would have been at least 15 years of age then. Sanger also notes from the National Records of Scotland (GD248/235/11/1) that Cumming was still alive on 4 March 1780 when he signed a receipt for the sale of a copy of his collection; his wife is described as a widow on 11 July the same year, and his accounts are continued in the name of his son John. (correspondence)

Other locations

GB-Gm M8755/786.45
GB-P 34721 (titlepage torn, repaired with pencilled text)
GB-A Hend inst Cum c (lacks titlepage & pp.4-5: copies have been inserted)
GB-DU 53677 (lacks preface and 2nd page of subscribers list)
GB-Lbl Music Collections e.284.c.(1.) (2nd edition, Glasgow: J. Aird [1785?])
GB-En Glen 234 (2nd edition, Glasgow: J. Aird [1785?])
GB-A Lib R f78155 Cum c (reprint of 2nd edition, Glasgow: Jas. Steven 1798)