NEFA - The North East Folklore Archive

The John Murdoch Henderson Collection

The Collection
Henderson's lifetime collection of music manuscripts, books and memorabilia.

When Boston scholar Francis J. Child compiled his collection of songs and music in the mid 1800s, described by many as the "the canon" of folk music, he found that no less than one third of his ballads originated in North East Scotland.
One of the largest folksong collections in the world, the Greig-Duncan Collection, consists of more than 3,000 songs found in Aberdeenshire at the beginning of the 20th century.
Little wonder then, that the young Henderson, a natural musician born in the heart of the land that Child found so fruitful and a stone's throw from the home of Gavin Greig, should develop such a deep interest in the music of his homeland.

The Henderson Collection Inventory -
An alphabetical list of the collection contents.

A Companion to the Ball Room - Thomas Wilson, 1816 (3rd edition).
Card bound (broken spine) illustrated, collection of tunes with notes on numerous dances, ballroom etiquette and notes on the treatment of musicians.

Caledonian Country Dances - Johnson 1748
Leather bound printed. 100 tunes each with notes on dance steps.

Companion to the Reticule - 1833
Leather bound - 83 Scottish dance tunes arranged for piano forte. Introduction notes and notes on popular dance "The Bumpkin."

Donald MacDonald's Pipe Tune Collection - 1831
David Low discusses the book and plays tunes from MacDonald's Collection.

Flowers of Scottish Melody - J M Henderson, Hard Back copy, limited edition published by the Buchan Heritage Society, 1986.

Flowers of Scottish Melody - J M Henderson, first edition published by JMH, 1935.

Flowers of Scottish Melody - Musician's biographies and notes signed by the author, June, 1935.

Gale's Pocket Companion vol. 2 105 tunes, (not dated) c1800 or earlier.

James Aird's 1st Selection - 1st edition 1787
Also accompanying volume of Aird's collection (150 pieces). Selection from "Most Admired Scottish, Irish and English Airs."

John Wilson No 3 1780

listen here"Banish Misfortune" play "Money In Both Pockets" from Wilson's No 3.


Johnson's Dancer
A Choice Collection of 200 Favourite Country Dances Vol. IV
Leather bound, printed for J Johnson, Musical Instrument Maker at Ye Harp and Crown, Cheapside, London, 1748. 130 tunes with dance steps.

Manuscript Book
Untitled leather bound collection of hand written music - 67 tunes A note in front cover reads "This work may have been sourced in the 1750s or 1760s if not earlier." Belonged to a John Skinner in 1785.

Music manuscript book (1)
Collection of hand written music by Duncan McKercher of Stronfernon, Alexander Mackay of Islay and John Burns. Copy and printer's notes by JMH.

Music manuscript book (2)
Collection of hand written music with notes by JMH. Ancient Irish Music Collection of Irish tunes reproduced Edward Bunting from original manuscript published c1786. Titles in Irish and English.

Musical Album (The) 1837
Small, leather bound with brass clasp. 76 hand written tunes.

Musical Repository (The) c1800
Small leather bound, copious number of songs.

the musical albumA fiddlers' manuscript pocket book from the Henderson collection. A small leather bound book with a brass clasp that belonged to a James Webster in 1840 and came into Henderson's hands in the 1940s. Assembled 1837, the book contains 76 tunes, each meticulously hand written.

In common with its time, this book may well have belonged to a fiddle player who collected tunes as he travelled or attended music sessions with his contemporaries.


O'Farrell's Pocket Companion Vols I and II - c1805
A selection (186) of Scotch and Irish tunes adapted for Pipes and Violin. Card and leather bound.

Paterson's Manuscript Book
Original Strathspeys and Reels by James Skinner Paterson 1847 - 1906.

Photograph of James Skinner PatersonJames Skinner Paterson, Schoolmaster at Rathven, Banffshire was a fine player and a composer of a number of dance tunes and airs for the fiddle. Many years after his death, his son, James Paterson Junior, presented a manuscript of his father's work to Henderson for publication, with a request that the tunes should be dedicated to fiddle player James Henry of Macduff.

Photograph from the Murdoch Henderson Collection.

Patrick Cuming
An accurate transcription of a selection of tunes from the original, published Edinburgh, 1723.

Piper's Assistant (The) Angus MacKay Edition pre 1847
A collection of 155 tunes scored for the pipes by Angus MacKay (piper to Queen Victoria) and published by Alexander Glen (1801 - 1873), bagpipe maker of West Register Street, Edinburgh 1843. The first 56 pages of the work closely correspond to William Mackay's Complete Tutor for the Great Highland Bagpipe, which was revised by Angus Mackay in 1843. The latest possible date for the work would be 1847, when the publisher's address changed.

David Low discusses the book and plays tunes from MacKay's Piper's Assistant.

Piper's Assistant (The) John McLachlan Edition 1854
A Collection of Marches, Quicksteps, Strathspeys, Reels and Jigs edited by John McLachlan (piper to Neill Malcolm Esq. of Poltalloch) for the Highland Bagpipes and published by Alexander Glen (1801 - 1873), bagpipe maker, Edinburgh, 1854. Includes notes on the pipes, a scale for "The Scotch Piper" and 127 tunes.
David Low discusses the book and plays tunes from McLachlan's Piper's Assistant.
A History of The Pipes from McLachlan's Piper's Assistant.

listen here"Banish Misfortune" play "Miss Edmunston of Muirton" from McLachlan's Piper's Assistant.

Repository of Music - Volume 1 -1822
This small card bound book came into Henderson's hands in 1947. It contains 120 selected English, Scottish and Irish Airs arranged for the German Flute or Violin, engraved by William Hutton and printed and sold by J. Sutherland of Edinburgh, 1822.

listen hereLoch Earn (Nathaniel Gow's 2nd Collection, 1788) from Sutherland's Repository of Music.

The Tutor For The Highland Bagpipe, Angus MacKay, 1878
"The Tutor For The Highland Bagpipe" 7th edition, 1878, by Angus MacKay (piper to Queen Victoria) published by David Glen (1853 - 1916, son of Alexander Glen, publisher of The Piper's Assistant) bagpipe maker of Greenside Place, Edinburgh.
David Low discusses the book and plays tunes from Angus MacKay's Tutor.

Unpublished Airs No 4
A collection of original manuscripts - original source so far unknown.

listen here"Banish Misfortune" play "Mr Pringle Of Tarwoodlee's Favourite" from Unpublished Airs No. 4.

Violin Players Pocket Companion
A rare collection of Popular Scottish Music (86 tunes) arranged by James Davie and published by Lewis Smith of Netherkirkgate, Aberdeen.

Walsh's Caledonian Country Dances Books II and IV
Numerous tunes with dance instructions.

Walsh's Caledonian Country Dances Books II and IVWalsh's Caledonian Country Dances Books II and IVWalsh's Caledonian Country Dances Books II and IVMusic publisher John Walsh was born in London c1666. He began his working life as an instrument, turning to publishing in 1695. Walsh established a go-ahead printing and publishing service at a premises in Catherine Street off The Strand, where music was printed on a scale hitherto unknown. A shrewd businessman, he published popular music and cheap music tutors, advertised, and offered subscription issues and serialized music collections. To reduce costs he used pewter plates instead of copper, and to speed up the printing process he used punches instead of engraving.
Newly arrived in London, Handel entrusted Walsh with the publication of Rinaldo in 1711. To diversify his offerings further, Walsh pirated Dutch editions of continental music such as the Corelli sonatas. He was succeeded in the business by his son, John jr (1709-1766), who published all of Handel's later works, having astutely secured the exclusive rights for a period of 14 years beginning in 1739.

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Personal Items

Envelope of newspaper cuttings
Revues of Flowers of Scottish Melody; Henderson's Obituary.

Envelope containing photographs
A small collection of Henderson's friends and associates.

Envelope containing concert bills
Posters from three local musical events:
Scotch Music Violin and Piano Competition, 1884. Silver Street Hall, Aberdeen

violin and piano competition posterA On the evening of Saturday, 27th December, 1884, a competition for players of the violin and piano in the "Scotch" was held in Aberdeen. The event took place at the Silver Street Hall where, at that time, James Scott Skinner taught Scottish dance.

Though Skinner appeared on the bill that night it was as an entertainer and not a competitor. He and a number of other musicians and supporters of the tradition had raised a sum of money to be given in prizes for the best performances on the night.

Prizes of "fine violins, bows, cases, money and medals" were awarded to the winners who each performed three slow airs, three slow strathspeys, three dancing strathspeys and three reels. James Scott Skinner played that night but did not compete.

Grand Evening Concert, 1931. Public Hall, New Deer, for The Scott Skinner Memorial. Click here for further details

Burns Concert, 1932. Learney Hall, Torphins (featuring JMH, violinist).

Burns concert posterOn the night of Friday 29th January, 1932, at The Learney Hall, Torphins, "A Grand Burns Concert and Dance" featured a number of local musicians and entertainers including John Murdoch Henderson.

On the bill that night: Rita Reith, soprano, Evelyn Lindsay, pianist, William Johnston, tenor, Bert Cruickshank, baritone, Willie Kemp, comedian and John Murdoch Henderson on violin.

The best seats cost two shillings (10p) and for an extra 1/6 (7 1/2p) attendees could enjoy an after concert dance with music by "Cowies Dance Band."


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Album of Gems No 2
Journalisten Waltz
Mozart Allan's Tit Bits for Violin. Collection of popular melodies, light classics.

Chappell's Musical Magazine
Fifty Valses by Charles D' Albert and other popular composers.

Elias Howe Collections No 1 and No IV
Copious collection of popular melodies - published Boston, USA.

Faust Operatic Selection
Sheet music.

Gentlemen's Musical Magazine, 1788
Popular songs collection.

Practical Harmony - Stewart Macpherson - 1907
Musical theory book.

Published Sheet Music
Small collection of popular early 20th century songs and melodies.

Tales of Hoffman
Sheet music.

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