Tune of the Day: Big John McNeil
Though now known as a Canadian standard, this reel was originally composed (as “John McNeill's Reel”) by the brilliant Scottish fiddler Peter Milne (1824–1908), one of J. Scott Skinner's teachers and early playing partners.
There are various hypotheses as to how the piece earned the adjective “Big”. Some suggest it's because of the robust nature of the tune, while some think it refers to the actual John McNeil of the title, possibly one of the McNeils of Barra, in the Hebrides. Others yet believe the “Big” came about to distinguish the modern tune, with 8-bar parts, from Peter Milne's original, with 4-bar parts.