Reel, G, traditional Irish, Scottish, American
Also known as Miss McCleod; Hop High Ladies
TrailJams Tune of the Week for January 16, 2022; August 13, 2023
This tune is woven into the musical traditions of Scotland, Ireland, and America. It seems to have originated in Scotland, where it is sometimes called Mrs. MacLeod’s. From there it travelled to Ireland, and somewhere along the line it emerged in American old-time music. As a tune, it is typically played in the keys of A or G. Concertina players much prefer G. As a song, it has many versions of lyrics, and the custom of making up new lyrics for it seems to be part of its heritage. The phrase “hop high ladies” is the most consistent part of its lyrics. Having travelled so far, the tune and song both go by many names, including “Mrs. MacLeod of Raasay,” “Miss McLeod,” “Uncle Joe,” and, of course “Hop High Ladies.”
- Audio – Comhaltas: Miss McCleod from the album Foinn Seisiún Volume 1
- Audio – Stephen Ducke: Miss McLeod’s Reel – played on tin whistle. From the book Irish Music 400 Traditional Tunes, by Stephen Ducke.
- Audio – Justin Hoffenberg: Miss McLeod’s Reel – played on fiddle
Dots (Music Notation)
As always for traditional tunes, the musical notation and chords do not indicate the “right” way to play the tune, but are a useful reference. The version here is simplified and unornamented – explore the recordings, lessons, and other resources listed on this page for ideas to add richness and variation to the tune on your instrument.
Play from the Dots
Examples of sets that include this tune.
- Teetotaller Reel Set: The Teetotaller (The Temperance Reel, G) / The Silver Spear (D) / Miss McLeod’s Reel (Hop High Ladies, G)
- Mountain Road Reel Set: The Sally Gardens (G) / The Mountain Road (D) / Miss McLeod’s Reel (G)
- Miss McLeod’s Reel / The Merry Blacksmith / The Sally Gardens
References and Resources
For those who want to dig deeper, here are some other resources.
- More Recordings
- Video – Kenny Wolin: Ms. McLeod’s, Merry Blacksmith, Sally Gardens on concertina
- Video – The Flatpick Apprentice: Hop High Ladies. The tune played on 5-string banjo and flat-picked guitar. Key of G.
- Video – Buffy Sainte Marie – Uncle Joe. She sings the song and accompanies it with a mouth bow. From her album I’m Gonna Be A Country Girl Again, first released in 1968.
- Video – Jay Ungar Molly Mason Ira Bernstein: Miss McLeod’s Reel. Live performance with Appalachian dance.
- Video – The New Lost City Ramblers: Hop High Ladies the Cake’s All Dough sung and played in old-time style. From the album Tom Paley, John Cohen, and Mike Seeger Sing Songs of the New Lost City Ramblers.
- Video – Doc Fiddle Mc Nair: Miss McLeod’s Reel from the album 100 Fiddle Tunes, Old Time, Bluegrass and American Folk Music Favorites. Key of A.
- Book – Foinn Seisiún, Volume 1 Published by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.
- Book – Irish Music 400 Traditional Tunes, by Stephen Ducke with accompanying audio tracks.
- Lesson – Shannon Heaton: Miss McLeod’s [Reel] – Tune of the Month with Shannon Heaton – taught phrase-by-phrase on flute.
- Lesson – Kevin Burke: Miss McLeod’s Reel (key of G) – Trad Irish Fiddle Lesson (Partial lesson. Full lesson requires a subscription.
- Lesson – Mando Mike (Mike Giverin): Miss McLeod’s Reel – Mandolin Lesson on adding triplets (Advanced) – Video mandolin lesson with free downloadable sheet music and instructional information.
- Lesson – Justin Hoffenberg: Miss McLeod’s Reel (Did You Ever See the Devil Uncle Joe) – Audio tracks of the tune played on fiddle at slow, medium and fast tempos. With downloadable sheet music.
- Additional Resources
- Web page – The Session: Miss McLeod’s reel. Crowd-sourced information about the tune.
- Podcast – Shannon Heaton: “Miss McLeod’s Reel at 113. How Irish dance connects with traditional music today.” Irish Music Stories Episode 08. This episode briefly mentions Miss McLeod’s Reel in the context of traditional Irish music with Irish dance.