To many, the late Dan R. MacDonald (1911-76) was the most influential figure in the history of Cape Breton music. To the public he is best known as a composer but equally important was his familiarity with the overall repertoire, a knowledge which surpassed anyone of his generation.

Generous with his music, during his lifetime Dan R. helped hundreds of musicians find new tunes, encouraging their efforts both by composing new music in their honour and by writing out traditional tunes they wanted to learn. As well, he often played and and helped popularize other fiddlers' efforts at composing. Graham's Highland Fling was a local tune, made by one of his friends from the Judique area. Dan R recorded it with Marie MacLellan on CX 28, an album made in the early 1960s. Subsequently he wrote it out for a number of younger players including his first cousin Alex Francis MacKay. Alex F. recorded it on his most recent CD, Gaelic in the Bow. In the 1970s, due to the playing of Donald Angus Beaton, it was popular at dances in the Mabou area.

 

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