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I realize by reading this board for a while that most here are

classicists.  However, I'm hoping that there are maybe a few

Scottish/Cape Breton fiddle fans hiding in the woodwork around.

I'm a big fan of Ashley MacIsaac and Natalie MacMaster.  On

three of separate albums, they play the Tullochgorum, a reel that

gets livelier on the bow work each time through.  I've looked

for downloads of this in the form of both PDF and ABC files, but

while there is great similarity between the things I've found

online, they nothing really resembles the versions I've listened to

those two play.

The interesting thing is that while it is a highly variable tune,

the CDs from both these fiddlers are VERY similar to each

other...leading me to believe that there is an "official" Cape

Breton version somewhere.

Does anyone know where I can find this?  I suppose I could

start sawing through it by ear, but I would like to have the music,

both for reference, and for if I ever "take a break" from the song

and forget any.

I've been contemplating purchasing the Skye collection, or even J.

Scott Skinner's The Scottish Fiddler.  But...I don't know if

they'll contain this "Cape Breton version" that I'm searching


I wish someone would publish something akin to a "Greatest Session

Tunes of Cape Breton Island."  Wishful thinking, I


Anyhow, any help is appreciated.

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here is Paul Facklers collection of Cape Breton Fiddle Tunes

CB fiddling is within the Scottish tradition, but I find it more driving, with a lot more seperate bowings and dronings, and definitely every first beat falls on a downbow.

I know the RReel of Tullochgorum as a strathspey...look here..it's transcribed by Skinner ...http://www.abdn.ac.uk/scottski...display.php?ID=JSS0094

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Thanks for the interest and replies.  

I'm very familiar with Paul Cranford's site...in fact, should I

order the Skye Collection, or J.Scott Skinner's collection it will

be through him.

The Answers.com page is a very cursory overview.

I will look at Paul Fackler's site here shortly, as well as that

Skinner transcription.  Perhaps those will be closer to what I

am looking for...

Otherwise, it may be time to just take the plunge and order the

Skye Collection.  My only heartache (even though it's only

$20+) is that as comprehensive as it is, it actually doesn't

contain an overwhelming majority of the songs I know and love.

 (Maybe I'll find some really good new stuff though!)

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then you should order either one of the Jerry Holland tune books...both the Skye collection and Skinners collection(s) have more traditional Scottish settings...nothing at all wrong with that, but for instance Stumpie (the strathspey) is played and written 2 different ways, depending on whether it is the CB rendition or the Scottish..also strathspeys in Scotland have more lift, and CB fiddling they tend to drive more...also in CB fiddling, the "sets" are a little more standard, for instance Stumpie is almost always followed by Primrose Lassie.

Pick up the "Heart of Cape Breton Fiddling" for some great tunes..


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I'd get the Skye collection at any rate. A lot of the CBI fiddlers used this as a source, that's why Cranford republished it. If you're looking for CB tunebooks, and an intro to the style, I recommend the Winston Fitzgerald Collection, along with the CD "Winston Scotty Fitzgerald - Classic Cuts" which includes a number of the tunes in the book. The 2 Jerry Holland collections are very good and have a nice selection of trad tunes in addition to his own compositions (but not Tullochgorum). Regarding Tullochgorum, Winston had the Tullochgorum variations from J.S. Skinner's Scottish Violinist in his repertoire (but this is not included in either his book or the Classic Cuts CD) and I _think_ that's the one Natalie plays that you're referring to, but can't remember what CD that's on and don't have time to look it up right now.

The CBI fiddlers took the old Scottish collections and developed their own style using those tunes. If you're interested in CB fiddle, in my opinion you can't go wrong buying the Athole and Skye collections (plus Skinner's, Kerr's collections, Ryan's Mammoth and O'Neil's to name a few...).

I spent 2 weeks on CBI last Summer learning fiddle and step dance, plus seeing the sights and listening to as much music and attending as many dances as possible, and loved it. I'm probably going back this Summer! -Steve

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OK, I checked and the version of Tullochgorum that Natalie plays on her "Live" CD is definitely Skinner's variations, if that's any help.

Last Summer I attended a workshop with CB fiddler Shelly Campbell and she brought along a bunch of her tune books for us to look at; I think all the ones I mentioned in my last post were included. If I recall correctly, her copy of Ryan's Mammoth was totally trashed; marked up on a lot of pages and had obviously had really heavy usage! At the Gaelic College one of my instructors loaned me his copy of the Fitzgerald collection, and same thing: really heavily used, with written notes and markings all over the pages. That's how I knew I should buy that collection (I already owned Ryan's)!

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You can see Natalie MacMaster playing her latest arrangement here:

Many years ago on this forum, I asked for this sheet music and someone was so kind as to send it to me. So here I am, returning the favour, in the grand tradition of sharing our tunes. Enjoy it!!

You can convert ABC to sheet music at www.concertina.net/tunes_convert.html





C:variations by J. Scott Skinner


BG c>FA>c|BG B>cdG c>FA>c|BG c2 B>A|

Ge f>F A2|G>gde f>F A2|G>gdA|

Ge f>F A2|Ge f>cf>g|a/g/f/e/ f>d c>FAdg>b e>gd

B>G B/c/d/B/ c>F A/B/c/A/|B>G B/c/d/B/ g>G B/c/d/c/|B>G B/c/d/B/ c>F A/B/c/A/|(3Bcd (3e^fg c2 B>A|

G>g a/g/f/e/ f>F d/c/B/A/|G>gdg a/g/f/e/ f>F d/c/B/A/|G>g dA|

G>g a/g/f/e/ f>F d/c/B/A/|G>g a/g/f/e/ f>cf>g|a/g/f/e/ g/f/e/d/ c>FA>a|g>dg>b e>gd

(3BGG (3dGG (3cFF (3Acc|(3BGG (3dGG (3eGG (3dGG|(3gGG (3dGG (3cFF (3Acc|(3BGG (3dGG c2 B>A|

(3Ggg (3dgg (3cFF (3Acc|(3Ggg (3dgg (3Bgg (3dgg|(3G,gg (3dgg(3cFF (3cAA|(3Ggg (3dgg c2 B>A|

(3Ggg (3dgg (3cFF (3Acc|(3Ggg (3dgg (3fcc f>g|(3agf (3efd (3cFF (3Aaa|(3gdd (3gbb (3egg (3dgg||

B>GD>B, C>B,A,>C|B,>G,D>G, E>G,D>G,|G>G,D>G, C>B,A,>C|B,>G,D>G, C2 B,>G,|

(3Ggg (3dgg cA|

G>g a/g/f/e/ f>F A/B/c/A/|G,>gd>e f>cf>g|a/g/f/e/ g/f/e/d/ c>FA>a|g>dg>b e>gd

B/G/G/G/ d/G/G/G/ c/F/F/F/ A/c/c/c/|B/G/G/G/ d/G/G/G/ e/G/G/G/ d/G/G/G/|g/G/G/G/ d/G/G/G/ c/F/F/F/ A/c/c/c/|B/G/G/G/ d/G/G/G/ c2 B>A|

G,/g/g/g/ d/g/g/g/ c/F/F/F/ c/A/A/A/|G,/g/g/g/ d/g/g/g/ B/g/g/g/ d/g/g/g/|G,/g/g/g/ d/g/g/g/ c/F/F/F/ c/A/A/A/|G,/g/g/g/ d/g/g/g/ c2 B>a|

G,/g/g/g/ d/g/g/g/ c/F/F/F/ c/A/A/A/|G,/g/g/g/ d/g/g/g/ f>cf>g|a/g/f/e/ g/f/e/d/ c>FA>a|g>dg>b e>gd

B>GD>B, C>B,A,>C|B,>G,D>F g>G,D>^f|g>G,D>G, C>B,A,>C|(3B,CD (3E^FG C2 B,>A,|

G/g/^f/g/ d/g/f/g/ =f>F A2|G,/g/^f/g/ d/g/f/g/ B/g/f/g/ d/g/f/g/|G/g/^f/g/ d/g/f/g/ c>=F A2|G/g/^f/g/ d/g/f/g/ c2 B>A|

G/g/^f/g/ a/g/=f/e/ f>F A2|Ge f>cf>g|a/g/f/e/ g/f/e/d/ c>FA>a|g>dg>b e>gd

B/B/G/G/ D/D/B,/B,/ C/C/B,/B,/ A,/A,/C/C/|B,/B,/G,/G,/ D/D/^f/f/ g/g/G,/G,/ D/D/f/f/|g/g/G,/G,/ D/D/G,/G,/ C/C/B,/B,/ A,/A,/C/C/|B,/B,/G,/G,/ D/D/G,/G,/ C2 B,>A,|

G,/G/g/g/ d/d/e/e/ f/f/F/F/ c/c/A/A/|G/G/g/g/ d/d/g/g/ B/B/g/g/ d/d/g/g/|G,/G,/g/g/ d/d/e/e/ f/f/F/F/ c/c/A/A/|G,/G,/g/g/ d/d/g/g/ c2 B>A|

G,/G,/g/g/ d/d/e/e/ f/f/F/F/ c/c/A/A/|G/G/g/g/ d/d/e/e/ f/f/g/g/ a/a/g/g/|f/f/e/e/ f/f/d/d/ c/c/F/F/ A/A/a/a/|g/g/d/d/ g/g/b/b/ e/e/g/g/ d/d/g/g/||

BG c>FA>c|BG B>cdG c>FA>c|BG c2 B>A|

Ge f>F A2|G>gde f>F A2|G>gdA|

Ge f>F A2|Ge f>cf>g|a/g/f/e/ f>d c>FA

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Steve, thanks for the words.  

Of course, since you've named the entire CB heritage


I may just start with Skye.  500 tunes, many of which I'm at

least roughly familiar with.  Of course, I had no idea that

Ryan's Mammoth collection was also so popular.  That, as I

understand, is the "bible" of irish, rather than scottish fiddle.

 Maybe I'll check that out too.

If I could just find a small songbook that happened to be a

transcription of Ashley MacIsaac's Fine Thank You Very Much, or

Live at the Savoy, I think that could keep me happy and busy for at

least a year to come.  Oh well...

After a little while now of hacking my way through these tunes by

attempting to follow the CDs, perhaps it's time to start building

my library.  Having some written reference as a starting point

makes starting a lot easier, even if this kind of music is

primarily an aural tradition.

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I visited Prince Edward Island fifteen years ago and was fortunate enough to hear lots of exciting music and to see magnificent dancing. It was my impression that the Cape Breton fiddle tradition is one which involves note-reading from the start. There are experts here who could confirm or deny this, and I hope they'll set us straight as need be.

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I just tried to enter that and it didn't quite make it.  I was

able to fudge it a little, but I don't know enough about ABCs to

"fix" it, and only four lines appeared...it looks like that file

contains more than four lines to me!

Anyhow, thanks in advance, I really appreciate all the help I've

been getting!  You guys are the best.

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Hey, try here: James Scott Skinner website. This page has a facsimile of Skinner's original manuscript of Tullochgorum, as well as a copy of the original printed version which should be downloadable/printable.

Marie, there's a strong aural tradition in Cape Breton fiddle music but I think that most of the younger fiddlers, at least, learn to read music, and get their tunes both by ear and from the page. Classes I had there were taught both ways; some instructors handed out sheet music while others had us learn the tunes by ear before letting us look at the dots! -Steve

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Tune books are great for jogging your memory and marking notation, but since you have the recordings, you could invest in software, such as the Amazing Slow-downer, and learn directly from the recordings you like.

You can get the Amazing Slow-downer at http://ronimusic.com/ . I have no commercial connection to these folks, but I've had it a few years now and really like it. Better than other slow-down software I've used.

Steve knows more than I do about Scottish Dance music (Hi Steve) -- just thought I'd advance an alternate idea. I find that the tunes I learn by ear stick with me better than those I learn from notation. That may be because I learned to play before I learned to read. On the other hand, it's hard to get all the ornamentation in a written version, which is usually considered a scaffolding, or skeleton, of the music.

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Hi back, Ken; I hope you are doing well! Regarding ear-learning vs. dot-learning I'm the opposite; maybe due to learning to read music early in life I learn tunes much more quickly and easily from the page, and seem to absorb them better that way. But once I have them in my fingers, it doesn't seem to matter how I got them!

I agree that tunebooks typically provide no more than a framework of the tune. Coming from a classical background, it took me a while to figure out that in fiddling, the way a tune is notated can be very different from the way it's actually played--classical notation just isn't sufficient for a lot of the techniques used; some notations are just shortcuts for what's really done; and many fiddlers vary the tunes on each repetition so that at best, any notated version is just a snapshot of one performance! Based on my own experiences I think that tunebooks aren't very useful for someone who is just starting out, particularly if you're learning on your own, but once you know the style, they can be great for picking up new tunes. [As you guys can probably guess, I tend to collect a lot of tunebooks. I have copies of some Scottish books that have been out of print for close to 200 years, and I get a lot of satisfaction out of digging up obscure old tunes to use in some of the arrangements I do for Scottish country dancing!]

This reminds me, another CB book I'd recommend, particularly for violinists with a classical background, is the DunGreen Collection (unfortunately currently out of print and almost impossible to find, but Cranford Publications promises a new edition is coming soon). David Greenberg is a baroque violinist who learned CB fiddling as an adult, and put a lot of effort into analyzing the technical aspects of the style (he's regarded as one of the few outsiders who have really mastered the style). His book details the ornaments that the CB fiddlers use, and his transcriptions really pick apart what specific fiddlers do with the tunes. -Steve

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I would not say that the Mammoth is the "bible" of Irish fiddling, but it is used quite a lot...there are many crossover tunes on CBI, and most of these are found in the Mammoth...it is certainly the "bible" for Irish tunes in that part of the world.

Most folks say that the Bible of Irish fiddling would be O'Neals, but I would say that the Breathnach books are the standards...Irish fiddling though is mmuch more aural than Scottish, and I would say that CB fiddling falls in the middle.

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I first learned about the Dungreen collection back in May I think.

 I've been waiting patiently for the new edition, because that

was the book I wanted.

Then I started to think the past couple of weeks that I could be

waiting two more years, depending on how quickly they want the new

edition to come out.

So, I've been searching other options.  I don't know why I'm

being so picky though...let's face it, sooner or later I'll

probably get them all anyway.

However, I'll likely start with J.S. Skinner's book after this


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Well I've been waiting over 2 years myself! I thought I had a line on a copy of the first edition when I was on CBI last Summer but it didn't pan out; I did get a chance to photocopy the section on ornamentation, though, and it's really worth having. You might not have to wait too much longer; a friend talked with David Greenberg recently and asked him about the new edition and he was fairly optimistic that it would be out early in 2007. I understand they were forced to revise it due to some copyright issues, and the research associated with the revision took much longer than he and Kate Dunlay expected--and was also delayed due to other projects.

Regarding Skinner's book, although his tunes do get played by CB fiddlers I'm not sure it's the one I'd start with. Apart from DunGreen, if I had to pick one book in my library to keep as my CB tune source I would go with either the Winston Fitzgerald collection, one of the 2 Jerry Holland books, or the Skye Collection. But since you want the Tullochgorum variations, Skinner's book appears the best place to get it, if that scan I pointed you at won't work for you! Good luck... -Steve

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