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Cape Breton fiddle


Banzai

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Those dotted rhythms and the flair in the bow work are certainly

not easy.  Especially for someone like me who is still a

relatively new player.  It is, however, excellent practice,

and makes for very fun playing.

That, and all those celtic, Scottish, and especially Cape Breton

favorites are terrific "hits" in social settings.  Though I

myself am now trying to expand in a Baroque direction, this will

probably remain the core of my playing.

As an aside, I so pleased that this thread got so much attention

from so many knowledgeable people, and also that others continue to

be interested in it.

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Many of you may know of this, a few new to fiddling perhaps not. If you like printed music, there are amazing collections out there in abc format. I was just reminded of these resources when looking for some pieces from the Simon Fraser collection (Scottish, 1700s), which is sitting out there on the web.

A good place to start learning about abc is

http://trillian.mit.edu/~jc/music/abc/

You'll need to download a reader, some are free, some shareware. After that, it's easy to use.

These tunes are, by and large, in the public domain, traditional or old fiddle collections. I like the printing ability, easy to use, and I can set up tunes in 4-bars to a line, which makes it nice for glancing at on the music stand at a dance. And easy to share music with others in the band.

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Yes, thanks for the links. I've already gotten a huge list of abc files from all over the Net. There are more tunes than I can ever absorb. There are .gif files, the abc conversions, and tunes posted everywhere, collections galore, books with hundreds of tunes, and even the PDF file from the guy in North Carolina.

Now I have a question: what are the top-40 tunes of Cape Breton? I'm sure there are perennial favorites that you hear all the time. Maybe that's where I should start. :-)

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quote:


Originally posted by:
davet

The Gow Collection <font size="2" face="Verdana, Arial">ISBN

0825603072 contains Tullochgorum.</font>

It's in a bunch of the collections; it was a very popular tune during that period. James Scott Skinner's variations are published in The Scottish Violinist.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
lastchair

Now I have a question: what are the top-40 tunes of Cape Breton? I'm sure there are perennial favorites that you hear all the time. Maybe that's where I should start. :-)

Dunno about the top 40 but you couldn't go wrong by learning this set: Miss Lyall (strathspey), King George IV (strathspey), The Old King's Reel (reel), King's Reel (reel).

This group of tunes is very popular with step dancers. I've heard a bunch of fiddlers play this set with variations, e.g., adding a march at the front and a couple more reels after those 2. Buddy MacMaster recorded it adding a reel he just calls "Traditional Reel" at the end; Bill Lamy recorded a set starting with Gloomy Winter's Now Awa' (air), followed by Calum Breugach (strathspey), those 4 tunes, then ending with Little Donald's Wife (reel). -Steve

[edit: also meant to mention that as a source for popular CB tunes, you can't go wrong with Jerry Holland's first collection. In addition to his own tunes, it includes a lot of frequently-played stuff (both trad and by contemporary CB composers). I believe Cranford Publications has the list of tunes on their website, so maybe that's a place to start.]

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I saw Altan last night, and Mairead opened up with a set of Cape Breton tunes..the first being a strathspey, the second a jerry Holland tune and the third I'm not sure...it really is different to hear the Donegal style of fiddling come through on these Cape Breton (scottish) tunes...there is a lot of histroy between Donegal and Scotland, so the Irish players from Donegal always had a couple strathspeys up their sleeves...

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Steve_W
Have you heard Angus

Grant, Junior? If so, what do you think of him?
[/img]

Certainly not traditional... but I like him! BTW, was this at Rocky

Mountain Fiddle Camp? That's on my list of camps to get to one of

these years. -Steve

Yes, this was at RMFC. I have never heard Angus Grant Jr. but have

visited his website and he does look interesting.

RMFC is a fun camp in a beautiful setting. Andy Stein told me that

he'll be there again this year so they'll definitely have a good

swing fiddle teacher.

Search Rocky Mt Fiddle Camp on YouTube if you would like to see a

few performances from last summer.

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Well Steve, now you bring up a fresh new set of questions for

me.

I've been highly interested in learning the various King's

sets...but the listings of music and keys are myriad and many.

 Some listings say that King George IV and The King's Reel are

the same song.  Even the Fiddler's Companion online doesn't

differentiate necessarily.  

So, what would you consider the "authoritative" sources for how

these "should" go.  I use parenthetical terms there, because I

know that great variation from region and performers makes use of

any terms coming close to official dubious at best.  Still,

I'd like to know.  Any thoughts?

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I just wanted to add that there are various degrees of swing that I've noticed. My classical teacher got on my case the other day saying that triplets are ALWAYS evenly spaced, and why was I making the first note in the set slightly longer and the second one slightly shorter... Doohh, I didn't tell him what I was up to.

Seems like a lot of playing is not exactly how it's written. I read that the dotted eighth-sixteeth combo is played more like a tied triplet, i.e. divided into 3, with two notes tied, rather than divided into 4 parts, with 3 tied together. Might wreak havoc with some of my classical interpretations. Ha ha.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
lastchair

I just wanted to add that there are various degrees of swing that I've noticed. My classical teacher got on my case the other day saying that triplets are ALWAYS evenly spaced, and why was I making the first note in the set slightly longer and the second one slightly shorter... Doohh, I didn't tell him what I was up to.

Seems like a lot of playing is not exactly how it's written. I read that the dotted eighth-sixteeth combo is played more like a tied triplet, i.e. divided into 3, with two notes tied, rather than divided into 4 parts, with 3 tied together. Might wreak havoc with some of my classical interpretations. Ha ha.

Uh-oh, you have started down a slippery slope! Next you'll be throwing fiddle ornaments into classical pieces... If it were me, I would tell your teacher exactly what I was up to, and if he can't handle it find someone who's more fiddle-friendly; I know some around here who are comfortable teaching both styles.

Yes, fiddle music is often played different than notated. This can be for several reasons I can think of: because standard notation is often inadequate to fully describe what's going on, so what's written is understood to be "shorthand" for what's actually played; because it would clutter up the page and make it confusing to notate the tunes as actually played; or because fiddlers often improvise and play a tune differently each time they play it.

I can imagine that it would be difficult to be learning both classical violin and a fiddle style at the same time. Personally I find it hard to separate them; I tend to throw too much vibrato into my fiddling, and when I try to play a classical piece (particularly baroque stuff) I find myself adding extra ornamentation. A classically-trained fiddler friend and I were playing through Bach's double violin concerto a couple weekends ago and we both kept adding extra grace notes and etc., it was pretty funny! -Steve

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Tee hee, that is pretty funny, Bach with ornaments and swing. Scottish fiddling is infectious, now I hear tunes in my mind. How to separate them from my staid classical playing, where you have to play exactly as written. Once my teacher said, "Did Beethoven write that?" Anyway, I'm enjoying things. I haven't met anyone to jam with yet.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Banzai
I'd jam with

you...but you'd probably embarrass me. Hopefully Steve will soon

have some imput on the "official" King's sets.  Then we can

all jam to those.

I'm not sure that there is any such thing as an 'official' King's

set. My wife is out jogging now but I'll ask her if she has done

King's Reel or King George the IV with Buddy. She taught Shetland

Fiddling at V.O.M. once long ago and has attended a few times

since. If these tunes were covered in a Buddy class when she was

there than we probably have it on cassette somewhere as well as

music score if he handed one out.

I have both tunes notated here as she plays them but not as sets.

If the sets are Cape Breton then they are also no doubt epic in

length!

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Regarding the "King" tunes, I think this version transcribed from the playing of Willie Kennedy by David Greenberg is the closest to what I play for King George IV; this more or less matches Buddy's version and is pretty much what I hear from other players. (Here is a link to an article on Willie Kennedy with transcriptions and sound clips of his version of King George IV and The King's Reel.)

For The King's Reel, this version on TheSession is reasonably good. Check it against Kennedy's version, which is somewhat more complicated. The Session says this is AKA The Old King's Reel, which it may be, but it's not the tune I know as The Old King's Reel!

The closest transcription to the version of The Old King's Reel that I'm used to that I could find on the web is in Paul Fackler's Cape Breton Tunebook in PDF which can be downloaded from this site.. This is an 85-page pdf file which is well worth downloading, it has some great tunes (It also has Miss Lyall, which a number of fiddlers play before the 3 Kings tunes). I hope this helps! -Steve

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