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Help with fiddle music (Cape Breton)


Banzai

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"Santa" was EXCEPTIONALLY kind to me this Christmas...

I was given;

Jerry Holland's 1st and 2nd collections.

The Skye Collection.

The Scottish Violinist.

Ryan's Mammoth.

Good golly!

I didn't expect this. I'm feeling almost overwhelmed with the sheer quantity of music available to me. I've been working on Miss Lyall, King George IV, and The King's Reel. Also on Rothiemurchus Rant and the Braes of Auchentyre.

I know some of the board members are fiddlers, and are fans of Scottish/Cape Breton tunes. My request is...can you give me a short list of popular tunes and sets. Kind of a "greatest hits" to get cracking on? I have something like 1,500 songs in front of me now, and while I'm unbelievably happy with my new collection...

It's almost overwhelming.

Cheers!

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Hello Banzai and Happy Holidays. By doing a Google search on "Cape Breton tunes" (without the quotation marks and exactly as typed here, I got a lot of hits. All of these URL's have sheet music and I only checked out a few of them. If you continue the search, all you would need to do is look for where the sheet music is, i.e., click the field "music" or "tunes", etc., and it's usually right there. Obviously, many of the artists are very happy to share these songs with others and probably even their personal arrangements. There was even a URL that I believe is hosted by Natalie McMaster.

">http://www.cranfordpub.com/

">http://www.thesession.org/tunes/display/1048

">http://web.ripnet.com/~bmacgi/#Tunes

What's also neat about these sites is that many of them have MP3's of the sheet music listed.

I have also bookmarked the above URL's and will be checking them out when I can. Good luck with your search.

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Hullo Philip.

These books were actually purchased from Paul Cranford at Cranford Publications.

I also have a fair number of Cape Breton CDs.

I guess what I'm wondering is; of the abundance of music available to me, were I to ever go to a session or something similar, what would be most popular and recognized. I don't know if my CDs are a good guide for that or not, since I really have no exposure to that tradition in "real life".

Of course, given my environment, I'll probably never get to a session or barn dance, so maybe I shouldn't worry about it.

But should the opportunity ever present itself, I guess I don't want to be playing pieces where those present would be furrowing their brows and thinking "what's that?" or "why is he playing that one?"

I know for a fact (thank you Steve!) that I can't go wrong with Miss Lyall and the various King's tunes. I guess I'm looking for more of that kind of experience to point me in the right way.

Edit: Philip, that third link is really nice. I forgot to mention that. Cheers!

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Actually, I'm no expert on what would be acceptable at a session with strictly Cape Breton fiddlers but something tells me if it sounds even close enough, it would be more than acceptable. I can't imagine these folks being anything but wonderfully accommodating, which only adds to the beauty of the music. As for myself, I haven't been playing all that long either, closing in on 3 years in May. But my love and appreciation of this music would probably have me listening more than playing. If I ever was invited to play with some more (much more) experienced players, I would let them know I was a beginner and prone to mistakes and or full hesitation before I would or could continue.

Also, I don't know if you have ever listened to an artist by the name of Grey Larsen, but if you go to www.greylarsen.com, you can download some samples of his very nice playing, which to me, at least, sounds very akin to what we are talking about here. He's another artist worth listening to and I thought I would bring him up.

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I found this also regarding Cape Breton Music. I find this extremely fascinating.

- What Is Cape Breton Music?

Cape Breton music is usually described as traditional Scottish music. However, it is Scottish music and dance as it was played in the late 1700s and early 1800s when the forefathers of Cape Bretoners emigrated from Scotland. The most common tune types heard in Cape Breton are strathspeys, reels, jigs, with a lesser number of airs, marches, and clogs. Typically the tunes are played in medleys; the number of times a tune is repeated is left to the discretion of the performer, though frequently each tune is heard only once. Each medley tends to centre around a single key or tonal area while spanning a variety of tempos, for instance a strathspey accelerating into a reel for a solo step-dance exhibition.

How Does Cape Breton Music Differ from Scottish Music?

Because of Cape Breton's historic isolation, the absence of English cultural imperialism that occurred in Scotland, and the rigor of life in early Cape Breton, the music and the Gaelic language from which it derives so much of its flavor survived in a far purer and more vigorous form in Cape Breton than in Scotland. Today, Scottish musicians are flocking to the island to relearn music and dance steps long forgotten in Scotland.-

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Banzai, I can't really help you much with the popular tunes because I just tend to learn tunes I like rather than common repertoire (plus I play many more Scottish sets than Cape Breton). I thought I would mention that traditionally, Cape Breton fiddling is more a solo affair and Cape Breton sessions are a little different than you might be thinking of them in that the fiddlers tend to take turns playing solo sets (with accompaniment), rather than all together in a group. In my opinion this means that you're more free to learn tunes you like rather than relying on a common set of tunes. I also get the impression that they're happy to hear new tunes, and tend to assimilate any tunes that they like (Buddy MacMaster is good at this, he plays tunes he picked up in the Shetland Islands, the Pacific Northwest, & so forth). Anyway I have all the books you mentioned and of those, find the 2 Jerry Holland collections to be the most useful since in addition to his own tunes he included a lot of other popular tunes from various sources. The Skye Collection also has a bunch of tunes you'd hear out there, since it's one of the sourcebooks they had available. That said, I don't think you could go too far wrong by learning some of the sets that Buddy or some of the other influential fiddlers play. I hope that's some help! -Steve

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quote:


Originally posted by:
sunnybear

Ryans Mammoth was the C.B. "bible" for years and years

Yeah, lots of good tunes in that one too. I haven't spent as much time with it as I ought to... I've used it most for hornpipes; it has a ton of great tunes I haven't heard elsewhere.

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Hi Banzai,

I attended a Cape Breton fiddle camp for a week a couple of summers ago. It was great fun and I learned a lot. My two fiddle teachers were in high demand in their own right. They grew up playing Cape BretonScottish style of fiddle tunes. I'm playing classical more than fiddle music these days. But I'll dig up the names of the tunes I learned at that camp and give you the link for the camp. I know my teachers knew hundreds of tunes and played variations of them in jam sessions. All from memory of course.

Lisa

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Hi Banzai,

When I was at the fiddle camp in Cape Breton, we learned the tunes first by ear. Later, sheets of music were handed out. Here are some of the tunes: Stan Chapman's Jig, Drummond Castle, The Musical Chisholm Household, Brenda at SW Margaree, Rita's Tearoom, Sandy macIntye's March, Joan Beaton's Reel, John Angus Beaton's Strathspey, Mabou Coal Mines, The Snipe (a march), Munlochy Bridge (strathspey), and John Angus Strathspey.

I don't know if you can find these tunes. When I was at the camp, I bought Cape Breton Fiddler- Kinnon Beaton's 100 Original Fiddle Tunes, and Brenda Stubbert's Collection of fiddle Tunes. She's a popular teacher and a well known fiddle player on the island. Her collection is both traditional and original tunes.

Google- Cape Breton Music Resources. Good website.

The link for the camp I went to is : www.ceilidhtrail.com

Jerry Holland is the new director! He's also one of the teachers. I would highly recommend this camp. There's nothing like learning the music from the folks that have had this music passed down to them and play it everyday. You can't learn the ornamentation, nuances, swing, and feel of the tune from sheet music.

There are plenty of dances to go to every night in the summer. Amazing musicans! Cape Breton is gorgeous too and is often compared to the highlands of Scotland.

Have fun with your music,

Lisa

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In light of Jerry Holland's recent fight with cancer I'm interested to see what happens this year with Ceilidh Trail camp. They did hold it last Summer although I don't think that Jerry taught. I haven't heard how he's doing recently, my contact has been out of touch.

As far as I know Brenda's first book is currently out of print for revision--adding chords, according to a friend, which would make it somewhat more useful. A pianist friend has her second book and from the little I've played of it, it looks like another one well worth having.

I echo Lisa's comments about Cape Breton; it's an amazing place for the music as well as the people and beautiful surroundings. Well worth a visit; I went for a couple weeks in 2006 and am planning to go again--although it looks like it won't happen until 2010. -Steve

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I would love to visit Cape Breton, not only for the music. I'm an avid cyclist...and recently Bicycling magazine did a great article about riding Cape Breton island during Celtic Colours. That would be heaven...my two favorite recreational pursuits, all rolled into one!

Lisa, I've seen at least a few of those tunes, and heard a few others. Thank you for the list, I appreciate your time.

Steve, I've been curious about Jerry's health...the last thing I saw was a video update he posted on YouTube.

Cheers!

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I was in Cape Breton for Celtic Colors last October, and Jerry showed no outward ill effects of his battle. At the concert in Sydney he, (who sometimes wears his heart on his sleeve) showed tremendous courage and composure upon receiving an introductory standing ovation of some duration, quieting the crowd with a series of gentle 'thank you, thank you's. He proceeded to play as well as I've ever heard him play. He also had some pub gigs during the week.

I agree with other's views of Cape Breton....I've been several times, this being my first Celtic Colors trip...not my last, hopefully.

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