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Gaspe fiddles

beardedbruce 25 Jan 12 - 07:38 AM
GUEST 25 Jan 12 - 08:15 AM
katlaughing 25 Jan 12 - 09:53 AM
GUEST,mg 25 Jan 12 - 03:37 PM
GUEST,mg 25 Jan 12 - 03:45 PM
Jeri 25 Jan 12 - 04:21 PM
Mark Ross 25 Jan 12 - 04:45 PM
GUEST, Tom Bliss 25 Jan 12 - 05:56 PM
meself 26 Jan 12 - 02:13 AM
meself 26 Jan 12 - 09:57 AM
meself 26 Jan 12 - 10:53 AM
meself 26 Jan 12 - 11:31 AM
Sandy Mc Lean 26 Jan 12 - 03:47 PM
meself 27 Jan 12 - 03:08 PM
GUEST,Glenn 28 Jan 12 - 02:17 PM
meself 28 Jan 12 - 04:19 PM
beardedbruce 16 Mar 12 - 10:04 AM
Desert Dancer 16 Mar 12 - 10:54 AM
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Subject: Folklore: Gaspe fiddles
From: beardedbruce
Date: 25 Jan 12 - 07:38 AM

From another site:

"I recently completed an article for the Gaspesian Heritage webmagazine summarizing some of my work documenting the fiddle traditions of the English-speaking population of the Gaspé penninsula here in Quebec. We have some audio, video, and nice photos to go along. Thought some people out the in the greater fiddlesphere might be into this sort of thing. http://gaspesie.quebecheritageweb.com/article/gaspe-sound-exploring-old-time-fiddle-traditions-gaspe-coast-part-1 Its a two part article, the link to part 2 is at the bottom of the first page. Gaspesian Heritage is a division of the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network, a great group working to preserve the culture and traditions of English-speaking Quebeckers in Rural communities. They have a great site woth browsing through. Lots of great photos of this beautiful part of the world."

Anyone familiar with this tradition? How different is it from other Maritime fiddling? Looking at the article, I wonder how to compare it to Cape Breton et al?


http://gaspesie.quebecheritageweb.com/article/gaspe-sound-exploring-old-time-fiddle-traditions-gaspe-coast-part-1


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Gaspe fiddles
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Jan 12 - 08:15 AM

My good friend Glenn wrote this article.
BEER


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Gaspe fiddles
From: katlaughing
Date: 25 Jan 12 - 09:53 AM

What a Treasure!! Thanks for the link, beardedbruce.

Adrien, it is an excellent piece of writing and how fortunate for us all that the family shared the music with someone who knew how to appreciate it and bring it the world. I wish my dad were still around to hear those tunes.

kat


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Subject: RE: Gaspe fiddles
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 25 Jan 12 - 03:37 PM

From what I have heard it is quite overlapping with Newfoundland style, or vise versa, but Cape Breton in general is not the same..more structured perhaps...mg


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Subject: RE: Gaspe fiddles
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 25 Jan 12 - 03:45 PM

I would have assumed that the links between French Canadian Irish and/or Newfoundland (about 1/2 Irish descent) were formed elsewhere, but in reading about the potato famine some people have claimed it originated in Quebec province after the famine, during the famine, when the ships came and discharged their dying cargo on the banks of the river...the French Canadians were absolutely saintly in many instances, taking in orphans, providing medical help, food etc. I would say it is saintly to give people food and clothes and drop off medicines a few miles away from them, but it is beyond that when you take diseased orphans into your homes. L Anyway, that is where "they" say the great integration of Irish and French Canadian music began, although of course it would have been taking place in seaports etc. even before that..and I don't know how many Irish made it to France but a lot of French did settle in Ireland...and parts of Newfoundland area still belong to France and other areas were strongly disputed in the past...Terra Neuve anyone? mg


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Subject: RE: Gaspe fiddles
From: Jeri
Date: 25 Jan 12 - 04:21 PM

Cape Breton fiddling is pretty much Scottish.


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Subject: RE: Gaspe fiddles
From: Mark Ross
Date: 25 Jan 12 - 04:45 PM

Sounds wonderful. I poste a link on my FB page.


Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Gaspe fiddles
From: GUEST, Tom Bliss
Date: 25 Jan 12 - 05:56 PM

Some of the earliest Europeans to settle in Gaspé were from Jersey, and many Jersey companies set up shop on the peninsular with as many as fifteen hundred islanders employed in the cod trade by the end of the 18th century - spending their summer months in Gaspé.

In fact in those days Gaspé folk found it easier to get their shopping from Jersey than from the 'mainland.'

Sadly we have long lost any evidence of a Jersey fiddle style, but Jersey players have been known to play a few Gaspé tunes (not least in the musical The Ballad of Jersey Jacques, in which a Jersey smuggler lad goes native in Newfoundland for a while).

Tom Bliss


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Subject: RE: Gaspe fiddles
From: meself
Date: 26 Jan 12 - 02:13 AM

Thanks for the link, BB - what a great site.

Most of the tunes seem closer to French-Quebecois than anything else, to my ear. By which I mean, they seem to be made up of a series of discrete phrases of equal emotional value, so to speak, as opposed to long lines that build up and down, raising and lowering, and resolving, tension, in more or less predictable patterns. If that makes any sense.

The style is in keeping with what seems to have been traditional in much of rural eastern Canada: a lot of single-note bow strokes of relatively short length, played in the middle of the bow, but no shortage of slurring; subtle left-hand decorations; upbeat tempo, with strong rhythmic drive.

The footwork is very "French".

As far as how it compares with other nearby styles: much of it sounds more Quebecois than Maritime, while the rest sounds generically eastern Canadian. I don't hear any Cape Breton influence.


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Subject: RE: Gaspe fiddles
From: meself
Date: 26 Jan 12 - 09:57 AM

Further re: the style. Having said what I've said, I am struck by how clean and precise the playing is, in general, even in the older recordings of older players. The intonation is more 'correct' than you would find in many players of similar vintage in rural Canada. I suspect that Don Messer was a big influence in that respect.


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Subject: RE: Gaspe fiddles
From: meself
Date: 26 Jan 12 - 10:53 AM

An interesting contrast is the one harmonica recording on the site. One of the fiddlers whose style I allude to plays harmonica with a big mouthful of notes all going at once, all the time, such that an uninitiated listener would have a hard time picking out the actual melody line. This too is a typical rural Canadian style - why such a difference between the fiddle and harmonica styles, even as given by the same player? Well, there has never been a big harmonica star equivalent to Don Messer on the fiddle, to model a clean, refined style, so harmonica-players just carried on as they had always done.


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Subject: RE: Gaspe fiddles
From: meself
Date: 26 Jan 12 - 11:31 AM

There's a great example of the kind of harmonica-playing I'm talking about combined with Quebecois fiddling on this page. Click on the youtube video.


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Subject: RE: Gaspe fiddles
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 26 Jan 12 - 03:47 PM

Jeri said "Cape Breton fiddling is pretty much Scottish." That in itself is true, but fiddle styles in Scotland changed over the past two centuries, while much more of the older style was retained in Cape Breton. Some would say that Cape Breton fiddle styles are closer to Irish and that is true also as both were apples that fell from the same tree. Cape Breton has a large Acadian French population who absorbed the Scottish styles but some influence must have flowed in the reverse direction. Parts of Quebec, especially the Eastern Townships, absorbed Highland Scot exiles and disbanded military and no doubt their music also blended with the Quebec French. In any case the litmus test for great fiddle music is to try and keep your feet planted firmly to the floor while a tune plays. If the feet refuse to stay still it is great, be it called Down East, Quebec, or Cape Breton!


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Subject: RE: Gaspe fiddles
From: meself
Date: 27 Jan 12 - 03:08 PM

Refreshment.


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Subject: RE: Gaspe fiddles
From: GUEST,Glenn
Date: 28 Jan 12 - 02:17 PM

Glad people are enjoying my article and seeing it foster great discussion.

Many of the Irish people in Douglastown were of Loyalist descent, their ancestors having fled the 13 colonies in the late 18th century.  That is, Douglastown was firmly Irish well-before the Famine and was founded by Irish Loyalists.

My best guess is that this music evolved out there, being influenced by all the ethnic groups that lived on the coast.  It was a real melting pot of cultures. It is interesting that a town whose population was about 96% of Irish descent, and strongly culturally Irish until 1960 did not play music that sounds particularly Irish to the modern ear.  To me, it sounds more like a branch of the larger fiddle tradition in Quebec.  Irish people have lived on the Gaspe coast since about 1780, which predates the Irish fiddling that was introduced to other areas of Quebec after the famine where there was an influx of Irish people to the St Lawrence valley area around Quebec City.  I would say that fiddlers like Joseph Allard sound more Irish to me than Douglastown's fiddlers. 

I'm not sure if anyone really knows what Irish fiddle music sounded like before the 19th century.   I would love to know though, because it might answer some questions.  My understanding is that fiddle music in the New World and Old World developed more-or-less simultaneously (Alan Jabbour).  In this sense, New World fiddling is more like a cousin than an offspring to Old World fiddling. 

We have stories of French-speaking fiddlers visiting older Irish Douglastowners to learn tunes.  Apparently in Gaspe, one could learn Quebecois fiddle music from both English and French speaking mentors at one time.


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Subject: RE: Gaspe fiddles
From: meself
Date: 28 Jan 12 - 04:19 PM

Glenn,

Glad you've dropped in! I've been working my way through your blog, from the earliest post on, and enjoying it immensely. You know your way around that fiddle, young fella! And you're doing some really valuable work, for which I thank you.


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Subject: RE: Gaspe fiddles
From: beardedbruce
Date: 16 Mar 12 - 10:04 AM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Gaspe fiddles
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 16 Mar 12 - 10:54 AM

Thanks for the refresh, I missed this the first time.

~ Becky in Long Beach


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