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Origins of 'Willafjord'

Jack Campin 28 Dec 16 - 09:25 AM
Steve Shaw 28 Dec 16 - 09:36 AM
Jack Campin 28 Dec 16 - 09:49 AM
meself 28 Dec 16 - 11:43 AM
GUEST 28 Dec 16 - 12:02 PM
Jack Campin 28 Dec 16 - 12:23 PM
Felipa 28 Dec 16 - 02:30 PM
meself 28 Dec 16 - 03:00 PM
GUEST 28 Dec 16 - 03:10 PM
meself 28 Dec 16 - 03:48 PM
meself 28 Dec 16 - 03:58 PM
skarpi 28 Dec 16 - 05:52 PM
Jack Campin 28 Dec 16 - 07:13 PM
meself 28 Dec 16 - 07:26 PM
leeneia 28 Dec 16 - 08:06 PM
GUEST,LynnH 29 Dec 16 - 03:40 AM
Jack Campin 29 Dec 16 - 04:39 AM
GUEST,Guest2 29 Dec 16 - 04:50 AM
GUEST,Guest2 29 Dec 16 - 04:52 AM
GUEST 29 Dec 16 - 05:08 AM
Steve Shaw 29 Dec 16 - 05:35 AM
GUEST,guest ( last of 28 Dec)- 29 Dec 16 - 05:48 AM
GUEST,Jon 29 Dec 16 - 05:59 AM
Steve Shaw 29 Dec 16 - 06:19 AM
GUEST,guest2 29 Dec 16 - 06:44 AM
leeneia 29 Dec 16 - 10:45 AM
Jack Campin 29 Dec 16 - 11:30 AM
meself 29 Dec 16 - 11:32 AM
GUEST,guest2 29 Dec 16 - 11:57 AM
Steve Shaw 29 Dec 16 - 12:18 PM
meself 29 Dec 16 - 02:41 PM
leeneia 30 Dec 16 - 12:34 AM
Tattie Bogle 30 Dec 16 - 12:55 PM
leeneia 31 Dec 16 - 12:21 AM
GUEST,Lighter 01 Jan 17 - 12:47 PM
leeneia 01 Jan 17 - 11:27 PM
Tattie Bogle 02 Jan 17 - 06:54 AM
GUEST,David Brown 03 Jan 17 - 02:13 AM
meself 03 Jan 17 - 03:09 AM
Jack Campin 03 Jan 17 - 07:33 AM
meself 03 Jan 17 - 02:30 PM
Stewart 03 Jan 17 - 07:54 PM
GUEST 04 Jan 17 - 07:44 AM
Felipa 04 Jan 17 - 10:56 AM
leeneia 04 Jan 17 - 11:02 AM
meself 04 Jan 17 - 11:37 AM
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Subject: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: Jack Campin
Date: 28 Dec 16 - 09:25 AM

The origin of the Shetland fiddle tune "Willafjord", as described in a new book from the Shetland Times (which I haven't seen yet):

How Willafjord was Found

(How come we don't have a "Tune Origins" prefix, though there is a "Song Origins" one?)


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 28 Dec 16 - 09:36 AM

Yer man on YouTube who the link links to is doing something a bit odd with the tune at the start of the B part. Can't quite put me finger on it.


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: Jack Campin
Date: 28 Dec 16 - 09:49 AM

He seems to be hitting more double stops than necessary. It's also too fast.

This is better fiddle playing, though the guitar rhythm is distractingly mannered and there's an ad at the start:

Heather Robertson

For such a well known tune, there don't seem to be a lot of good fiddle versions of it on YouTube.


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: meself
Date: 28 Dec 16 - 11:43 AM

Re: "One thing that was known was that Willafjord was played by fiddlers in Newfoundland and Cape Breton – in a similar syncopated style." This is rather misleading: fiddlers in Newfoundland and Cape Breton picked up this tune initially from recordings of Shetland fiddlers, AFAIK. I think you would have to search long and hard to find any trace of it in Atlantic Canada prior to ca 1970.


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Dec 16 - 12:02 PM

yes but could probably be heard as 'St Anne's Reel' a close variant from Ireland


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: Jack Campin
Date: 28 Dec 16 - 12:23 PM

St Anne's Reel is Canadian, written by Joseph Allard around 1930, which probably makes it more recent than Willafjord. And they're not very similar.


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: Felipa
Date: 28 Dec 16 - 02:30 PM

thanks for the link - The person who taught me this tune ~ 15 years ago told me it was Icelandic. I've long thought he was mistaken, that it's a Shetland tune, but I see now how he had that idea, not so far off the mark.

The syncopation of Willafjord is very distinctive (have we got other Scottish/Shetland/N Atlantic fiddle tunes with similar rhythm?). I've never noticed any particular similarity being the airs of Willafjord and St Anne's Reel either.


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: meself
Date: 28 Dec 16 - 03:00 PM

If you imagine the second turn of Willafjord without the syncopation, you might get how our Guest senses some similarity between the tunes - but even so, it's a stretch.

It is interesting that the only fiddler who may be able to claim a direct link to its introduction to the Shetlands plays it without syncopation, according to the article.


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Dec 16 - 03:10 PM

Should have said 'popular in Ireland'; just like those Soodlums Irish songbooks do. In its current form 'Willa fjord' is a Shetland tune and its rhythm makes it distinctly so, but you may need to look east to Europe/Scandinavia for its origins (maybe likewise 'St Anne's Reel is of European origin? Yes I know it's 'written' by a named person, but if you know anything about traditional music you'll know that means very little.
I heard Tom Anderson play this many times and whenI hear categoric statements of fact' like 'they are not very similar' I would suggest such total dismissal lacks perspective- open your ears and listen again - the partial similarities between many reels is striking, and these two particularly so- syncopation has nothing to do with it.


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: meself
Date: 28 Dec 16 - 03:48 PM

Sorry, Guest - my ears are open wide, but I don't hear any more than casual similarity, nothing near 'striking'. However, there are widely varying versions of St. Anne's; maybe you're thinking of a version that is much closer to Willafjord than the ones I'm used to ....


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: meself
Date: 28 Dec 16 - 03:58 PM

Joseph Allard playing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vCijeg02gw.


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: skarpi
Date: 28 Dec 16 - 05:52 PM

The Vikings Norse found america long before Columbus did ...


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: Jack Campin
Date: 28 Dec 16 - 07:13 PM

meself, you mispasted something in the blue clicky maker. This is what you were trying to get:

Joseph Allard

It had never occurred to me that the recording was available - terrific playing.

"Esquimault Reel"? Really? What's the story behind that?


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: meself
Date: 28 Dec 16 - 07:26 PM

Thanks, Jack - don't know what happened there.....   I was rather surprised by that 'Esquimault Reel', too. Never heard that one before. Maybe it's a 'local' name that whoever uploaded the recording happens to be familiar with. But it's not a title I've ever come across before - 'Ste. Agathe Reel' was the title that Don Messer put on his first recording of the tune ....


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: leeneia
Date: 28 Dec 16 - 08:06 PM

Yes, Skarpi, you are right.


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: GUEST,LynnH
Date: 29 Dec 16 - 03:40 AM

Don't forget that Swarb recorded it years ago on his "Rags,Reels and Airs" LP so it's possible that his treatment may have subconsciously influenced one or two fiddlers.


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: Jack Campin
Date: 29 Dec 16 - 04:39 AM

Not in Scotland or Shetland, though. (I hadn't even heard of that LP before). He'll have got it from the same sources we did - most likely via Tom Anderson.


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: GUEST,Guest2
Date: 29 Dec 16 - 04:50 AM

Tom Anderson recorded it with the syncopation a few years before Swarb. Swarb must have known that recording.


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: GUEST,Guest2
Date: 29 Dec 16 - 04:52 AM

Crossed with Jack Campin - I listened to both recordings before hitting Submit.


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Dec 16 - 05:08 AM

Don't forget that Swarb recorded it years ago on his "Rags,Reels and Airs" LP so it's possible that his treatment may have subconsciously influenced one or two fiddlers

Probably did or some but I'd guess this pretty much "everywhere" tune will have reached others by different routes. I may be wrong but good a player as he was, I'm not convinced Swarb was that much an influence outside the English tradition.


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 29 Dec 16 - 05:35 AM

That's a good point about Swarb. Purely a subjective view, but, as an aficionado of Irish, Scottish and Northumbrian (yeah, English, I know), I've never really been drawn to the kinds of outfits that Swarb's been in. Just not up my alley, that's all.


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: GUEST,guest ( last of 28 Dec)-
Date: 29 Dec 16 - 05:48 AM

Without making an issue of it, I think the last post has it right in that such tunes as 'Willa Fjord' and 'St Anne's Reel' reach our ears ''by different routes' and can and DO vary greatly.

Addressing 'meself' I don't know which versions of either tune you have in mind when you deny any more than vague similarity between these two tunes, so I don't intend to dig any deeper - prefer to play the music rather than conduct academic research like this, so will leave that to folklorists and mudcatters.

BUT doesn't it just go to demonstrate the pointless nature of seeking the origins of so-called 'traditional tunes'?    over and out


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 29 Dec 16 - 05:59 AM

Sorry missed my name in 29 Dec 16 - 05:08 AM post.

BUT doesn't it just go to demonstrate the pointless nature of seeking the origins of so-called 'traditional tunes'?

Maybe we can only get so far? But I'm not convinced it's pointless. And this thread has turned up a rather nice Joseph Allard recording.


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 29 Dec 16 - 06:19 AM

It's a damn good thread in my opinion.


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: GUEST,guest2
Date: 29 Dec 16 - 06:44 AM

Regarding St Anne's I wonder if it's a matter of a syncopated reel being unusual and so another syncopated reel sounds similar. Sharon Shannon's 'Happy One Step' also gets compared/confused.


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: leeneia
Date: 29 Dec 16 - 10:45 AM

The first part of Willafjord sounds like ragtime to me.


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: Jack Campin
Date: 29 Dec 16 - 11:30 AM

You are the target market for this:

Early Scottish Ragtime

(I've got it - a bit uneven but lots of stuff you won't hear anywhere else).


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: meself
Date: 29 Dec 16 - 11:32 AM

As a point of interest, syncopation is common in French-Canadian tunes and playing. Here's how they do it in western Prince Edward Island: Louise Arsenault plays Ste-Anne's.


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: GUEST,guest2
Date: 29 Dec 16 - 11:57 AM

Is this a reference, or rather more, to Willafjord at the start of the second time through (at about 0:40) ? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwllcWC_FL4


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 29 Dec 16 - 12:18 PM

There's no syncopation in the version of St Anne's that I've played for 25 years, honest.


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: meself
Date: 29 Dec 16 - 02:41 PM

Either a reference or a coincidence, guest2. Since it's Aly Bain, he was likely aware of it either way.


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: leeneia
Date: 30 Dec 16 - 12:34 AM

Thanks for the link, Jack. That's interesting music.


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 30 Dec 16 - 12:55 PM

One of my favourite tunes, probably BECAUSE of the syncopation. First heard it when I was getting back into folk music 20 years ago, and (don't laugh!) learning bodhran! A bit of a challenge as not every bar is syncopated. Then I started learning button accordion - more challenges, not just in the rhythm, but the notes. And in the last 5 years, I have been playing keyboard in 2 ceilidh bands: just love that rhythm! We have it as the last tune in sets, so by then, the dancers are well embedded into the dance and don't let the syncopation throw them off their dancing feet!
(And yes, no resemblance to St Anne's Reel IMHO!)


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: leeneia
Date: 31 Dec 16 - 12:21 AM

That sounds like great fun, Tattie Bogle.


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 01 Jan 17 - 12:47 PM

Thanks, Jack. Great thread topic.


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: leeneia
Date: 01 Jan 17 - 11:27 PM

Yes, I'm playing Willafjord on the piano, and it's good fun.


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 02 Jan 17 - 06:54 AM

Enjoy! Try some octave leaps in the left hand!


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: GUEST,David Brown
Date: 03 Jan 17 - 02:13 AM

Take a listen to Reel à Sophie from Édouard Richard ‎(French Canadian fiddler from Gaspe) - the first part is similar to Willafjord (but I'm inclined to think it is unrelated - just that it's a common bowing pattern).   The 2nd part is similar to the 2nd part of Mason's Apron; 3rd part is unlike anything I've heard elsewhere.


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: meself
Date: 03 Jan 17 - 03:09 AM

If only we had some little clue how to find it .....


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: Jack Campin
Date: 03 Jan 17 - 07:33 AM

Google says it's on a CD released in 2000.

It's also on Pandora which you can't access from the UK.


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: meself
Date: 03 Jan 17 - 02:30 PM

Just out of curiosity: while looking around for Reel a Sophie, I came across this Gaspe 'Reel des Esquimaux', which doesn't seem to have any relation to Ste.-Anne's Reel (or Willafjord!): https://app.box.com/shared/trerqyck54


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: Stewart
Date: 03 Jan 17 - 07:54 PM

Reel des Esquimaux - catchy little tune
it's in the Portland Collection, vol.2

dots are here.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Jan 17 - 07:44 AM

Is there such a place as Willafjord?


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: Felipa
Date: 04 Jan 17 - 10:56 AM

well, there's this Scandinavian spa in Nantes, France: https://www.villafjord.fr/

also Villa Fjord apartments in Croatia

the tune name is also written down as Wullafjord

I looked for W, V, and F but coincidentally found a Gulafjord in western Norway


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: leeneia
Date: 04 Jan 17 - 11:02 AM

Neither Willafjord or Wullafjord is on Google Maps.

This site:

http://sfo.org.uk/how-willafjord-was-found/

hints that if you buy the book (price unknown), you will find out. I don't believe I care to go that far for a bit of information.


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Subject: RE: Origins of 'Willafjord'
From: meself
Date: 04 Jan 17 - 11:37 AM

I think this is where we came in ....


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