Music of The Dardanelles

Music of The Dardanelles

I teach an adult continuing education Celtic music class. This semester we are studying the music of Newfoundland. One of the ensembles we are looking at is The Dardanelles. I haven’t been able to find much in the way of sheet music for any of the instrumentals on their website, nor much about the history of their music.

Would there be interest here on the Session in discussing their music? Thank you.

Re: Music of The Dardanelles

Click this link in to go to the Dardanelles in the session.org "recordings" section.

https://thesession.org/recordings/4315

Tunes for the tracks highlighted in red have been submitted to this site. Clicking any of those red links will take you the relevant tune - which will give you the ABC transcription, a midi rendering and the sheet music.

Re: Music of The Dardanelles

Eastern Light is one of my very favorite albums of the last few years. I’ve posted several of the tunes from it here, and I’ve been meaning to get around to posting more — I more or less know six additional tunes, and intend to learn the rest of them. I suppose I should post their first album on the recordings list as well.

As far as I am concerned they are one the most exciting bands around right now. Exciting, tastefully done tunes and (on the second album) wonderful vocals from Matthew Byrne.

Are you interested in their history of a band, or the history of the tunes they play? Most of their tunes come from Rufus Guinchard, Emile Benoit, or the gentleman Aaron Collis (their box player) has been collecting tunes from in Boyd’s Cove, Newfoundland. (I’ve forgotten his name, alas.)

Re: Music of The Dardanelles

@Sol Foster I am interested in the history of the tunes they play mostly. Of course I am peripherally interested in the band as well.

I’m not familiar with any of the people you mentioned. I will see what I can find and links to any sites are most greatly appreciated!

Re: Music of The Dardanelles

Thank you! This is very helpful. Keep posting those abc tunes, @Sol!

Re: Music of The Dardanelles

I suggest reading the following:

Kelly Russell - Kelly Russell’s Collection - The Fiddle Music of Newfoundland & Labrador.
Kelly Russell - Rufus Guinchard - The Man and His Music by Kelly Russell
Colin Quigley - Music from the Heart: Compositions of a Folk Fiddler

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Re: Music of The Dardanelles

As far as I know, the Kelly Russell books are out of print. I’d be delighted to be wrong about that, though. Certainly Kelly Russell’s Collection Volume 1 is the bible of Rufus and Emile’s tunes.

I just checked and the Quigley is available from Amazon (.com and .ca). Very interesting book, but it’s more of a study of Emile than a tune collection.

Re: Music of The Dardanelles

Yes, I know one of the books is out of print Sol. Celticagent also asked about "the history of their music." There is a lot of information in Kelly’s tune book and Colin’s thesis is also full of relevant information. As for Kelly’s earlier book, it is out of print but I don’t think it would be impossible to track down.

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Re: Music of The Dardanelles

Kelly Russell is selling her book for $20 from her website. She does not take paypal

Re: Music of The Dardanelles

What’s fascinating to me, is that the traditional music of Newfoundland may very well be almost exactly the same as the music that was played in the 18th century England by uneducated folk, the same music that came over to Virginia and Tennessee in the 18th century. THAT music was influenced by other European and Caribbean cultural music, eventually giving us Country, Bluegrass, and Rock in the States. You can learn what I’m talking about by watching the story of bluegrass "High Lonesome" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujeZw4_lW4c

Re: Music of The Dardanelles

Nothing to do with the tune, but we have a song here in Ireland called ‘The Foggy Dew’, relating the events of Easter 1916. Thousands of Dublin Fusiliers died in the assaults on those beaches, although they had been warned by James Connolly not to partake in that obscene war between 3 crazy inbred cousins.
‘It was England bade our wild geese go that small nations might be free,
But their lonely graves are by Suvla’s waves or the shores of the great North Sea.
Oh had they died by Pearse’s side or fought with Cathal Brugha,
Their graves we would keep where our Fenians sleep ‘neath the shade of the foggy dew’.

Re: Music of The Dardanelles

"What’s fascinating to me, is that the traditional music of Newfoundland may very well be almost exactly the same as the music that was played in the 18th century England by uneducated folk…"

Well… bits of it, maybe? Newfoundland has strong English, Irish, Scottish, and "French" influences. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franco-Newfoundlander for more on the latter.) You certainly do get interesting bits of what are recognizably old songs or tunes from England popping up. But there are more than two centuries of divergent evolution and cross-cultural mixing going on there, too.

Take Rufus Guinchard as an example. I believe his community would have been one of the English ones. His early music was all learned from older fiddlers in his community, which would date it back to at least 1880 or so. But he put his own spin on these tunes, changes he made to try to make them better accompaniment for dancing. And he had a wide variety of other influences, too. Listening to the 1969 tape of him recently uncovered, in addition to the old Daniel’s Harbour tunes he plays Scottish tunes, Irish tunes, French-Canadian tunes, airs to songs popular with the Newfoundland Irish community, his own compositions, etc. And that’s all *before* he was "discovered" and spent much time playing with other traditional musicians!

So it would be completely wrong to assume everything he did reflected how people in England played the music in the 18th century. Instead, he was a vital part of a living tradition that got its start from old England, but was shaped by where he lived, what he was exposed to, and his own sensibilities.

Re: Music of The Dardanelles

@sol foster Mmm..yes I am sure you are right. But the population of the American south is quite a bit higher than that of Newfoundland, especially in the 19th and 20th centuries when most of these "new" musics fomented…in any case, I am developing a fondness for Newfoundland music that I haven’t been able to achieve with "American" music from the same time period…there must be something about that "mix" as you put it, that lends itself to an authentic feel. As a player myself I find that authenticity refreshing 🙂

Re: Music of The Dardanelles

My point is simply that it’s not authentic 18th century English music; it’s authentic Newfoundland music.

The awesome thing about Rufus is that he spent something like 30 years playing several nights a week for dances before he had any significant influence from recorded or broadcast music. The Dardanelles are too young to have known him themselves, but they routinely get to play music with people who spent years playing music with Rufus. Most of the Irish musicians at the equivalent remove from the "pure" "authentic" past have already died of extreme old age. (Broad generalization, I know, but consider that Peter Horan (RIP, born 1926) learned tunes from recordings of Michael Coleman when he was a young lad.)

And there are still people collecting tunes from the old folk in Newfoundland. Aaron Collis has a number of nice tunes he picked up from a much older accordion player in his neck of the woods. Christina Smith has collected a number of wonderful tunes from Clara Belle Fennelly, who would have learned most of them from her town’s senior accordion player sometime circa 1930. Newfoundland has been blessed by a tradition that was relatively intact into the 1960s and long-lived players to transmit it on to the next generation.

PS Okay, the other awesome thing about Rufus is he was a really fine fiddler. It’s great that Sing Song still has his last album available, but he was 90 years old when it was recorded. His wonderful earlier albums from other labels are all out of print. :(