Old Time Fiddling

Old Time Fiddling

I know this is an ITM community, for the most part, but is anyone into old time fiddling, specifically maritime fiddling? I hear that some of the boys in Nova Scotia really stay away from most of the Celtic stuff and have a genre all to their own. If you listen to a lot of Ashley MacIsaac or Natalie MacMaster, you’ll know what I’m talking about (although they both stray into the Celtic).

My great-grandfather was an old time fiddler and I’d love to be able to learn some of those old songs to carry on his legacy. I’ve searched for a few of them on here without luck. Does anyone know of any links or websites that might have such a thing?

The other thing I could do is search out some of his old cassette tapes. They must be in someone’s basement.

Wait a fair wind and you’ll get one.

- Nathanael

Re: Old Time Fiddling

I don’t know about maritime fiddling, but there’s a thread just below about maritime whistling.

Re: Old Time Fiddling

Your mum must have been in a lot of pain when she gave birth to you if you were 3 years old when you were born :-0

Re: Old Time Fiddling

I’m don’t know all that much about the Nova Scotia/Cape Breton stuff, but for Sea Shanty type thing Newfoundland music might be a good starting point. I googled for you and found this site:
http://www.tidespoint.com/music/index.shtml

Fiddling wise, the real classic old guys of that genre (the "Colemans" of Newfyland, if you will) are Emil Benoit and Rufus Guinchard. Am fairly ignorant on the finer points of style, but they sound great from what I have heard.

Though when I clicked on this thread I thought it was going to be more about American Old Time Mountainy type stuff, which I love. There’s always Bruce Molsky, of course, if your looking for that type of thing, but I don’t want to pass up any opportunity to praise the fanastic fiddler/singer/songwriter/clawhammer banjo player James Leva (www.jamesleva.com). Not very maritime, though he seems to have quite a few songs about drowning for some reason. Highly recommended.

Posted by .

Re: Old Time Fiddling

Right, just read you bio. Bet you knew about the Newfy stuff already, huh…..

Posted by .

Re: Old Time Fiddling

Go to http://www.cranfordpub.com this is a site run by Paul Cranford "The lighthouse keeper" You’ll find loads of Cape Breton tunebooks including the notorious Skye Collection - which came from Scotland with the first settlers. The Skye collection is significant because it was one book of original tunes the Caper’s played from for 250 some odd years. The benfit about cranford pub is you’ll discover a lot of the stuff the old guys on the island play and you’ll find their CD’s…including Ashley’s idol Buddy MacMaster (Natalie’s Uncle). There’s a book which you also purchase called the Cape Breton fiddler (I got my copy in PEI), and that book will give you a page per player Biography of a lot of the significant players in Cape history. It’s as recent as John Morris Rankin. You can also get a lot of free sheet music and tuen samples to go with them as well.

Posted by .

Re: Old Time Fiddling

Hey…and contrary to what the Scots say, Irish tunes are as hard to play. But that’s another thread hehe 😛

Posted by .

Re: Old Time Fiddling

Maritime fiddling? Me! Me! I often rely on Cape Breton-based Cranford Publications when looking for stuff. They’re a great resource. They have an online store for books, CDs, etc. but even better they have Mp3 files if you need to listen to some stuff first, indexing and cross-refering if you don’t know what you’re looking for or where to find it and tunes in ABC format. http://www.cranfordpub.com/
Finally, they have some great links like this one to the Maritime Fiddlers Association. Good luck!
http://www.maritimefiddler.ca/Organization.asp

Re: Old Time Fiddling

Just for the record, fiddlers like MacMaster and MacIsaac don’t exactly just "stray into the Celtic." Their music comes directly from the Scottish Highlands as preserved by Cape Breton descendants and as such is very much Celtic as opposed to Old Time.

Re: History lesson.

Any tunes played over 250 years ago didn’t come from the “Skye Collection”. It was first published in 1887 – 117 years ago, if my maths is correct.

Posted by .

Re: Old Time Fiddling

My guess is that Nathanael and Conanicus are using the terms "old time" and "celtic" in completely different ways. With his family roots in Newfoundland, when Nathanael says "old time", I bet he means traditional maritime fiddling, as brought over by settlers from Scotland and Ireland. When he says "celtic", he probably means either the new-agey celtic stuff or celtic-rock. With nothing in Conanicus’ bio page, it’s hard to say for sure, but it feels like he/she takes "old time" to mean traditional music of the southern (US) mountains and "celtic" to mean traditional music of countries where Gaelic was spoken.

Re: Old Time Fiddling

"Old time Fiddling" is a term which I’ve never been too sure about. In some ways, all traditional fiddle music is "OTF", though it really refers to old style of American music. Bruce Molsky would be a good exponent of this amongst other genres. I certainly wouldn’t regard Cape Breton fiddling as "old time", although you could argue it was. It’s just basically old Scottish music.

Re: Old Time Fiddling

Yeah, sorry about that I’m confusing two different thoughts on the skye collection bit Kenny.

Posted by .

Re: Old Time Fiddling

To put things in perspective, in the firms I worked for there was usually some old time fiddling going on 🙂
Trevor

Re: Old Time Fiddling

And I used to think that The Sky(e) collection was a movie or sports package on satellite TV. Ach, silly me. ;-

Re: Old Time Fiddling

hehe 🙂

Posted by .

Re: Old Time Fiddling

when you say Old Time Fiddling, I think "Ozarks". Anyways, if you want a really good tape series on old-time southern-ish fiddling, check out Brad Leftwich’s series at homespuntapes.com .

Re: Old Time Fiddling

Thanks for the great links Mike and winterhawk. SL, I am quite fond of Newfoundland sea shanties and the like.

I might be incorrect in my use of "Old Time Fiddling", though I’m glad that most of you understood what I meant. Thanks for the replies.

On a side note, I know a fiddler from Cape Breton, and he said that, "Many of the folks over there [Cape Breton] won’t even touch the Celtic stuff" (although Celtic might not be the right word here since their music originates from the Scottish tradition). I think they must mean the Irish tunes. When I asked him why they don’t play it, he replied, "Its too hard for most of them, though they’d never admit it."

Nathanael

Re: Old Time Fiddling

In our region (Southwestern Ontario) "Old Time" is very definately "fiddle music tradition handed down from the pioneers" which I believe would suit the Ozark definition since "Old Time" (or tyme) hardly describes Levon Helm ;)

As to that mix of Irish, Scott, German, Scandinavian, African, First Nations and French Canadian characteristic of the east-south-east coastal USA as collected by Alan Lomax et al, we’d call that "Old Time MOUNTAIN Music" or just generically ‘apallachian’ … and while considered ‘exotic’, it’s perfectly acceptable material for any jamboree or opry.

But the one that really gets under my skin is the "old time METIS" fiddling — like, how on Earth do they keep track with all those raga-like rhythm changes? And how do they dance to that stuff. It’s amazing, and John Arcand (http://www.johnarcand.com/) is the best living example.

And therein is how I’d start looking for any "old time" music: Find the best example you can in modern times, which you can generally find from any of the Fiddle Competition rosters, and as with any geneaology, work your way back student to teacher as far as you need to get to the branch-point you want.

Posted by .

Re: Old Time Fiddling

Oh, and our local old-time masters play lots of Irish tunes, just not the pub-tunes we tend to associate with sessions or performance art. They have a selection that are part of the repetoire, and the good ones keep adding more, but there’s a particular quality to these selections that’s hard to define, and it’s not because they are "easy to play" because they aren’t.

But maybe apropos to Nathanael’s remark, it is true they do not value pyrotechnics and dazzle, even in competition; they let the music move forward, but in undefinable ways thought ‘true’ to the tradition, and that’s a fine line, but fuzzy enough that after 150 years, even the most standard reel can take on a life of its own.

Posted by .