Elmer Briand’s reel

Also known as Elmer Briand’s Favourite.

There are 3 recordings of this tune.

Elmer Briand’s has been added to 1 tune set.

Elmer Briand's has been added to 29 tunebooks.

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Two settings

X: 1
T: Elmer Briand's
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Bmin
(3fff fg fedf|ec (3ccc ac (3ccc|(3fff fg fedf|edce fBBe|
(3fff fg fedf|ec (3ccc ac (3ccc|fd (3ddd ge (3eee|afec fB (3BBB|
X: 2
T: Elmer Briand's
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Bmin
b|"Bm"fB B/B/B {c}BAFB|"A"AFEF ABcb|"Bm"fB B/B/B {c}BAFB|"F#m"Af"A"ec "Bm"fBB:|
e|"Bm"f2 fg "D"fedf|"A"ec c/c/c edce|"Bm"f2 fg "D"fedf|"A"edce "Bm"fBBe|
"Bm"f2 fg "D"fedf|"A"ec c/c/c edce|"Bm"fd d/d/d "Em"ge e/e/e|"A"{b}afec "Bm"fBB||
# Added by Tate .

Nine comments

Colm O’Rua introduced me to this Cape Breton reel composed by Johnny Wilmot, which also features on the album Moidart to Mabou by Diamh.
The second bar is actually intended to be played
AFEF ABcb (i.e. with a top b as the last note) but I find the modified version (using e) sounds better and is also a lot easier to play.

Some background on Elmer Briand

Elmer Briand (1922-1992)

Born into a French Acadian home in which the father was a piper and the mother a Gaelic speaker, Elmer experienced much exposure to Celtic culture. In addition, several of his neighbours were active violinists, including “Johnny” Alex Thibeau, Ned Longaphy, Willie Mombourquette, Charlie Sampson and Johnny MacDonald.

“Johnny MacDonald of Salmon River Road gave me my start. Up until then, the only fiddling I had heard was that of Joe Allard of Quebec on the old Gramophone.”

By age 12, Elmer could play “Lord Lovat’s Lament”, a tune which he learned from his father’s piping.

In 1936, the family moved to Halifax where Elmer became acquainted with many Inverness-style fiddlers. “I learned from such men as Charlie MacKinnon, home from the States. He was much older than me, but Charlie gave me some really good tunes! When I was seventeen, Roddy ‘The Plumber’ MacDonald encouraged me to read music. Then, by studying other players, I got the ‘ree-drum, rah-drum, roo-drum’ of the bowing - it’s not in any book.” He adds, “As a teenager, I played several times with Hank Snow - so did my brother, Peter.”

In 1938, Elmer joined the merchant marine and began taking his fiddle on board the boats because “the boys loved the music!” On March 30, 1942, he was torpedoed off Russia and narrowly escaped with his life. After returning to Halifax, he regained his health and formed the dance band called “Elmer Briand and his Cabot Trail Boys”. His music became a familiar feature on many radio and television programs, and he was instrumental in founding the Cape Breton Club of Halifax. In the year 1962, he placed in the top ten of 129 fiddlers at the Shelburne Fiddling Contest.

As a composer, Elmer enjoys great popularity. Recently, “The Elmer Briand Collection” was published, which contains such noted selections as “Beautiful Lake Ainslie”, “Johnny Wilmot’s Fiddle”, “The Cheticamp Jig” and “The Margaree Valley Waltz”. He also now appears in a National Film Board presentation concerning the life of his friend and fellow fiddler, Don Messer.
(From The Cape Breton Fiddler, by Allister MacGillivray http://www.tullochgorm.com/composers.html)

Elmer Briand was an uncle of Natalie MacMaster on her mother’s side. Amongst his other compositions are jigs Francis Bert Macdonald and Peter Martin and reels The Loch Lomond Reel and Mr. Charles Nicholson Reel

Credit due ~ “The Cape Breton Fiddler” - Allister Mac Gillivray

College of Cape Breton Press
Sydney, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, 1981
ISBN: 0-920336-12-4

The above “background” is word for word from this publication - page 84:

Elmer Briand

Birth: June 8, 1922 at L’Ardoise, Cape Breton
Parents: George P. Briand and Nora Bona

On the facing page, 85, are transcriptions for two of his tunes -
the reel “Johnnie Wilmot’s Fiddle” & “Loch Lomond Strathspey”

Thanks for the reference to the original source

I pasted the snippet of information from the website quoted and it is obviously a vertabim extract from the book that it quotes, but which I have never seen. Perhaps if I’d used additional quotation marks it would have made it clearer. I’ll have to get the book now to find out more.

Many thanks


P.S. Thanks also for posting some of the Elmer Briand tunes too. If you have anything for ‘Beautiful Lake Ainslie’ I had a query about it once that I was unable to respond to.

You can purchase the book here:


I’m surprised I forgot to add that link. It is something you will prize. Also, ask Paul, as it would be nice for you to get the notes for the tune your seeking and for you to contribute it here, with information and credits… 😉

Elmer Briand

As a kid in the 1940’s I remember seeing Elmer Briand several times at the Lantz School Auditorium with well known local country singer Arnul (not Arnold) Murphy. They had a radio show on CHNS Halifax and later on CJCH Halifax.