Maple Sugar reel

By Ward Allen

Also known as Hugh’s Favourite, Maple Sugar Gal, Sirop D’érable.

There are 14 recordings of this tune.

Maple Sugar has been added to 1 tune set.

Maple Sugar has been added to 92 tunebooks.

Download ABC

Three settings

X: 1
T: Maple Sugar
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
Bc|:d2 de dcBA|B2 Bc B2 cB|BAAB c2 BA|cBBA B2 Bc|
d2 de dcBA|B2 Bc B2 cB|BAAB c2 BA|1 GDEF G2 Bc:|2 GDEF G2 FG||
K: Dmaj
A2 AB AFAd|f2 fe d2 cd|e2 ed c2 Bc|d2 cB AFGB|
A2 AB AFAd|f2 fe d2 cd|e2 ed c2 Bc|1 d2 dc d2 FG:|2 d2 dc d2||
X: 2
T: Maple Sugar
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
FG|A2 AB AFAd|f2 fe d2 cd|e2 ed c=cB^A|A=cGB AFGB|
A2 AB AFAd|f2 fe d2 cd|e2 ed cABc|d2 dc d2|
X: 3
T: Maple Sugar
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K: Amaj
Acd|:e2e>f edcB|c2c>d cAdc|B2B>c ddcB|c>A cd eAcd|
e2e>f edcB|Bc c>d cAdc|cB B>c ddcB|1 BAA>B AAcd:|2 BAA>B A2CD||
E2E>F ECEA|c2c>B AEFE|B2B>c dBcB|1 A2A>B A2CD:|2 A2A>B AAcd||
|:e2e>f edcB|c2c>d cAdc|B2B>c ddcB|cA c>d cAcd|
e2e>f edcB|Bc c>d cAdc|cB B>c ddcB|1 BAA>B AAcd:|2 BAA>B A2^GA||
|:B2B>c BGBe|^g2g>f eBcB|f2f>^g f^dcd|ee^dc B^GAc|
B2B>c B^GBe|^g2g>f eBcB|f2f>^g aagf|1 e2e>f e2 ^GA:|2 e2e>f edcd||

Twenty-five comments

Maple sugar

I’m surprised that this tune (a march, not a reel) isn’t in the database already; it’s a Canadian standard, one of those tunes that everyone around these parts seems to know from somewhere, but can’t place. There’s another version here - - but (a slightly swung version of) the one I posted is the one we play at my session.

Long-winded, pointless anecdote about Maple Sugar:

A few Monday nights ago, I returned home from the session to discover that sometime between my fiddle lesson and my arrival back at my apartment, my heavy mute had taken leave of my case. Panic set in, as I was scheduled to leave town the next morning, and I didn’t want to subject the other guests at the bed and breakfast to the sorts of noises that a vaguely obsessive neophyte fiddler tends to make. What to do?

I am hardly at my most lucid late at night, so the obvious solution (buy a new mute upon arrival in destination city; search for missing mute upon return) did not occur to me. Instead, I channeled McGuyver, and set about assembling a makeshift mute from various items lying about the house. Half an hour later, my fiddle’s bridge sported two metal hair clips attached below the strings, a little orchestral mute on top, and - to top it off - the peephole I’d extracted from my door, fastened with a wire and an elastic band. I tested it out: it muffled the sound just as well as my metal mute. Not bad! Disassembling it, though, was nontrivial, so I left it intact as I put my fiddle back it its case, and then I went to sleep and forgot about the whole thing until I had to haul this entire contraption through airport security at 6:30 the next morning.

Did I mention that I’m visibly of part Middle Eastern extraction?

Airport Security requested permission to open my case, and one does not say no to Airport Security. Pointing at the mess of metal, springs, and wires on my fiddle’s bridge, Airport Security asked me, “What is this?”

It was 6:30 in the morning and I’d barely slept, so I replied, “It’s a bloody fiddle, what does it look like?”

“No,” said Airport Security verrrry slooowly, finger hovering precariously over the bridge, “THIS.”

“Oh!” I said, and told Airport Security the first two paragraphs of this story.

“Play it,” ordered Airport Security.

I knew that this was the most important performance of my very short, and even more dubious career as a fiddler: one can only imagine that if I flubbed this one, it would be assumed that my fiddle was some variety of weapon of mass destruction, and my fiddle and I would both be denied boarding, or worse. My anxiety was compounded by the fact that I’d left my new, beautiful fiddle at home, and had instead taken the cheap rental fiddle, which goes egregiously out of tune at the slightest provocation. I extracted the instrument and plucked the strings: sure enough, there wasn’t a perfect fifth to be heard, and this fiddle takes an age to tune.

I did what anyone with my repertoire would do: I played the first seven bars of Maple Sugar, entirely on the A string.

Airport Security seemed satisfied - I can only imagine what the dozens of passengers watching me were thinking - and my fiddle and I made it onto the plane, and the rest of the trip passed without incident.

None of this, as it turned out, was even remotely necessary. The bed and breakfast where I was staying was in a mansion, with no other guests, and I could have committed a chainsaw massacre in my room without disturbing the other guests. Moreover, at one point, after practicing with my mute, I left my room to find the hosts sitting outside my door, apparently rather enjoying listening to the sorts of noises that a vaguely obsessive neophyte fiddler tends to make. No accounting for taste, I guess.

“Maple Sugar” ~ another Ward Allen comp., also played in D & A Major

Nice tale TDM… 😎

Ward Allen ~ Ontario Fiddler, composer of tunes and Radio star

Courtesy of “The Fiddler’s Companion” ~ Andrew Kuntz

“ ~ Composed by Ontario fiddler Ward Allen, a professional fiddler who won contest after contest in Canada the 1950’s and had a successful career playing on the radio. It is a tune which has varied considerably in the vicissitudes of the ‘fold process’ and has even acquired a set of words. In addition to being a staple of ‘down east’ Canadian fiddling, it has been popular in northern New York and northern New England; as Vic Kibler (Hamilton County, New York) said, “At every fiddle contest they all played it.” It was in repertory of Buffalo Valley, Pa., region dance fiddler Harry Daddario. Shetland fiddler Aly Bain’s version (which he calls “traditional Canadian”) is much superior to that collected by Bayard (which is really one strain which is modulated to another key), who thought it a strain of a song air transformed into a dance tune. Most Canadian fiddlers play the tune in the keys of ‘A’ and ‘E’, though in other parts of North America the tune is rendered throughout in the keys of ‘A’ or ‘D’ Major with no key change in the second part. ~“

I think they’d meant ‘folk process’…the ‘Chinese whispers’ of tune sharing, or is that shearing, as for sheep?

I have come across this tune being used for New England contra dancing, in several 32 bar versions, as is the transcription given here…

Thanks, ceolachan, for the additional information!

(“Most Canadian fiddlers play the tune in the keys of ‘A’ and ‘E’”? Dear God, why?)

[Coda to previous long-winded anecdote: I got my mute back; it was in the pub, and they’d held onto it for me, the dolls.]

Good, I was stop worrying about that conglomeration of mutable paraphernalia you’d put on your fiddle, and get some sleep. When you closed the case I was wincing… 😏

“I was”? ~ it is late, I meant to say ~ “Now I can stop worrying.”

Please, get yourself a spare mute or two, or hand your fiddle and mute over to someone more responsible for safe keeping during periods of hibernation, or when you are worse for wear…

But I have a spare mute! It consists of two metal hair clips, an orchestral mute, a peephole, an elastic band, and some wires. Weren’t you paying attention? ;)

AAAAA!!! (Yes!) 😉

Maple Sugar

Blue Ribbon Fiddle by Al Cherny (RCA Victor LP, CAL/CAS-989)

Maple sugar

In Québec, often played after devil’s dream. I think this was initiated by a group name Le Rêve du diable. The french lyrics from Jean Pierre LaChance tells the story of people making maple syrup, going through the buches on a sleigh pulled by a horse, picking up maple water and boiling it into maple syrup:

On est allés dans le bois, on a vu une belle cabane,
Y’avait d’la fumée qui sortait de par la cheminée
On a frappé à la porte, on est entré dans la cabane
« Salut bonhomme! dis-nous si on pourrait t’aider! »
« Ah! Si tu veux m’aider, attelle les ch’vaux après l’traîneau
Mets l’tonneau su’l’traîneau, va voir si y a d’l’eau dans les sieaux
Si y a d’l’eau dans les sieaux, varse-la donc dans l’tonneau
Amène-moé ça icitte, on va s’faire un peu de bon sirop »

On est allés dans le bois, on a vu une belle cabane,
Y’avait d’la fumée qui sortait de par la ch’minée
On a mis l’traîneau après les ch’vaux
On a mis l’tonneau su’l’traîneau
On a passé dans l’bois pi on a vidé les sieaux
On a mis du bois dedans l’poêle, on a mis d’l’eau dans l’boiler
On a mangé des bonnes binnes arrosées de bon sirop
On a allumé nos pipes, les filles s’sont mises à placoter
Les violons s’sont mis à jouer et tout l’monde est parti à danser

You can hear it under the following link…

Variation on Maple Sugar

Recently I’ve been playing around with the B part of this tune, playing it like this the first time around:

K: Dmaj
FG|A2 AB AFAd| f2 fe d2 cd|e2 ed c=cB^A|A=cGB AFGB|
A2 AB AFAd| f2 fe d2 cd|e2 ed cABc|d2 dc d2|

For whatever reason, this tune reminds me of circus rides, and this variation is appropriately playful; I also like (if I do say so myself) how this version lives in an ambiguous key, between the Gmaj and Dmaj parts, as though the tune is taking its time deciding to switch into D major. Unfortunately, it’s hell to play on certain instruments, (there’s a reason you don’t see A#‘s very often in ITM), but it’s a nice fiddle exercise…

Maple Sugar in A and E

Tall Dark and Mysterious wonders “dear God, why” do most Canadian fiddlers play Maple Sugar in A and E? The best explanation is to listen to the Canadian composer Ward Allen, who played it in these keys, on his recording back in the 1950s. It’s posted on Youtube at <>;.

Ward Allen plays Maple Sugar

When I tried tested that link for Ward Allen in my previous comment, it didn’t work – something wrong in the address. But you can get there by simply googling “Ward Allen plays Maple Sugar”. It’s really worth a listen.

Thanks for the link to Ward Allen. Great playing. I only knew the tune before from Aly Bain& Graeme Townsend’s version, and oddly, Don Messer on a recording with Australian country singer Slim Dusty

Posted by .

Maple Sugar –truly named

I am more familiar I think than many it the USA of Canadian fiddle tunes but when I stumbled Ward Allen’s signature tune a week ago on YouTube I was totally blown away. I worked on nothing else for two days until I could play Maple Sugar note for note –in my case on mandolin (BTW, just search on YT “maple sugar ward allen”). I’ve listened more than a half dozen other recordings of the tune since but my opinion this is one tune for which you really should try to listen to the composer. The timing is everything in this tune and Ward Allen had to have been a genius – when he plays it the tune is addicting. What a tragic loss to fiddling he was.

If anyone watched the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver Olympics then you would have seen this tune being played by some of the finest fiddlers in Canada. You can probably youtube it if you missed it, I think the segment was called ‘Rythyms of the Fall.’ There were 6 fiddlers representing the various fiddle styles of Canada and this was the first tune they all played together after each fiddler played a tune from their area of the country. 🙂

Fiddle Nation, A and E, and Scott Woods That’s the link to the whole segment, complete with Maple sugar at 5:16 and onward.

As as to why we Canadian Fiddlers play it in A and E, I have no idea, that’s the way I learned it, it’s the way my teacher knows it, and all the other Canadian fiddlers I know seem to play in A, then switch to E half way through.

Scott Woods and his group plays an amazing version. Scott, did many fiddle stunts while playing this tune at one of his concerts, and played behind his back, did somersaults, and other tricks, while playing as masterfully as always.

Posted by .

Re: Maple Sugar

Hi everyone

I have heard this tune played by my Dad my whole life and love it. It’s part of my DNA now I think.

I’d really love to play this tune with my 90 year old Dad. He plays it in C and F on his button accordion.

How I’m going to learn it in those keys and I’m a fiddler of only a few months…I don’t know, but I want to try.

The problem is I need a recording to listen to in those keys. Has anybody got one or any chance of ABCs in C and F?

I learn tunes by ear as I’m a non music reader.

Thanks heaps if anyone can help.


Re: Maple Sugar

I know it as “Sirop d’érable” which translate as “Mapple Sirup”, I learned it from neighbour people signing a french version with the same lyrics share by Carabus a few posts above.

Maple Sugar, X:3

I can’t believe no-one has written it out in A so here it is. For all those fearful of the 3rd part in E, it’s the same fingering on the fiddle as the 2nd part, just one string higher. (I’m an ABC notation luddite so I couldn’t put the fancy bits in). I’ve written it as part A, B, A, C. Good luck!

Re: Maple Sugar

PS If anyone can tell me how to put the 1st and 2nd time bars in correctly, I’ll edit it

Re: Maple Sugar

Your edit should be from:
|“1st x bar”BAA>B AAcd:|“2nd x bar”BAA>B A2CD||
|1 BAA>B AAcd:|2 BAA>B A2CD||


Re: Maple Sugar

@last post - thankyou!