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The Cape Breton Fiddlers Collection
Volume 7 of the Cape Breton Musical Heritage Series

Review by Jody Stecher - originally published in Fiddler Magazine.

First published in 2007 the 2nd edition was released in 2011 - complete with chords by Allie Bennett.

Samples

Title
Composer

Billy MacLeod's Testimonial

Carl MacKenzie

The Fields of Bannockburn

traditional strathsepy

Space Available

Marcel Doucet

Norman's Jig

Ray Ellis

Remembering Marie MacLellan

Jerry Holland

Perrie Werrie

traditional reel

addenda:

Fiddler's Favorite - a G modal traditional reel from The Inverness Seranaders. Better setting than the 1st edition.

Teresa Gallant’s - A waltz in the group’s current repertoire... now played with an additional octave ending

Memeres Birthday - A pipe reel by Leanne Aucoin

 

Index

Review by Jody Stecher - orignally published in Fiddler Magazine
It is my pleasure to review this new collection as it has been my pleasure to play the music ably presented within its covers. The collection is subtitled "A Compilation of 267 Melodies/ Music arranged from the repertoires of past and present members and friends of the Cape Breton Fiddlers Association". And that's what it is. Distribution might have been confined to membership but it was decided to not horde treasure. Why should a fiddler not from this island be interested in the repertoire of a provincial club of amateurs? Because Cape Breton is to fiddle tunes as Italy is to coffee. The worst cup of coffee I had in Italy was better than the best I tasted anywhere else. The least of the tunes in this collection is worth playing and hearing. The best are classics. Many were composed by members and friends of the Association; the balance are traditional tunes in settings that differ from what is found in the old Scottish collections and which reflect past and present musical style on Cape Breton Island.

The concept of "past and present" is key to this book. There's a sort of sci-fi Many Layers Of Time aspect to the collection. Instead of a snapshot of typical or favorite tunes of the Association at a moment in time, there's a kind of palimpsest of various moments in its history. It's a great idea and well realized.

About twenty-five percent of the composers are women. Tunes composed by fiddlers without Scottish ancestry an by those from beyond the island are also represented. The newly composed tunes and the eighteenth century tunes are of a piece. Much of the old informs the new here, and newer sensibilities do not destroy the beauty of the older tunes as has happened elsewhere.

The repertoire is presented according to tune type (reel or jig or lament for instance) with tunes organized according to key. Whether by design or happy accident the sequence of tunes within each key makes musical sense. Within each tune category there is a good variety of compositional style, musical mood, and sonic color. Some of the tunes are followed by commentary by the editor or by its composer. Four pages of introduction provide context. There is an alphabetical index and a composer's index. The print is big and readable. The book stays open and doesn't close like a clamshell and leap off your music stand knocking over your cup of Red Rose tea. Highly recommended. --- Jody Stecher

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3/30/08