Lighthouse book cover

The Lighthouse Collection of newly composed Fiddle Tunes

Original Melodies in the Cape Breton, Irish, and Scottish Tradition


review by Mavis Hutchings. Originally published in Canadian Folk Music Bulletin

(html links added to original published review)

book only

Various Book-CD bundles available


The Lighthouse Collection of newly composed Fiddle Tunes, Original Melodies in the Cape Breton, Irish, and Scottish Tradition, Compiled by Paul Stewart Cranford (Cape Breton Musical Heritage Series)

The Lighthouse: Cape Breton Fiddle Music by Lighthousekeeper Paul Cranford and Friends (recording only - CD or cassette)

More Tunes from the Lighthouse (2010)- 2CD set - 113 tunes from the Lighthouse Collection performed by Paul Cranford and Mario Colosimo.

This 1996 collection is compiled by composer Paul Cranford, a lighthouse keeper since 1975, who gains inspiration for many of the tunes he writes by walking the shores, listening sounds of the wind and waves. Many of the tunes in the collection are his own, the rest collected from musical friends. The tune types include marches, strathspeys, reels, hornpipes, jigs,and waltzes, a a very well produced CD of a large mumger of the tunes accompanies the book, as well as being available separately. On the back cover is a detailed list of the tunes featured on the recording, and at the front of the book is an excellent index, with all selections listed in their respective keys.

The CD makes for enjoyable listening as well as learning - I thought the best way to approach writing about such a book would be to sit down and learn a few of the tunes. Being particularly drawn to several of the reels, I chose "Union Street Session" and "Aoife's Come to Dublin," two of Paul Cranford's . The reels are all played fairly slowly, with a lot of emphasis on phasing and timing, with a lot of feeling which can be lost if the tunes are played too quickly! I found with "Union Street" that I relied more on the CD than on the notation to get the feel of the tune. "Aoife's" was more straighforward for me. There's a very nice waltz "The Rocky Shore" also by Cranford, which I have enjoyed playing - it has a great deal of feeling as well as being very musical.

I would say this book is a must for anyone of intermediate and upwards ability wanting to add some dynamic new tunes to their repertoire. It would have been even better if accompaniment chords had been added, and an index of the ornamentation symbols for those not familiar with the language.

It has certainly been an enjoyable experience browsing throught the contents of the collection and listening to the tunes. Playing them has been quite magical; perhaps it's the feeling of being transported to such an idyllic setting and capturing the feel of the music. Thanks to Paul and friends.

Mavis Hutchings, Calgary, Alberta

a different review ... from Fiddler Magazine


Photographs from
The Lighthouse Collection

(all photographs by Wayne Barrett) 

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