Lighthouse book cover

The Lighthouse Collection


Review by Jody Stecher Winter 1996-97

published in Fiddler Magazine

(html links added to original published review)



book only

Also available in various book CD bundles

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

Now that's a long title and this is a very good book. For nearly twenty years now, Paul Cranford has been publishing both high quality reprints of classic 19th century Scots fiddle tune books and well-designed new collections of newly composed tunes by late 20th century Cape Bretoners. The focus of this new book is the compositions of the publisher himself augmented by selected works of a dozen of his friends and prime influences.

The collection includes most of the usual Celtic tune types as well as a sprightly "slip reel." The reels are particularly well crafted and appear to be mostly inspired by the Irish/Scottish confluence (with a subterranean French influence) that is found in the music of some of Cranford's mentors and exemplars such as Johnny Wilmot, Joe Confiant and others. Some of the tunes are serious, others just plain fun, and a few, like the single jig "Siobhan," are flat-out gorgeous.

There are special touches here. Through blurbs at the start of tune sections and frequent footnotes, Cranford's musical biography is woven into the fabric of the book. And a 68 minute CD containing performances of many of the tunes is nestled in a plastic sleeve affixed to the inside back cover. There is also one perplexing feature: staff notation of melodic form has been confused with a map of finger placement. Thirteen tunes are written for raised bass tuning with the notes put as if the fiddle were tuned standard, which effectively protects them from ever being played by any instrument but a cross-tuned fiddle.

 by Jody Stecher, California, Winter 1997


another review ...from Canadian Folk Bulletin

Plus Paul's CDs

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.

 Photographs from
The Lighthouse Collection

(all photographs by Wayne Barrett)



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last upddate 28/08/2010




Scordatura notation was common in the 18th century when Baroque musicians first started notating Scottish fiddle music. What this notation does is define the fingering in any altered tuning. You read the music exactly as if reading for a normal violin. Because the violin is tuned differently, the proper pitches are sounded. Unlike tablature, for a violinist used to reading standard notation, there is no learning curve. Cranford's intention for using this style of notation is not only to encourage fiddlers to explore the fingerboard and to listen to the rich sounds possible in altered tunings but also to explore older manuscriptsw and collections of fiddle music.

ABCs are now on-line for the raised bass tunes recorded on The Lighthouse CD. (tunes #55, 56 and 57 ... this gives the tunes in stndard notation with playback

Both standard notation and scordatura are supplied for most of the tunes in question in the 2nd edition of this book (2010).

for more on Scordatura