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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Help with some Cape Breton.

Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link:

jamieholmes - Posted - 01/05/2010:  08:29:16

Hi good people!
I have been wanting to get into some Cape Breton style of
playing for some time now.
Is there any one who can recommend me a good way of starting for eksampel DVD's, links, notes with mp3 to go with etc.
I have never played this style before but I have played a good deal of Irish so
hopefully I can use that.

Thanks a bunch.

Edited by - jamieholmes on 01/05/2010 08:29:37

hendrid - Posted - 01/05/2010:  08:50:44

I'm sure you have done the obvious but have you booted up and typed in Cape Breton Fiddle or Cape Breton Music and checked what is there. Hope I have not missed your point. Good Luck. don

Edited by - hendrid on 01/05/2010 08:51:10

DougD - Posted - 01/05/2010:  08:54:00

Jamie, a few of the classic players are represented here: You might take a listen and see what interests you.

There's some more info here too:

baylady - Posted - 01/05/2010:  09:19:21

I would suggest visiting and selecting 'links' . It will take you to the sites of many CB musicians and other fiddling links. There's even recipes for a taste of Cape Breton and tourist links in case you'd like to come for a visit! :-)........Melva aka baylady [from Cape Breton Nova Scotia Canada]

baylady - Posted - 01/05/2010:  09:27:06

PS....Natalie is a very generous musician and offers a lot of free sheet music on her website.

jamieholmes - Posted - 01/05/2010:  12:13:22

Thanks for the links.

baylady I could not find the sheets that you where talking about.

Any one knows if there is any DVD's out oe can learn from?.

DougD - Posted - 01/05/2010:  12:34:46

Jamie, if you go to Natalie's website and click on "Recordings/Store" it will take you a listing of her CDs. Then click "sheet music" (not available for the first CD) and it will bring up a list. Not everything's available, but its very generous.

I agree with Melva that its a very nice site.

As far as DVDs, there's this one:

Edited by - DougD on 01/05/2010 12:47:47

Dick Hauser - Posted - 01/05/2010:  13:11:15

April Verch's book/CD "The American Fiddle Method - Canadian Styles" has tunes which are popular among Canadian fiddlers. Some of the tunes are Cape Breton tunes. That book has 3 versions of each tune, and simpler version and two advanced versions. Comparing the different versions is a good way to learn some new variations.

Natalie MacMaster has a book. You buy the CD separately. It is a repertoire book and not an instructional. Gordon Stobbe, a Canadian fiddler, has a series of fiddle books on Canadian fiddle tunes. His books contain some instructional information along with the notation for the tunes.

When I watch Gordon Stobbe bowing instructional, he mentions that Cape Breton fiddlers tend to use a different bow grip. That is something you should check out. If I wanted to learn that style I would see if a Cape Breton fiddler offers lessons via the internet. Maybre a listmember can help you get an instructional DVD on this style of fiddling.

I often listen to Cape Breton fiddlers on Youtube.

Edited by - Dick Hauser on 01/05/2010 16:07:21

deckda - Posted - 01/05/2010:  18:01:43

Here's some good Caper stuff



Wendy MacIsaac

And that Juneberry site is a goldmine.

Edited by - deckda on 01/05/2010 18:03:11

AuldNick - Posted - 01/05/2010:  20:22:45

A lot of the ornamentation is similar to that used in the Irish styles...
Cuts, rolls, bowed triplets.....more use of vibrato.
One 'must know' bowing 'ornament' is the "Scotch Snap"
(sorry - has nothing to do with snagging an extra glass o' craither from
one of your session mates) It's (I hope I get this right) an accented 1/16 note
tied to a dotted 1/8 note. You'll also hear it with a roll on the 1/8 note.

The real music doesn't live on the printed page (sheet music)
so you have to listen, listen, listen to Breton fiddlers....a LOT.

Pipe tunes make good music on the fiddle. Have fun with some of the
marches....played faster than one would want to march to.

A few more links to get you going:

Cape Breton Live...
Lots of CDs and links to musicians webpages:

Some sheet music here:

Also, you gotta love strathspeys....
J.S. Skinner - The King of Strathspeys:

DougD - Posted - 01/05/2010:  20:56:15

Jamie, here's another site no one has mentioned:

They have a large selection of books and CDs for sale, plus notation for many,many Cape Breton tunes. Look on the left of the homepage for "Tunes" and "abcs." The more you poke around, the more you'll find. A great site.

Fiddlepiper - Posted - 01/05/2010:  23:27:58

Hi Jamie, guess I'd better put a plug in for my Cape Breton teacher....Ed Pearlman. You can get lessons here, and at you can get free his streamlining MP-3's. I'm glad Paul Cranford was mentioned. He is very knowledgeable about Cape Breton Fiddling! Good Luck!

jamieholmes - Posted - 01/06/2010:  00:39:04

Thank you so much for the help people.
Great links, I think I have plenty to go from now I'll get started right away.

Any one who can tell me why this style is called Cape Breton tho?.

Mandogryl - Posted - 01/06/2010:  03:33:14

Cape Breton music is somewhat unique in that there are what is known as "sets". These sets usually start off somewhat with a slow Air, or two, then going to a couple of Strathspeys, then into even faster Jigs or even Hornpipes. My teacher tells me that when I do not observed the dotted note of the sprathspey I turn it into a hornpipe. So, timing is somewhat important. There is free sheetmusic at the Cape Breton FIddler's Assoc. and tons of free music at the Ottawa Cape Breton music group. Something like 35 CB sets there. And as has been said, Natalie has free tunes in PDF form at her site.
Another trademark of CB sets in addition to the medleys is the foot tapping (stomping), and piano and guitar backup. CB music has Scottish music as ancestry.
As a beginner, the foot stomping is hard for me to do. I have spoken to Andrea Beaton from CB, and she tells me that she trys to double tap on her strathspeys.
Good luck! Let us know how it goes.

DougD - Posted - 01/06/2010:  06:03:21

"Any one who can tell me why this style is called Cape Breton tho?."

Maybe I don't understand your question, but you do understand that its a place, don't you Jamie? and

Edited by - DougD on 01/06/2010 06:09:38

jamieholmes - Posted - 01/06/2010:  06:10:07

Any one where I can find the first tune Buddy plays
here on sheet? (Niel Gow's Lament).

Edited by - jamieholmes on 01/06/2010 06:16:30

DougD - Posted - 01/06/2010:  06:27:28

baylady - Posted - 01/06/2010:  08:45:09

I was born and raised in Cape if anyone has a question about the area, I would be pleased to respond, if I can. :-)

TimK - Posted - 01/06/2010:  10:13:14

Originally posted by jamieholmes

Any one where I can find the first tune Buddy plays
here on sheet? (Niel Gow's Lament).


Send me an e-mail and I'll attach a copy of Niel Gow's Lament for you.


Jaunskots - Posted - 01/06/2010:  18:11:33

There was a thread not long ago with some more info:

Paul Cranford's website has lots of free downloads of sheet music.

Gordon Stobbe's books of Canadian fiddle tunes are wonderful, but he warns you that they don't cover specifically Cape Breton fiddle music at all. They include tunes that are played on the island because they are played everywhere in Canada, but not the CB ornamentation, and none of the tunes that only Capers play.

Last summer a visiting friend summed up the CB fiddle style (and to a variable and lesser extent that where I live, an hour and a half from the causeway connecting the island to Nova Scotia) as trying to make a fiddle into a Great Highland Bagpipe without running afoul of the prohibition of the pipes (as weapons in the wake of the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion). There's something instructive in that description.


Fiddlepiper - Posted - 01/07/2010:  00:43:38

Thanks Harold for mentioning my topic last summer on this. And, once again, Paul Cranford is the best resource. I am smiling about your comment on the CB style fiddlin emanating the GHB, and as a Grade 2 piper, and Scot fiddler studying both at the Gaelic College CB, you are correct...whew! Unlike Natalie CB playing, and Uncle Buddy, I enjoy Bonnie Rideouts right on ornamentations to the GHB.

Jaunskots - Posted - 01/07/2010:  06:17:43

Glad to hear the Gaelic College in St Ann's mentioned. There are classes in Cape Breton fiddling there during the March school break and in the summer. I have no experience of them, but the instructors are all known fiddlers. The college is in a beautiful location, and worth the visit for a tourist also.There are also classes in Judique, I think; the Celtic Music Centre there will have info:

And of course while you visit Cape Breton you should visit mainland Nova Scotia also. I live in a fairly typical spot in rural Pictou County: I see bald eagles every day from March to December; in January and February I have to drive about 20 minutes to see them, but I get to see a dozen or so at a time. The local fiddle concerts on Sunday afternoons pack the old schoolhouse in Glencoe once a month. You might like just Nova Scotia. Do bring a fiddle if you come.

I also will be glad to provide info and links, without too much hyperbole (not much required really).


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