Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 29 > Page 42 - The Cape Breton Fiddler: A Talk with Allister MacGillivray

Page 42 - The Cape Breton Fiddler: A Talk with Allister MacGillivray

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1981/8/1 (331 reads)

he did for a living?) In Dan R.'s case, I suppose in most of them, they had alterna? tive employment, something that paid a lot better. You can't just get room and board at places for playing the violin, and hope that'll do. Dan R. was in the army for a- while. He worked in Windsor with the Chrys? ler Corporation. A lot of them held alter? native jobs. They might go other periods where they weren't working so steady, and then they'd use that spare time strictly for music. Any time they had a decent job that wasn't maybe too hard on the fingers-- you'd have to keep that in mind!--they would take it for a certain length of time. Consummate musicians--those people that are consumed by their music--there's so many things worldly and practical that don't bother them at all. Their music is too important. Dan R. wore glasses for a long time tied up with bandaids. He could have replaced them but, like an absent- minded professor, it just wasn't the thing that it was important to do. He had other things that were more crucial, like writ? ing a tune that day, or learning a new technique, or something like that. I suppose now there aren't as many like Dan R., but you wouldn't have to go back too many years, not more than 20, and you'd find all kinds of bachelor fiddlers and spinster fiddleresses on the island. They're not like gypsies, where they're continually on the road. But they have quite a flexible schedule, if they do know a certain player's in town and they want to spend a week or two with him, or they want to head off for another county or pro? vince- -they ' re available to travel. (Where do women fiddlers fit into all this?) One of the questions I would ask is, "Do you find there's any chauvinism or pre? judice, anything directed your way because you're a female violin player?" Although there would be slight hints of it, certain? ly in the older players, they say at the point when they were learning to play at home, no one ever said that it's not right that a woman would play. Never. The whole family was encouraged to stepdance, play thd violin, play the organ, sing Gaelic songs, whatever. There have been women players all through the ages. The families that I've talked to that were large fami? lies, the girls were never relegated strictly to piano accompaniment, although some of them went that direction all right, maybe because the men were more anxious to play the violin. When there was a father in a family of a large group of kids, he'd certainly hand the violin to the girl as quickly as to the boy, if she had the tal? ent and the desire. That's been my re? search on it, an3rway. You should hear a tape of a strong dance player, like Cassie Maclsaac--she's Sandy Maclntyre's mother, she'd be Cassie Mac- Isaac Maclntyre--a wonderful dance player, this woman. Mary MacDonald is another strong fiddler; I don't know how much she played for dances. Theresa MacLellan is an? other one who plays very strong. She just says, "You just get in there and drive her. You give her the best you can, and you just come right back on it. There's no time for roles. You just say, 'I'm a vio? lin player and I'm going to play the vio? lin' --it's as simple as that." A Shop for Cape Bretoners and their Friends Island Crafts WHOLESALE - RETAIL Visit our store for a distinctive gift or souvenir. Whether it's a beautifully handcrafted C. B. wool sweater, a high-fashion mo? hair or boucle sweater, an accessory item, jams and jellies. Mad Potters, a toy for that special child, or some? thing for yourself or a friend--a gift from ISLAND CRAFTS is always appreciated. WE FEATURE ALL "MADE IN CAPE BRETON" ITEMS AND EVERYTHING IN THE STORE IS HANDCRAFTED. OUR WHOLESALE DEPARTMENT HAS A FULL RANGE OF EXCELLENT SOUVENIRS. 335 George Street, Sydney Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Open All Year 'Round ' Choice Red Brand Beef IHIII (42) Gentleman Jk Fully Licensed Restaurant 6 Days a Week: II to 11 Enjoy the TROP LOUNGE next door at Sydney Shopping Mall Let Us Fill Your Next Prescription Now O Locations in Cape Breton to Serve You: PORT HAWKESBURY CENTRE 625-1404 CAPE BRETON SHOPPING PLAZA 564-8151 MAYFLOWER MALL 539-5080 Operated by Manson Drugs Ltd.
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