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> Issue 57 > Page 85 - Michael Coleman: A Cape Breton Irish Connection

Page 85 - Michael Coleman: A Cape Breton Irish Connection

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1991/6/1 (231 reads)

learned a few of his tunes very accurately. His setting of "Miss MacLeod's Reel," for example, is not like the standard Cape Bre? ton setting of that tune. Angus learned that from a 78 of Michael Coleman. It's a setting in the Key of G with some really nice extra variations. Another example is Dan R. MacDonald's LP recording of "The Boys of the Loch." It seems obvious Dan R. learned from the Coleman 78 and then ar? ranged it in his own way. The structure shows that it came from the Coleman 78. Certainly we can see other Irish influenc? es throughout Inverness County. Even in Mabou and those places, which is thought of as totally a Scottish area, you can look at their repertoire of jigs and you know that there's Irish influence. Al? though it's possible they got that from books, it's also very possible that some of that came in through an oral tradition, through the first initial Irish immi? grants. Although there weren't many, there were some Irish settlers in all different areas of Cape Breton. In northern Cape Breton, again, there were some Irish tunes played. People like Mike MacDougall. Some of it they would have got through records, some from the oral tradition. And you can't always know the original source. (Once you get past the '30s people are more mobile--the 1930s is nice because at that point people are still in their local areas.) That's probably the last time when there were "pure" regional styles in Cape Breton. (Definable regional styles.) That's right. Because right then records came out, and so within a generation the music from the 78 records would have been digested. You don't learn new tunes over? night and change your repertoire over? night- -so maybe we're talking into the '60s even, before regional styles really started to fade. But the start of it would have been the '20s and '30s when the first recordings came out. And transportation again is another fac? tor. You know, cars at that time started becoming more and more available to every? body. And so your scope for sessions, for going for house parties all of a sudden would be much wider--your geographic scope. So you'd go to St. Peters for a party even though you're from Sydney. Or you'll go to Mabou for the weekend. And the fiddlers would go that far to play dances by the '40s, late '40s. They cer? tainly didn't do that in the '20s. You know, they wouldn't go that far to play a dance. (To return to Michael Coleman. If I under? stand correctly, he's an important influ? ence. And he's a high-quality influence. And he's a little-known influence. And yet whether we know it or not, Michael Coleman is a portion of the Cape Breton sound.) Yes. (Is it possible to say to me what the difference is between Scottish fiddling and Irish fiddling, something to look for in the music as a listener, that would tell me, "Look, Michael Coleman had an in? fluence in our lives"?) It's tough. I mean, I can say what's there--today--what people say is specifi? cally Irish. (What would that be?) Well, you could talk about different runs and rolls, and slightly different accents on their--what we call cuts and they call trebles. Technical types of bowing things. Slurred bowing as opposed to single bow? ing. More accents on offbeats and things 'We're people you can talk to' Dealers for: Electronic Keyboards Guitars • Church Organs Quality Brand Name Pianos , • PA Rentals • Piano & Guitar Instruction Boutiliers' IVIusic Shiops We sell a complete line of top quality musical instruments and accessories. Visit our show? room and try the products for yourself. You will like the variety and price. Layaway plan available. No interest for 3 months. OPEN MONDAY through SATURDAY f'usic Keyboards Guitars Reeds Strings Horns Violins Bagpipes Chanters Amplifiers PA Systems All Supplies Cape Breton Shopping Centre 39 Keltic Drive Sydney River, N. S. B1S1P4 CAPE BRETON SHOPPING CENTRE Sydney River, N. S. 562-0018 I - Cape Breton's Finest Locally-Owned Musical Outlet - LeBlanc Siding Ltd Island Vinyl Siding Ltd. Authorized Dealer for k"AYCAN Aluminum & Vinyl Siding Aluminum Windows & Doors Shutters / Softfit / Fascia / Awnings 109 Reservoir Road SYDNEY Professional installation of Aluminum & Vinyl Siding in Cape Breton for over 15 years. Free Estimates forR.R.A.P., N.S.H.C, & C.M.H.C. Programs, and all other siding Inquiries. Call Collect: SONNY MacPHERSON 539-4626
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