Page 44 - Book Reviews: The Skye Collection; The Simon Fraser Collection
ISSUE : Issue 32
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1982/8/1
Book Reviews: Skye and Fraser Collections Reviewed by John Shaw, Glendale For Scottish violinists everywhere, the recent re- Issues of these two Important collections, real? ised through the initiative and careful work of muslclan-lighthousekeeper Paul Cranford, are a most welcome event. Together the collections make accessible over 600 tunes from the Highland music? al tradition through accurate renditions based on traditional settings. The joy of reading through both volumes is added to considerably by their de? sign: before going to press the negatives were carefully brushed giving a cleaner copy than the original, and both are spiral bound for the music stand. The Skye Collection, the more recent of the two, was compiled by Keith Norman MacDonald of Skye and first published in 1887. Both the first and second editions have been out of print for fifty years, and all of the tunes from the more complete first edition are given here. MacDonald was a noted col? lector of Gaelic music, having edited the Gesto Collection, and a volume of "Puirt-a-Beul" contain? ing the Gaelic words to many instrumental tunes from Skye informants. The compiler's awareness of the affiliation between Gaelic music and song is apparent from the inclusion of a Gaelic index, listing the Gaelic names for many of the tunes in the collection. The aim of the collection, as stated in the Preface, is to supply "a work which should embrace all the fire and vigour of our Na? tional Music concentrated in one volume" • in other words an anthology of the best tunes available at that time, with piano arrangements. A list of the published sources of the violin tunes, covering nearly all of the major collections and some minor collections from the 18th and 19th centuries, in? cludes works of the more famous composers such as the Gows, Marshall, Macintosh, and Skinner. There are also a number of pipe tunes, noted down as played in Skye. Of the 400-plus tunes, most are strathspeys and reels, with a smaller number of slow airs ("solos"), and a very few jigs. Those familiar with the Cape Breton fiddler's rep? ertoire will notice that the selection of tunes and their settings are close to the traditional playing here, but whether this is due to a shared "unlettered" fund of tunes, or to the previous in? fluence of this and other printed collections on the Island is not clear. The new edition of Captain Eraser's work, better known as The Simon Fraser Collection, includes all of the revised 1874 edition with a few selections at the end from the original 1816 edition. Fraser compiled the 230 tunes largely from his own fa? ther.' s repertoire while residing in Stratherrlck, near Inverness, in the Scottish Highlands. A good portion of the tunes were originally transmitted from his paternal grandfather whose business took him throughout the Highlands during the early and mid 18th century. Eraser's father added a good deal more material which he acquired from other Gaels during his tour of duty • presumably as a loy? al soldier of the Crown • in the "First American War." Simon Fraser himself saw service in Ireland where he became familiar with O'Carolan's composi? tions; he .was an accomplished violin player and contributed many of his own compositions to the collection. The Simon Fraser Collection's tunes and airs, noted down from an early 18th century oral tradl-' tion, are closer to the centre of Gaelic song and instrumental music than those contained in the la- C44' THE CAPE BRETON FIDDLER: a collection of photographs, character, sketches and fiddle tunes with genealogical and historical information on one of the last Celtic strongholds in North America. Featured are many of the fascinating and talented individuals who have helped preserve a special strain of Highland Scottish culture for nearly two centuries 200 PAGES, SOFT COVER ,. ?? ?? • • $12.95 JUST OUT The Well-Watered Garden: Presbyterianism in Cape Breton by Laurie Stanley A scholarly book. A valuable addition to the story of Cape Breton Presbyterianism. Ask at your bookstore or send cheque or money order to: The College off Cape Breton Press BOX 5300, SYDNEY. NOVA SCOTIA. BIP 6L2 ATLANTIC SPRING & MACHINE CO., LTD. 564-5559 - 40 Kings Road. Sydney - 564-5550 General Machine Sh&p; & Forge, Mining Equipment, Mar- ine Repairs, Welders, Automotive Springs, Fasteners If you knit, you'll want something natural. Create your own fashions with our new 100% virgin wool yams especially made for hand knitting. Our yams are made in Atlantic Canada. (Cape Breton) from local and imported wool. Drop in to see us at Irish Cove, or wrxte for sam? ple 40-colour shade cards and price lists. We of? fer special quantity discounts. Cape Breton Woolen Mills Ltd. R. R. No. 1, Irish Cove, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia BOA IHO (902) 828-2776
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