Crooked tunes 🙂
Laura Risk and Alana Youssefian, baroque violins
William Skeen, baroque cello
Peter Maund, percussion
Fiddlers have played for dancing in Québec since the time of New France, though it’s likely that all of the tunes played in the province today date from after the British conquest of 1760. Some tunes and dances probably arrived with the British military presence, others with Irish and Scottish settlers in the 19th century, and many as a result of the continual back-and-forth between Québec and the United States, particularly New England. Fiddling in Québec was an entirely aural tradition until the 20th century, and the first substantial documentation of the repertoire was not in printed collections or manuscripts—as was the case in Scotland, for instance—but on hundreds of 78 rpm discs recorded and released in Montreal in the 1920s.
Fiddlers in Québec often put their own stamp on tunes and each has his or her own sound: some combination of bowings, ornamentation, timbre, and melodic and rhythmic variations on the melody. The three tunes on tonight’s program are all widely played in Québec nowadays and come from the repertoire of fiddler André Alain (1931–2000), from the village of St-Basile de Portneuf on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River. All three tunes are “crooked,” meaning that their phrases are not the standard 4 or 8 bars in length. The melodic contour of the second tune is similar to that of a number of Scottish and Irish tunes. The third tune could be played “en vielle,” with the lower two strings of the violin tuned up from G and D to A and E.
Tunes in this video:
Deux reels en sol d’Andrè Alain
Le Reel des voyageurs