Anne Lederman


Aboriginal Fiddling: The Scottish Connection

- in Irish and Scottish Encounters with Indigenous Peoples. Graeme Morton and David A. Wilson, editors. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2013.
Release date: May 28, 2013.

[NOTE: THis page is under construction adn several of the mp3 links are not yet active as of June 11/2013.  Please check back in a few days.]

The article discusses the Scottish legacy of old Aboriginal fiddle styles in the Canadian northwest--repertoire, dances, tunings, bowings, ornamentation and more. Examples of Aboriginal fiddling in the article are drawn largely from Manitoba and Old Crow, Yukon. Tunes from Quebec are also important in the chain leading from Scotland and or the Shetland and Orkney Islands to Aboriginal communities in the northwest. 

This page gives recordings of the tunes discussed in the article, followed by biographical information on the fiddlers who played them. Where possible, mp3s are attached (used with permission) and/or links to other websites where the original recordings may be found or purchased. For more information on Aboriginal fiddle traditions in Canada, see the Articles page. For more recordings of Aboriginal fiddling in Manitoba, see Old Native and Metis Fiddling in Manitoba on the CD page.

mp3 iconFig. 14.1 "Lord Macdonald's Reel," as transcribed in One Thousand Fiddle Tunes, Chicago, IL: M.M. Cole, 1940. Played by Anne Lederman. 

mp3 iconFig. 14.2 “Le p’tit bûcheux,” André Alain, Quebec (Quebec version of “Lord
MacDonald’s Reel”). The transciption is also in Hart and Sandell, Danse ce soir. Both the book and the original recording of Andre Alain are avalable from Trente sous zero.

mp3 iconFigure 14.3. "McDonald's Reel," Manitoba version from Lawrence "Teddy Boy" Houle, Workshop, Toronto, May 2008.

mp3 iconFig. 14.4 “Duck Dance,” Allan Benjamin, Old Crow (a version of the Scottish “Fairy
Dance”). Source: Transcribed by the author from a video recording made by the author in Old Crow, Yukon, June 2005.

mp3 iconFig. 14.5 “Drops of Brandy” (Scottish)  Source: Emmerson, George. Rantin’ Pipe and Tremblin’ String. 2nd ed. London, ON: Galt House, 1988.

mp3Fig. 14.6 "Le brandy," from the playing of Les Frères Brunet), transcribed in Hart and Sandell, Danse ce soir: Fiddle and Accordion Music of Quebec. Pacific, MO: Mel Bay, 2001. Both recording and book are available from Trente sous zero.

mp3 Fig. 14.7 “Drops of Brandy,” Walter Flett, from a recording made by Jim Flett (Walter’s son), Winnipeg, c. 1975, on Old Native and Métis Fiddling in Manitoba.

mp3Fig. 14.8 "La Grande Gigue Simple," from the playing of La Bottine Souriante, Chic and Swell, transcribed in Hart and Sandell, Danse ce soir: Fiddle and Accordion Music of Quebec. Pacific, MO: Mel Bay, 2001. Both recording and book are available from Trente sous zero.

mp3 Fig. 14.9 “Red River Jig,” Laurence “Teddy Boy” Houle, recorded by the suthor in Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1986, on Old Native and Métis Fiddling in Manitoba.

Andre Alain
"I cant remember exactly when I first met him but he was part of our lives for years. He had a little apartment in old Québec City not far from André Marchand, and we would spend our days around there playing music in the street or around a beer in his little kitchen. André Marchand, Danielle Martineau (who was directing a folk center at that time) and I realized that it was a must to record him. André Alain was quite a "wild" fiddler and we figured that it would be impossible to record him in a studio. At that time, he had spent a lot of time playing with Pierre Laporte. So we went to Alains house (he had moved back to his native St-Basile), invited Pierre and brought all the recording equipment. We recorded the whole thing in two days. . ."
- from Laurie Hart, Guy Bouchard: On Québec Fiddling and Fiddlers," Fiddler Magazine, Spring 1998

A lovely bio of Andre Alain, in French is here:

Lawrence "Teddy Boy" Houle
Lawrence “Teddy Boy” Houle is from the Ojibwa community of Ebb and Flow, Manitoba, where he inherited the fiddle traditions of his family and his community, traditions which date back to the early days of the fur trade in Manitoba. Today, he is one few fiddlers in Manitoba who still maintain the old style and repertoire. He has been honoured over the years by being invited to many Canadian and International events, including Canada Day events in Toronto and Ottawa, Folk Festivals throughout Canada and the U.S, and a special honour -- the Native American Music Concert at Carnegie Hall in honour of 100th Anniversary of the hall. He also travelled to the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention in both St. John's Newfoundland and in Aberdeen, Scotland (2008, 2010) realizing a long-held dream to visit the land of his ancestors. He has released two CDs of his own and appeared on compilations such as Old Native and Metis Fiddling in Manitoba and in the feature film, Medecine FIddle

Walter Flett
Walter was the youngest of the three Flett brothers (Roderick and CHarlie), all of whom were known as excellent fiddlers throughout Manitoba. Walter is Teddy Boy's stepfather, having married Edith Houle of Sandy Bay. He was also known for his step-dancing. He is rumoured to have spent considerable time with Andy de Jarlis with whom he may have named the tune "Whisky Before Breakfast," based on an older "Old Scotch Reel.*

*A recording of a tune which is recognizeably "Whisky Before Breakfast" is first known to have appeared in 1928 by Ohio fiddler John Balzell (Paul Wells, private correspondance). Andrew Kuntz, in Fiddler's Companion, refers to this story in the entry for the tune, calling Mr. Flett "The elder Houle."

Allan Benjamin
Allan is from Old Crow, Yukon, a fly-in community of 300 people or which is known throughout the Canadian north as a traditional fiddle stronghold with a unique style. Allan has one CD of his own, Gwitchin FIddleman, available here.

La Bottine Souriante, Les frères Brunet
Recordings of traditional Quebec tunes, "le Brandy" (Fig. 14.6, from the playing of Les frères Brunet) and "La Grande Gigue Simple" (Fig.14.8, from the playing of La Bottine Souriante) are available from Trente sous zero. The transcriptions used in these two figures are from Hart and Sandell, Danse ce soir, also available from Trente sous zero.









Andre Alain
Andre Alain

andre alain band
Andre Alain/Andre with band

Teddy Boy, 1986
Lawrence "Teddy Boy Houle, 1986

Walter Flett
Walter Flett

Allen Benjamin
Allen Benjamin, Old Crow, Yukon, Fiddle Festival, 2007

Teddy Boy and Anne
Anne and Teddy Boy, 2008


•  Anne Lederman  •  phone: 416-538-9036  •  •