Learning Cape Breton Music? Five Helpful Links

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Here are some useful links to resources that will help you in your listening and learning.

This is an amazing resource for live Cape Breton music, just how it is played and heard at home in Cape Breton.  The archived recordings include everything from house parties to Celtic Colours shows. And it’s free for anyone to listen.

Troy MacGillivray, award-winning fiddler/pianist from Nova Scotia has released a playalong series for fiddle called the Trad Track series. The CD features slowed-down and up to tempo accompaniment tracks with piano, bass and percussion. The accompaniment is for well known tunes like Big John MacNeil, The Irish Washerwoman, and King George the IV along with some of Troy’s compositions. The CD is also available on itunes.

Paul Cranford is a well known publisher of Cape Breton music. Beginning with reissuing the Skye, Simon Fraser and Alexander Walker Collections he later started the Cape Breton Musical Heritage Series music books which include collections of well known Cape Breton composers Jerry Holland and Brenda Stubbert as well as Cranford, himself.  His website is a great resource for Cape Breton recordings and tune books, along with those from Ireland and Scotland that can be difficult to find elsewhere.

This became my new best friend when I was trying to study different styles of music. It’s not only great for slowing down tunes, but you can loop sections so you don’t have to keep clicking back to the spot you are working on. If you feel like you can’t keep up when recordings are going by at full speed, this is the tool to help you play along.  You can slow the track down to any speed so that you can practicing playing along to the whole tune or the entire track.   In addition to downloading it to your computer, you can also download the app for your iphone, ipod touch or ipad.

A metronome is an invaluable practice tool to keep your timing in check.  It will tell you if your are rushing or not keeping up.  It is also great to use when you are trying to work up a difficult section of a tune.  If you don’t already own one, there are some places on the web where you can use one for free. These all have their pros and cons and of course, nothing beats having your own, physical metronome. But these are the next best thing.