Years ago I came into contact with the Cape Breton style of music through the CD ‘The heart of Cape Breton’ on which Buddy MacMaster plays a medley accompanied by Joey Beaton on piano
This style of music has developed in the Cape Breton region mainly from the second half of the 18° century through different migrations out of Scotland to Cape Breton (Canada). As historically the music comes from Scotland, it has subsequently developed itself further the degree that it has to be considered as a distinct style within Celtic music, alongside the one from Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Brittany (France).
In February 1972, the CBC documentary “The Vanishing Cape Breton Fiddler by Ron MacInnis was broadcasted. It stated that the Cape Breton music was threatened with “extinction”. This was received, however, with the requisite controversy by the people of Cape Breton themselves. It was the start of a whole movement – with amongst others Frank MacInnis, Father Eugene Morris, Burton MacIntyre, Archie Neil Chisholm, Father John Angus Rankin, Rod Chisholm, Judge Hugh J. MacPherson, Anne Marie MacDonald, Jeannette Beaton, Joey Beaton and Ray MacDonald – to bring back life to this music. A first Cape Breton Fiddle festival was therefore organized in Glendale in July 1973. This was the start of the revival! [ref. 4]. The sheer fact of this success can shower doubt to the statement that the Cape Breton style of music was in peril or decline at that time.
This style of music is hardly or not known at all to lovers of celtic music at Continental Europe. It includes song, dance and instrumental music. The main musical instruments are violin, piano and bagpipes. A strong rhythmical drive is very typical for this particular style of dance music. If you went to the page … dance, song and music then you get a first good overall impression of the music of Cape Breton. It is the very strong “drive and rhythm” character of the music that prompted me to start a personal project to get better acquainted with the Cape Breton music culture and to start to learn to play the music myself.
If you can take time to have a look at the movie of Joanne MacIntyre you can see that also nature and the landscapes of Cape Breton are of an astonishing beauty .
This purpose of this website is purely to support this project and has no commercial interests.
Dirk Van Damme
2 Juli 2012