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Vol. 4 - Cape Breton Musical Heritage Series232 tunes, biographical information
In the 20th century, Winston Fitzgerald was undoubtedly Cape Breton's most influential fiddler. In addition to a brief biography of Winston this book constists of transcriptions/arrangements of Winstons performances - fiddle tunes in standard notation.
Note: The current edition includes chords by Jerry Holland.
Also available as a book-CD bundle with Winson's compilation CD Classic Cuts
Review by Stephan Pederson , Arts Reporter The Halifax Chronicle Herald, Friday Dec. 10,1997
(html links added to original published review)Paul Cranford's latest collection of fiddle tunes called simply, Winston Fitzgerald, memorializes the most famous of 20th century Cape Breton fiddlers with transcriptions of of nearly 250 tunes arranged from his performances. No one who plays the fiddle, or listens to it and loves it will have to be told that Fitzgerald's many recordings, TV appearances and a lifetime of playing for dances represent the legacy of one of the greatest Cape Breton fiddlers who ever lived.
Cranford's book, the fourth in the Cape Breton Musical Heritage Series, follows his publications of the Brenda Stubbert Collection, the Jerry Holland Collection, and his own The Lighthouse Collection. He has also reissued traditional collections of fiddle tunes in the Skye, Simon Fraser and Alexander Walker Collections, tune books which have become as essential to fiddlers and fans, scholars and folkies as dictionaries and encyclopeodias.
Best of all, and the new Winston Fitzgerald Collection brilliantly exemplifies this character of Paul Cranford's beautifully typeset and well organized publications, he has written an introductory essay on Winston "Scotty's" life, a shorter essay on techniques and observations of Fitzgerald's inimitable style, and a host of notes both on individual tunes throughout the book and in exhaustive references to traditional collections in which Fitzgerald's repertoire may be found in their original settings. While the table of contents lists the tunes in the book, the back of the book index goes way beyond that list, supplying not only tune titles that are in the book, but cross-referencing them to the standard collections in which they may be found ...
Apart from organizing the tunes by key and tune type in the front-of-book index (Hornpipes and Clogs, Pipe Tunes in A and D, Strathspeys and Reels, Jigs, Polkas, Airs, Melodies and Walzes), Cranford also obligingly supplies a list of composers which shows at a glance, incidentally, Fitzgerald's passion for J. Scott Skinner, who is represented by the largest number of tunes in the Fitzgerald repertoire
Cranford is careful to warn the reader that tune books don't teach you how to play, and supports it with pungent remarks:"When learning a tune it is good fun to play with all available sources, (aural recorded or written) before carving out a personal setting and commiting it to long term memory"
Fitzgerald is quoted in the paragraph before as saying,"Anybody who'd pick up a book and follow the book, and put the book away and then play the tune as it's in the book, will never, never ... be a tasty player."
Clearly Cranford, a lighthouse keeper and tunesmith himself, and, moreover, one who learned most of what he knows about it in the 22 years he has studied the subject in various lighthouses, intentionally focusses on live fiddle playing, folk tradition, and intends his book as a help and not a magic pill. It is true that notation an inexact science at the best of times, can never capture every nuance, sonority, rhythmic style or any other aural aspect of perfomance. But when it is as well presented as it is here, with a judicious balance between giving too little or too much detail, it is a great help to the beginner and expert both, providing many useful insights into how Fitzgerald took a tune and made it his own.
With a number of photographs, relevant quotes from Fitzgerald, clear reasonable print, and a presentation of tunes not exactly as they might be found "original settings", but more as Fitzgerald played them. Cranford has pulled off a piece of stunning scholarship while simultaneously adding to his many important contributions towards perpetuating and preseving Cape Breton's still very much alive musical heritage.
Example of Music Notation | Winston Recordings
last upddate 1/3/09