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rufus guinchard


Newfoundland tunes hunt for the weekend

Lest y’all think I am neglecting the Newfoundland side of my musical fandom, let me assure you all that this is NOT the case. I have been playing the ever-lovin’ daylights out of the awesome live “Little Beggarman” track on the GBS XX box set, in no small part because it ends with two jigs that exemplify how Bob Hallett dances around the edge of setting his own fiddle on fire every time you turn him loose on tunes. (There were REASONS my original jamming group used to say that we could never play all the same notes Bob did. Because if anybody but Bob did it, we’d be opening portals to hell and there’d be fire and mayhem and monsters. And even worse, badly played notes.)

BUT, because I have the wacky mad ambition of seeing if I can maybe learn to play those tunes too (because apparently I just gotta open that hellmouth), I actually asked Mr. Hallett on Twitter which tunes they were to see if I could find ’em! This is what he said:

Right From the Mouth of Bob

Right From the Mouth of Bob

With that to go on, I’ve been prowling around today as well as YouTube, trying to see if I can hunt down the tunes in question. I am learning several vital things as a result!

One, wow, Rufus Guinchard was a splendid fiddle player. Look him up on YouTube. There are several (static) vids of various recordings of his and there is delicious, delicious fiddle goodness to be had there. I will have to see if I can track down these recordings.

Two, the man apparently was a profilic composer of tunes. I’ve found several on that I have promptly added to my tunebook there, and at least a couple of these tunes sound vaguely familiar from various recordings I’ve got of Newfoundland trad groups–less Great Big Sea and more Irish Descendants and Dardanelles.

Three, whoa hey there’s an entire channel of videos of Newfoundland tunes, done by a guy playing them on the flute. Why HELLO THERE Relevance To My Interests!

And, in my pokings around, I have identified two tunes that may be candidates for the first of the two in the recording, since they sound like they’re in the right key (which is to say, A Dorian). If what Bob’s playing is indeed either of these tunes, he’s putting his own style all over them–they don’t match up completely so it’s a bit hard to tell. But the overall up-and-down flow of the melody seems similar, even if the A and B parts sound like they’re flipped around from what has in the transcriptions.

If any other GBS fans out there are also tunes-inclined and can read music, check these out? Sydney Pittman’s Tune and Father’s Jig, either of these sound to anyone like they might be the ones? Sydney Pittman’s sounds slightly like more of a match to me and I have in fact just winged that very question back to Mr. Hallett on Twitter. We shall see what he says!

Still working on tracking down tune #2, too, which sounds like it might kick down into D major, but if it does it’s got a B part that goes minor-y. I need to peer through the rest of the Rufus Guinchard jigs I’m finding on and see if any of those match up.

ETA: Whoa hey, Mr. Hallett just confirmed on Twitter, yes, Sydney Pittman’s is the first of the two tunes! AWRIGHT! Now I just need to find the second one!