Cape Breton Ceilidh

Newfoundland – 1

Cape Breton Ceilidh

Before arriving in Newfoundland, we stopped in North Sydney, Cape Breton for a ceilidh (kay-lee). Somewhere between 6 – 10 fiddlers playing, an accordion, a harmonica, a couple guitars, and an upright piano. After giving up trying to think about the music, I sat down with the pianist and just listened, then it was easy to play along!

Here is a 9-minute portion of the evening in full – no edits have been made. (Note, I accidentally left the ‘mono mix’ setting on, which is why it’s in mono. See the second track below for a stereo sound to the night). Everyone mills about between playing, until someone starts a tune. Somehow, most players knows all the tunes, and the piano catches on and everyone joins in. Carol MacDougall is at the piano, and is shouting out chord names for my benefit so I can play along with her. At 1:30, the tune shifts gears and all the players float in mid-air for a second until they know where it’s going, then they all jump back in again. It happens again at 3:30. There are 3 – 4 tunes, I think, in this clip, but the beginnings and ends of the songs melded into each other and I couldn’t catch them.

Rollie’s Wharf is full of people talking, drinking, tapping their feet. They encourage the players (3:58, 6:35) and several times players would stop playing and jump up and start step dancing on the spot. For the majority of the time, everyone would play at the same time, but at 4:30 one of the older players played alone briefly. The tune switches from minor to major at 5:40, then switches back at 7:40. Then suddenly the tune ends!

Cape Breton Ceilidh2

Here is one more small clip from that evening, this time in stereo!


The ferry we crossed to Newfoundland on was the Joseph Smallwood, a smaller, older ferry. The front of the ferry opened like a giant mouth, swallowing cars, RVs and transport trucks. The pictures above are the view from driving on, and then from standing on one of the viewing decks. The clip above are sounds spliced together from a 10 minute period while waiting for the mouth to close. There were great clangings and boomings, all the while the ferry was rumbling and the hydrolics were whining. Note: due to not having a windscreen for my H4, I put a low cut on this clip to lessen the wind noise.

This clip above is from inside the ferry close to the windows on the side of the ship. It is one continuous track, but I have split it into 3 sections. The first is unaltered and the rumbling of the engine is quite prominent, and there is a faint squeaking sound coming from the roof panels as they shift with the motion of the ship and the vibrations of the engine. The next section has a significant low cut filter on, and the squeaking more audible. With more drastic EQing, I isolate the squeaky sounds (and a woman speaking – German perhaps?) and it’s quite interesting rhythmically.

Attention all ye drummers! What is playing here? A tap dancer? A woodpecker? Brian Ferneyhough? No! It is the doors in the ferry washroom rattling as the ferry vibrates. I credit this discovery and recording to Anthony Savidge. She grooves, eh boys.