Trent Freeman: Video Transcript

The fiddle

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Hello, my name is Trent Freeman, I’m 17 years old from Comox and I play the fiddle. The fiddle is this instrument here, same as the violin just the music is very different. The Métis fiddle is quite different from other styles because it originally was played alone, just one person playing the fiddle so their attack on the bow and they way they play is more rhythmic to almost accompany themselves. These tunes were passed on by ear, so the tunes that were originally say French Canadian took on a new twist when one persons’ interpretation of the tune added a bar or a different rhythm or even different notes and changed the tune around and eventually this evolved into the Métis fiddle.

A lot of the famous Métis songs like Whiskey Before Breakfast and or Big John McNeil and Arkansas Traveler are tunes that are also played in other styles such as Bluegrass or Canadian Old Time, but the way the Métis play it is very different with a totally different attack on the bow, different rhythm, more bars once in awhile. It is distinctly Métis.

So if you take Whiskey Before Breakfast for example, a bluegrass player would play it smooth with long bows like this…

Where a Métis player would play add more rhythm with their bow so as I said before accompany themselves. Like this …..

Another aspect of the Métis fiddle, which was probably a descendent of the French- Canadian style, is the cross-tuning, so they tuned their fiddle differently and get totally different sounds out of the fiddle than they could before with just a regular tuning.

The regular tuning of a fiddle has the low string to a G, the next string D, A and E, but a classic Métis cross tuning is to and lower this to a C#, leave the A the same, an E then an A which gives you an open A chord and this lets you play with different overtones and stuff, so you get really neat chords that you can play and use your left hand for different things like plucking and all sorts of things

So this is a Métis tune called Devil Waltz…..

Another way the Métis would accompany themselves is with their feet so when they played for dances, their feet would provide a steady rhythm for the dancers to dance to.
So they’d get a syncopated thing like this going

So I’ll play another tune…this is also in cross tuning with the A E A C# tuning and you can also hear the Chords with my fingers and the bow that sounds different than just a regular tuning and I’ll also get my feet going at the same time……….

So another classic probably the most famous Métis fiddle tune is the Red River Jig and this is a tune that ever fiddler player plays this differently and every dancer dances it differently as well so we are going to play this for you here is my version of the Red River Jig ….

Ok ,we are going to do another tune for you called Whiskey Before Breakfast and in the second part the Métis style has added another bar in there so we repeat another little section in there unlike all the other styles so this is a very unique Métis lick in there.

Good this is the Tennesse Waltz…….

Ok we are going to play a short version of the Red River Valley


Tenessee Waltz

From this Valley they say you are leavin’
We will miss you bright eyes and sweet smile
For they say you are taking the sunshine
That brightened our pathway awhile

Come and Sit by my side if you love me
Do not hasten to bid me adieu
Just remember the Red River Valley
And the cowboy that loved you so true.

On My Mind – by Ryan Bresser

A Cowboy’s sense of sorrow
Comes as Easy as Tomorrow
Always on my shoulder
A fire that does not smoulder

You Paint My Picture Easy
With Colors that appease me
A watercolored Angel
She does not even know

You’re on my Mind
On my mind
On my mind
You’re on my mind

It’s you’re touch inside, tells me you are kind
You’re on my mind
On my mind

So take my hand gently
And lead me to the river
Bathe me in those waters
I want to feel you fully

Maybe I should just listen
To that harmony in nature
It always surrounds me in this town

You’re on my Mind
On my mind
On my mind
You’re on my mind

It’s you’re touch inside, tells me you are kind
You’re on my mind
On my mind