Part of learning any instrument or any genre of music is immersing yourself in the music you want to play. I’ve been putting a lot of time and effort into learning fiddle and it’s safe to say that much of the time I have a fiddle tune on my brain. These days most of those are either Canadian tunes or tunes in the Canadian old time repertoire – which is pretty wide.
Lately, I’ve been playing one of the most popular fiddle tunes in Canada, the St. Anne’s Reel. I learned the basic tune (in D) and and thanks to help from my fab fiddle teacher, I’m working on a variation too. This one is so much fun to play because it rollicks along beautifully. I love that it’s one of the tunes that most Canadian fiddlers have in their repertoire.
According to the Traditional Tune Archive, St. Anne’s was first recorded by Montreal fiddler Willie Ringuette in 1927 and 3 years later by another Montreal fiddler Joseph Allard. The tune is known by several different names. The name St. Anne’s may refer to one of the bays called St. Anne in eastern Canada, or perhaps Baie Sainte Anne, on St. Anne’s Bay near Mirimishi NB, or possibly the municipality of Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue , a suburb on the island of Montreal.
St. Anne’s is played by Irish fiddlers as well, and I believe there might be some people who will claim it as an Irish tune. It’s possible that there are similar Irish tunes, of course and it’s also possible that one of them became the Canadian tune we now call St. Anne’s. The tune has found it’s way into American Old Time and Bluegrass repertoires along the way, and there are some mighty fine versions across the various genres.
Here’s Ferfal Scahill and Aodán Ó Cadhain with a really fun version…