La Grande Chaine – Fiddle Tune a Day – Day 254

About 6 years ago, I met French Canadian style fiddler Donna Hebert on the Fiddle-L email listserv. And, about 5 years ago I had the pleasure of hiring her to judge the Indiana State Picking and Fiddling Championships.

While she was visiting Indiana, I got the great pleasure of learning a handful of French Canadian tunes, and she taught me the French Split Triplet, which I use in my recording of Monymusk.

La Grand Chaine is one of those tunes that Donna Left me with. Enjoy!

 

 

La Grand Chaine according to TuneArch.org

GRANDE CHAINE, LA. AKA and see “Glise à Sherbrooke,” “Reel de Tadoussac.” French-Canadian, Reel. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AA’BB’. The ‘Grand chaine’ is a dance movement known as ‘grand-right-and-left’ in the United States. As such, many tunes may be the vehicle for a Grand Chaine, however, frequently modern versions of the tune are modelled after the playing of French-Canadian fiddler Louis Beaudoin (who may have been the source for Aly Bain’s version). New Hampshire musician Peter Yarensky posted this tale to FIDDLE-L (June, 2003):

Here’s a story about how new names come about for tunes that’s at least somewhat amusing; I have no idea if it says anything general about tune names. Sometime in the 1980′s I decided to learn that tune. I learned itfrom the record (Massachusetts fiddler) Donna (Hebert) refers to above [ed. Leo Beaudoin], and eventually wrote it out for my band under the name “La Grande Chaine”.

Ten years or so later someone who learned it from my band brought it in to the Wednesday night soirees we used to have at Marcel Robidas’ barn in Dover, NH before he moved to Maine. Through some combination of poor French pronunciation, Marcel’s hearing deficit and the overall noise level in the barn, the title was heard by someone as “Le Grand Chien”. After being translated back to English the tune became known as “The Big Dog”. There are now a number of people who know it by that name. Some of us are aware of its correct name(s), but find it amusing. If you ask people around here to play “The Big Dog” I think you’d get a higher recognition level than if you asked for “Glise á Sherbrooke”. Of course, once it’s translated back to English the link to the original title becomes very obscure, so I could see that becoming a completely independent name for the tune.”

The melody appears in one of the Northumbrian Pipers’ Tune Books and has entered repertoire for that instrument. Despite that the book recognizes the French-Canadian origins of the melody, some pipers are occasionally unaware of its provenance. It is played by pipers at an ‘English reel’ tempo, slower than an Irish reel (and about the tempo of an Irish hornpipe).

Source for notated version: Bain (50 Fiddle Solos), 1989; p. 7. Northumbrian Pipers’ Third Tune Book (1991). Songer (Portland Collection), 1997; p. 87. 

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