Erskine Morris (1913 – 1997)

Erskine Morris (1913 – 1997)

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Harvest Home

Here is a lovely hornpipe that Erskine played on a recording from the 1980's that seems to be a Gaspesian setting of the the well-known Irish hornpipe, "The Harvest Home".

Hear Erskine play the Harvest Home

Now hear the Harvest Home played by the great Sligo fiddler, Michael Coleman (courtesy of

Here is a lovely version played on the Irish (Uillean) pipes by a good piper, Pat Brophy (also courtesy of

Despite Douglastown's Irish roots, Erskine and many other fiddlers from the area did not seem to play many Irish tunes (or what we would call "Irish" tunes by today's understanding). Instead, their tunes usually have a strong French Canadian character. Fiddle playing around Douglastown goes back to at least the early 1800's and I'm sure some tunes were brought over from Ireland. However, I once read somewhere that the bulk of the Irish repertoire dates from the 1800's so its possible that the fiddle music of the Irish Gaspesians evolved in parallel with the fiddle music in Ireland and that many new tunes were created among the different cultures that settled in this corner of the New World. "The Harvest Home" can be found in tune collections from the 1840's so it is possible that it was brought over to Douglastown by one of the Irish immigrants in the 1800's. However, Erskine learned many tunes from records of French Canadian players like Jean Carignan and Joseph Allard so its possible he learned it from a recording of a French Canadian player, or even the Michael Coleman version from the 1920s.

Erskine's fiddle is tuned ADAE which as we've often mentioned, was his primary tuning for the key of D. However, you can get away with playing this tune in standard violin tuning. The raised bass string gives a nice low drone on the first strain of the tune though.

Erskine gets a real nice mixture of rolling phrases and sharp staccato licks in this tune. The contrast between these two esthetics really makes for a nice tune.


  1. ive been playing the violin for quite some while and well about 2 years acctualy and i cant play as good as you is that common.

  2. This isn't me playing on this recording, but Erskine Morris. He had been playing the fiddle for about 70 years when this was recorded. I suppose its not uncommon for someone playing for over 50 years to have a slight edge over us beginners :)

    I've only been playing 7 years. There's some recordings of me playing Erskine's tunes here:

    Hope you enjoy the tunes