Erskine Morris (1913 – 1997)

Erskine Morris (1913 – 1997)

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Gaspé Reel

Here's a catchy little D tune that Erskine composed called the "Gaspé Reel." The melody and phrasing are quite intuitive but the string crossings and some of the note orderings make this one just enough out of the ordinary to keep it interesting. I'm sure our fiddle playing readers will have fun with this tune.

Listen to the Gaspé Reel

Erskine recorded this tune on several tapes. In fact, one of the earliest tapes Brian and I used to share music on this blog back in 2010 featured this tune. But today was a rainy day and I had a fire going and wanted to listen to a tape on my reel-to-reel player. I put on a reel that Brian loaned me last year which features acoustic fingerstyle guitar music dubbed from a commercial recording on side A and, tucked away 15 minutes into side B which is otherwise blank, is half an hour of his dad playing alone at home.

One thing I really appreciate about Erskine's artistry was that his playing intensity varied by context. At parties he could play hard-driving, syncopated fiddling with the full weight of his bow arm; at home, playing solo, he would sometimes play a little sweeter, with a softer touch, weaving through the twisty passages with a surprising gentleness without sacrificing the drive and danceability of the tune. Case in point: as soon as this tune was over I found myself reaching for my fiddle case, the melody still buzzing around my head, to see if I could catch what I'd just heard.

Of course, there are several well-known melodies that go by this title and here is yet another. Erskine wrote quite a few original tunes throughout his life, often for different relatives and family members. I look forward to sharing a few more of these originals in the year to come.