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The Métis in Western Canada: O-Tee-Paym-Soo-Wuk

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Métis Fiddle Music

The fiddle is the main instrument used in Métis Music. In the early days, fiddles were hard to obtain and expensive. The Métis simply made their own from maple wood and birch bark. While most music is contained in a bar structure, traditional Métis fiddle music is not. The Métis style of fiddling is unique in North America and can be heard across Northern Western Canada and the United States. The fiddle plays the melody, tells the story, and many Métis legends are recorded in fiddle tunes. Rhythm is supplied by toe tapping or spoons and the uneven and irregular beats of the fiddle created a bounce in Métis jigging that is as unique as the fiddling itself. The extra beats make the Métis jig a rapid moving dance and though similar to the Scots - Irish stepdance, the Métis jig is definitely unique in style. Another Métis tradition is called Turlutage. This is essentially the beating out of rhythm with spoons or the low section, the dancer does a fancy jig step, accompanied by syllables hummed to simple melodies.

There is a strong Gaelic influence in Métis fiddle music and some tunes have retained their original names while others have no name at all. Traditional Métis music and dance has survived over the centuries, however, oral tradition requires that master fiddlers continue to teach. Like the original Orkney fiddlers who over time began to play by note in the bar structure, Métis Fiddlers can also be influenced and the unique sound of Métis style fiddle would be lost.

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Métis Fiddle Music

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