Does TRADITIONAL ADIRONDACK MUSIC
Differ From the Traditional Music of Other
makes this particular area’s traditional music a bit different from that of
other parts of the country has a lot to do with the pattern of settlement in
the Adirondacks, the region’s proximity to the Canadian provinces of Ontario
and Quebec, and its heavily wooded landscape.
“Fiddlers went back and forth across
the border (US/Canada) and played with each
other, so their music is kind of merged together. There’s a little twinge of Adirondack and a little twinge of Canadian
together, and it’s a unique style all in itself,
and they call it the Adirondack style....they do around here anyway . Of course,
in Canada, they call it the Canadian style! (laughs)”
might have ended up as a fairly typical blend of the musical traditions of
America’s early settlers became greatly enriched and colored by the music of
Canadian, French Canadian, Irish and other immigrants coming into the area for
woods work in the 1840s and after.
“All of them Monica boys (were good
singers) and their father, you know I could sit
and listen to him sing all night and I didn’t know a word he said….he sung in French.”
Ashlaw, Traditional Singer, Hermon
recipe, if there were one, might read something like this:
the homemade musical traditions of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland,
New England and rural New York State, in roughly equal parts, and begin
to interweave them so each retains its own character while starting
to blend with the others.
the continuous interchange between neighbors, laborers and fellow
musicians in the lumber camps and elsewhere, and stir until half of the
“lumps” disappear, allowing further melding to take place.
down from Canada two dashes of Ontario’s musical traditions, and several
liberal splashes of French-Canadian music from Quebec, and stir
vigorously. Repeat often.
in new waves of Irish, Scottish, German, northeastern American and other
laborers bringing their music into the area for work in the lumber woods
the relative isolation of life in the North Country.
- Over time, mix in more modern sensibilities and influences from radio, books, traveling shows and other media - - things like guitars, banjos or pianos accompanying the singing, country western and popular songs and themes, larger bands playing old and new square dance tunes, etc.
This is not to say, however, that there is one “Adirondack sound.” Far from it.
Let’s explore several different flavors of TRADITIONAL ADIRONDACK MUSIC.
When I think of Traditional Adirondack Music, I think of influences that I hear pretty much across the board. Country, Quebecois, bluegrass, a capella, ballads, lumbering, hunting, fishing, and outdoor themes of all kinds work into the blend.
-- Chris Shaw, Contemporary Singer, Averill Park