Nova Scotian Music Takes Center Stage at Irish Fest

Aug 16, 2013

Every year Irish Fest features the music of a particular region or style.

Musician and scholar Glenn Graham explains how Nova Scotian sound reflects a variety of influences.
Credit Glenn Graham

Last year it was American bluegrass and how the folk and traditional music of Ireland and Scotland helped shape it. This year, the microphone turns to Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia means “New Scotland” in Latin, and Scottish musical traditions play a huge part in the trad scene there. But so do Irish, French and English. That melting pot has created its own distinct musical sound.

Cape Breton fiddler Glenn Graham is one champion of that sound. He’s recorded half a dozen solo albums to great acclaim, but he’s also a scholar. His book The Cape Breton Fiddle: Making and Maintaining Tradition came out in 2006 and he’s busy pursuing a doctorate in between recording and playing gigs.

He explains what's distinctive about the traditional music of Nova Scotia.

"This fiddle style is basically mimics the sound of the bagpipes, is influenced by the Gaelic language," he says. "But at the same time there’s nothing that’s absolutely pure. It’s something that is very much been influenced by pockets of Irish and pockets of Acadian settlements."

Graham was influential in bringing the Nova Scotian sound to Irish Fest this year. You can find all of the Nova Scotian showcase elements at Irish Fest this year here.