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James Bay Fiddle Traditions

Scots in the Sub-Arctic: Musical Fingerprints among the Cree Fiddlers of James Bay

James Bay fiddlers have a strong historical connection with the Orkney Islands and see their musical heritage as intrinsically linked the traditions of Orcadian servants of the Hudsonís Bay Company (HBC) who travelled to the region from the late 1600s. The fiddle was introduced to the region in the eighteenth century, and the Cree population embraced the instrument and its associated repertoire, re-shaping the music over time to produce a distinctly Cree style of playing.

This transatlantic musical flow between Scotland and James Bay is a piece of Scotlandís history which has not been studied in depth before. The project will combine ethnomusicology fieldwork (fieldnotes, field recordings, ethnovideography, interviews, and photography) with archive and library-based research to piece together the Cree fiddle tradition in terms of repertoire, playing style, history, and musicians.  The output of the project will include a conference paper, journal article, website and public exhibition.

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