Compendium of Fiddle Styles/Celtic styles
Cape Breton playing style
Cape Breton playing is highly accented, characterized by driven up-bowing. The tunes of other music origins (Irish, Canadian, French-Canadian, etc.) sound quite different when performed by Cape Breton players. The strong downbeat pulse is driven by the fiddler's heel into the floor. The pattern tends to be heel-and-toe on reels, the heel on strathspeys.
Timing is a notable trait of Cape Breton music because good timing brings dancing alive.
Cape Breton fiddle music is strongly influenced by the intonations of the Scots-Gaelic language, especially Puirt a Beul and strathspeys. The ornaments are adapted from those used on the Great Highland bagpipe. The ornamentation (cuts aka. trebles, drones and doubling) brings out the strong feeling of Cape Breton fiddle.
A century ago the violin and pump organ were the common instruments; the latter has been supplanted by piano.