X:1 T:Old French M:C| L:1/8 K:D (3ABc|d2cd BdAF|DFAd f2ed|cdef gece|defd A2 (3ABc| d2cd BdAF|DFAd f2ed|cdef gece|d2f2d2:| K:A |:cd|efed c2A2|AEAc e2dc|B=GBd gfed|cAce a2cd| efed (3cdc A2|AEAc e2dc|B=GBd gfed|c2A2A2:|]
OLD FRENCH. AKA and see "Little Old Man," "Old French Reel," "Rambler's Hornpipe," "Reel de St-Tite." Canadian, American; Reel (usually) or Hornpipe. USA, New England. D Major ('A' part) & A Mixolydian ('B' part). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Silberberg): AABB (Brody, Carlin, Kaufman, Messer, Miller & Perron, Sweet): AA'BB' (Reiner & Anick). The melody was a popular vehicle for contra dancing in the 1970's, when it seemed to surface simultaneously in New England repertoire (c.f. the Nelson, N.H., dances) and on the West Coast, where it was popularized by mandolin player Kenny Hall and others. In the Kenny Hall Tunebook, Hall states he learned the tune from bandmate Cary Lung in the early 1970's. Popular belief has it that the "Old French" title derived from a remark by an old Vermont fiddler who, when asked its title, said it was "just an old French tune." Ken Perlman (1979) believed the tune was unknown in Canada and speculated that it was probably a northern New England composition in the Québec style. The apocryphal Vermont fiddler seems to have had it right, for the reel was known in Canada prior to the "folk revival" that fed American contra dancing, and was in Maritime fiddler Don Messer's "Down-East" repertoire (as "<incipit title="load:rambler" width=850 link="https://tunearch.org/wiki/Rambler's Hornpipe">Rambler's Hornpipe</incipit>," probably the source for many American "revival" musicians).
The original provenance is in Québécois repertoire, where it was recorded in 1929 under the title "Reel de St-Tite" on a 78 RPM recording by Sotère Mongrain and Ida Mongrain (violin with piano accompaniment). Montreal fiddler Isidore Soucy (1899-1962) used very similar melodic material in the second strain of his "Gigue des touristes (2)" (AKA "Gigue à ma sœur"). Ottawa Valley fiddlers know it as "<incipit title="load:rambler" width=850 link="https://tunearch.org/wiki/Rambler's Hornpipe">Rambler's Hornpipe</incipit>" or "Little Old Man," while Cape Breton fiddlers call it "Old French Reel (The)."