Reel Béatrice

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REEL BÉATRICE. AKA - "Beatrice," "Reel p'tit Charles." French-Canadian, Reel or Galope. A Minor {'A' and 'B' parts} & C Major {'C' part} (Begin, Hart & Sandell, Phillips). Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB'CC (Phillips): AA'BB'CC' (Begin, Hart & Sandell, Songer). “Reel Béatrice” was popularized among Québec musicians by fiddler Joseph Bouchard (1905-1979, to whom the tune is often attributed), who recorded it on a 78 RPM record for Bluebird in 1938 under the title “Reel p'tit Charles." Bouchard developed the tune over the years, recording it later as “Reel Béatrice," the name of the tune that was on the reverse side of his 1938 recording, suggesting that either Bouchard or someone in the recording process got the titles confused. According to Paul M. MacDonald, Bouchard's original musical inspiriation was a polka from the Ballo Liscio dance repertoire called “Oggi Nevica” (which means ‘today it snows’), played by Riccardo Tesi, an Italian accordion player. Lisa Ornstein notes that it is still popular in the Emilia Romagna region of northeastern Italy where the “liscio” (ballroom dancing) repertory includes polkas and mazurkas. Bouchard appears to have picked it up from Jean-Paul Beaulieu (clarinettist of the Laurentian Montagnards) who 'discovered' the tune ans shared it with his band the Laurentian Montagnards.

Bégin (1993) points out that the structure of the tune is that of a reel, although the melody approaches one considered suitable for a Galop. However, it is in the style of the 19th century bal musette, and many of these polkas, waltzes and mazurkas were characteristically in three parts, two in minor keys, with a contrasting trio section in the major. "Reel Béatrice" has transcended the Quebecois regional genre and is popular with American contra-dance musicians, and Irish session players (having been popularized by Chicago Irish-American fiddler Liz Carroll).

The tune called “Beatrice” in the Omer Marcoux collection is not “Reel Béatrice” but apparently a tune entitled “Carnival,” although the tunes share somewhat similar structures and chord patterns.

Additional notes

Source for notated version: - French-Canadian button accordion player Philippe Bruneau (Québec) [Begin]; Ruthie Dornfeld (Seattle) [Phillips], La Bottine Souriante fiddler Martin Racine [Hart & Sandell].

Printed sources : - Bégin (Phillipe Bruneau), 1993; No. 38, p. 57 (appears as "Piece de J. Bouchard"). Hart & Sandell (Dance ce Soir), 2001; No. 29, p. 59. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes, vol. 1), 1994; p. 21 (appears as "Beatrice"). Songer (Portland Collection), 1997; p. 25.

Recorded sources: - Green Linnet SIF 1092, Liz Carroll - "Liz Carroll" (1988). Green Linnet 1101, Liz Carroll - "Playing with Fire: the Celtic Fiddle Collection" (1989). Green Linnet GLCD 3127, Sharon Shannon – “The Best of Sharon Shannon: Spellbound” (1999. Learned from Liz Carroll). Lisa Ornstein & Denis Pepin - “Dansieries de la Belle Province.” Rounder RO7023, Natalie MacMaster - “No Boundaries” (1996. Learned from Baltimore fiddler Jesse Smith). Le Tamanoir Records, Joseph Bouchard – “Jos Bouchard, violoneux: Musique et dancse trandtionelle de Charlevoix” (1978). Andre Alain – “Viloneux de St-Basile de Portneuf” (1986). La Bottine Souriante – “Je voudrais changer d’chapeau” (1988). La Bottine Souriante – “En spectacle” (1996).

See also listing at:
Alan Ng's Irishtune.info [1]
Alan Snyder's Cape Breton Fiddle Recordings Index [2]
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [3]
See/hear Italian piano accordionist Sebastaino Barbagalla playing a version of “Quando nevica” on youtube.com [4] See Lisa Ornstein's standard notation transcription [5]



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