Don Messer's Breakdown

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DON MESSER'S BREAKDOWN. Canadian, Breakdown. C Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. Composed by Canadian radio and TV fiddler Don Messer (1909-1973), a highly influential musician from the Maritimes who helped to define the "Down East" style of fiddling. Messer was originally from New Brunswick but was hired in 1939 by radio station CFCY in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, to anchor its fiddle broadcasts. By 1950 Messer could be heard throughout Canada and the northeastern United States and became perhaps the most influential fiddler of the mid-20th century in North America. Transplanted French-Canadian fiddler Omer Marcoux (Concord, N.H.) played a similar sounding tune but, not knowing the title or where he had it from, called it simply "Reel #2 in C." [1]

Source for notated version: fiddler Dawson Girdwood (Perth, Ontario) [Bégin].

Printed sources: Bégin (Fiddle Music in the Ottawa Valley: Dawson Girdwood), 1985; No. 6, p. 20. Messer (Anthology of Favorite Fiddle Tunes), 1980; No. 4, p. 5.

Recorded sources:




Back to Don Messer's Breakdown[edit]

  1. Miskoe & Paul, The Fiddle Tunes of Omer Marcoux 1994; p. 18