3 folk tableaux
string orchestra

Composition Date: 2012
Duration: 00:09:14
Genre: Orchestra / Large Ensembles, String Orchestra


Instrumentation Set Number 1:
  • 1 x String orchestra
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Programme Note:
"À St-Malo, beau port de mer." This work song bears the name St-Malo only in Canada. In France it uses the names of other towns on the sea, particularly Nantes and Bordeaux. The song has a bright and lively character; it comes from the northwest of France and is thought to have become popular because of the 1837 rebellion, when St-Malo and patriotism were synonymous. The words appear to have been published for the first time by F.-A.-H. LaRue in Le Foyer canadien, vol 1 (Quebec City 1863), and the music in the Chansons populaires du Canada (Quebec City 1865) by Ernest Gagnon.

I have presented the melody in a number of different ways, attempting to portray certain aspects of the French Canadian lifestyle at the time of early settlements. The initial exposition of the melody is a spirited dance, followed by a hymn-like slower version and then a fiddle variation that is meant to conjure scenes of good times and community gatherings.

Begin at a comfortable, controlled pace, increase the tempo slightly at the Piu Mosso and then again (if possible) at the Allegro. I have indicated foot stomps and percussive effects in places....feel free to add your own extra rhythms or sounds to enhance the overall effect. Use double stops where possible. The upper octave in measures 59 - 69 and the final bar are optional for advanced student(s).

Land of the Silver Birch is a traditional Canadian folk song set to the words of a poem by the 19th Century Six Nations poet E. Pauline Johnson (Emily Pauline Johnson, aka Tekahionwake, was born near Brantford, Ont., the daughter of an English-woman and a Mohawk chief. 1861-1913). Published by Edith Fulton Fowke (Literary Editor) and Richard Johnston (Music Editor) in Folk Songs Of Canada, pp.190-191 (Waterloo Music Company, Waterloo, Ontario, 1954)

At the age of 31 when her society expected her to marry and have children, she began to tour the country. She gave popular recitals of her poetry, comedy routines and plays from Halifax to Vancouver. She was the first Native poet to have her work published in Canada. She was also one of the few female writers at the time who could make an independent living from what she wrote and performed. Pauline Johnson was proud of her Native heritage and wrote that "My aim, my joy, my pride is to sing the glories of my own people."

It is sometimes sung to keep time while canoeing, and sometimes sung at campfires in a round. It is in Aeolian, or Natural Minor, but there are numerous variations in the harmonies.

I have included simple traditional rhythm patterns to help maintain a steady rhythmic, dance-like pulse. The pentatonic accompaniment enhances the folk-song flavour of the melody. I have also created a contrasting middle section that is meant to complement the original melody. The repeated pizz accompaniment pattern by the violins and violas for the slow version of the melody helps maintain the rhythmic pulse as this movement fades out to an ending that should be as quiet as possible.

There are at least 6 different songs with the title "The Banks of Newfoundland"....but this is probably the most widely known. It is patterned on an old British song which described the sufferings of convicts who were transported to Tasmania (originally 'Van Dieman's Land).

I have simplified the rhythmic structure of the tune, partly for variety and partly to make the music more accessible for beginners. The middle section is modal and provides a contrast to the original melody. This modal section harkens back to many earlier sea songs and reinforces the maritime feel of this movement. Experiment with the Meno Mosso to find a tempo that provides a somewhat heavier and darker feel to the melody. When the original tune returns, there are still a few reminders (in the pizzicato measures) of the modal origins of many see shanties. Finish with a flourish and let the strings ring.


  • Call Number:
  • MI 1500 P1745fo
  • Genre:
  • Orchestra / Large Ensembles, String Orchestra
  • Date of Acquisition:
  • April 5, 2012
  • Type:
  • Print-music, Published by CMC
  • Physical Description:
  • 1 score (16 p.) ;
    16 Pages
    Height: 32 cm
    Width: 24 cm
    Parts page count: 35
    parts available for rent
    Height: 32 cm
    Width: 24 cm
  • Additional Information:
  • String Orchestra:
    Violin 1 and 2
    Double Bass

    Commissioned by CMC
    I - Allegretto
    II - Andante
    III - Allegro
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