The Banff and Buchan Collection

Norman Fordyce, Fraserburgh, 10/03/1994

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NEFA 1994.022.01    Transcription
P:  Norman Fordyce 
T: Announcement followed by Weather Rhymes and Sayings (and Candlemas)
S: Rhymes about dates and weather, including the Candlemas rhyme.

NEFA 1994.022.02    Transcription
P:  Norman Fordyce 
T: Introduction

S: Born in 1907. Wrote the Ballad o Bennachie because he was born in its shadow and is worried about local language decaying because of incomers.
The Bailies o Bennachie also had a competition in which he got a highly commended.

NEFA 1994.022.03    Transcription 
P:  Norman Fordyce
T: The Back o Bennachie
FL: There's a hill in the Garioch that's aye dear tae me
S: There is a tune for The Ballad o Bennachie, one in B flat, another in G.
Sings the song of his own composition, with recitation of a verse in the middle.

NEFA 1994.022.04    Transcription
P:  Norman Fordyce 
T: More on the background
FL: Did ye like that?
S: Made the melody himself. Several of his compositions have been performed by various groups (local and Edinburgh).

NEFA 1994.022.05    Transcription
P:  Norman Fordyce 
T: Composing and performing around the North East
FL: First of all, when did you make the song.
S: Made the song in 1976, but had been working on it for some time. Composed a tune in B flat first. Now it is in G, easier for singing. NF has made more songs, usually in the popular style. The music scene was hard to break into in his youth. Steve Spalding used to play with him. Around 1936 another band member heard NF's melody on the radio, with different words. That scunnered him of the music business. He played all over with his band, Presly's Band, which came second in the East of Scotland competitions (held at the Palais de Dance in Aberdeen). That ended in 1939 and there are few of them left. Local man, Charlie Sutherland, was a student of Skinner's and owned a Stradivarius. The Goddard Strad, which is now in the USA, NF thinks.

NEFA 1994.022.06    Transcription
P:  Norman Fordyce 
T: Great Fiddles and Dances
FL: Syne, aboot 'e time I left 'e school...
S: It is said the Charlie Sutherland had a genuine Matthew Hardie, but it wasn't. The Strad and the Hardie were lovely instruments. The strings were all equal. Presly's father Charlie had a fine collection of fiddles. They had a French fiddle, a Magatelle, which just spoke by itself when it warmed up. They got 10 shillings a dance and had to wear evening dress. They would be pretty busy in the winter months. Whist drives. Annual local artillery ball. You had to be very polite asking people to dance. The Grand March was a thing to be seen. Circassian Circle would follow. Charlie Presly had a Gough???? fiddle, shaped like a guitar. Jim Donald was a fiddler with a fine collection too.

NEFA 1994.022.07    Transcription
P:  Norman Fordyce
T: Willie Macnamara
S: Story about playing in Yarmouth and staying with a woman who had a couple of fiddles which she was going to sell. NF told her that they were worth more than she was being offered. One of them was a Hesketh, the other maybe Italian.

NEFA 1994.022.08    Transcription
P: Norman Fordyce 
T: The Honeyman fiddlers
S: They were called Honeyman fiddlers, because they used the Honeyman system. They started learning in A which is frowned upon now. F natural was hard to play later. There was a philharmonic in Fraserburgh before the war. Only two members left. There was no radio (the cat's whisker it was called from the antenna). The bands were the ones who introduced the new tunes.

NEFA 1994.022.09-10    Transcription
P:  Norman Fordyce 
T: Fraserburgh bands
S: Bands belonged to clubs which supplied the new melodies from England and America. The titles were put up on the dance hall walls. They lived in the golden age of jazz. [Side A/B.] Joe Venuti, Bing Crosby were all very popular then. Duke Ellington used to come to Glasgow. Glenn Miller came to Glasgow too. The Palais de Dance in Aberdeen, and Peterhead, saw some of the big names. One of NF's friends went to see Kreisler in Glasgow.

NEFA 1994.022.11    Transcription
P:  Norman Fordyce 
T: Gadie wi its Waters Sweet
S: Born at the foot of Bennachie, then moved to Port Elphinstone. Moved to Fraserburgh in 1926 to work at Lawrence, fish business. His grandmother used to sing older melodies. Sings Gadie wi its waters sweet, supposedly written by William Thom, Inverurie. Used to sing various local songs and melodies. Sometimes people mix up the words these days, losing the meanings. Says The Bonnie Lass o Fyvie is about redcoats coming through Fyvie. Sings a verse. Tells story of song. After the '45. Robbie Burns wore the tartan, was arrested and escaped. Neil Gow narrowly escaped too. Wearing the tartan honours Scotland.

NEFA 1994.022.12    Transcription
P:  Norman Fordyce 
T: Born on the banks of the Gadie, Feeing Fairs and Bikes
S: Born in a cottar house on the banks of the Gadie. His grandfather would have been fee'd. NF has seen feeing markets and served his apprenticeship in a shop in Inverurie. They would parcel up sweets and whisky for the lads. The Gordon Highlanders band would be there and the regiment would be recruiting. There used to be a lot of beautiful bikes there, with acetylene lamps.

NEFA 1994.022.13    Transcription
P:  Norman Fordyce 
T: Feeing Market Pastimes
S: Feeing markets had jugglers, amusements, etc. The farm lads worked hard. The lads would put their caps at a certain angle, with a cane inside to make it fluff out. This meant they were wanting a fee. Another signal was the green hankie in a pocket, or a bit of straw. If they changed job, they would have to get a cart and move everything.

NEFA 1994.022.14    Transcription
P:  Norman Fordyce  
T: Hired Farmhands
S: Never heard of the horseman's word. The lads worked very hard. Many went to America and made their fortunes. Many emigrants took their tunes and songs with them. Many of those tunes are English, though they are thought of as Scottish. How did the fiddle come to Scotland? NF would like to know, maybe Mary Queen of Scots. the Cape Breton style is new, driving. Their bowing is great. Does not believe that the Cape Breton style is derived from the older Scottish styles. NF saw Skinner once, but never heard him play. What a pity we do not have recordings of the old players (e.g. Gow). All the Skinner tunes mean something; they are about specific people and events. Ron Gonella and Willie Hunter recently died.

NEFA 1994.022.15    Transcription
P:  Norman Fordyce
T:  Hector MacAndrew
S: Hector MacAndrew stayed with relatives once. His most famous tune is Aul Robin Grey. George Anderson, good fiddler in the Broch, used to play that tune, in tears. GA was a beautiful player. NF had lessons from Charlie Presly and others (Alec Nicol), some of whom learned on the continent. Scott Skinner was trained abroad too. Some of the local players were stuck in the Honeyman rut, in only two keys. The fiddle is like a voice. Neither fiddlers nor singers should use bits of paper, but should play from the heart. There are some great Irish tunes.

NEFA 1994.022.16    Transcription
P:  Norman Fordyce  
T: I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen
S: Sings three verses of song. A lovely song. Tells story of song. You have to get in behind the words to the meaning.

NEFA 1994.022.17    Transcription
P:  Norman Fordyce 
T:  Songs Grandmother Used to Sing
S: Names a few songs, Annie Laurie, etc. Irving Berlin was a great expressive composer. Sings a bit of an IB song (Remember, Remember).


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