Pure Laine Practice Tunes

Every year at Fiddle Park in Pembroke, ON, the fiddling fun culminates with the unofficial Pure Laine Competition in the campground on the Sunday before Labour Day. For many this is the highlight of the week. Pure laine translates literally to “pure wool” and is meant to convey “the real thing”. You might hear some Francophones refer to the competition as “bas de laine”, which means wool stocking in reference to the trophy.

You can read more about the event in the Summer 2021 edition of Fiddler Magazine in my column “Travels with Charlie”. This post, however, focuses on how I have “prepared” for the contest the past few years.

If you’re unfamiliar with the event I’ll give you quick description. Also, check out the YouTube playlist below of several years of Pure Laine.

Fiddlers get in a circle. One player starts a tune (reels and 4/4 stuff only) and plays through one time AA-BB, then fiddler seated next to them clockwise has to immediately start a tune after the first player finishes. There can be no dropped beats or hesitation and no one may play a tune that has already been played. Otherwise, you’re “OUT!”.

As play proceeds the rules change to make it more difficult, first play the tunes one A part – one B part, which is harder than you might think. When the competition comes down to only a handful of players it’s one A only. When it’s finally down to two players basically knees-to-knees across from each other it’s one A only meaning you have to come up with a new tune every 8 seconds or so!

A couple of weeks before Pembroke the last few years I’ve started playing through a list of tunes practicing playing them A-B and then A only in succession. As the competition progresses I tend to play easier tunes that I think know one will have played in order to avoid crash and burn. Contrast this with a couple of my Quebecois friends, Jacquelin Guerette and Germain Leduc, who seem to play ever more difficult tunes. Playing difficult or obscure tunes doesn’t give any advantage. Calvin Vollrath told me he once won the competition with the common and fairly easy tune “Maple Sugar”, which evidently had not been played to that point.

Below is the list I’ve played from in the past few years for practice. If you fiddle and you’re at the event jump in there. It’s lots of fun to watch, but even more if you participate. Plus when you get eliminated you get a free beer!

Allie Crocker D
Angus Campbell A
Anne Marie Reel A/E
Arkansas Traveler D
Bailey’s Breakdown D
Bank’s Eb
Bay of Fundy D
Beatrice Am
Bennett’s Reel D
Big John McNeil A
Billy in the Lowground C
Bitter Creek G
Blackberry Blossom G
Blindman’s Reel F
Blue Pacific Hornpipe D
Blue Tuque F
Boil the Cabbage A
Bowing the Strings A
Brenda’s Reel D/A
Bruce Armitage F
Caber Feigh C
Charlebois G
Chicken Reel D
Chinese Breakdown D
Cincinnati Hornpipe D
College Hornpipe Bb
Comin’ Round the Mountain G
Cotton-Eyed Joe D
Crooked Stovepipe G
Cuckoo’s Nest D
Devil’s Dream A
Dew Drop Hornpipe A
Don Messer’s C
Drummondville G
Dundee Hornpipe D
Durang’s Hornpipe D
Earl Mitton’s Bb
Eskimo G
Fiddle Fingers D
Fisher’s D
Flop-Eared Mule D
Flowers of Edinburgh G
Forked Deer D
Frank’s Reel A
Frenchie’s Reel Bb
Garfield Bb
Gaspe Reel D
Gatineau Reel F
Gilles Roy C
Girl I left Behind Me
Golden Slippers G
Golden Wedding Reel G
GOM/COW A
Grandfather’s Reel G/D
Grant Lamb’s C
Harvest Home D
Herring Reel F
High Level Bb/F
Hull’s Victory F
Ice on The Road Em/G
Jackie Coleman D
Kiley’s A
La Bastringue D
Lady of the Lake D
Lamplighter A
Levantine’s Barrel D
Liberty Two-Step D
Little Brown Jug G
Liverpool Hornpipe D
Logger’s Bb
Londonderry Hornpipe D
Lord Mac Donald’s G
Lost Indian D
Lucky Trapper G
MacCleod’s Reel G
Maple Sugar A
Mason’s Apron A
McNabb’s Hornpipe D
Miller’s Reel A
Mon Vosion F
Mother’s Reel C
Mouth of the Tobique G
My Love is But A Lassie D
Old Man Old Woman D
Old Molly Hare D
On The Road to Boston D
Opera Reel D
Ostinelli’s A
Pacific Slope A
Parry Sound G
Pat the Budgie C
Petit Minou G
Petronella D
Poppy Leaf Hornpipe G
Quadrille français G
Ragtime Annie D
Rambler’s (Old French) D/A
Reel De Limoilou G
Reel du Snack Bar G/D
Reel St. Joseph D
Rickett’s Hornpipe D
Rosebud Reel Bb
Running Water G
Saratoga Hornpipe F
Scholar D
Serpent River
Shelburne Reel Bb/F
Sherbrooke Reel G/D
Shingle the Roof D
Shoal Creek Reel G (aka Swamp Lake)
Silver & Gold Two-Step D
Silver Star Hornpipe G
Snowflake D
Soldier’s Joy D
Souris Lighthouse G/D
Speed the Plough A
Spey in the Spate D
Spootiskerry G
Spud Island Breakdown D
St. Ann’s Reel D
Swinging on a Gate G
Tarbolton G
Temperance G/Em
Timbertown C/G
Ti-Me Reel D
Traveler G
Trip to Windsor A
Trudeau Reel
Turkey in the Straw Bb
Victory Breakdown D
Wagner C
Wake Up Suzie A
Whelan’s C
Whiskey Before Breakfast D
White Fish in the Rapids Bb
Winding Stream G
Woodchopper D