Music and Dance


The Metis are famous for their fiddle music. Fiddles were introduced to the Metis by the Scots and French. Metis instruments, however, were more often made than purchased, since maple and birch woods were more readily available than the cash to purchase complete instruments. Most often the sound of the Metis fiddle is accompanied by the clap of sound from spoons and the drumming rhythms derived from a large tin pan. It was also common for the performer to provide rhythm by using his or her heels.


The Metis style of fiddle music is distinctive. The bottom string is often tuned up a tone from G to A. It is based on syncopation and extra beats, which give the music a “bounce” when played and heard. The music is typically played up-tempo and has a routine back beat. These features make the performance of waltzes and reels distinctive, and particularly suitable for dancing.


History of the Metis Fiddle Video


Like so much of Metis culture, Metis dance is a creative blend of European (French, Scotch, and Irish) and Indian heritage. The most distinctive of the Metis dance creations is the Red River Jig. This jig is a special fiddle tune that is danced in two parts. In one part, a traditional jig step is performed while the fiddle plays a high section. When the fiddle switches to a lower section, the second, fancy footwork, part of the dance is performed. It is common for this energetic jig to be played, while dancers compete with one another to dance the most quick, complicated footwork.

Fancy Steppin’ Video

Traditional Dance Video