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The great Shetland collector Tom Anderson said that Willafjord was brought back from the Greenland whaling expeditions by Shetland fiddlers and as long since become a standard of the genre. In his book Hand Me Doon da Fiddle (1979), Anderson said that there were a lot of fiddlers from many countries that were employed in the whaling industries. Shetland was an important part of the whaling industry in the nineteenth century, so the dual actions of the Shetlanders sailing abroad, and whalers from overseas visiting the island has partly resulted in Shetland's unique music.
He also said that Willafjord is played in Newfoundland and Cape Breton using the same bowing strokes as in Shetland. This tune uses a syncopated rhythm Anderson described it:
If du imagines some een gaen wi wan fit ida stank an de idder een on a broo an gaein a lunk as dey go alang, dat's da kind o' syncopated rhythm du haes to get whin du plays dis een.In other words, think of walking along with one foot in the ditch, bopping along, and you'll get the rhythm!
In Scottish sessions Willafjord is mostly coupled with another Shetland reel, Spootiskerry.
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