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Difference Between Fiddle and Violin

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Richie 22 Jan 03 - 08:21 AM
McGrath of Harlow 22 Jan 03 - 08:37 AM
Catherine Jayne 22 Jan 03 - 09:29 AM
Cluin 22 Jan 03 - 09:57 AM
masato sakurai 22 Jan 03 - 10:21 AM
banjomad (inactive) 22 Jan 03 - 10:23 AM
Kim C 22 Jan 03 - 10:26 AM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 22 Jan 03 - 11:08 AM
Richie 23 Jan 03 - 12:43 AM
Sandra in Sydney 23 Jan 03 - 07:20 AM
Mark Ross 23 Jan 03 - 12:18 PM
NicoleC 23 Jan 03 - 12:31 PM
Stewart 23 Jan 03 - 01:41 PM
alanabit 23 Jan 03 - 02:14 PM
Malcolm Douglas 23 Jan 03 - 02:24 PM
Murray MacLeod 23 Jan 03 - 03:03 PM
Malcolm Douglas 23 Jan 03 - 03:30 PM
rich-joy 23 Jan 03 - 05:40 PM
GUEST,sorefingers 23 Jan 03 - 06:02 PM
Sandra in Sydney 24 Jan 03 - 07:28 AM
greg stephens 24 Jan 03 - 07:56 AM
JennyO 24 Jan 03 - 09:47 AM
Kim C 24 Jan 03 - 10:09 AM
Catherine Jayne 24 Jan 03 - 10:11 AM
GUEST,Sharon G 24 Jan 03 - 10:23 AM
GUEST,Bill 24 Jan 03 - 07:54 PM
GUEST,Arne Langsetmo 25 Jan 03 - 06:34 PM
GUEST 25 Jan 03 - 07:16 PM
GUEST,Julia 25 Jan 03 - 07:17 PM
cobber 25 Jan 03 - 07:35 PM
CraigS 26 Jan 03 - 07:16 PM
Rincon Roy 27 Jan 03 - 02:50 AM
GUEST 15 Nov 04 - 07:09 PM
Jack Hickman 15 Nov 04 - 08:03 PM
John Routledge 15 Nov 04 - 08:23 PM
Louie Roy 15 Nov 04 - 09:48 PM
muppitz 16 Nov 04 - 08:36 AM
GUEST,Russ 16 Nov 04 - 05:00 PM
Juan P-B 16 Nov 04 - 07:02 PM
Joe_F 16 Nov 04 - 09:42 PM
GUEST,Uncle Jaque 16 Nov 04 - 11:37 PM
Jeremiah McCaw 17 Nov 04 - 02:12 AM
mg 17 Nov 04 - 02:52 AM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 17 Nov 04 - 09:11 PM
GUEST,Arne Langsetmo 18 Nov 04 - 04:18 AM
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Subject: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: Richie
Date: 22 Jan 03 - 08:21 AM

Everybody knows that a fiddle and a viloin are the same basic instrument but what are the main differences in style, technique and set-up?

Where did the fiddle style of playing with the butt of the fiddle on the chest come from- the British Isles?

What is the difference between country and bluegrass style playing and Celtic and other folk styles- or are they similar?

What are the different choice of scales (pentatonic) with flat 3rds 7ths and 5ths?

What are the bowing differnces and use of slurs between bluegrass and classical?

How about tunings?

And drone strings?

Thanks,

Richie


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Jan 03 - 08:37 AM

Actually the violin is the smallest member of the family of fiddles - wiolin, viola, cello, bass.

The word fiddle has a much longer history than the word violin, being tye name for tye instrument from whcih the violin (and the okther fiddles) developed.


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: Catherine Jayne
Date: 22 Jan 03 - 09:29 AM

Ritchie....have a look back through past threads....this has been a topic with much discussion and you may find some interesting answers!!!


Cat


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: Cluin
Date: 22 Jan 03 - 09:57 AM

The spellingk.


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: masato sakurai
Date: 22 Jan 03 - 10:21 AM

It seems they are etymologically related too. From ONLINE ETYMOLOGY DICTIONARY:

violin - 1579, from It. violino, dim. of viola (see viola).

viola - 1797, from It. viola, from O.Prov. viola, from M.L. vitula "stringed instrument," perhaps from Vitula, Roman goddess of joy (see fiddle).

fiddle (n.) - O.E. fiđele, probably from M.L. vitula "stringed instrument," perhaps related to L. vitularia "celebrate joyfully," from Vitula, Roman goddess of joy and victory, who probably, like her name, originated among the Sabines. The word has been relegated to colloquial usage by its more proper cousin, violin, a process encouraged by phraseology such as fiddlesticks (originally "the bow of a fiddle," meaning "nonsense" is from 1600) and fiddle-faddle, which is unrelated, being a reduplication of obsolete faddle "to trifle."

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: banjomad (inactive)
Date: 22 Jan 03 - 10:23 AM

Violin is a derogatory name for a fiddle.
Dave


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: Kim C
Date: 22 Jan 03 - 10:26 AM

When I'm playing Vivaldi, it's a violin. When I'm playing Billy in the Lowground, it's a fiddle.

I have been told by someone who knows a lot more than me, that in the really old days, "fiddle" was a word used to describe just about any instrument played with a bow.

Personally, I use the terms interchangeably. We are talking about an extremely versatile instrument that can produce an infinite range of sounds and expressions, limited only by one's imagination.


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 22 Jan 03 - 11:08 AM

the Lyric and Knowledge search (using Fiddle and Violin to search on) came up with a number of threads, of which these three are probably most on point:

Fiddle vs Violin
Violin or Fiddle?
Difference between Fiddle & Violin


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: Richie
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 12:43 AM

Thanks for the posts. And thanks for the links George-

There's not much info on slurring and on scales and modes used for improvising.

Do many fiddlers play and sing at the same time? Our fiddler used to stop playing when she sang. Does Allison Krause play and sing at the same time?

Thanks for your help,

Richie


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 07:20 AM

I know a fiddler who plays & sings (fiddlesinging she calls it) & recently she showed she can clog dance at the same time.

I thought Nancy Kerr was unique (& she is) but a party pooper had heard of another fiddlesinging-clog-dancer (ratz).

sandra

I've also heard that the difference between a violinist & a fiddler is a few Guiness.


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: Mark Ross
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 12:18 PM

There's a fiddler here in Oregon, Tony Wright, originally from North Carolina, who plays fiddle and mouth harp at the same time. He sits with his fiddle braced against his chest and his knee with his legs crossed. I'm told that this seems to be an Appalachian style, to hold the instrument that way. Anyone else ever seen this?

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: NicoleC
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 12:31 PM

I've seen similar, Mark, but it's hell on your hands and shoulders to hold the fiddle so low. It's also very limiting in what and how well you can play. As an Appalachian girl, it's not an Appalachian style per se, it's just that so many old mountain fiddlers were self taught that they came up with all sorts of interesting methods, and that's one of them.

Richie, most fiddlers either sing and play in between verses, or let someone else sing.


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: Stewart
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 01:41 PM

The difference between a fiddle and violin is a matter of technique and attitude. Since all traditional music can be played in the first position, the left hand does not need to move up or down the neck, and the fiddle can be held against the chest with the neck resting against the palm of the left hand. The left hand thus supports the fiddle rather than in the classical position where the violin is supported at the neck. In doing so, the left hand is bent back, which can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, a frequent injury experienced over time by old-time fiddlers. Anyone learning to play the fiddle would be best advised to use the classical position to avoid future injury. Holding the instrument in the palm of the left hand also makes vibrato impossible, and this may explain why vibrato is not used in traditional fiddling.

Another characteristic of traditional fiddlers is not to wipe the rosin from the strings or the top of the fiddle. This may not just be a matter of laziness or disrespect for the instrument, but it results in a thinner, more nasal tone that is associated with traditional playing. Accumulation of rosin on the top of the fiddle deadens the vibrational properties of the wood and degrades the tone. But then tone quality is not of great concern by traditional fiddlers.

Another difference in technique is in how the bow is held. Many styles of traditional playing use a short, vigorous bow stroke. Many traditional fiddlers will hold the bow about a third of the way up from the frog with a wide variety of grips.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: alanabit
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 02:14 PM

I have been fortunate enough to know some very good players of both. Jens Oppermann, of the Auryn Quartett, was listening to some Phil Beer fiddling one night. "It's nice," he remarked, "But it's amateur. There's no real vibrato or anything like that..." Phil is one of the best fiddlers I have heard close up - to my mind up there with the Byron Berlines and Ian Cutlers (whom I've also heard close up). Anyone who has heard the Auryn Quartett close up knows that they sacrifice nothing in feel to technique, so I couldn't describe it in terms as crude (or subjective) as that. In the end, it comes down to how the instrument is used to make a certain sort of music. For me the most extraordinary - as I have mentioned before on other threads - is the amazing Klaus der Geiger. He had already played in major orchestras and established himself as an avant garde composer before his busking career began over thirty years ago. He combines astonishing technique with genuine commitment to all forms of music.
One good friend of mine said,"Klaus is a violinist and Phil is a fiddler." I can't argue with that, but I would prefer to say that when Klaus plays Mozart or Paganini he is a violin virtuoso and when he plays fiddle he is a fiddler.


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 02:24 PM

Pretty much the same things are said every time someone asks this question, though I'm glad to see that we haven't been blessed with the more predictable clichés so far. I'd disagree with Stewart over some details (though perhaps he was speaking of American fiddlers only?); vibrato is perfectly possible using the old chest-hold, but isn't much used in western traditional dance music because it wasn't much used in western music at all until quite recently. It's not uncommon in the "standard" Scottish style, though, as that has been heavily influenced by classical techniques over the last century or so, and is probably increasing in use as more players trained in orchestral technique are taking up the folk repertoire. There's still a certain amount of snobbery involved with the use of vibrato, which many classically-trained players overuse hideously; until little more than a century ago it was rarely used except as a special effect, and its routine use was considered poor style. A lot of traditional fiddling style, and the various methods of holding instrument and bow, are inherited from the baroque styles that have generally dropped out of use in "art" music.

I've heard that story about mountain fiddlers and rosin, but I wouldn't say that it's a particularly traditional habit elsewhere.

The scales used depend on where you are, but in Britain and Ireland -for example- modal scales are still reasonably common, and many of the old players would tend not to use equal temperament, though the relatively recent move to ensemble playing, including fixed-pitch instruments, has tended to change that.


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 03:03 PM

"many of the old players would tend not to use equal temperament"

Malcolm, are you saying that modern fiddlers do use equal temperament ?

Murray


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 03:30 PM

Fair point! To an extent you have to when playing with a keyboard or similar, but I expect it's a bit of a compromise between systems even then. I'm not classically trained, though, and couldn't even tell you for sure what I do, though I know when it sounds right and when it doesn't; and that seems to vary according to context. The school-trained players do seem to have less of a tendency slightly to sharpen or flatten certain notes, I think, than traditional or "vernacular" players, and the same would likely be true of singers; but since I don't properly understand the processes involved, I certainly wouldn't want to be dogmatic. My original comment may well be misleading given the way I put it.


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: rich-joy
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 05:40 PM

Sandra, I seem to recall hearing of French Canadian fiddlers who fiddle, sing and dance at the same time ... (maybe someone from the other hemisphere could comment?!)

Cheers! R-J


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: GUEST,sorefingers
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 06:02 PM

IF it takes that long to say it then there is none, if it doesn't then why didn't ya say so in the first place...

Violinists think/talks/boast=bore about it, while Fiddlers just play the FIDDLE....


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 07:28 AM

Rich-Joy

Nancy learnt to clog dance while in Canada recently!

sandra

I'm going to pass this to a friend who was a classically trained violinist who now plays fiddle with a noisy lot of loonies (some are Morris men) & get his opinion.

s


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: greg stephens
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 07:56 AM

Here is an interesting practical difference. Pick up the fiddle/violin, and take a look at the finger-board under the A-string where the notes C/C# are played. If there is a wear-mark there, it's been played a lot by a fiddler. In the Brit/Irish/American traditions, particularly in the style used by the older-style attacking fiddlers, these notes were of variable pitch and fingering them involved a lot of finger sliding and string pushing. And over time, this marked the wood.
   Now it may be that other traditions have different variable pitch notes, so you get marks in different places, but I've not gone into this.


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: JennyO
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 09:47 AM

Hi Sandra. Yes, I was thinking of Tony when I was looking at this thread yesterday!

He doesn't seem to have any trouble adapting from one style to the other - sometimes in the same song! Brilliant fiddler..er violinist!!

Jenny


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: Kim C
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 10:09 AM

Us gals have a little anatomical problem trying to play with a chest hold...


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: Catherine Jayne
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 10:11 AM

I agree Kim but they an excellent rest for the fiddle!!


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: GUEST,Sharon G
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 10:23 AM

I wrote an article for Folk Works, a bi-monthly newspaper in southern California last spring. It's entitled "The Riddle of the Fiddle" and appeared in the May/June 2002 issue, which is available online here:

http://www.FolkWorks.org

Among other things, it addresses some of the original questions posed in the first post on this topic.

Sharon


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: GUEST,Bill
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 07:54 PM

You can usually make more money on a fiddle than on a violin.
Bill (the sound)


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: GUEST,Arne Langsetmo
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 06:34 PM

Fiddles burn longer.   ;-)

Cheers,

                            -- Arne Langsetmo


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 07:16 PM

- about 10 to 12 beers.


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: GUEST,Julia
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 07:17 PM

The word for "violin" in Gaelic is "fidhle"

I believe it is violas that burn longer...guess size does make a difference
Julia


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: cobber
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 07:35 PM

I used to grip the violin with my neck until 1976 when I broke my neck in a car accident. Then I dropped it down to my chest the way the old Scottish fiddler, Neil Gow is shown in his photos and that stopped me getting a sore neck. Playing it that way, I found it easy to sing at the same time, though it takes a bit of practice to be able to sing something different to what you are playing, such as a harmony or cross rhythm. After a while, I found that I could even call the dances we played for without losing the tune. As Australian music is based on Irish and Scottish music mostly, the more "lazy" style of playing on the chest fitted in really well. My violin was given to me by an old retired classical player who always called it his fiddle, so I guess the name is just a matter of taste.


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: CraigS
Date: 26 Jan 03 - 07:16 PM

Just some of the usual drivel ...

I remember being told that the smallest member of the viol family was called the Kit, a sort of half-size violin.

I remember hearing SIr Yehudi Menhuin saying in an interview on TV that his Stradivarius was "only a fiddle"! He was trying to convey, as are so many here, that the way you play the instrument is the main differentiating factor between musicians.


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: Rincon Roy
Date: 27 Jan 03 - 02:50 AM

(old joke) no one minds if you spill beer on a fiddle


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Nov 04 - 07:09 PM

the difference between a violin and a fiddle are...
       a violin has strings
       a fiddle has strangs


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: Jack Hickman
Date: 15 Nov 04 - 08:03 PM

Speaking of the various methods of holding the fiddle, I notice that a number of Newfoundland fiddlers, whose names escape me now, (one of them was the late Rufus Guinchard) hold the fiddle in the hollow of their elbow. It doesn't seem to have any negative effect on the quality of their playing. I also think they can sing and play at the same time using this method.

Another friend of mine, a fine fiddler, was suffering from all kinds of muscle aches and pains from playing. He invented a device which he wears around his neck, and allows the fiddle to hand down, rather than having to hold it while playing. I've been after him for years to patent it, because any fiddler who sees it wants one, and it won't be long before the idea is stolen and marketed.

And speaking of multi-tasking fiddlers, one of the best is Natalie MacMaster, who fiddles and step-dances simultaneously. That is a sight to behold, to say nothing of the lady's pulchritude. (Ain't that a dandy word :-)

I once heard a musician say that when he was wearing a shirt and tie, he played the violin, but in jeans and a t-shirt it was a fiddle.

Jack Hickman


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: John Routledge
Date: 15 Nov 04 - 08:23 PM

I have just discovered that a standard violin bow is longer than a cello bow which I found surprising in view of the size of a cello :0)

The logic is that playing some classical music on a violin is easier with a longer bow.

It is now possible to get shorter bows for violin which are starting to find favour with some traditional fiddlers/musicians who never wish play classical music.


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: Louie Roy
Date: 15 Nov 04 - 09:48 PM

The fiddle grew up in the back woods and the violin went to college


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: muppitz
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 08:36 AM

I used to spend quite a bit of time around the John Wright Band (The line up of John, Kenny Speirs and Stewart Hardy), when Tom Roseburgh was their soundman. There was the transitional period when Joe Wright stepped in on Fiddle after the departure of Stewart, and Mr Roseburgh made an interesting comment on the styles of the two fiddlers, it was something along the lines of, Stewart has the style of a Violinist and Joe has the style more of a Fiddler because he can be a little more relaxed in his style of playing, from time to time he lets the Fiddle drop away from his neck, whereas Stewart, being classically trained, would never do that.

I think what he was saying was that it's to do with your style of playing, not necesarily the genre of the music you play, more like the way you play it, a relaxed attitude I suppose.

I would be inclined to agree with him.

muppitz x


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 05:00 PM

Twelve questions violinists ask about fiddling
http://www.dhebert.com/publications/fiddleFAQ.html


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: Juan P-B
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 07:02 PM

I heard the difference was that few people would mind if Michael Jackson wanted to violin with the kids!! Sorry!!!!


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: Joe_F
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 09:42 PM

"Fiddle" & "violin" summon up pretty much the same picture in my mind; but "fiddler" & "violinist" summon up very different pictures.


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: GUEST,Uncle Jaque
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 11:37 PM

One of my passions is to try to play the music of the Minstrel / American Civil War (1861-5) era in the authentic style on restored or replica period instruments.

Towards this end I collect vocal and instrumental method books printed around the Victorian era as well as period music, and try to perform the old songs as nearly as possible to the way it would have been presented in the middle 1800s.

The gut-strung "Parlor Guitar" seems to have been played according to the Justin HOLLAND Method for the most part, which as near as I can determine is essentially a Classical melodic style.

You do NOT want to be using picks on gut strings!

The 5-string banjo, more popular than the guitar in America at the time, was tuned and played a whole lot differently than our modern "Bluegrass" banjo is today, using a "Stroke" or "Guitar" fingerpicking style on the gut strings tuned 2 1/2 steps below modern tuning.   
There was a BIG difference in how banjos sounded back then vs. how they sound now!

Some of the Members of my CW Reenacting unit are expressing interest in forming a little pick-up "Glee Club", which I've been trying to drum up interest in for about 13 years now.

One of my "Pards" in the Fife and Drum Corps is interested in learning the fiddle, and I was wondering if there is any significant difference in the way fiddles were played in the middle 1800s vs. the current popular styles?

Surely someone in here knows!

Thanks - "Uncle Jaque" - 3rd Maine Infantry Field Music


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: Jeremiah McCaw
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 02:12 AM

"I thought Nancy Kerr was unique (& she is) but a party pooper had heard of another fiddlesinging-clog-dancer (ratz)."

Natalie McMaster has been mentioned; also Cindy Thompson, to name another Canadian performer.

Similar to the line reported by Jack Hickman:
What's the difference between a fiddle and a violin?
The tux!


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: mg
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 02:52 AM

as mentioned on another thread, you absolutely must hear April Verch, a young Canadian fiddler. mg


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 09:11 PM

If you want Fiddlers who step-dance, come up to Cape Breton. Wendy MacIsaac, Kendra MacGillivray, Jennifer Roland, Jackie Dunn, Stephanie Wills and Jerry Holland also do that, among many others.


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Subject: RE: Difference Between Fiddle and Violin
From: GUEST,Arne Langsetmo
Date: 18 Nov 04 - 04:18 AM

What's the difference between a fiddle and a hammered dulcimer?



The dulcimer burns longer. . . .

;-)


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