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Articles in the Fiddle History Category

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[Aug 2010 | 2 Comments | ]
Scandinavian Fiddling and Related Instruments

by Carl Rahkonen The first time someone hears Scandinavian fiddling they may be struck by its unique sound, which can be as beautiful and austere as the Scandinavian landscape.  Together with incredible rhythmic complexity, this music can sound as exotic as any music on the earth.  It is a sound that can be particularly addicting! [...]

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[Aug 2010 | Comments Off | ]

By Tim Woodbridge 1939 found Don Messer in something of a quandary.  Despite the successes chronicled in Part 2 and continuing, it must have seemed that he was constantly required to justify himself to distant CBC executives. In 1936 the network had reduced the proportion of musical programming from 70% to 50%.  In 1938, following [...]

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[May 2010 | Comments Off | ]
Understanding and Learning Shifting and Higher Positions on the Fiddle Part Two

“Boil the Cabbage Down” first position fingering pattern (2nd finger close to 3rd finger, typical beginner’s pattern). Tonic note is an open string (e.g., A, in Boil the Cabbage). This position is typically taught to beginners without regard to staying in a single key across the instrument. So, you get a major scale if you start on the G string 0123 and then go to the D string 0123 (G scale). You get the D scale by starting on the D string 0123 and going to the A string 0123 and the A scale is A:0123 E:0123. However, if you wanted to play a second octave of any of these scales, you would use a different finger pattern. This chart represents the beginner finger pattern, then, rather than proper notes for a particular scale.

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[May 2010 | 6 Comments | ]
“Where Did You Come From, Where Did You Go?” The Split Personality of Cotton-Eyed Joe” (Part I) *

by Howard Marshall In a section on couple dances in my forthcoming book on the history of fiddling in Missouri, the Cotton-Eyed Joe dance and tune became a focus of interest. The following essay is offered to readers for discussion. Readers are encouraged to contact me by email at MarshallH@Missouri.Edu with corrections and ideas for [...]

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[May 2010 | 2 Comments | ]
Musings on the Evolution of Jazz Violin Part Three: The Hot Club of Robinson County

by Anthony Barnett SP: Any comments on the divide between the stylistic approaches of the Grappelli and Stuff Smith and their respective statuses both in the jazz world and among music fans that are not jazz aficionados? Where does the Manouche/French Gypsy violin style stand in your concept of the jazz world? AB: Let’s talk, [...]

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[Apr 2010 | Comments Off | ]

By Tim Woodbridge As described in the previous installment, when Don Messer was 16 he went to Boston, where his Aunt Mary ran a boarding house.  According to biographer Johanna Bertin, he did well for himself, eventually becoming an assistant manager of a store in the Woolworths chain, with prospects of assignment to a store [...]

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[Apr 2010 | 7 Comments | ]
Musings On The Evolution Of Jazz Violin Part Two: Scratch On Wood

by Anthony Barnett SP: More generally, speak to misunderstandings of jazz violin exhibited by the jazz community and/or violinists. AB: That is a big question. I am tempted to answer that things are much better but I am often given cause to wonder. For example, 2009 saw, to my knowledge, three centenary celebrations of Stuff [...]

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[Jan 2010 | 11 Comments | ]
Books about American Fiddlers

by Stacy Phillips The past few years have seen a relative bonanza in fiddle-oriented nonfiction in print. Check out the previous review article I wrote for the October 2004 edition of Fiddle Sessions. Here is a rundown of nine of my favorites that are not mainly music transcriptions or instruction. “Fiddler of the Opry – [...]

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[Jan 2010 | Comments Off | ]
Musings on the Evolution of Jazz Violin:  Part One

by Anthony Barnett  SP: Comment on the evolving position of violin in the ragtime, early, swing, bebop and current eras of jazz.   AB: First, let me say I am not the knowledgeable person about ragtime and, say, early string bands. Document CD’s (http://www.document-records.com/index.asp) are a good source of, if not always accurate information, at least [...]

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[Jan 2010 | 5 Comments | ]
Don Messer: King of the Ottawa Valley Fiddlers

by Tim Woodbridge May 9th was the 100th anniversary of the birth of Don Messer (1909-1973), the great Canadian fiddler and cultural icon. Measured by popularity, influence and long running success on radio, recordings, and television, Don Messer was arguably the most important Canadian fiddler of his generation, if not the 20th century. His instantly [...]