A fiddle being played.
(Composite chordophone sounded by a bow)
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A fiddle is a bowed string musical instrument, most often a violin.It is a colloquial term for the violin, used by players in all genres including classical music. Although violins and fiddles are essentially synonymous, the style of the music played may determine specific construction differences between fiddles and classical violins. For example, fiddles may optionally be set up with a bridge with a flatter arch to reduce the range of bow-arm motion needed for techniques such as the double shuffle, a form of bariolage involving rapid alternation between pairs of adjacent strings. To produce a "brighter" tone, compared to the deeper tones of gut or synthetic core strings, fiddlers often use steel strings. The fiddle is part of many traditional (folk) styles, which are typically aural traditions—taught 'by ear' rather than via written music.
In music, a bow is a tensioned stick which has hair coated in rosin affixed to it. It is moved across some part of a musical instrument to cause vibration, which the instrument emits as sound. The vast majority of bows are used with string instruments, such as the violin, although some bows are used with musical saws and other bowed idiophones.
String instruments, stringed instruments, or chordophones are musical instruments that produce sound from vibrating strings when the performer plays or sounds the strings in some manner.
A musical instrument is an instrument created or adapted to make musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can be considered a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the object becomes a musical instrument. The history of musical instruments dates to the beginnings of human culture. Early musical instruments may have been used for ritual, such as a trumpet to signal success on the hunt, or a drum in a religious ceremony. Cultures eventually developed composition and performance of melodies for entertainment. Musical instruments evolved in step with changing applications.
Fiddling is the act of playing the fiddle, and fiddlers are musicians that play it. Among musical styles, fiddling tends to produce rhythms that focus on dancing, with associated quick note changes, whereas classical music tends to contain more vibrato and sustained notes. Fiddling is also open to improvisation and embellishment with ornamentation at the player's discretion—in contrast to orchestral performances, which adhere to the composer's notes to reproduce a work faithfully. It is less common for a classically trained violinist to play folk music, but today, many fiddlers (e.g., Alasdair Fraser, Brittany Haas, Alison Krauss [ citation needed ], etc.) have classical training.
Vibrato is a musical effect consisting of a regular, pulsating change of pitch. It is used to add expression to vocal and instrumental music. Vibrato is typically characterised in terms of two factors: the amount of pitch variation and the speed with which the pitch is varied.
Alasdair Fraser is a Scottish fiddler, composer, performer and recording artist.
Brittany Haas is an American fiddle player, who also sometimes sings and plays the banjo. She is a member of the Boston-based alternative bluegrass band Crooked Still, which is currently on hiatus. She is a regular performer on Live From Here. She tours with the Haas Marshall Walsh and Haas Kowert Tice trios, and participates in many international fiddlecamps, including the Ossipee Valley Music Festival. As of 2018, she is a member of Hawktail, which includes Kowert and Tice, as well as mandolinist Dominic Leslie.
The medieval fiddle emerged in 10th-century Europe, deriving from the Byzantine lira (Greek: λύρα, Latin: lira, English: lyre), a bowed string instrument of the Byzantine Empire and ancestor of most European bowed instruments.
The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It survived the fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, cultural and military force in Europe. "Byzantine Empire" is a term created after the end of the realm; its citizens continued to refer to their empire simply as the Roman Empire, or Romania (Ῥωμανία), and to themselves as "Romans".
The first recorded reference to the bowed lira was in the 9th century by the Persian geographer Ibn Khurradadhbih (d. 911); in his lexicographical discussion of instruments he cited the lira (lūrā) as a typical instrument of the Byzantines and equivalent to the rabāb played in the Islamic Empires.
Abu'l-Qasim Ubaydallah ibn Abdallah ibn Khordadbeh, better known as Ibn Khordadbeh or Ibn Khurradadhbih, was the author of the earliest surviving Arabic book of administrative geography. He was a Persian geographer and bureaucrat of the 9th century. He was the son of Abdallah ibn Khordadbeh, a prominent Abbasid general, who was the son of a Zoroastrian convert to Islam. Ibn Khordadbeh was appointed "Director of Posts and Intelligence" for the province of Jibal in northwestern Iran under the Abbasid Caliph al-Mutammid. In this capacity ibn Khordadbeh served as both postmaster general and the Caliph's personal spymaster in that vital province.
Lira spread widely westward to Europe; in the 11th and 12th centuries European writers use the terms fiddle and lira interchangeably when referring to bowed instruments.
Over the centuries, Europe continued to have two distinct types of fiddles: one, relatively square-shaped, held in the arms, became known as the viola da braccio (arm viol) family and evolved into the violin; the other, with sloping shoulders and held between the knees, was the viola da gamba (leg viol) group. During the Renaissance the gambas were important and elegant instruments; they eventually lost ground to the louder (and originally less aristocratic) viola da braccio family.
Viola da braccio is the collective name for the family of the string instrument in violin form emerging in the 16th century. Both the name of today's viola and its Italian designation viola derive from the original name viola da braccio. The name refers to the arm position of these instruments in contrast to the instruments of the viola da gamba family, which are held between the knees. An exception is the bass instrument of the viola da braccio, which is also held between the knees, but without bottom support and "prickle" as in today's violoncello.
The Renaissance was a period in European history, covering the span between the 14th and 17th centuries and marking the transition from the Middle Ages to modernity. The traditional view focuses more on the early modern aspects of the Renaissance and argues that it was a break from the past, but many historians today focus more on its medieval aspects and argue that it was an extension of the Middle Ages.
The etymology of fiddle is uncertain: it probably derives from the Latin fidula, which is the early word for violin, or it may be natively Germanic.
The name appears to be related to Icelandic Fiðla and also Old English fiðele.A native Germanic ancestor of fiddle might even be the ancestor of the early Romance form of violin.
In medieval times, fiddle also referred to a predecessor of today's violin. Like the violin, it tended to have four strings, but came in a variety of shapes and sizes. Another family of instruments that contributed to the development of the modern fiddle are the viols, which are held between the legs and played vertically, and have fretted fingerboards.
In performance, a solo fiddler, or one or two with a group of other instrumentalists, is the norm, though twin fiddling is represented in some North American, Scandinavian, Scottish and Irish styles. Following the folk revivals of the second half of the 20th century, however, it has become common for less formal situations to find large groups of fiddlers playing together—see for example the Calgary Fiddlers, Swedish Spelmanslag folk-musician clubs, and the worldwide phenomenon of Irish sessions.
Orchestral violins, on the other hand, are commonly grouped in sections, or "chairs". These contrasting traditions may be vestiges of historical performance settings: large concert halls where violins were played required more instruments, before electronic amplification, than did more intimate dance halls and houses that fiddlers played in.
The difference was likely compounded by the different sounds expected of violin music and fiddle music. Historically, the majority of fiddle music was dance music, [ citation needed ] Various fiddle traditions have differing values.while violin music had either grown out of dance music or was something else entirely. Violin music came to value a smoothness that fiddling, with its dance-driven clear beat, did not always follow. In situations that required greater volume, a fiddler (as long as they kept the beat) could push their instrument harder than could a violinist.
In the very late 20th century, a few artists have successfully attempted a reconstruction of the Scottish tradition of violin and "big fiddle," or cello. Notable recorded examples include Iain Fraser and Christine Hanson, Amelia Kaminski and Christine Hanson's Bonnie Lasses, Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas' Fire and Grace. , and Tim Macdonald and Jeremy Ward's The Wilds .
Hungarian, Slovenian, and Romanian fiddle players are often accompanied by a three-stringed variant of the viola—known as the kontra —and by double bass, with cimbalom and clarinet being less standard yet still common additions to a band. In Hungary, a three stringed viola variant with a flat bridge, called the kontra or háromhúros brácsa makes up part of a traditional rhythm section in Hungarian folk music. The flat bridge lets the musician play three-string chords. A three stringed double bass variant is also used.
To a greater extent than classical violin playing, fiddle playing is characterized by a huge variety of ethnic or folk music traditions, each of which has its own distinctive sound.
American fiddling, a broad category including traditional and modern styles
Fiddling remains popular in Canada, and the various homegrown styles of Canadian fiddling are seen as an important part of the country's cultural identity, as celebrated during the opening ceremony of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.
Mexican fiddling includes
The Donegal fiddle tradition is the way of playing the fiddle that is traditional in County Donegal, Ireland. It is one of the distinct fiddle traditions within Irish traditional music.
The violin, sometimes known as a fiddle, is a wooden string instrument in the violin family. Most violins have a hollow wooden body. It is the smallest and highest-pitched instrument in the family in regular use. Smaller violin-type instruments exist, including the violino piccolo and the kit violin, but these are virtually unused. The violin typically has four strings, usually tuned in perfect fifths with notes G3, D4, A4, E5, and is most commonly played by drawing a bow across its strings, though it can also be played by plucking the strings with the fingers (pizzicato) and by striking the strings with the wooden side of the bow.
Pizzicato is a playing technique that involves plucking the strings of a string instrument. The exact technique varies somewhat depending on the type of instrument:
The rebec is a bowed stringed instrument of the Medieval era and the early Renaissance era. In its most common form, it has a narrow boat-shaped body and 1-5 strings. Played on the arm or under the chin, the technique and tuning may have influenced the development of the violin.
A Hardanger fiddle is a traditional stringed instrument used originally to play the music of Norway. In modern designs, this type of fiddle is very similar to the violin, though with eight or nine strings and thinner wood. Four of the strings are strung and played like a violin, while the rest, aptly named understrings or sympathetic strings, resonate under the influence of the other four.
Bowed string instruments are a subcategory of string instruments that are played by a bow rubbing the strings. The bow rubbing the string causes vibration which the instrument emits as sound.
The term violone can refer to several distinct large, bowed musical instruments which belong to either the viol or violin family. The violone is sometimes a fretted instrument, and may have six, five, four, or even only three strings. The violone is also not always a contrabass instrument. In modern parlance, one usually tries to clarify the 'type' of violone by adding a qualifier based on the tuning or on geography, or by using other terms that have a more precise connotation. The term violone may be used correctly to describe many different instruments, yet distinguishing among these types can be difficult, especially for those not familiar with the historical instruments of the viol and violin families and their respective variations in tuning.
The violin family of musical instruments was developed in Italy in the 16th century. At the time the name of this family of instruments was viole da braccio which was used to distinguish them from the viol family. The standard modern violin family consists of the violin, viola, cello, and double bass.
The Irish fiddle is one of the most important instruments in the traditional repertoire of Irish music. The fiddle itself is identical to the violin, however it is played differently in widely varying regional styles. In the era of sound recording some regional styles have been transmitted more widely while others have become more uncommon.
The violin, viola, and cello were first made in the early 16th century, in Italy. The earliest evidence for their existence is in paintings by Gaudenzio Ferrari from the 1530s, though Ferrari's instruments had only three strings. The Academie musicale, a treatise written in 1556 by Philibert Jambe de Fer, gives a clear description of the violin family much as we know it today.
Scottish fiddling may be distinguished from other folk fiddling styles by its particular precision of execution and energy in the delivery, for example, the rendering of the dotted-quaver/semi-quaver rhythmic patterns, commonly used in the Strathspey. Christine Martin, in her Traditional Scottish Fiddling players guide, discusses the techniques of "hack bowing", "the Scottish Snap", and "snap bowing". These techniques contrast quite sharply with the most common bowing patterns of Irish fiddling. The style has a very large repertoire consisting of a great variation of rhythms and key signatures. There is also a strong link to the playing of traditional Scottish bagpipes which is better known throughout the world.
The Kobyz or kyl-kobyz is an ancient Kazakh string instrument. It has two strings made of horsehair. The resonating cavity is usually covered with goat leather.
Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh is a fiddler, born in Dublin, Ireland, who attended Trinity College Dublin, becoming a Scholar in Theoretical Physics (1999) and earning a First Class BA degree in 2001. He is known for developing a drone-based fiddle style heavily influenced by the uilleann pipes and the music of Sliabh Luachra.
American fiddle-playing began with the early settlers who found that the small viol family instruments were portable and rugged. According to Ron Yule, "John Utie, a 1620 immigrant, settled in the North and is credited as being the first known fiddler on American soil". Early influences were Irish fiddle styles as well as Scottish and the more refined traditions of classical violin playing. Popular tunes included "Soldier's Joy", for which Robert Burns had written lyrics, and other such tunes as "Flowers of Edinburgh" and "Tamlin," which were claimed by both Scottish and Irish lineages.
Old time fiddle is a genre of American folk music. "Old time fiddle tunes" derived from European folk dance tunes such as Jig, Reel, Breakdown, Schottische, Waltz, Two Step and Polka. The fiddle may be accompanied by banjo or other instruments but are nevertheless called "fiddle tunes". The genre traces from the colonization of North America by immigrants from England, France, Germany, Ireland, and Scotland. It is separate and distinct from traditions which it has influenced or which may in part have evolved from it, such as bluegrass, country blues, variants of western swing and country rock.
"Blues fiddle" is a generic term for bowed, stringed instruments played on the arm or shoulder that are used to play blues music. Since no blues artists played violas, the term is synonymous with violin, and blues players referred to their instruments as "fiddle" and "violin".
Canadian fiddle is the aggregate body of tunes, styles and musicians engaging the traditional folk music of Canada on the fiddle. It is an integral extension of the Anglo-Celtic and Québécois Frenchfolk music tradition but has distinct features found only in the Western hemisphere.
Bluegrass fiddling is a distinctive style of American fiddle playing which is characterized by bold, bluesy improvisation, off-beat "chopping", and sophisticated use of both double-stops and old-time bowing patterns.
Double shuffle: syncopated string crossing on a chord, with the top note changing.
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