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Who's your favorite FIDDLER?


Mr.Scratchy
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It would have to be a toss-up between Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy. Of course, they are the two I have had the most experience with. I'm sure there are many others out there who are excellent (Brenda Stubbert, Jerry Holland, Mark O'Conner) but I haven't had the chance to hear them. So, from what I have heard, the two fiddler's I mentioned would have to be my favourites, based on style, energy, and overall presentation of their music.

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Lauren - I was being rather broad when I asked who your favorite "fiddler" is....there are many many different kinds of fiddle music from Irish, Scottish, Hungarian, Scandinavian, Bluegrass, Jazz, Cape Breton, Old-time (my personal preference although I learned on Irish stuff and it comes purdy darn naturally too), Klezmer, and, uh, well, lots of others I'm sure. Do you have a preference? If one style grabs you more than the others I'm sure people on this bb can steer you in an appropriate direction. Here's something to try: go to Amazon's website and do a search in the music section for albums that have "fiddle" in their titles. You'll get a good sampling of titles and then you can listen to sound samples of different CDs! Just a thought - let us know what kind of fiddling you'd like to hear more of!

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Lessee--For bluegrass, I'd have to say Kenny Baker. For cajun, I love Michael Doucet. There are a couple of tremendous Greek violinists from the 30's and 40's, Ogdhondakis and Dimitrius Semsis, whose work staggers me. Alicia Svigals makes me feel grateful for the existence of the violin whenever I listen to her Klezmer collection, _Fidl_, from a couple of years ago. The two violinists for Muzsikas, Laszlo Porteleki and Mihaly Sipos, are pretty remarkable. Then, there's the utterly astonishing improvisatory work of Kemani Cemal Cinarh, a Turkish Roma violinist whose work has been recorded on _Sulukule_. The guys in Taraf de Haiduks are no slouches either.

Most of the musicians I've mentioned aren't "fiddlers" in the sense we tend to use it--they're all very schooled musicians playing with advanced technique--but they're definitely not working within the Western art music tradition. I've seen the expression "folk violin" used in connection with Romanian "fiddle" music, so if you prefer that term, so be it.

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To Mr. Scratchy (and anyone else so inclined to answer): I don't know anything about fiddling other than my family wishes that I'd learn fiddling as opposed to classical violin.

But time is limited--and I'll stick with classical violin for now. At least till I retire. Then, maybe, I can venture into fiddling.

All that said: Would you venture a few distinctive features of the different fiddling styles you've mentioned? Are there traits in each that would help the uninitiated, like myself, identify one from the other?

It actually would make an interesting bit of writing and reading to try to distinguish classical violin playing from each of the fiddling styles--what are the broad general features that group classical violin playing together, but distinctive features that make it distinctively classical?

(Should I introduce a new topic here, or is it ok just to tag this subtopic on to the fiddling topic? I'm really curious about what make Cape Breton "Cape Breton," for instance, because that stylf of fiddling has been mentioned quite a few times on the Fingerboard. Its name is lovely: "Cape Breton." I would hope that it has lovely distinctive features.

Curious,

Theresa

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Just being a beginner myself, I don't really know the difference in the styles so far as playing it, but I sure can hear the difference. Cape Breton pretty much = Scottish. I've heard it said that Scottish fiddlers would come to Cape Breton to rediscover their lost art of fiddling. I don't really think about dancing much to this style but I love to listen to it. It has a characteristic up-bow sound to it that's easy to pick out.

Bluegrass/So. Appalachian is what I grew up with. It derived from Scottish/Irish since the mountain & piedmont areas are where the Scots migrated after they left Ireland. It is maybe 300 years removed from Scottish fiddling and now can have that twangy sound and some songs seem to completely be in double-stops. You either dance to it or cry to it. And it has wonderful themes like "Miss Cindy's drawers are hanging on the line" (or you make up your own).

I don't know if you'll see Klezmer much out of the Northeast. It's easy to find a band playing at a shul maybe twice a year. But I don't have the culture/feeling for it to make it mine.

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Cape Breton fiddler Carl MacKenzie is my favorite.

Cape Breton fiddling is what Scottish fiddling used to be before the "Clearances". When The Scottish were removed from there land by the British and relocated all over the world, Cape Breton became a Scottish cultural stronghold (Gaelic language, customs, music and dance) due to it's isolation from the outside world. The music in Scotland became "classicalized" (is this even a word?) because the traditional music was banned. I got this information from some fairly reliable sources...in Cape Breton, of course.

george

[This message has been edited by george behary (edited 06-02-2000).]

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Mary Lea of Yankee ingenuity, Don't forget Jay Unger of Ashokan

Joe Venutti

Bob Wills

Elka Baker <Scottish-American Champ

James Kelly

Jean Carrigean

Ruthie Dornfield

Nat Hewitt of Reckless Abandon

Art Galbraith

[This message has been edited by fiddlefaddle (edited 06-02-2000).]

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For anyone interested in contempory old-time fiddling (oxymoron?), I strongly recommend the recordings of Bruce Molsky; for example, his "Lost Boy" CD. He is a fantastic fiddler, and a great guitarist, banjo player, and singer as well.

For Irish, my current favorite is Kevin Burke. I have always loved his stuff, and just heard him in a solo concert setting a few weeks ago. Awesome! He has a new-ish live recording out that is quite good.

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Bob Wills - Not even the best fiddler in his own band but invented a style of music, Western Swing.

Ramona Jones - Plays very simple, and I love that about her. (Yes Grandpa Jones' wife) But I've only been able to hear a few pieces.

Buddy Spicher - Backup Nashville musician that played awesome. (Ray Price type backup)

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Alright backporch, u're my kinda fiddler. Personally, though, I prefer Johnny Gimble and Bobby Hicks for the most refined Western Swing. For bluegrass, you really can't beat Aubrey Haney nowadays, but I'm sentimentally attached to Scotty Stoneman. Stephane Grapelli is the reigning king of swing. Jascha Heifetz and Isaac Stern are competing for the place of my favorite classical fiddler. I'm gonna finally get a chance to hear Natalie MacMaster at Interlochen, but I hear she's the best at Cape Breton. I believe that the most well-rounded style-wise violinist in the world is Mark O'Connor. The only reason he's not my favorite is because he decided to completely forget what : tongue.gifeople:: like to hear and now just plays things only he would want to play (I remember me taking a few of his caprices to my teacher and, playing them for me, him asking "What's the point, its all the same").

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I like Natalie MacMaster. I missed a recent chance to see her live as I was unaware she was going to be in town, but a friend went and said the whole audience was ready to get up and dance. I saw her interviewed once and she explained that the most obvious difference between her style of fiddling and Irish or Scottish it the ornamentation. Canadian fiddling has more. Don Messer is another one I like as well, and still recall watching his TV show. As for Ashley McIsaac...he's good, but I won't buy his music after his new year's eve concert and the derogatory comments he made. That guy needs a serious attitude ajustment.

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Hey BackPorch, I agree with you! Bob Wills had one of the best bands ever. I do really love Mr. Johnny Gimble too. For swing fiddle, these two guys are tops. For bluegrass, I have to pick Kenny Baker. But also Buddy Spiker has such a sweet fiddle when he plays behind Crystle Gayle. Oh....so many greats out there.!!!!!

SHERRY

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