Scottish fiddling

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Scottish fiddling, even to many an untrained ear, can be distinguished from other Celtic and folk fiddling styles by its particular precision[dubious ]of execution and energy[dubious ]in the delivery. The style has a very large repertoire consisting of a great variation of rhythms and key signatures, arguably[citation needed] more than in related styles. There is also a strong link to the playing of traditional Scottish bagpipes which is better known throughout the world and is a chapter of its own.

Regional styles[edit]

Shetland[edit]

A bouncy and lively style with much Norwegian influence. It employs ringing open strings above and below the melody line. There is also some amount of Irish musical influence due to the influence of working men and seafarers (fishing and merchant), which lead to influences from Shetland and the rest of Scotland cross pollinating back to Ireland. Particularly to the Donegal fiddle tradition which is more characteristically Scottish in style. This is particularly due to the counties geographic location, and rural isolation to the rest of Ireland as well as its Scottish influence. [1] [2]

See also[edit]

North-East[edit]

An elegant and classically influenced style with roots in the bothy. The original home of the strathspey, these tunes were played with much staccato and use of the Scotch snap, as well as the arrow stroke (also known as the driven bow).

Much can be learned from listening to recordings of the great fiddlers. These include

See also[edit]

West Coast / Gaelic / Highland Style[edit]

These styles also include the inner and outer Hebrides and Argyllshire. These regions hold plenty of bagpiping influences. As a result of their piping influence, they place a very high value on the pipe march. The Cape Breton style of fiddle music is related to these styles of music, the Cape Bretoners having come from the Highlands to Nova Scotia in the 1800s. West coast fiddlers include Angus Grant (Senior), Iain MacFarlane (Glenfinnan), Archie MacAlistair (Campbeltown), Alasdair White (Lewis), Allan Henderson (Mallaig), Eilidh Shaw (Taynuilt) and Eilidh Steel (Helensburgh). Highland fiddlers include the late Donald Riddell (d. 1992) - and his former pupils Duncan Chisholm (Kirkhill), Bruce MacGregor (Inverness) and Sarah-Jane Summers (Inverness) - the late Alexander Grant of Battangorm (1856–1942), and Lauren MacColl (Fortrose).

The Highland style is particularly known for the strathspey, which is said to originate in the area of Strathspey. Sarah-Jane Summers's tuition DVD, Highland Strathspeys for Fiddle, gives an interesting insight into strathspeys as passed from Alexander Grant of Battangorm (in Strathspey) to Donald Riddell (South Clunes, near Inverness) and then to Sarah-Jane Summers (Inverness).

See also[edit]

Borders[edit]

A lot of hornpipes and tunes of varied rhythmical emphasis using much double-stopping (i.e. playing two notes/strings together) often compositions are composed or rearranged to incorporate two or more fiddlers.

See also[edit]

Cape Breton, Nova Scotia[edit]

Cape Breton musicians promote their music as a style of Scottish music, though some purists argue that Cape Breton is located in Canada, not Scotland, and therefore the style shouldn't be given the same treatments as the others. This music is often accompanied by a piano and has a very apparent dance rhythm, often being complimented with step dancing. Irish immigration to the Americas has also had a substantial influence upon Cape Breton music.

See also[edit]

Scottish fiddling in general[edit]

Due to migration from rural Scotland to the industrial areas and the rest of the world, many players have returned again over time with certain traditions intact and some evolved through the melding of various styles. This is very apparent in the "Central Belt" region of Scotland, where two fifths of the population reside. There is a significant influence in this area from immigration from Ireland and the rural areas of Scotland coinciding with the rise of industry.

Top fiddlers from Scotland today include Aly Bain, Bruce MacGregor, Duncan Chisholm, John Martin, John McCusker, Chris Stout, Iain MacFarlane, Charlie McKerron, Eilidh Shaw, Douglas Lawrence, Gregor Borland, Catriona MacDonald, Alasdair White, Aidan O'Rourke and many more, including a burgeoning number of fine young players.

With mass migration the tradition has been carried with the emigrants (both voluntary and forced migrations) all over the world and "Scottish Trad" is now played around the world. Key performers in the USA include Alasdair Fraser, Hanneke Cassel, Ed Pearlman, Bonnie Rideout, John Turner, Elke Baker, Melinda Crawford, Colyn Fischer, and David Gardner.

Another style worth mentioning is the music of County Donegal, Ireland (just a short boat journey away), which is not strictly Scots but Irish. The accent on the Donegal fiddle tradition is somewhat more akin to the Scots tradition than to the Irish. The historical connection between the west coast of Scotland and Donegal is an ancient one (many shared names) as can be heard in the volume of strathspeys, schottisches, marches, and Donegal's own strong highland piping tradition. (See Donegal fiddle tradition). And, like some Scottish fiddlers (which tends to use a short bow and play in a more straight-ahead fashion), some Donegal fiddlers worked at imitating the sound of the highland pipes. Scotland has influenced Donegal fiddling in various ways. Workers from Donegal would go to Scotland in the summer and bring back Scottish tunes with them; Donegal fiddlers have found some good tunes in Scottish tunebooks and learned from records of Scottish fiddlers like J. Scott Skinner and Mackenzie Murdoch. And fishermen from Donegal have returned from Shetland fisheries with Shetland tunes. [3]

The Scotch snap is a very particular characteristic of much Scottish music. It is generally represented in musical notation by a sixteenth followed by a dotted eighth.

See also[edit]

Modern Day Fiddlers[edit]

Scots fiddlers:


Cape Breton fiddlers:

American fiddlers:

External links[edit]