‘Enshrined Fiddle: The Kazakh Qobyz in Shrine Pilgrimage’
Kazakhstan’s shrine pilgrimages are widely varying in scope and kind, including sites dedicated to Sufi saints, military heroes, Soviet composers, and musicians. Possibly due to its shamanic past, the Kazakh qobyz, a two-stringed horsehair fiddle with a skin head, is the sacred focus of two such pilgrimage sites – one a nationally funded and widely-known site (which also functions as a museum); the other, once a barely marked gravesite of a qobyz player, is now a popular destination for busloads of pilgrims and sacred tourists seeking healing. This paper focuses on three aspects of these shrines to the Kazakh fiddle: the use of sound, vibration, and silence in the sacralisation of place; the musical aspects of the qobyz and their connections to concepts of the sacred; and the shamanic history that links qobyz playing to an animistic belief system. Finally, I consider whether, in this current period of precarity in Kazakhstan, the seeking for stabilising belief systems rooted in a pre-Soviet past may be leading Kazakhstanis in greater numbers to pilgrimage, to alternative healing (particularly faith healing), and to reverence for the Kazakh qobyz.
Roy Andrade and Jane MacMorran
‘Old-time and Celtic Fiddling in the Academy, and in an Appalachian Community’
Founded in 1982, Bluegrass, Old-Time, Celtic, and Country Music Studies at East Tennessee State University is the oldest established program of its kind at any four-year institution. Students from around the globe come to ETSU exclusively to study the music of the mountains in the rich cultural hearth of north-east Tennessee. Conceived as a bluegrass music program, old-time and Celtic music are thriving. The nature of old-time fiddling and Celtic styles as they exist in East Tennessee, and as they relate to a primarily bluegrass music curriculum has created a unique challenge pedagogically. While bluegrass, old-time, and Celtic fiddling are closely related historically, the styles have grown apart culturally and created opportunities for re-examining matters of regionality. Our paper will explore the strategies we have found to both connect the styles we teach, and to build autonomy in the service of the traditions themselves both within the institution and in the community.
‘From Country to City: Changing Dance Practice and Repertoire’
The period from the mid-nineteenth to the first decades of the twentieth century saw a significant increase in the population of Scotland’s towns and cities as people flocked to urban areas in search of work. In Aberdeen, in common with other urban areas in Scotland and further afield, this migration of the population was reflected by an increase in the number of dancing masters active in the city, all vying with each other for business. One result of such increased competition was the formation of the regulatory dance societies. This paper will address the impact this change had on dance teaching in Scotland and consider the significant effect it was to have on Scottish social dance and repertoire. The Aberdeen dance teacher, A. Cosmo Mitchell, kept a comprehensive archive of dance-related materials which covers the period from 1849 to 1924. This paper will draw on Mitchell’s archive to illustrate the development in dance teaching and repertoire that accompanied the significant social and economic changes of the period.
‘The Carnatic Guru: Teacher-Student Collaborative Practice’
Studies of musical collaborations with Indian musicians tend to focus on traditional working relationships between performers in the Hindustani (Northern) and Carnatic (Southern) classical traditions. Focusing on my experiences studying with seven Carnatic violinists in Chennai, Mysore, and London, this paper examines a collaboration between guru and shishya (broadly defined as master and disciple). The collaboration challenges the conventional roles of the shishya as subservient to the guru and of learning through direct imitation. I discuss how the roles of guru and shishya are deeply embedded within broader cultural and historical frameworks that drive traditional teaching practice in India, and demonstrate how South Indian gurukula teaching brings cultural insight to my working relationship with Carnatic violinist Jyotsna Srikanth in London. The paper discusses the dynamics between guru and shishya by examining how this relationship plays out in three collaborative sessions with Jyotsna Srikanth, and in a collaborative session with a different Carnatic violinist. I ask: (1) What can a collaboration between teacher and student reveal about the guru-shishya tradition and relationship? (2) How can a traditional guru-shishya format be a model for creative collaboration as a method for learning and interacting with Carnatic violinists? Similar questions have been addressed in practitioner-led accounts of the guru-shishya relationship by John Baily (2001), David Clarke (2013), Gerry Farrell (2001), David Henderson (2009), and Amanda Weidman (2006; 2008). In considering these and other perspectives, the paper addresses some of the ways in which my findings relate to broader shifts and challenges facing traditional teaching in India in the twenty-first century. To conclude, I will propose a model of creative collaboration as a method for working with Carnatic violinists. The paper will include an element of live solo violin performance to supplement the recordings.
'“It Was Great Enjoyment It Was”: Two Neighbouring Gloucestershire Fiddle Players and their Different Approaches to Playing for Ritual Dance’
When Cecil Sharp visited Gloucestershire hunting for survivals of Morris dancing in 1907, he visited two fiddle players, John Mason and William Hathaway, from whom he noted a good number of tunes. They knew each other, had lived close to each other and both men had played for Morris dancing in the area, but their repertoires were strikingly different. This paper examines their differing backgrounds and the way this influenced their performance history and functionality.
‘Style in Donegal Fiddle Playing’
This paper examines the development of style in Irish traditional fiddle playing, using one of its greatest exponents, John Doherty, as a case study. Doherty (1900–1980) is often held up as an exemplar of a ‘Donegal’ style, variously described as fast, staccato, and aggressive. This paper seeks to unpack the reasons behind these interpretations, based on a longitudinal study of his music which takes recordings from different eras of his life into account. The validity of stylistic assignations to an individual musician, and their wider regional context are contested. Using Niall Keegan’s ‘Parameters of Style in Irish Traditional Music’ as a basis, the paper seeks to raise questions about received knowledge of style in Irish traditional music more generally.
‘Dynamics and Timing in the Performance of Irish Traditional Music’
The concept of dynamics is one that may not generally be thought of in the context of Irish traditional music, perhaps because of the perception that overall volume levels remain relatively constant. However, if the term ‘dynamics’ is taken as relating to the idea of variation in the volume of the music, then it is surely also applicable to traditional music, but in a particular way. While it may be largely the case that, in this music, volume per se does not change dramatically, as happens in other genres, nonetheless there is an ongoing variation in this parameter, but on a different time-scale, and reflecting particular aesthetic values. The issue relates not so much to the idea of volume as in ‘loud’ and ‘soft’, but rather to its ongoing time-related aspects, with the changes that are manifest in this variable quantity corresponding to the rate of rhythmic articulation being expressed. The temporal dimension plays an equally central role in other aspects of the music, such as the idiomatic expression in performance of the shorter notes in a tune, as well as in relation to the enunciation of ornamentation. Taken together, dynamics and timing are at the heart of creating the characteristic metrical identity of the various different tune-types encountered in Irish traditional music. This paper will consider these questions with particular reference to the fiddle tradition of the Sliabh Luachra area in the south-west of Ireland. Using both archive material and live demonstration, these features of performance will be considered in the case of a number of specific tune-types, as well as more generally with regard to a wider stylistic context. Also, the effects of accompaniment on the idiomatic enunciation of the music will be considered.
‘The World Wide Fiddlers Contest of 1926 in Lewiston, Maine: Bringing “French” Fiddlers into Fiddling Styles of the North Atlantic’
In the first quarter of the twentieth century, several individuals put efforts and money into reviving traditional music and dances in the Western world. Some, like Cecil Sharp (Schofield 2016) and Henry Ford (Gifford 2010), the automobile magnate, are well known; others less so. One of the latter is the promoter John J. Sullivan of Lewiston, Maine. After putting on a successful state-wide fiddle contest in the autumn of 1925, he decided to organize one with an international scope in April 1926. The idea was, over a period of five days, to first select the best fiddler from each participating country and then to have the finalists compete for a title of world champion. Fiddle contests had existed for more than a century in both Europe and North America. Usually, however, their scope had been local, regional or, at most, national. The Lewiston contest stood out because it featured fiddle music and fiddlers from Scotland, Ireland, the United States, and Canada. All but one of the Canadian contestants were French-Canadians. Sullivan’s #World Wide Fiddlers Contest# also had the particularity that only musicians aged 60 years or older could compete, the hope being to present ‘real’ old-time music, devoid of jazz or novelty influence. In this paper, through newspapers articles of the period, I will present the contest day by day, some of the contestants, and how contestants were chosen. I will show how the contest evolved from Sullivan’s original idea to what it became, and the commercial context he had to deal with. I will also show how the ‘French’ fiddlers, both from Canada and the US, were an important part of the contest, and the marked effect this contest had in Quebec’s fiddling thereafter.
Stuart Eydmann‘Looking Again at the Blind Fiddler’ (Lightning talk)
This presentation analyses David Wilkie’s seminal painting The Blind Fiddler to extract what it tells us about the history of the fiddle in Scotland, to challenge current interpretations of its content, and to position it within the context of other evidence. As a case study it is drawn from the current project ‘The Art of the Fiddle’, as featured in the short video being shown at the festival.
Carolyn Francis‘The Common Ground: Creating a Vibrant Inter-Generational Fiddle Tradition in Cumbria through Twenty years of Committed “Organic” Growth’ (Lightning talk)
This presentation outlines the growth of the ‘Lakeland Fiddlers’ as a model for building a grassroots community education project, non-institutionally based, and embedding it sustainably in the local culture. It will include recent developments of methods of and materials for teaching fiddle in whole class/small group situations at a grassroots level in primary schools. These two strands are now being combined to build vibrant inter-generational community projects. In 1998, having made the commitment to earn my living in Cumbria with the fiddle, I started teaching fiddle as an Adult Education Class at the local arts centre. Two years later the ‘Lakeland Fiddlers’ was formed and constituted as a voluntary organisation with aims which include: raising awareness of fiddle music in the county, particularly of tunes indigenous to the area, which has a proliferation of manuscripts left by eighteenth- and nineteenth-century players; running workshops for people of all ages, skill levels, and backgrounds; and forging links between fiddlers, step dancers, and other related arts. Since that time the growth in the project has been steady. Most of the original ‘Lakeland Fiddlers# are now of retirement age and find talking part in community events with the young players exciting and uplifting whereas the presence of the older players adds a stability and solidity for the young ones. This has been an unplanned ‘side-effect# of the work, but is among its most rewarding aspects.
‘Intercultural Crossing: Galicia and the Mexican Violín Huasteco’
Galicia is a land of emigrants. The main destination for Galician people has been Latin America. Venezuela, Argentina, and Cuba have preserved an important part of Galician traditional music in a purer state than in Galicia, where it was subject to the globalisation of tradition under the forty-year dictatorship. Despite not having created such important emigrant centres, Mexico is the country that has made the most significant impact on the current music of Galicia. I will explore, through the fiddle, the purest Mexican root music, in search of the connections between two peoples brought together by the Virgen de Guadalupe, the most venerated image in Mexico, and to whom the non-official hymn of Galicia is dedicated. Our Galician fiddle camps, Encordass and San Simón Fiddle Camp, were devoted to Mexico last year. After numerous workshops, concerts, conferences about popular beliefs, and even spirits tastings, on both sides of the Atlantic, we have got to know an exciting fiddle style, the violín huasteco, which has nothing to do with the mariachi, and which is not very well known by the international fiddle community. As a result of this intercultural activity, new generations of Galician and Huasteco fiddlers are incorporating into their repertoires very close music from very distant regions.
‘What does Fiddle Teaching in the Twenty-First Century Look Like?’
From eighteenth-century tune and variation sets, the romanticism of the MacCrimmons and the Gows, the rhythmic requirements needed to play for dance, the recognition and valuing of regional styles, the cataloguing of key recordings of the tradition, and the role of the informal session, we have well documented evidence as to what has gone before. Accessing it is also much easier than it has ever been. For many years, my teaching syllabus has been based on a relatively slow moving unbroken tradition but we need to recognise what is happening now; our current labels and definitions are being disrupted. New compositions are inspired by lifestyles, politics, and struggles which bear little resemblance to the past. Playing styles are inspired by emulating musicians and styles from across the world (YouTube does not recognise national music boundaries). How do we square ‘passing on the Tradition’ with equipping players with the skills to adapt, create, and entertain throughout their lives? When should we incorporate popular new compositions and styles into our teaching? What do we imagine our students will do with the knowledge, skills, and repertoire gained? This paper will outline ideas for creating a dynamic teaching syllabus which prepares students for life in a fast-changing world of traditional music, and which creates a stronger link between the age we live in and possible future definitions of our National Folk Music.
‘Aberdeen Strathspey & Reel Society Oral History Project’ (Lightning talk)
The Aberdeen Strathspey & Reel Society oral history project aimed to capture the experience and memories of members in the organisation’s ninetieth anniversary year. This presentation will discuss the themes highlighted by participants, and contextualise their contributions within the wider fiddle-orchestra movement in Scotland.
‘The Third Layer of Intensification of Southern US Fiddling’
It comes as no surprise when given time that traditional arts trade some measure of inherited function for increased complexity in performance. Hand-crafted rugs gain intricacy of pattern as they leave the floor for the wall; pots departing the kitchen acquire new shapes and colours. Fiddling in the southern United States, with its connection with dancing loosened, has seen musical content intensified in several layers. First, fiddlers in Texas drew on diverse south-eastern styles and local innovations to shape the contest-oriented complex of styles now preferred in much of the US. This ‘contest style’ features systematic variation techniques, thus transparently illustrating the simplest kind of intensification – through generous addition of content. Second, urban revival of old-time fiddling styles of the Upper South has focused on tune repertoires of unassailable authenticity; many tunes bear validating earmarks such as salty titles, irregular phrasing, and/or striking modes, these factors combining to illustrate intensification through selection. Third, the contemporary continued intensification of southern fiddling, steadily increasing virtuosity, regular addition of content, and the playing of especially distinctive items continue to work together. That’s easy to demonstrate for Texas-derived contest fiddling – tricky tunes are favoured, and comparing transcriptions of performances of the same tunes from successive decades reveals continuous elaboration of variation technique. Similar but harder to measure processes hold for revivalist old-time fiddling. In this paper, I’ll explore this through comparing performances both on and off of the stage at a major revivalist fiddle convention – Clifftop – from 2000 and 2014. This analysis is complicated by the fact that fiddlers play in different equally-legitimate dialects. Nevertheless, it is possible to demonstrate that playing continues to become more and more skilled, tune choices increasingly distinctive, and that both subtle and bold variation techniques continue to evolve.
Brittany Haas‘The Playing of Ed Haley, Blind Fiddler from West Virginia’ (Lightning talk)
A short exploration of the music of fiddler Ed Haley, accompanied by audio examples of his playing.
‘Representing Fiddling as Intangible Cultural Heritage: Heritagisation in the Sunshine State’
The increased global interest in heritage over the past three decades has included a recent focus on intangible cultural heritage (ICH). To this end, the United Nations Educational and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has provided guidelines for safeguarding ICH in various conventions during the past fifteen years. Various opportunities for preserving cultural traditions arise when an artistic expression, such as fiddling, is cast as ICH. Nations that have signed onto UNESCO conventions have been engaged in various projects that may involve establishing a canon of ICH in the form of ‘listed designations’ as well as through programs for cultural conservation. Recent scholarship in Heritage Studies elucidates various challenges in safeguarding ICH that are especially relevant to contextualizing fiddling as intangible cultural heritage. Even though the United States has limited official endorsement of UNESCO’s heritage initiatives, state and federal agencies have contributed to UNESCO policy. This NAFCo presentation demonstrates how the State of Florida supports a three-decade old ‘Florida Folk Heritage Award’ programme, within which fiddling is implicitly cast as ICH. Modelled after the National Endowment for the Arts ‘National Heritage Fellowships’, the award programme honours living traditional artists for their contributions to the state’s folk heritage. In the award programme’s history, nine fiddlers and one fiddle maker have received these awards. Profiles of representative winners show how honouring these musicians also enshrines fiddle traditions into the wider idea of Florida heritage through a process sometimes termed ‘heritagisation’. An overview of this process within the wider rubric of public folklore can provide options for developing similar projects that support fiddling within other parts of the world. Although Florida’s programme may resolve problems with the ‘items and inventories’ approach to safeguarding ICH, it also is not without its own contingent challenges.
‘Scottish Overtones: The Influence of Scottish Musical Traditions on Irish Fiddle Player Josephine Keegan’
The historical influences and interchange between Irish and Scottish fiddle traditions are often referenced in the narratives of each nation, often in an Irish context related to the introduction of reels and the Donegal-style and repertoire. In this paper I focus on the career of Josephine Keegan (b. 1935), probably best known as the piano accompanist on albums by seminal male artists in Irish traditional music from the 1960s to the 1980s, but also a notable fiddle player and composer. Although born in Dundee, Keegan did not return there after leaving it as a young child. However she regularly visited Scotland and, in particular, Shetland, drawing from the music she heard there and on the recordings of Scottish musicians who became part of her network. Through her collaborations with musicians such as Seán Maguire (1927–2005), she also included the music of James Scott Skinner in her repertoire. Many of Keegan’s own compositions make reference to and are dedicated to Scottish musicians. This paper re-evaluates the influence of Scottish musicians and experiences in Shetland on Keegan as a musician who contributed to shaping the soundscape of Irish traditional music in the latter half of the twentieth century.
‘Regional Expressions in American Lithuanian Dance Music of the First Half of the Twentieth Century’
The aim of my paper is to highlight regional and local characteristics of Lithuanian countryside fiddle dance music expressed in orchestral dance music by first wave Lithuanian emigrants in the cities of the USA. It is one of the first attempts to investigate the interrelation between traditional instrumental and fiddle music making of Lithuanians in their homeland and those living in the USA, taking into account various contextual agencies. Relevant sources of my investigation were approximately two hundred published phonograph recordings and notations of this dance music made in the USA from 1912 to 1940. Before the first reestablishment of independent Lithuania in 1918, Lithuanians who came to the USA had very strong regional and local identities which were developed, and which played one of the major roles in creating and strengthening their national self-consciousness, fostering their traditions in the multi-cultural American space. At the end of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century, American Lithuanian associations founded not only brass bands, but also mixed orchestras incorporating fiddles. The latter orchestral constitution was rare in Lithuania. These American Lithuanian orchestras formed distinctive repertoires of dances, mainly polkas and waltzes. According to the titles, they originated from all five historical regions of Lithuania (Aukštaitija, Dzūkija, Sudovia, Samogitia and Lithuania Minor). I discovered many tunes known in Lithuanian folk fiddle music. Among these were not only the dances spread throughout the whole of Lithuania – which had started to be stylized and unified in Lithuanian communities abroad at the end of the nineteenth century – but also of regional dances, even of multi-part quadrilles. However, musicians were usually of various ranges as well as native of various regions. The conductors of these orchestras have interpreted, arranged, and stylized Lithuanian folk music more or less following traditional ways of performance and styles.
‘Fiddle-Dance in the Canadian North-West: A Preliminary Report on a Quebec Residency Project with Pierre Chartrand’
In order to better understand the connections between north-west Canadian fiddle-dance traditions of Indigenous communities (Métis and First Nations) and those of Quebec, I recently undertook a one-month residency project in Montreal to learn as much as possible about Quebec dance traditions from Pierre Chartrand, director of Centre Mnémo. These traditions include both ‘la gigue’ (solo step-dancing) and group dances. Since the connections with Quebec in the instrumental repertoire of Indigenous communities are well established, both in my work and that of others, I hoped that further insights might be gained about the origin and diffusion of dance steps and figures, keeping in mind that dancing was the primary purpose of fiddling in both areas in the past. This presentation is a very preliminary look at some of the remarkable insights gained in that month and an indication of where we might go from here.
‘Fiddle players of Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean in the Province of Quebec: An Attempt to Understand a Musical Style and Repertoire’
Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean is a region that has been relatively isolated from the rest of the Province of Quebec since the beginning of its colonisation in 1838, due to the topography of the region. People from this region are generally perceived, by themselves and by others, as a distinctive and homogenous cultural group, which can be easily observed today in their language (regional expressions and unique accent) and food habits. Combined genetics and migration studies confirm that these people came mainly from one region called Charlevoix, where they were previously established, and moved deeper into Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean through the generations, thus preserving a relatively homogenous group. With regard to fiddle playing in this region, many musicians of the Province of Quebec agree that there is a unique style of playing amongst the older fiddler players. Could there be a unique fiddle style in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean? A style that preserved an older tradition due to a family-oriented immigration, or a style that would have evolved its own way due to a prolonged isolation? This presentation does not have the answers for the above questions, but aims to observe and discuss the homogenous use of fiddle techniques and the common repertoire in the region of Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean of an older generation with a view to defining a style.
‘I Vesterveg (To the West): Norwegian Fiddler and Ethnomusicologist, Arne Bjørndal’s Visit to the Shetland Islands in 1949’
Bjørndal (1882–1965) was one of the major collectors of Norwegian Hardanger fiddle music in the twentieth century, and one of the first ethnomusicologists to collect and transcribe fiddle melodies in Shetland. This paper aims to piece together fragmentary documentation held in Shetland Archives, Lerwick regarding this 1949 visit, and bring them together for the first time with Bjørndal’s melodic transcriptions, collecting notes, travel diary, and photos recently discovered at the Arne Bjørndal Samling (Archive), University of Bergen. I will also cross-reference Bjørndal’s documentation of this trip with that of his non-musical friend and travel companion Einar Seim. Norwegian scholar, and regular visitor to Shetland, Seim made the initial introductions to key personnel in Shetland and his unpublished diaries add an illuminating perspective to Bjørndal’s travels. Questions emerge regarding the impact of Bjørndal’s visit on Shetland’s post-WWII folk revival. The folk music revival and national romanticism prevalent in Norway at the turn of the twentieth century resonate with a similar rise of island interest in Shetland’s Nordic past, and its folkloric and musical traditions. I will explore Bjørndal’s influence on the newly formed Shetland Folk Society and discuss how far this trip bolstered the Society’s conviction to preserve and collect material within the islands, and lastly reflect on whether his visit may have encouraged some long-lasting romantic mythmaking.
‘Strathspeys, Reels, and Strathspey-Reels: Clarifying Country Dance Music in Lowland Scotland 1750–1833’
The strathspey has long enjoyed recognition as ‘the most essentially characteristic form’ of Scottish music, but its own essential character is much less clear, especially when considering the time before Romantic changes to Scottish dance music. The strathspey emerged in the mid-18th century, and at first glance early sources appear to disagree on whether it is a distinct form or merely a type of reel, its performance tempo, and how it should be accented (one writer even claiming that the 4/4 strathspey should be accented in the same manner as the 6/8 jig). The proposed paper examines the above disagreements and synthesizes them into a clearer picture of the early strathspey, focusing particularly on its performance practice, its use by dancers, and its relationship to the reel. It includes a mathematical analysis of time signatures and tempo markings in contemporaneous printed collections of strathspeys and reels, an examination of dance manuals and other treatises on dance music, and a discussion of period accounts of concerts and balls. Also considered is the influence of the leading tune composers and dance musicians, such as William Marshall (who Robert Burns called ‘the first composer of strathspeys of the age’), the Gow family, and Robert Mackintosh (the Prince of Wales’s favourite dance band leader). What emerges is a greater understanding of the strathspey’s evolution from its origins to its popularity during the Regency Era.
‘Negotiating the Flow State of a Dance Legacy: Embodying the Solo Dance Dannsa nan Flurs’
In one sense a dancer and choreographer has the freedom to explore many different movement options in the performance of a particular dance. In the Irish traditional dance field, we see this commonly in the dancing of ‘set’ solo dances such as the Blackbird, where there are numerous versions of the dance in existence, some known as having been danced by a particular person or teacher in the past and others modified on an ongoing basis. The common denominator is the tune it is danced to. Doing the same when dealing with Scottish solo dance material is not as straight forward, as there is often a belief among many enthusiasts that there is only one correct original way and that it should remain in that way. Therefore, there is no room for the individual dancer’s interpretation of the music. This view also ignores the fact that the tradition of dance has morphed and changed greatly over the years. This short video concerns itself with an ‘outsider’ dancer, choreographer and researcher, exploring a solo dance – Dannsa nan Flurs – that originated in Scotland but was notated in Cape Breton Island in 1957. I interviewed the last living performer of the dance in 2007. Accessing the written word and recalling the interview and showing of steps, I outline my thinking in bringing the dance back to life, by using these different sources but foremost using the music – the Flowers of Edinburgh – as a focal point in embodying the movements, and passing on my interpretation of the steps of this dance. This is a dialogue between the dancer/interpreter and the notator and fieldworker’s experience. It is a migration between the embodied knowledge of Sweden, Scotland, and Cape Breton. It is an adaptation and development of the material for the twenty-first century, bringing this dance alive and passing it on.
‘Fiddle Playing in Deterritorialised Luso-Afro-Brazilian Cultures’
This paper analyses bowed stringed instruments associated with religious or regional dance music traditions in contemporary African lusophone cultures. The research is based on a multi-sited ethnography carried out in Cape Verde, Brazil and Mozambique, covering practices related to violin, rabeca, and one-stringed instruments played by local musicians connected with African musical heritage. The main focus of the research is how fiddle traditions in diaspora respond to and/or resist modernity, reinventing fiddle practices in rhythmic dance and ritual contexts. The study departs from accounts given by musicians during field work – their daily practices, social, and cultural contexts. Aesthetics and rhythm as structural aspects for dance and fiddle playing styles are read under a decolonial perspective. This approach highlights the importance of reviewing ethnomusicological assumptions of African and Afro-Brazilian music. The paper concludes with an exploration of how fiddle music operates as a means for social integration in multi-ethnic societies. Ultimately, fiddling provides a source of agency for Afro-descendants in lusophone decolonial cultures.
‘Dance, Music, Migration and Development of Repertoires’
In this presentation I will synthesise my thinking concerning folk and popular dance within and outside Scandinavia, especially Sweden, in relation to other geographical areas. There is a continuous migration of people and dissemination of dances between Sweden and other countries. In the days before 1900 these connections went westward, to the British Isles and further away to America, southward to the central parts of the European continent, not least Germany and France, and eastward to countries like Poland and Finland. During the nineteenth and twentieth century there has been and still are people traveling around. And today, in the twenty-first century, we travel, migrate, and dance dances from all over the globe nearly anywhere. During this period there has been a paradigm shift from society dancing to dancing societies. Following that, I will argue that there are more dances of all kinds available than there have ever been for people interested in dance in contemporary Sweden. They can go to one or many dancing societies and dance specific dances. Those dancing societies outnumber what I call society dancing, the most common setting for dancing before 1900. Among those dancing communities we find, for instance, Swedish Folk Dance, but also Folk Dances from many other parts of the world. In my presentation I will discuss this further and give some video examples from Sweden.
‘Scottish Ceilidhs in Brisbane, Australia: Ritual and Identity through Dance and Music’
Scottish ceilidhs are a community-based form of celebration centred around traditional music and dance. Ceilidhs are currently popular in Australia to celebrate weddings, birthdays, and significant Scottish dates. This study explores why people choose to book a live ceilidh band and dance caller to mark significant occasions in the contemporary Australian context. Further, community ceilidhs being run in Brisbane are attracting an increasing number of participants, who come for many different reasons. Some come to engage in their own heritage, others enjoy the participatory nature of the entertainment and/or the opportunity to include family members of different generations in a joint, physical, and fun activity. This paper incorporates the findings of a survey of ceilidh-goers and discusses the motivations of attendees of community events and those who have chosen to engage artists for private ceilidhs.
‘Visualising Tradition: A Practice-Led Exploration of Scottish Folk Music’ (Lightning talk)
Tracing the roots of traditional music is the focus of my research as a visual artist. By creating interdisciplinary artworks I analyse the embodied knowledge I have developed as a performer and fiddle player. There is an expressive connection between the action of the musician’s bowing arm, the movements of the dancer, and the artist’s hand which draws, writes, and drives the printmaking press. I am interested in the visual culture of traditional music, in live performance, costumes and rituals, and how music, as organic, intangible entity, is recorded and described. In my analysis of the space between the performance and the score, I create prints, performances, drawings, sculptures, costumes, and films. I would like to share my recent projects and creative process during this presentation and perhaps reinforce the value that a visible, performative investigation into the lived experience of the fiddle player can have in this academic discussion.
‘Baldricks and Chopsticks: Performing English Morris Dancing and Fiddling in Post-Colonial Hong Kong’
Historically, deltas act as places of convergence and exchange of goods and ideas. Hong Kong, in the Pearl River Delta in southern China, has been just such a meeting place of European and Asian traders since the 1500s. The ‘Handover’ of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to China marked the end of the colonial period (1841–1997) and the beginning of a unique ‘one country, two systems’ arrangement which guarantees certain rights and freedoms in the city, not allowed in mainland China, for fifty years until 2047. In the spirit of east meets west, the Hong Kong Morris was established in 1974. Originally, the membership consisted primarily of English ex-pats stationed in the colony. However, the Side, like Hong Kong itself, has changed and morphed with the times. The group almost shut down in the late 1990s when many ex-pats returned home. Twenty years later, as British culture is fading in the city, there is a growing sense of a local Hong Kong identity and an undercurrent of discontent as Beijing encourages more mainland Chinese culture in the city. In this environment, interest in the Morris is growing again, this time with local Hong Kong Chinese who are joining for the sense of community, to improve their English, to discover more about English culture, and to have fun! The Hong Kong Morris is used to changing with its environment including adopting a Cantonese name, encouraging diversity, and adapting songs and dances with Chinese elements such as replacing the large sticks with chopsticks. The group also maintains strong ties with the UK through its second chapter of ex-members. This paper is a preliminary investigation of how the Hong Kong Morris seeks to both preserve and adapt English culture in the western Pacific and how the Side reflects the changing nature of the city itself.
‘The Revival of the Fiddle in Galicia: “Artivism”, Sustainability, and Social Transformation in Transnational Contexts’
This ethnomusicological study focuses on the process of revival (Bithell and Hill, 2014) that the fiddle has gone through in Galicia. It is based on the music ‘blind violinists’ perform, especially by Florencio, ‘O cego dos Vilares’ (1914–86). Since its establishment in 2010, the Galician Fiddle Cultural Association has integrated itself into this revival through an ‘artivism’ that acts directly from an ecological vantage point. It also applies horizontal policies in order to foment the relationship between professional and amateur musicians, providing shared spaces for them. The Association has organised courses and concerts in Galicia in which leading musicians and foreign teachers have taken part. Among them, Alfonso Franco, has disseminated the tradition of Galician fiddle throughout China, Canada, Mexico, Scotland, the USA, and Costa Rica. In this manner, the Association has carried out a ‘transnational’ (Hannerz, 1996) work of ‘transmission and dissemination’ (Bithell and Hill, 2014) of the tradition of the Galician fiddle. How does this revival fit in the context of activist discourses? Do processes of ‘recontextualization and transformation’ (Bithell and Hill, 2014) feature in it? Do the musicians involved in this revival present shared features/characteristics? This research illustrates the role that music and revivalist movements might occupy in the transformation and acquisition of meanings in the daily life of people and musical institutions, squarely in the context of Galicia. By means of participant observation in concerts, festivals, courses, and conferences focused on the subject, I show how the development of alternative performance contexts seems to indicate intentional changes in the tradition of Galician Fiddle at the ETRAD in Vigo. I also intend to disclose the dominant and oppressive discourses that, for centuries, have been built around the Galician violin, ultimately exemplifying the critical power of auto-ethnography. Colin Quigley ‘East-Central European String Ensembles and the Trio-Transylvan’ The so-called Trio Transylvan has been the focus of an ongoing festival and competition which had its 23rd edition on 26 November 2017. The festival was founded and the term coined in the late 1970s by the Romanian ethnomusicologist Virgil Medan, who worked in several institutions for cultural management in the county of Cluj until he retired in 1990. According to the website traditiiclujene.ro of Centrul Judeţean pentru Conservarea şi Promovarea Culturii Tradiţionale Cluj (County Centre for Conservation and Promotion of Traditional Culture, Cluj), this event has the primary aim of maintaining the traditional musical repertoire of the old type interpreted by the instrumental ensemble, Trio Transylvan, constituting in principal three specific instruments: violin, contra (three-string viola), and contrabass (also usually three-string). Harmonic and rhythmic accompaniment roles are divided between the middle- and large-size instruments of the band. The violinist, primas [Hungarian], leads the band, plays the melodies, choosing and adapting them to the needs and preferences of the dancers. The focus here will be on the realization of rhythmic synchronization within the ensemble and in relation to the dancers. Examples come from ongoing collaborative ‘choreomusicological’ research with colleagues there, utilizing recordings made in the field in April, as well as older examples from our work.
‘Analysing Scottish Dance through Film and Video Archives’
The teaching and performance of Highland Dancing has changed significantly over the last century. The emergence of regulatory societies, the internationalisation of competitive dancing and changes such as the recommended speed of dancing have all affected the way in which Highland Dances are performed. Written records, such as the eight editions of the Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing’s Text Book, describe foot positions and movements. Visual materials such as archive film and video footage can provide clues about the changing style of these dances during the century. In this presentation I will show how combining modern digital editing techniques with archive video material and written records can give us a more accurate picture of exactly how Highland Dance has changed. The timing of early film footage is rarely accurate, however written records of time signatures can be used to re-time archive footage. This makes it possible to play archive footage at a rate altered to reflect the correct speed of dancing. This in turn enables side-by-side comparisons of historical and modern footage which reveal changes in the physical style of dancing. Through this work I will demonstrate how Highland dancing has evolved over the last one hundred years, becoming slower, more precise, and more athletic. This type of video analysis may be of particular interest to dance history scholars. I will illustrate the presentation with examples of historical and modern Highland Dance video footage.
‘“Play, Fiddle, Play”: New Archival Sources for Jazz Violinist Ginger Smock’
Jazz violinist Ginger Smock (1920–1995) grew up in the musically vibrant African-American community of Central Avenue in Los Angeles, California. She made her name as a vivacious stage performer and local television star in the 1940s and 50s, toured nationally with R&B artists Steve Gibson and the Red Caps, and was one of the first women to record hot jazz on the violin (Barnett 2005). In the 1960s she was musical director for the cruise ship S.S. Catalina, and later served as concertmaster for Las Vegas show orchestras. Smock’s playing combined virtuosic violin technique with a hard-driving swing and a bluesy improvisational language informed by big bands and an earlier generation of jazz violinists. To date, however, her only publicly available recordings (primarily on Anthony Barnett’s AB Fable imprint) total under three hours and are limited to the first decades of her career. Smock launched her career at a time when her gender and mixed racial heritage delineated her recording and performance opportunities (Tucker 1996/1997). This paper uses archival materials from Smock’s extended family and from Canadian jazz violin collector John Reeves to offer new perspectives on how she negotiated these constraints. I draw on over 150 recently unearthed documents, including manuscripts of original compositions and big band arrangements, letters, photographs, newspaper clippings, and gig announcements. I also discuss an ongoing project to digitise a number of later recordings of Smock that were previously catalogued but, until recently, unavailable for listening (Barnett 1994). Following NAFCo’s extended mandate for 2018 – to ‘broaden the discussion and explore the use of fiddle and other bowed string instruments in a variety of performance contexts’ – this paper uses new archival sources to parse the intersection of gender, race, and the violin in the American vernacular traditions of jazz and blues.
‘The Role of String Bands in the Carolling Tradition of the Southern Pennines: Performance, Style, and Group Dynamics’
String bands have been a feature of the Christmas carolling traditions of communities in the English Southern Pennines for at least 250 years. Their accompaniment not only draws on styles of playing associated with the sacred contexts of vernacular psalmody and hymnody but also from the milieux of secular traditions. In contrast to the monodic ‘ballad’ carols recorded by folk song collectors in the early part of the twentieth century, these carols and the manner of their performance are wholly dependent on group interaction and characterised by part singing and the playing of parts. In this presentation I will trace the development of carol bands and examine their performance in terms of style, group dynamics, and repertoire. I will focus on characteristic features such as the musical introductions and interludes between verses, known as ‘symphonies’, drawing on evidence from manuscript sources, field recordings, and photographs. I will conclude with a consideration of their legacy and their influence on contemporary tradition.
Derek Schofield‘Fiddle Music and Dances in North Yorkshire’
In the early twentieth century, Cecil Sharp set about collecting, publishing, and popularising English folk songs, morris dances, and sword dances. When it came to adding social folk dances to his corpus of folk material, he published just a handful of dances he had collected in The Country Dance Book volume 1 (1909), before turning to the published historical dances in the various editions of John Playford’s The Dancing Master (1651 onwards). Sharp made no further collecting trips specifically to find and record social folk dances. However, in 1914, while looking for sword dances in Goathland in North Yorkshire, he did note several social folk dances and their tunes, played on the fiddle, from the Pennock family. These dances were not published by Sharp and, therefore, were not immediately added to the repertoire of the expanding folk dance revival. In 1953, Peter Kennedy recorded the next generation of Pennock fiddlers, Billy Pennock, together with his versions of some of the same dances. Two of the Sharp-collected dances were added to the folk-dance repertoire in the 1960s by Patrick Shuldham-Shaw. Billy Pennock’s music is today remembered by one of the current musicians (on melodeon) of the Goathland Plough Stots, who perform the traditional village sword dance. Another of the sword dance musicians, fiddle-player and professional musician Jim Eldon, has recently recorded his interpretations of the Pennock family tunes. This paper will examine the contribution of the Pennock family to the musical life of Goathland, the associated dances, and the tunes as seen through the interpretations of a modern performer, illustrating the changing context of the dances and tunes.
‘The History of Monymusk, Fiddle Tune and Dance’
The tune entitled ‘Sir Archibald Grant of Monymusk’s Reel/Strathspey’ was composed by Daniel (Donald) Dow (1732–83) in 1776 and published in his Thirty Seven New Reels and Strathspeys, ca. 1780. The tune became immediately and immensely popular in Scotland, England, Ireland, the United States, and Canada, and has remained part of these fiddle repertoires to the present day, though not without changes, of course, as might be expected from a far-travelled tune. Since dance has always been an element of this tune’s identity, the dances for which it is played are also integral to its structure and form. The dances also change, depending both on the cultural-geographical locus and on the application of the music to the dancing. In Scotland, strathspeys have been associated with reels, flings, and country dances, of which Monymusk is an old and beloved favourite (first published by John Preston in London, c. 1786). The tune became a Highland in Donegal, Ireland, played for dancing a schottische or a barn dance. More dramatically, in Canada and the United States, the tune shape-shifted into a reel or a breakdown played for contra dances in New England and the Midwest throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Following the American Contra Dance revival of the 1970s and the creation of ‘modern’ contra dances that displaced the older repertoire, a new interest in the old Contra Dance Money Musk has occurred in recent years, and this again widely-known so-called Contra Chestnut has sparked my interest in the dance and the tune’s development. The question of how this complicated relationship between the fiddle tune and the dance style has been a mutually developing and reinforcing interchange is investigated in this presentation.
Shihan de Silva Jayasuriya and Hemal Jayasuriya
‘Baila: The Heartbeat of a Nation’
This paper shows how baila caught the pulse of the post-colonial dynamics of Sri Lanka through an analysis of the historical and musicological context. The Portuguese encounter with Sri Lanka in the Early Modern Age has left strong impressions on the island’s socio-culture. Of the 150 years (1505–1658) that is taken as the Portuguese Era, domination was only for sixty years. The most vibrant Portuguese impact has been on popular music – chorus baila (generally known as baila). Whilst taking ethnographic and historical approaches to map the evolutionary path of chorus baila, consideration will be given to the centrality of stringed instruments (violin and guitar) in performance. The origins of baila will be considered based on the socio-religious and cultural factors of the composer of baila which swept post-independent Sri Lanka off its feet. Irresistible rhythms of the baila draw onlookers to the dance floor uniting an inevitably heterogeneous people situated at the crossroads of the Indian Ocean. Other genres that influenced the composition of baila will be included in theorising the diversity engulfed by this post-colonial genre which transcends ethnic, religious, and age barriers.
‘The Big Fiddle: Why the Viola is an Instrument in its Own Right’
‘One wishes more use was made of the rich tones of a viola in the traditional and folk scene.’ (Lockhart, 1998, in reference to the use of viola by instrumentalist Mairi Campbell) Since 1998 the use of viola has been scattered and sparse in traditional music. However, there is evidence that contemporary fiddle players have begun to make use of the viola’s sonorities in their recording and composition work: Lauren MacColl, Chris Stout, and Alasdair Fraser are examples. Does this suggest that any fiddle player can utilise a viola? Is there a separate skill set required? Is there a musical role solely of folk-viola players? Scottish violist and teacher William Primrose defends the independence of the viola by stating ‘violinists who assume they can also be a violist by default, actually denies the viola its autonomy’ (Primrose, 1976). Viola research within the realms of classical performance and composition has been established in institutions worldwide; however, only one example exists in terms of fiddling on the viola: an ethnography on the viola in English Trad by Dr Lindsay Aitkenhead. Dr Simon McKerrell and others confirm that Scottish music today is thriving. Folk music has moved away from historical melody and bass line composition to a multi-layered, polyphonic, intricate, improvisatory, cross-genre, expansive music. I am currently exploring the parts and textures that the viola can offer and ascertaining whether there is creative space for solo viola-fiddle composition, performance, and education within traditional/folk music.
‘The New Traditional School in Scotland: Fiddle Perspectives on Innovation and Artistry’
Since 1984 we have seen a surge of interest and activity in beyond-tune composition and innovation relating to traditional music performance and creation in Scotland. Two of the supporting initiatives driving this activity are ‘Celtic Connections’ New Voices’, launched in 1998, and ‘Distil’, launched in 2002. Through opportunity-based professional development, key influencers and innovators not only make significant creative and cultural contributions, they instigate change in our perception of and engagement with traditional music. This paper draws on new and existing fieldwork and a variety of musical and compositional examples and literature to provide a brief history of the New Traditional School in Scotland and its early contributors. It will highlight key connections and artistic discourses at play and discuss threads of innovation in traditional music in Scotland today. Following on from a paper for the ‘Pedagogies, Practices and the Future of Folk Music in Higher Education’ conference in Glasgow, I welcome the opportunity to give greater focus to the work of the fiddle players within this community, their approaches to creating and innovating with and around traditional music, and how they perceive this in relation to their traditional music.