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Fiddle

Dancing Master's fiddle (photograph reproduced by kind permission of the Bowes Museum)<p>
Dancing Master's fiddle (photograph reproduced by kind permission of the Bowes Museum)


By the mid-nineteenth century, the fiddle was the most popular musical instrument in many areas of Northumberland. The fiddle was an important part of rural life and was used as an accompaniment to song and dance at many events such as weddings, markets and fairs.

The fiddle pictured above is very old. It is a small dancing-master's fiddle and kit or a pochette, as they were also known. Dancing masters would have travelled from village to village with their fiddle, entertaining inhabitants and passing on their musical knowledge. The fiddle is made of pine and boxwood, the body still showing traces of grey paint. The head is carved as a serpent's head with metal pinheads for eyes. The bow is of blackwood or ironwood with a boxwood frog and ivory button.

Below is another pochette or dancing-master's fiddle, made from fruitwood and pinewood, with a five-ribbed body. The fingerboard and pegs are made of ebony with ivory detailing, the head carved as a woman's head.

pochette

(photograph reproduced by kind permission of the Bowes Museum)

The most popular tunes played on the fiddle were jigs, reels and hornpipes. There is, in fact, a distinctive Northumbrian tradition of playing these tunes exemplified particularly by the style of playing the hornpipe.

In this audio clip we hear Northumbrian fiddlers Willy Taylor and George Hepple playing together. This clip is taken from a concert recorded in Wallsend in 1979. Other selections form this concert can be found in the FARNE archive.

This short audio clip is available in Mp3 or Real Audio format.

play real audio

If you select the RealAudio option the clip will play in your RealOne Player (If you do not have RealOne Player, follow the link below to download).

play mp3

If you select the Mp3 option playback will be through Windows Media Player or any other Mp3 player that you have set as default.

Download RealOne Player
To download free RealPlayer click here.


To find out more about how FARNE audio files have been created follow this link - Audio Technical Notes.


The FARNE archives contain material relating to some of the regions most respected and influencial fiddle players, including Willy Taylor, Jimmy Pallister, John Armstrong of Carrick and George Hepple. Go to Search the archive' to find out more.







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