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Learn Definitions Of Old Time Fiddle Styles

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This list is an introduction to old time fiddle styles with a short definition of each.

Appalachian, Bluegrass, Brudmarsch, Cajun, Cape Breton, Celtic, English, French-Canadian, Gånglåt Irish, Maritime Métis, New England, Newfoundland, Old-Timey, Ontario, Polska, Roundpeak, Scandinavian, Scottish, Shetland, Skänklåt, Sligo, Southern Texas Style Ukranian Western Swing


A style of fiddling that comes from the Appalachian Mountains of the United States that uses modal sounds and techniques.


A musical style that originated with Bill Monroe in the late 1930's with increased improvisation and flashiness. This style is primarily meant for a listening audience only.


A Swedish Bridal March


A French-North American style that was originated in Maritime Canada by the "Acadiens," a group of French settlers in present-day Nova Scotia. This group, harassed by the British, moved to Southern Louisiana and were isolated until the start of the twentieth century.

Cape Breton

A regional variance of Scottish fiddling with a more formal style. Players of this style include Winston "Scotty" Fitzgerald and The Cape Breton Symphony Fiddlers.


A type of Scottish fiddling with the melody in a higher range, usually imitating the sounds of the bagpipes.


- a style where ornamentation is used sparingly and the bow is used simply.


a highly spirited style that borrows from French folk music, Scottish and Irish fiddling, but leans toward a more rhythmic and less ornamental style. The favoured instrumentation is fiddle and piano.


A Swedish walking tune


Attention is given to the ornaments and melody on an equal basis. Tunes in the Ionian mode (major scale), Dorian (a scale starting and ending on the second note of the major scale), Mixolydian (a scale start- ing and ending on the fifth note of the major scale) and Aeolian (natural minor scale) are equally common.


Music with a brisk tempo and a spirited bounce that makes it very suitable for dancing. This is also referred to as the "Down East" style. Players of this style include Gerry Robichaud and Don Messer.


A mix of Scottish, French and Indian music with a highly spirited character and adjusted to suit the traditional Metis dances.

New England

A mix of Irish, Scottish and English fiddle techniques. Tunes can range from a simple English fashion to a highly ornamented style of Scottish/Irish fiddling.


A local offshoot of Irish and Welsh Fiddling that is lively in spirit and quick in tempo


A pre-bluegrass stringband style with country dance rhythms, including music from Vaudeville, minstrel shows, British Isles folk traditionals, early 78 RPM country recordings, old songs played on the fiddle, Appalachian modal tunes, and listening tunes unsuitable for dancing.


A style of fiddling that is melodic in character and has its roots in the music of the British Isles. This is the most widely known fiddle style in Canada.


Denotes two different dances:
a. The "Hambopolska" (eighth note) Polska with a strongly marked 3/4 beat.
b. The "Slängspolska" with a more even beat in 3/4 time.


A highly rhythmic style of North Carolina fiddling (ex. Tommy Jarrel)


A highly melodic type of fiddle music that can be played in harmony and sometimes on eight-string or nine-string "Hardanger" fiddles (Norwegian origin). They are tuned to the same intervals as regular violin tuning, except that the lowest string is usually (but not always) tuned up one whole step. Also the PITCH for the whole instrument is higher than for a violin. It could be tuned anywhere from one half to two whole steps higher. Most common seems to be about one whole step higher. They have four droning strings that run under the fingerboard and through the middle of the bridge.


Where the right hand is used to bring out a wide variety of arpeggio and spicatto bowings. Reels are usually slower than in Ireland, and the roll, a staple Irish ornament, is rarely used.


It has a lively style of its own taking from Sweden, Norway, Scotland and Ireland.


A Swedish gift giving tune at a wedding.


- a highly ornamental Irish fiddling style typified by the playing of Michael Coleman, which originated in the Sligo area of Ireland.


A mix of French, Spanish and British fiddling with very quick tempo and a heavy usage of double stops

Texas Style

A style with highly developed melody variations and jazz-like backup from the accompanying instruments. Tempo is slower than Old-time and bluegrass. An example includes Bob Wills.


An ethnic type of music that is high spirited, lyrical, and faster in tempo than traditional fiddle music. Much of this music is composed in minor keys.

Western Swing

A form of popular music that originated from popular swing. Fiddling often aspires to the "hot" improvisation of jazz soloists, such as Joe Venuti and Jean-Luc Ponty.