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What Is The Difference Between a Fiddler and Classical Violinist
What makes a fiddler different from a classical violinist. Is it the instrument, attitude, music playe or what?
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cid
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January 3, 2019 - 4:07 pm
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I have a question about fiddle and violin. Are people actually talking about the same thing or is there a difference? When someone says “fiddle”, are they talking about a violin or something a little different?

Is there a difference in the instrument itself, the setup, the way it is bowed, strings used, etc?

Is it just a difference in the type of music played?

I do notice, on another forum site, and this is just an observation on my part and not to be an insult to any classical violinist whatsoever, some classical violinists seem to have an attitude or whatever and everything must be done exactly as they have been done for centuries. Nobody can adjust a bow hold, bowing itself, holding the violin, etc to suit their physical abilities. They are criticized mercilessly, don’t even get started on their reaction to Lindsey Stirling who does it to suit her artistic niche, and she specifically states she is not a classical violinist, it is still not acceptable. That is just one of many examples frowned upon. 

Is attitude what makes the difference between classical and fiddler style; acceptance or lack of acceptance of other ways of doing things that allow people who can’t, for whatever reason, do it the classical way, to be able to enjoy the love of violin? Again, I am not insulting classical violinist, this is just my own impression from what I have noticed since taking up violin. I do not dare ask questions on the other site that I ask here because to change a bow hold so my joints can handle the bow is a no no and one would get blasted there :-). 

Even to use your artistic interpretation of a piece of music in the way of bowing, up and down strokes, slurring, etc is not acceptable, it is to be done as written and not swayed from by you, the violinist. The violinist is not to interpret the music. It is to be done as it was 100 years ago. There was a discussion about this so somewhere. Is this part of the difference between fiddling and violin? 

What is the makeup of a fiddler vs violinist, of a fiddle and violin? Is the instrument, or attitude and philosophy, or the music that differentiates the two?

Again, if there are any classical violinists here, this is not an insult, just an observation from my experience on different violin forum sites, and it always baffles me. It just seems so strict when I read comments anywhere by classical violinists, this has nothing to do with their ability, individuals personally, etc. Just curious if the line crossed has to do with the instrument itself, music or attitude, or combination. Thanks

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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Fiddlerman
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January 3, 2019 - 4:26 pm
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The difference between a fiddle and a violin is that it's OK to spill beer on a fiddle. 😉

There is really no difference.

The biggest true difference is in the people who refer to their instruments and what genre they play. Some classical violinists refer to their instruments as fiddles, as did my one of my teachers (Tom Tzaggaris) who was a soloist and Julliard graduate and New York chamber music player and conductor. Very well respected.

Some fiddlers who play bluegrass or similar say that a fiddle has a flatter bridge. A flatter bridge doesn't really help much for anything. Those who want a flatter bridge say that they can pay between double stops quicker. Less distance to travel but many great and even professional fiddlers have the classical setup and play between double stops as fast as anyone can. We are not limited by that little difference.

As far as the snobbiness that you are referring to on that other site, we are all familiar with it and this site is nothing like that. Glad that you found us cid. 🙂

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HP
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January 3, 2019 - 4:41 pm
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It's mostly about style. However some fiddles have bridges with less of a arch to make it easier to play fiddle music. More common among fiddle players to use steel core strings to make the sound harsher or folky. Fiddlers and violinists tend to have a different feel of rhythm. 

'Armed with theory, practice becomes meaningful. Through practice, theory becomes fulfilled.' - Egon von Neindorff.

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cid
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January 3, 2019 - 4:44 pm
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Thanks Fiddlerman and HP.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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Amateur
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January 3, 2019 - 7:11 pm
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There is a difference between the terms fiddle and violin. Fiddle is broad, violin refers to a particular pattern.

While every violin is a fiddle, not every fiddle is a violin. Fiddles predate the violin.

The vielle, bowed lira, viola da braccio, etc. are all fiddles but not violins.

A folk player can refer to his instrument as a violin and a classical player can call his a fiddle. Both are historically appropriate and accurate.

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Shane "Chicken" Wang
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January 4, 2019 - 1:03 am
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What amateur said is the way we see it here where I  play around. If you can bow it, it's a fiddle. I can't speak to what I see as a rivalry between fiddlers and violinists, not because I don't have an opinion on it, but because I have been kicked off of those sites you mentioned and this may be my last refuge.

The last one I was kicked off of was when Suzuki method was compared to a cult, and I showed that by definition, that site and the snobbish members were basically a cult in themselves. My membership was revoked.

A Fiddler doesn't need be told what to play, a Fiddler plays what he feels. Most every fiddler can play by ear. A fiddler doesn't need a 50,000 $$$ instrument, they do fine with cheaper. Interpretation is important, My interpretation makes the song mine, your interpretation makes it yours.

Violin is my last instrument, not my first, and the style of sound that developed in me with other instruments is showing through in the fiddle learning process. Personally, Any instrument should be used to express yourself, to breathe life into music. To get those emotions out. Some people talk it out, but it feels better to play it out. A fiddler allows that fiddle to speak for him, mine has a serious southern accent.

Listen to Blue Bird Singing n Cherokee Shuffle. That's classical and it's not bad.

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Gordon Shumway
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January 4, 2019 - 2:21 am
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I didn't get much sleep last night, so I don't know if the following is OTT or not. My mind wanders when I haven't slept.

I knew the Germans had the words Fiedel, Geige and Violine, but I didn't know the difference. Fiedel has the Anglo Saxon equivalent fithele, which made me wonder what kind of instrument that would have been, but it's from the Latin fides which means gut strings, or any kind of instrument strung with them, lute, lyre, you name it. Something like that. You can do better, but I haven't got the energy to look at all the dictionaries. I post this because that surprised me, although I might have realised it one day.

The German word Geige has unknown etymology, although it can be traced back to Giga in OHG (Old High German). 

German for Viola is Bratsche From Bratschgeige, from Italian viola da braccio, from viola and braccio (“arm”), from Latin bracchium.

Which also surprised me.

The etymology of violin and viola are also in doubt. There's a suggestion that it (viola - violin is its diminutive) comes from Latin vitula - a female calf. Believe that if you will. Perhaps there was once a bigger instrument resembling it that had a name like "cow" for more obvious reasons? Maybe - vacca comes from a Sanskrit word where "cow" and "bellow" are nearly the same word. Anything is possible. Maybe they simply nicknamed the bass viol "vacca" because it sounded like a cow mooing? cow-fingerscrossed

I always wanted to be a juvenile delinquent but my parents wouldn't let me.

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BillyG
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January 4, 2019 - 2:54 am
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Shane "Chicken" Wang said
....
A Fiddler doesn't need be told what to play, a Fiddler plays what he feels. Most every fiddler can play by ear. A fiddler doesn't need a 50,000 $$$ instrument, they do fine with cheaper. Interpretation is important, My interpretation makes the song mine, your interpretation makes it yours......

Precisely, brother !  devil-violin

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Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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cid
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January 4, 2019 - 7:08 am
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This has been very interesting. I think I believe, after reading all the posts and the posts on the other site, and seeing what music is played when referred to as fiddle or violin on television shows, I think I prefer fiddle. I think that, for me, best reflects what I had always thought, and my attitude about playing the instrument. It threw me on the other site when some of the “violinists” were referring to their violions as fiddles, even though they were very strict classical style “fiddlers” (LOL). 

I would like to be able to play by ear, and actually did come up with a children’s song my granddaughter sings. Maybe not strictly a children’s song, “You Are My Sunshine”. I figured it out on my cello and recordeded it and posted it on my daughter’s shared family photo site. Her husband recorded my daughter sharing it with my granddaughter. My granddaughter sang along with it. (They live far away and we see rhem maybe twice a year) It is my favorite video.

I have it figured out on my fiddle, but have to smooth it out. I will record that and post it for my granddaughter when I am ready. By then her sister, less than a year old, will probably be old enough to understand what she is watching.

This has been interesting info, and I hope I did not insult anyone who plays classical. I just wanted to make clear where I was coming from based on my observations on all the sites I have been trying to gain information and tips from. When I joined this site, the best one, I was just amazed at how relaxed everyone is. That was the purpose of my descriptions and mentioning what I had observed and interpretted from my observations. You do what suits you, and I am a little less structured to the formal way of doing things.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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Shane "Chicken" Wang
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@cid Basically, when it comes to your music, how you play, what you play it on, the only person whose opinion that matters is yours. The question really shouldn't be " Is what I'm doing making you happy?" it should be firstly," Is what I'm doing making me happy?"

It doesn't matter what we do, there will always be plenty of people out there that want us to change to be more like what they want, to not try as hard and match their pace, to conform to their likes and dislikes. They are going to complain when we don't, if we do live or change to suit them, someone else will complain for us to fit in their mold.

I don't have time for their molds. If they don't like what I do to make myself happy, they are more than welcomed, to leave, not listen, shut up and go away. For every person that doesn't like what or the way you do something there is at least one that will. So you live and play to suit yourself, and the like minded, like spirited, free loving, no stick removal required people, will magically come to you. I don't know how they find you, but they do. They always do.

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BillyG
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January 4, 2019 - 10:36 am
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@cid - your words are very clearly expressed - I don't expect any classical player will feel insulted !

For my own part, I largely play "fiddle tunes" (Scottish, Celtic, Irish type of things - with some Old Time and Bluegrass tunes - although they - and the style of fiddling - is somewhat foreign to me.

I also really enjoy taking other tunes (even pop and rock- and indeed short, well known classical themes) and trying to do-something with them on solo fiddle.   Soloing is so much more demanding than playing with a backing track that can kind of "carry you along" and often obviates the need to do anything overly special (in terms of technique) on the fiddle.

Because of that, I most certainly have found that I borrow classic violin bowing techniques and will bring them into some of the pieces I work on - I can mention the type of thing, only because I've researched them (and otherwise would have no name for them - I have no tutor) - and commonly use staccato, flying staccato, ricochet, detache, martele and so on.  For instance, I might use a flying staccato in place of a run of 6 or 8 notes that would "traditionally" be played with rapid bow direction changes by other players - it makes the piece different enough to be in some way unique. [Which is exactly what @Shane "Chicken" Wang was getting at].   I have watched and talked to various fiddlers (who have played for years) - and some (well many) won't necessarily know the terms - but - it is indeed what they appear to do - it's just their learning path came from a different place - interesting indeed.

Equally, I guess there are indeed some very specific techniques which are alien to classical violin - and vice versa.  But at the end of the day, in essence, the violin and fiddle are effectively nowadays the same instrument [ OK, moot point - this "flatter bridge" thing - personally I'm not sure about any benefit there at all - but I'm open to persuasion!   Also things like the various cross-tunings used on many fiddle tunes (DDAD, AEAE to mention but two of many forms are, I suspect, rarely if ever found in classical pieces) - but again of course - I'm largely ignorant of detailed scores for classical pieces and always open to correction! ]

Just because you mentioned "You are my Sunshine" - I have to say - this is a piece I hate with a passion - the reason is that a year or so back I ran a little project with a group of players to do a virtual group project ( rather like Pierre's Group Projects ) - my hatred comes from what must have been 24 solid hours mixing down and balancing the audio - the video was easy.... I heard that tune in my head for weeks afterwards - even the clock in the kitchen ticked "You / Are / My / Sunshine / You Make / Me Happy................ oh noooooooooooo - it's started again - here is is just for fun - warts and all (I didn't mix out any of the little deviations) - 

In spite of my now enduring hatred of the piece - it was a HUGE amount of fun - and surely - that's what making music is all about.....

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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cid
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January 4, 2019 - 12:06 pm
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That was very cool, Billy G. i was picturing my grandaughter lying with her mother on the sofa singing to it as she watched it like she did with my off key cello version.

 

Thank you.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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Gordon Shumway
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January 4, 2019 - 12:16 pm
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I'd like to be both a classical violinist and a fiddler. I don't want to be a classical violinist who plays fiddle tunes.

I always wanted to be a juvenile delinquent but my parents wouldn't let me.

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bocaholly
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Glad you had drummer making it. It was cheerleaderto watch!

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cid
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January 4, 2019 - 12:20 pm
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I like that, Gordon, and agree.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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BillyG
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January 4, 2019 - 1:12 pm
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Yup, no problem with that at all, the best of both worlds @Gordon Shumway ! That's largely how I feel about it as well.

@cid - having seen the pics, and read about your lovely cellos, I should admit that my "cello" is a strange beast (I didn't include it in the Sunshine actual video, although I did record and mix a cello part with it) - it's actually a 4/4 1980's Skylark violin, restrung as a viola, with piezo pickups and a guitar FX octave-dropper box ....  result.... chin cello !   Well, it gives the range, if not the tonal quality... 🙂

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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Shane "Chicken" Wang
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@BillyG check into Ole Bull, he would flatten out the bridges and got it from the norwegian fiddlers I believe. Bull would have been the kind of guy you want to hang out with. Part fiddler, part adventurer, led an incredible life.

Cool video, some of those faces looked familiar.

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BillyG
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January 4, 2019 - 3:32 pm
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Shane "Chicken" Wang said
@BillyG check into Ole Bull, he would flatten out the bridges and got it from the norwegian fiddlers I believe. Bull would have been the kind of guy you want to hang out with. Part fiddler, part adventurer, led an incredible life.

Cool video, some of those faces looked familiar.  

I shall do that! thumbs-up  Thanks!

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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wtw
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Amateur said
While every violin is a fiddle, not every fiddle is a violin. Fiddles predate the violin.

The vielle, bowed lira, viola da braccio, etc. are all fiddles but not violins.

Meaning I can call my viola a fiddle if I want to ? (good thing : "irish viola" doesn't even seem to exist)

Though it won't change anything for me, as there's no word for "fiddle" in french.

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Shane "Chicken" Wang
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January 4, 2019 - 6:11 pm
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@wtw 

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