Violin - Fiddle



Like many other instruments of classical music, the violin descends from remote ancestors, cruder in form, that were used for folk music. Following a stage of intensive development in the late Renaissance, largely in Italy, the violin had improved (in volume, tone, and agility), to the point that it not only became a very important instrument in art music, but proved highly appealing to folk musicians as well. As a folk instrument, the violin ultimately spread very widely, sometimes displacing earlier bowed instruments, and ethnomusicologists have observed its use in many locations throughout Europe, Asia, and the Americas.

In many traditions of folk music, the tunes are not written but are memorized by successive generations of musicians and passed on in both informal and formal contexts.

When played as a folk instrument, the violin is ordinarily referred to in English as a fiddle.

One very slight difference between fiddle and violin occurs in American (e.g., bluegrass and old-time music) fiddling: the bridge is shaved down so that it is less curved. This makes it easier to play chords.

Most musicians agree that the technical difference between a violin and a fiddle is the bridge. Most classical violinists prefer rounded bridges that allow them to more easily articulate the notes which have better clarity. Fiddlers often prefer flatter bridges that allow the playing of double notes and shuffles. In practice, most instruments are constructed with a rounded bridge to better accommodate the shape of the fingerboard.

Historically, the word fiddle also referred to a predecessor of today's violin. Like the violin, it tended to have 4 strings, but came in a variety of shapes and sizes. Another series of instruments which contributed to the development of the modern fiddle was the viol, which was played while held between the legs, and has a fretted fingerboard.


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