Compendium of Fiddle Styles/Hoedown

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Fiddlin Bill Henseley, Mountain Fiddler, Asheville, North Carolina by Ben Shahn, 1937 (LOC) (290626613).jpg

Old time fiddle is a genre of American folk music associated with hoe downs, barn raisin' and the country rather than the city. Appallachia is particularly famous for this kind of music, as is the South in general. "Old time fiddle tunes" may be played on fiddle, banjo or other instruments but are nevertheless called "fiddle tunes". The genre traces from the British Isles with the colonization of North America by English and French speaking immigrants in the 1600s and thereafter.[1] It is separate and distinct from traditions which it has influenced or which may in part have evolved from it, such as bluegrass, country blues, variants of western swing and country rock.

Definition and distinction of Old Time Fiddle[edit | edit source]

Newer traditions have grown out of old time fiddle music but it maintains a separate and distinct identity from those styles. These include bluegrass and Western swing and to some degree country rock. However, the positive statement of what, exactly, constitutes the true and authentic delineation of old time fiddle music is not necessarily unambiguous. Different sources draw a sharper distinction than others, and there is a good deal of overlap which purists will acknowledge to a varying degree. The areas of overlap are primarily with bluegrass, Western swing (Texas swing), country and even rock.

Narrow use of the term[edit | edit source]

Art Stamper plays in both Appalachia Old Time and bluegrass styles. In autobiographical material posted on his artist website,[2] the writer asserts Stamper's contiguity with "old time and mountain" music, that he learned "the Appalachian fiddle style" from his father, but that Art "Art also played bluegrass fiddle..." continuing that "Whether playing Appalachian fiddle or bluegrass fiddle, Art was a musical marvel."

Old Time purists[edit | edit source]

In an essay with the short title Why Old TIme is Different from Bluegrass,[3] Allan Feldman argues against the proposal of an "inclusive cover name that would bring oldtime music[,] bluegrass, clawgrass and dawg music under the same umbrella in order to attract new audiences. The unfortunate trend in this country is to homogenize things. I think oldtime music stands against homogenization."Having thus staked ground out for himself as a purist, he continues that "[he] for one celebrate[s] the fact that oldtime music is not bluegrass or dawg music or new grass or even claw grass". He identifies the following categorical distinctions which set Old Time apart: