minstrel: Medieval fiddling

Tim Connor timcon at flash.net
Tue Nov 7 21:28:01 PST 2000

I don't know a whole lot about this, but that's hardly ever stopped me from saying
something...Irish tradition, y'know...

Generally, the viols and the violin family are considered cousins rather than
descendants--one book I have refers to viols as "bowed guitars."

There is a record in the accounts of the Scottish court of two "fithelaris
(fiddlers)" being paid nine shillings for performing the song "Graysteil" for
James IV in 1497.  The tune can be found in the Straloch lute book (check out the
CD "Graysteil" by Rob MacKillop and William Taylor, Dorian DIS-80141).  The
American fiddle tune "Soldier's Joy" (which I would classify as a reel) has, I
have been told by someone who is likely to know what they're talking about (but I
have no documentation) can be traced back to 10th century Scandinavia, and
probably came to the New World through Scotland.

Tadhg O Cuileannain

Craig Mills wrote:

> Hello all, I have been lurking for a while but I do have a question.
> (or three...)
> I am interested in the history of the violin (specifically fiddle
> music).  I have found that the fiddle changed form many times over the
> years, not just in shape but in number of strings, drone strings,
> frets/non-fretted, etc.  ?? Is the viol d'gambe a predecessor of the
> violin?  It is a fretted instrument, isn't it?
> I am especially interested in the "period-ness" of Irish/Scottish jigs
> and reels.  Especially in the "jig" or "reel" music format itself, not
> specific tunes at this point.  Secondarily I find myself interested in
> Scandanavian folk music, and what they were playing there pre-1600.
> I don't see anything right off of the SCA minstrel page that seems to
> address this specific area, maybe I'm just not seeing it.
> Websites I've seen are either selling instrument kits, or talking about
> performers who perform "in the style of..." or "performing medieval
> pieces..."  I don't seem able to find histories of fiddle music
> evolution, or if I do it's starting in 1710 or so.

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