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The often asked question, "What is the difference between a fiddle and a violin?" The answer is, "The fiddle smells like beer." And that's just about right, I'd reckon, as its really the same instrument played in different styles, in different places, for differing audiences. However, it really comes down to how the fiddle is set up compared to the violin. Fiddlers generally need to play a couple of notes at a time so they take the part known as a bridge that holds the strings in respective position and angle, then flatten the arch of it a bit to make it easier to play two notes instead of the one. They might have a fine tuner on one or more strings (besides the tuning peg) and their chin rest may or may not be different but generally speaking its the same instrument. There are many different styles of fiddling but fewer styles of violin playing. Violin players are "classically trained" and a fiddler might have been trained by his daddy and can't read a lick of music. Both styles require great skill to master and if the fiddler plays more than one style, could take more time to master. There are country fiddlers, bluegrass fiddlers, Irish fiddlers, Mexican, Indian fiddlers, and a slew of sub-styles like appalacian, ozark, western, jazz, swing, Tejano, and more. I'm not the expert as I do not play fiddle, but in general you can tell the difference of playing style by looking at their playing posture. You won't see a fiddler sitting and its often common to watch a fiddler dance or tap while playing with a big smile on his face and playing without sheet music. A classically trained violinist will be sitting with a straight-backed posture, looking at sheet music, and look a little more anxious than happy. Can you compare Perlman to Gimble? Apples and oranges to me but go ahead and compare their instruments for the sake of curiosity. It should be noted; I've heard Perlman play some impressive fiddle and many fiddlers have been classically trained. But I've also noticed that once they learn to fiddle they don't go back to Mozart unless there's money involved. Once you hear twin-fiddles actin' up, you won't go back either.
December 31st, 2011
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