If you have ever taken a violin lesson or plan to, you may have wondered what the distinction between the violin and the fiddle is. How to hold a fiddle vs violin? This is a query that is frequently posed to us. They are the same instrument, which may come as a surprise to some. What makes one a fiddle and the other a violin, then?
It’s primarily daily, just as an Appalachian fiddler might refer to a violin in his family for many generations or a Toronto Symphony Orchestra first chair violinist might call her instrument a fiddle. However, there may be slight variations in the playing style, string materials, and bridges. Those variations do matter a lot!
Describe the fiddle.
The violin and the fiddle are treble clef instruments with four strings played with a bow. It is referred to as a fiddle when it is used for non-classical genres of music, such as bluegrass, country, and folkloric music. Many fiddle styles worldwide, including several in Canada, such as the French Canadian “crooked tunes.” Many fiddle genres can be heard in some of Toronto’s neighborhoods, street corners, and subways. Fiddles allow the player to express their unique musical interpretation. It is the preferred instrument for improvisation, syncopated bowing techniques, and the double and triple stops, a common feature of world folk music. Since sliding across more notes with the bow is prevalent in many musical genres for which fiddles are employed, players frequently replace the conventional bridge on their instrument with a bit flatter one. Old-time performers may hold the violin just below their collarbone instead of under their chin in some traditions, such as Appalachian music. The Baroque era saw the employment of this method as well.
Describe the violin.
Though they can accompany jazz and other folklore music, violins are most often used in classical music. Confused? It all comes down to playing technique. A violinist must adhere to the music exactly as it was written down; there is less leeway for improvisation than for a fiddler. This is true even of folk music. To achieve a more transparent sound, violinists bow one note at a time rather than two or three. A bridge with higher arches is best for this. A musician needs two bridges to switch between a fiddle and a violin since bridges on an instrument are simple to swap out. Even in Toronto, the majority of violin instruction is entirely classical. However, finding instructors that can incorporate playing in the violin style into the class is possible.
Tuning and Strings
Additionally, the string selection may differ. Synthetic violin strings are frequently preferred, with a precise tuner necessary for the unwrapped steel E string at the end. Perfect fifths are used to tune the violin (GDAE). Fiddle players frequently employ only steel strings, peg tuning, and a good tuner. The music they are playing affects how they are tuned. Perfect fifths are helpful in many contexts, but many of the folklore traditions the fiddler might be playing call for variants.
How to hold a fiddle vs violin? The fundamental distinction between these two bowed instruments lies in the player’s technique, musical taste, and intended application. Biological variations are essentially adaptations to support the various techniques.