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The English term Fiddle , a medieval Fidel called, has through the dissemination of country- and folk music as well as the Western swing and jazz found its way into the German language. A fiddle usually means a violin that is used in a different way than in classical music in terms of style and playing technique , and which can have a different shape.

Whiskey, you're the devil

Differences to classical violin playing

Fiddler Peter Stampfel

The rules for playing, but also for learning the fiddle, are not bound by the same conventions as classic violin playing. Although the fiddle is usually held under the chin like the violin, other positions can also be found, for example in the crook of the arm or hanging down at an angle without contact with the chin. This posture enables the fiddler to sing at the same time, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the left hand is given a holding function. B. the possibility of changing positions or vibrato is severely restricted. Many fiddlers do not hold the bow used for bowing at the lower end, the so-called frog , as the classic violinists do , but a little above the frog. This posture facilitates fast rhythmic playing and only a small bow stroke is necessary for fast pieces.

In many cases, fiddle players do without vibrato , that is, quickly moving the fingers of the left hand, which creates a slight fluctuation in the sound frequency. For this, the rhythm of the game is determined especially with the right hand, which is holding the bow.

Another characteristic feature is the frequent use of double fingerings (ie the simultaneous playing of two strings), the perfect consonances fourth and fifth are particularly popular here. Often these are accentuated like marcato by the player and / or follow a characteristic, syncopated rhythm. In some cases, the double handles are also provided with portamento or bendings . Many fiddlers do not learn to play the fiddle by presenting notes, but the pieces are played by ear and passed on from fiddler to fiddler. Another possibility of playing the fiddle in folk and jazz music is to vary the themes or to accompany the music exclusively by ear.


Although every violin can be played as a fiddle, there are designs of the violin that cannot be found in classical music and that are only played as a fiddle. American Fiddlers have designed the bridges of their violins, on which the strings rest, to be particularly flat in order to enable double or triple fingering. Many so-called old-time fiddlers also use scordatures , e.g. B. AEAE to make certain pieces easier to play.

A special fiddle design is the 5-string fiddle, which has a C-string in addition to the four strings of the violin (GDAE) and thus encompasses the range of the viola and the violin. Some fiddlers also experiment with 6- or 7-string instruments. In addition to the four strings that are bowed, the Hardanger fiddle from Norway has other sympathetic strings , which gives this instrument a specific sound.


The fiddle plays a role in almost all folk music genres. Irish and Scottish folk music in particular are characterized by the game of fiddle, the most technically demanding fiddle style developed among Scottish emigrants on Cape Breton . But jazz or country music styles such as bluegrass or Cajun music also cannot do without the fiddle. Especially in jazz, but also in rock music, the electric fiddle has established itself , which has a pickup and an amplifier instead of a sound box .

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Commons : Fiddle  - collection of images, videos and audio files