Fiddle or Violin

Enjoyed this ‘fiddle music‘ article by Joey Robichaux

Fiddle or Violin — What’s the Difference


Joey Robichaux

Some say the difference is that you never cry when you spill beer on a fiddle. Others say it’s a fiddle when you buy it, but a violin when you sell it. Others say that if you can dance to it, then it’s a fiddle.

The bottom line is there functionally is no difference between a fiddle and a violin — they’re the same physical instrument. Typically, the difference is one of attitude, not of physical difference. There’s a sense that a fiddle is a low-cost instrument meant for folk enjoyment whereas a violin is more costly and meant for more cultured usage.

The word fiddle didn’t always have this folksy connotation. Early classical masters commonly referred to violinists as fiddlers. The origin of the word is obscure — although the early Latin vitula is probably a common root of both fiddle and viola.

No, fiddle refers more to the usage than the instrument. If you’re considering folk music — whether it’s bluegrass, country and western, irish, gypsy, etc — then you’re probably thinking fiddle playing. If you think of cultured classical music — chamber music, symphonic orchestra, the great masters — then you’re thinking violin.

There are some differences in the playing styles — a fiddler normally stays in first position, where a classical violinist will play up and down the fingerboard. Fiddlers may hold their instrument against the crook of their elbow rather than under their chin like a violinist. Fiddlers don’t normally incorporate the entire scale of bowing techniques that a classical violinist might use.

Still — in all cases — the physical instrument is the same basic instrument. There is no stigma in playing fiddle music — or in playing classical violin music!

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About the Author

Joey Robichaux operates Celtic Sheet Music, where fiddle players can freely download over 3,000 celtic fiddle tunes!

Hope you enjoyed this ‘fiddle music‘ article!