The Old-Time Herald Volume 13, Number 5

Attic
Flutes and Fiddles
By Paul F. Wells
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collection of Paul Wells

For this issue’s excursion into the Attic we look at some images of fiddlers—or perhaps violinists—together with flute and piccolo players. This time out we may well be dealing with musicians who did not play anything that we would call old-time music, at least not as that term is understood within the context of this magazine. No real folk tradition of flute playing has ever developed in this country, at least not in the way that it has in Ireland. We could mention the military fifing tradition, and the African American fifing and drumming tradition of northern Mississippi, but although there is a certain amount of common repertoire shared between fiddlers and fifers – see Samuel P. Bayard’s magnum opus, Dance to the Fiddle: March to the Fife – they are essentially separate musical streams. Contrast this with the situation in Irish music where the full-sized flute—the “concert flute” as it is often known—is on equal footing with the fiddle, the pipes, and various other instruments for playing reels, jigs, and hornpipes.

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