The Old-Time Herald Volume 14, Number 9

The Fiddler in the Family
By Paul F. Wells
Bobby Taylor
Collection of Paul F. Wells

In an early installment of the “Attic” (OTH vol. 13, no. 2) we explored the topic of musical families. We printed three photos of what appeared to be family groupings in which some or all of those pictured are playing instruments. Or at least holding them. To give the photos a bit of context, we included a few paragraphs of prose about the role of family ensembles in old-time music. In this article we flip things around; we present a handful of photos that again capture what we take to be family groupings, but in which only a single member of the party is playing an instrument. A fiddle, to be precise. In the world of traditional music we talk a lot about family tradition, about songs and tunes being handed down from generation to generation. But how often does that actually happen? Or, perhaps a better question to ask would be: how often is music literally passed on through families versus other avenues of transmission, such as via neighbors, or friends, or local musical heroes, or even paid teachers? These are, of course, rhetorical questions to which I neither have nor expect answers. But, like most rhetorical questions, they are worth posing and pondering.




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