Notions about Early Violin Performance Practice in Fin-de-Siècle Scotland

Ronnie Miller Gibson

Research output: Contribution to conferenceUnpublished paper


James Davie’s recognition that ‘[i]n the performance of Scottish music about a century ago, the style was widely different from the present [1851]’ is symptomatic of an emerging awareness of historical performance practice among traditional musicians in mid nineteenth-century Scotland. In particular, historical violin performance practice was of great interest to the nation’s performers of fiddle music, with obituaries from the period frequently referring to recently deceased fiddlers as being ‘the last of the old school.’ Similarly, in classically-trained violinist and fiddler-composer, James Scott Skinner’s, A Guide to Bowing [c. 1900], he espouses the virtues of a rigorous training while at the same time outlining many ‘ancient’ techniques required in the performance of fiddle music. While until now, the historical narrative of Scottish fiddle music has been more closely aligned with the folk music revival, this paper will argue that in many instances it can be more usefully understood in terms of the early music revival. In addition to outlining the variously held notions about early violin performance practice in fin-de-siècle Scotland, the paper will also examine the folk music and early music revivals together from the unique perspective of Scottish fiddle music. The sharp distinction between these two cultural currents in the post-war period belies their proximity in the early twentieth century and their shared goal of authenticity and status as counter-cultural.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 14 Mar 2014
EventRoots of Revival - Horniman Museum, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 12 Mar 201414 Mar 2014


ConferenceRoots of Revival
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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