A musical instrument with four strings, typically held under the chin, and played with a violin bow; the smallest and highest-pitched of a family of four instruments including violin, viola, cello, and bass viol. For more information about the physical instrument itself, see violin.
Fiddle and violin. The fiddle is the same musical instrument as the violin. Essentially, "fiddle" is used to described a violin when the violin is played in a folk music (i.e., traditional music) or sometimes a jazz style. One very slight difference between fiddle and violin occurs in American (e.g., bluegrass and old-time music) fiddling: the violin bridge is shaved down so that it is essentially flat. This makes it easier to play chords.
Historically, the word fiddle also referred to a predecessor of today's violin. Like the violin, it tended to have 4 strings, but came in a variety of shapes and sizes. Another series of instruments which contributed to the development of the modern fiddle was the viol da gamba, which was played while held between the legs, and has a fretted fingerboard.
FiddleStyles. To a greater extent than classical VioLin playing, fiddle playing is characterized by a huge variety of ethnic or FolkMusic traditions, each of which has its own distinctive sound, including, but not limited to: IrishFiddling (with many distinct styles, including, for example, the DonegalFiddleTradition), ScottishFiddling, EnglishFiddling, AmericanFiddling (including OldTimeFiddling, NewEnglandStyleFiddling, CajunFiddling, TexasStyleFiddling, ContestFiddling, BlueGrassFiddling, and other related traditions), CanadianFiddling (including CapeBretonFiddling, QuebecoisFiddling, and others), NorwegianFiddling (including HardangerFiddling), SwedishFiddling, FinnishFiddling, and FrenchFiddling (including a rich BretonFiddling tradition).
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