|For years man has been struggling with that nagging question, "What is the difference between an violin and a fiddle?" Almost every time I play somewhere I can count on being asked that question.|
One night in Homestead Florida I was sitting in on a jam session with some old gents that must have each been close to 100 years old. Their instruments were all beat up well worn. The banjo player had a clothes pin for a bridge and the head was well blackend where his fingers had rubbed it, the guitar pickers guitar was split around the edge (I think it was a Kay), the bass had a massive hole in the back and the fiddlers fiddle was almost white with rosin. All in all I'd say those were some very well used and happy instruments.
During that normal pause that you have in a jam to talk about "What do you want to play now?" I asked the fiddler, "Sir, can you tell me the difference between a fiddle and a violin?"
The old guy kind of glared at me and said "Son, Do you have a nickname?"
I thought to myself, "Now that's one way to dodge a question." and then answered. "Yes sir, some folks call me bear." (This was before the "Flyin Fiddler" or "Tiny" era of my life) The old man replied,
"Son, the only difference is the name. Fiddle is just a nickname." He adjusted the wad of tobacco in his mouth with his tounge, spit, put the fiddle to his chin and took off on "Ragtime Annie".
I have never forgotten that hot muggy night in Florida, nor have I forgoten the old mans answer.
Is what he told me true? I have read of a fiddle being an instrument like a violin but with a 5th sting that was plucked and not bowed.
This page is for your opinion on the difference between a violin and fiddle.
The truth is out there! Let me know what you think!
E-mail me with your theory.
If you do not want your e-mail posted let me know and I'll leave it off!
I believe the only difference between a fiddle and a violin is how it's played.
I started out in the orchestra as a child. Since I morphed into a fiddler as an adult, I have really found my groove! :)
Submitted by: Janet Lettrich
|I attended Joan of Arc Junior High School in New York City (Manhattan). My junior high school music class instructor, who was himself a violinist, told us early on in 7th grade that a violin was the instrument we played. When we became good enough to play with the professionals we would be entitled to call it a fiddle.
I've stuck with that definition for the past 64 years. I'm getting close to "fiddle" time, but not there yet.
His name, by the bye, was John Stiker (or Steiker?) and he did a great job.
Submitted by: Tony D'Ambrosioin in New Hampshire
The REAL difference between a violin and a fiddle is the difference between a Man and a Mammal.
A Man IS a Mammal, just like a Violin IS a Fiddle, HOWEVER THE REVERSE IS NOT TRUE. ANY Bowed string instrument may be informally called a fiddle, but "Violin" refers to a SPECIFIC INSTRUMENT. (Just like MAN refers to a specific species)
Violin, Cello, Lyre, Double Bass, Welsh Crwth, Nordic Hardingfele and several other instruments ALL fall under the umbrella of Fiddles, and they are ALL descendants of the 10th Century Byzantine Lira. (It is not possible to effectually distinguish between the later empire in Rome and the Byzantine empire centered around Constantinople. For the Byzantines were the Roman Empire, not simply a continuation of it in the East)
The generic name for ALL of the bowed stringed instruments is "viol", an Italian word. When the violin arrived in Ireland and Scotland after the Renaissance it quickly began to replace the small-pipes as a ceilidh instrument.
Here's the thing ... If you try to write "viol" in Gaelic, which was the language of the common people of most of Ireland and Scotland at that time, you have to write "fidheal", because of the different spelling rules and the fact that there is no letter "v" in Gaelic. The "dh" is silent, of course, same as in "ceilidh."
Now when those same Irish and Scots got on the boat and went to America, or England to work, they still called it the same thing, but when English speakers saw the word "fidheal", what they said was.....fiddle. So the term fiddle became associated with the instrument when used in the popular music of the time, as in the celtic music being played by the Irish and Scots.
Basically, it's all about being lost in translation.
Submitted by: Ian Kennedy
A violin has four strings.
A fiddle has too.
Submitted by: Byron Berline
When asked this question, I heard an old Cajun say, "If you're wearing a suit, you're probably playing the the violin; if you're wearing bluejeans, you may be playing the fiddle".
Submitted by: Mike Perron thewanderingcajun.com
The difference between a violin and a fiddle:
When you buy it, it's a fiddle.
When you sell it, it's a violin.
Submitted by: Bonnie Cheuvront
I wondered that for a while and often gave people some kind of technical type of answer. I'm from Kentucky originally and have talked to a lot of those old timers. I just accepted my fate of being a new old timer and just knew what it was to be a fiddler and most definitely not a violinist. A few years back I was at Clifftop, Wv when I came across this old boy selling fiddles. Donnie Rogers was his name; a fellow Kentuckian. We proceeded to drink Ale-8 and home made pine apple moon shine and tell wild tales. We got around to the subject that's on everybody's mind. No, it wasn't ham. He said to me: Nate, you know what the difference is between a violin and a fiddle don't you? I said no ser. He said "a fiddles usually got a redneck (red neck) on it." That's funny right there.
Submitted by: Nathaniel McDonald
You can play a fiddle barefoot and no looks at you funny.
Submitted by: Trout Burn
It's my understanding that the difference between a violin and a fiddle is the bridge. The bridge on a violin is flatter that the fingerboard. However, on a fiddle, the contour of the bridge is made to match the contour of the fingerboard. Basically, you buy a violin and then have the bridge reworked to match the shape of the fingerboard.
Submitted by: Douglas Sciberras
|A violin is a fiddle, but a fiddle isn't necessarily a violin.
Eg, there's a fantastic Norwegian fiddle called the hardingfele or Hardanger Fiddle, with a flatter bridge and four or five extra strings under the bridge with a number of its own tunings. Sounds awesome, but you'd never get away with playing Bach on it - you might get away with playing Paganini on it, because he was the rockstar of his times, and his music's got that attitude.
likewise there's a Welsh fiddle called the crwth - "w" pronounced "oo" as in "boot" - with four strings, but it doesn't sound like the violin, and is heavier besides.
And a number of other European folk fiddles, and you could say much the same about them.
When we talk about the viol, or the viola da gamba as it's also known, it's got six strings tuned like a guitar, with a third interval amidst a pile of fourths. It's basically the guitar with a bow. Someone needs to take it places in a bluegrass band or so ...
When we talk about the Italians, we find the name violin actually means "little viola" in Italian; viola means "ordinary-sized viola" and violoncello means "little big viola" - for what little it's worth. The viola was the original in the violin family. FWLIW, I'm learning the viola at present - fiddling and violining depending on mood.
So you can fiddle on a violin ...
Submitted by: Wesley Parish
|Heard a great line in a song last night...
"She can play the fiddle or the violin..
Depending' on the kind of booze she's in..."
Submitted by: Al
I am doing research on the spanish (citola), a 4 string instrument popular in the 13,14 c.
This instruents ancestor was a (fidicula), a type of bowed instrument (like a violin) that could have three strings. It had a curved bridge and the two cuts on the side of the body just like on todays violin.. As time went on you start to see bowed instruments with (no cuts) on the body. The bridge is now (flat) as on a mandolin. With a three string fidicuala you played the melody on the center strings and the first and thrid course were used as (drones). As time went on, the bow is discarded and the instrument is played with a pick and this will lead to the citola.
I am not positive but I believe the term (fiddle) comes from (fidicula). You might want to check this out.
Circa 1490, King Ferdinand of Spain takes the 6 double course vihuela to Naples, Italy that was under spanish rule. There were two vihuelas: vihuela de mano (hand) and vihuela de arco (bow). The vihuela de mano will continue with its guitar form and the vihuela de arco with a violin form, will eventualy become the (vihuela da Gamba). Both vihuelas had frets.
Good luck to all.
Submitted by: Juan Sotomayor
Hi - I'm a violin/fiddle maker. I stumbled across this page and felt inclined to reply. Yes, you are correct in the flatter bridge theory. That's good for playing double stops. Have you ever heard of a bass fiddle? Of course you have.
It is my opinion that any bowed, stringed instrument can be called a fiddle but the term violin pertains only to bowed instruments with a nominal stop length of 330mm. The violin/fiddle terminology also comes into play when you're trying to sell.
I've attached some images that you can post of the type of instrument that I build. Now what would you call one of these?
Submitted by: Sam Swanson
In answer to this question on your web site........
in a word - nothing...
but the reason that there are two names for this instrument is buried in the origins of the modern English language.
Following the Norman Conquest of 1066 – ( when Harold got shot in the eye), the Normans quickly took charge, dividing up the land, building castles, and importantly, bending the saxon peasants to do their will.
Our Saxon serf would keep in his small-holding the animals which he had always kept and knew by the Saxon/old English names he had always used – Pigs, Cows, Sheep, Chickens. In his spare time (ha-ha) he might play his 'fidle'.
[Middle English fidle, from Old English fithele.]
Occasionally, to keep the lord of the manor sweet, he would pay his tythes, and his produce would eventually end up on the tables in the great hall, slaughtered and cooked, and the Norman lord would enjoy eating the Porc, Boeuf, Mouton and Poulet that was served. He might even ask that the serf who supplied them be called for to entertain with his violin. [Italian violino, diminutive of viola ]
To this day we slaughter Pigs, Cows, Sheep and Chickens, and serve them up as Pork, Beef, Mutton and er... Poultry (bending it a bit here!). There are many other objects for which in English we have more than one word for – albeit with subtly different meanings – which is why English is such a rich language for both poetry and prose – and this of course includes the Violin – when used for classical music, and the Fiddle – when used for traditional music – though many classical violinists will happily refer to themselves as fiddlers, as it is of course the same instrument! (wasn't here someone who famously declared himself to be a Frodigious Piddler? - not that famous - couldn't find it in Google!)
It’s also why the Crossword Puzzle is a peculiarly English language pastime – other languages just don’t have the wealth of synonyms!
Anyhows - that's what I had heard!
Submitted by: Tim Brooks
There is no difference in a violin or fiddle.
Submitted by: Henry Stour
The difference between a violin and a fiddle is:
Submitted by: Fernando
Re the difference between a fiddle and a violin:
Fiddle is an English word, Violin is Italian.
That's the difference between a fiddle and a violin.
Relegation of the word Fiddle to the status of a nick-name or slang term stems from anti English prejudice - Violin, being Italian, was seen as more cultured and more "proper".
As an Anglo-Saxon or Old English word, "fiddle" was around before the modern instrument was standardised, so there is some justification for saying a fiddle is a violin but a violin may not be a fiddle. On the other hand, the instrument has evolved since the advent of the word violin...
Lowering or flattening the bridge doesn't make a violin a fiddle, it just makes it a fiddle/violin with a flattened bridge.
All the best, fellow fiddlers / violinists
Submitted by: Terance
Someone once told me a violin can be tuned an octave lower and become a fiddle. Basically the difference is the way they are tuned.
Submitted by: noblush
| Lol. I love the comments on here. I know I am probably very late in response to your discussion, but I thought... what the heck.
Here's my theory:
1. "Violinist" are more disciplined in their stance. While a "fiddler" is usually a 'self-taught' musician. So, the way they hold the instrument isn't "proper" (to symphony standards). A violinist could probably get away with playing in a bluegrass band (if they are willing to relax and play on improvisation). But a traditional fiddler, could not just wake up one morning and join a symphony. The Symphony Director probably wouldn't let the Fiddler pass Audition, let alone play in a concert because the fiddler's stance would be too relaxed.
2. Fiddler's trim down the bridge.
3. "A violin sings and a fiddle dances." Or to put it better... a violinist plays leading melodies. In an orchestra, a Violin mimics Vocals (or a singer) for the musical piece. Fiddler, on the other hand, mimic a guitarist by playing more "chords" verses leading melodies. A Fiddler "Supports" the band and singer, adding more depth to the music. And the Violinist is the Singer, the band or orchestra follows them.
Because of the style the musician chooses to play & maintain the instrument, the instrument evolves. As one of my earlier violin teachers once told me:
"If a traditional Fiddler and a traditional Violinist decided to swap their instruments with each other, for a single performance. Neither musician would be able to play the other's comfortably. They would in turn have to sub-consciously adjust their method playing the instrument. Because both instruments are no longer the same... even though they came from the same factory."
And that's my theory. Hope it helps. Muah
Latoya Michel from Virginia.
Submitted by: Latoya Michel
| As I understand it, the main difference is the way the instrument is played, which is greatly defined by the bridge.
The bridge of the fiddle is flatter, so that two strings can be played at once, giving the instrument a distinct sound. The bridge of the violin is more arched than that of the fiddle, which allows the musician to play each string individually, giving the instrument a clearer sound.
But I believe the right musician could likely play fiddle music on a violin and vice versa, so I guess it's mainly a matter of how the two are played.
Submitted by: Portia McCracken
| Well my fiddle player told me the real difference back in 1967 between the fiddle and the violin. You see a violin you carry in a case and fiddle you carry in a flower sack.
Submitted by: Johnny Kinnison
| The violinist can't play the fiddle, and the fiddler can't play the violin.
The violinist plays with precise intonation, a fiddler don't care that much and his hearers don't care that much either.
Submitted by: Steve in TN
|I grew up playing the Fiddle.
The Fiddle is a slang term of, Sawing, dragging the bow, or a breakdown. If you can play the fiddle from your ear, or heart, you are playing the fiddle!
If you are playing the Violin from a sheet of music, and can't remember anything other than what is written, then you are playing the Violin! lol .
I never had Violin lessons but my Dad tought me how to play the the FIDDLE! .I have played with a number of national stars, and on several recording sessions. Sometimes they ask for a Violin section, and most of the time they ask for a good Fiddle player! I reckon it's how you play the instrument!
It's classical Violin or Country Fiddle!
I hope this has helped you in your decision on the Violin!
Play it like a Fiddle!
Submitted by: Billy Hamblin
|Here's my theory:
Whatever's in your heart and translates through your fingers makes the instrument either a violin or a fiddle...its NOT about construct and design,it's about mood and temperment,eh?
Submitted by: The Shamroq Dude
|I started learning to fiddle three years ago. When in school I played first trumpet in concert band, never played a string instrument before. If I had known how much fun fiddling is I would have started decades ago. I've had for brief periods such folks as Megan Lynch, Luke Skaggs and now Barbara Lamb as teachers/mentors. I was fortunate enough to spend four days in the company of Bobby Hicks, I am familiar with all styles of music and here is what I believe the difference is between fiddle and violin.
The difference between a fiddle and a violin is...
You sit to play the violin and it has strings.
You stand to play a fiddle and it has "strangs"
To play the violin you dress like for church and everybody is sober.
To play the fiddle nobody cares about your clothes, even if they are sober.
Submitted by: Joe Escue
|The difference is in the specifics, a Violin IS a Fiddle, but a Fiddle IS NOT NECESSARILY a Violin.
This is the same as saying a Man IS a Mammal, but a Mammal IS NOT NECESSARILY a Man.
In other words any bowed string instrument can be called a Fiddle. Whereas violin refers to a specific instrument, fiddle may be used to refer to a violin or any member of a general category of similar stringed instruments played with a horsehair bow, such as the Byzantine Lira (Lyre), the Chinese Erhu,the Hardanger Fiddle, the Welsh crwth, the Cello, the Double Bass ("bull fiddle" or "bass fiddle"), and so on. There is also an American Indian variant, though I can't remember the name of it at the moment.
Here's something that might clarify the discussion:
Violin vs Fiddle
1. A violin is purchased from only the most reputable dealers for no less then $10,000.oo. A fiddle was picked up at a yard sale.
2. A violin is carried in a lockable case. A fiddle is hauled in a sack.
3. A violin is stored only in the safest of locations. A fiddle is kept behind the seat of a crippled pickup.
4. A violin is played in a auditorium of refined constipated looking people. A fiddle is played at a high step'n, wide grin'n, elbow wave'n hoo-down.
5. A violin is played only in the grandest orchestra. A fiddle is played with anyone who breathes- who has a guitar, banjo or a harmonica.
6. A violin is practiced in reverence in a "studio". While a fiddler is fiddl'n his wife has been known stagger from a back room with a baseball in hand and say "I dare you to play one more note!"
7. A violinist always carries himself, herself, in a aurstere reserved manner. A fiddler likes hand clap'n, foot stomp'n good times.
8. A violinist will hit a grand movement and the audience will have awed whispers. A fiddler while hitting a hot lick trip will over three lazy dogs, fall off the porch and keep play'n.
9. A violinist will guard first chair and not share. A fiddler will say to a fellow fiddler "take it Charlie!"
10. A violinist will perform only in the most elegant of attire. A fiddler, has a rope for a belt; if it comes loose while play'n and his pants fall down--he keeps on play'n and grin'n.
Compiled by: Chester LaFountaine, Omak, Washington
| There is only one difference between a violin and a fiddle. And that difference is the individual playing the instrument.
Submitted by: Long Bow Louie
|I heard a fellow over here in Ireland describe the difference between a fiddle and violin as:
"You can bring a girl home for a fiddle, but you can't bring a girl home for violin."
Submitted by: Stephen
| I like your answer, its a nickname.
I am a drummer, and no matter what the size or specifics of a snare drum they are all snare drums. The same snare, even a set, in the hands of two competent drummers with different styles and techniques can sound totally different.
To say that a fiddle has one style of bridge and a violin another makes about as much sense to me as, one drum isn't a snare because the bearing edge is cut at a different angle. But then I'm just a drummer. Thanks
Submitted by: Michael Munns
| a violin is played under the chin
a fiddle is played on the arm
| Salutations and Hello
In my listening experience (my favorite violinist is Pealrman, my favorite fiddler is Sheila McKenzie) the only difference (apart from some fiddlers shaving the top of the bridge down a bit) is how it's played and how the artist approaches the instrument.
That's my 2 cents
| If it costs more than $50, it's a violin.
The only thing that sounds creepier than a violinist trying to play fiddle music is a fiddler trying to play classical.
You can tell when a violinist shows up at a jam session when you start to hear vibrato creeping into Old Joe Clarke, or a voice starts asking "Do you know where I can get the sheet music to that?"
It would be pretty sad and boring if every fiddler played every fiddle tune exactly the same way. It would be a mess if everybody in the string section of an orchestra didn't play Mozart exactly the same every time.
My favorite viola joke: A conductor shows up at the orchestra hall to find the first violist in tears. "What's the matter?" he asks. The sniffling violist replies, "the trombone player grabbed my viola and turned one of the tuning pegs!" "Well, that seems pretty childish, I'll admit," says the conductor, "but why are you so upset?" Says the violist: "He won't tell me which one!"
I build em, I play em, they ain't no difference between a fiddle and a violin. You can set em up any way you like. My fiddle was made by a "luthier of fine violins", doesn't stop me from play fiddle tunes on it.
| I've been playing the fiddle for two years now, and I guess the reason I've always assumed it was a fiddle is an old timer who looked at my instrument said the bridge was shaped so that it can get a sound similiar to that of the pipes. It's a curious question and I've always assumed it had to do with the shape of the bridge.
Submitted by: The Scotto's
| I always got a kick out of this:
My dad used to say the difference between a fiddle and a violin was, that you put a violin in a hard shell case and you put a fiddle in a flour sack!
|I wrote an article on the subject of violin vs fiddle.
See it online at http://www.fiddleheads.ca/writings/violin_or_fiddle.htm.
Submitted by: Rhiannon Schmitt of Fiddleheads Violins
|I was listening to Bill Anderson's show on XM Radio and Bill attributes this answer on the subject to Loretta Lynn... A Fiddle is one fiddle and a violin is a bunch of fiddles. I thought that was funny. Just got my first fiddle yesterday and so I am new to the subject.
Submitted by: Chris Lloyd
My name is Natalie, I am 17 years old and I play the fiddle.
The difference in a fiddle and a violin is the bridge. The bridge on a fiddle is slightly flatter than on a violin. Because in folk or bluegrass, fiddle players usually play more than one string at a time, so with a flatter bridge its easier.
Submitted by: Natalie
|A very long time ago a well known violinist's son asked his father to teach him how to play. The man said,
"Heck boy just pick the thing up and fiddle with it for a while and you'll learn."
He grew up and taught others how to fiddle with a violin also. Then they begin to have fiddling with violin contests. The contests were given the name "Fiddling with the Violin contests" then eventually just "Fiddle contest"
Now you know the difference.
Submitted by: Vick Jenkins
|I learned fiddle 40 years ago in the Bronx from a well-known teacher from a very musical family. He is my authority on everything regarding the fiddle, although he taught me nothing about violins except that the player has to know the difference between them by the result they produce and the feeling they give him. That would be the combination of the sound they produce more than the attitude of the musician, but more a byproduct of the specific instrument than the setup of the bridge or curvature of the neck, specifically.
Typically, a violinist would like to call anything violin-shaped a "violin" but a fiddler can identify a true fiddle by playing it and getting from it what he wants to hear and detecting a familiar feel of the instrument. This is not to disparage either fiddlers or violinists - both have their unique training and abilities, which do mutually conflict in technical and artistic ways, according to the best of each, in my opinion: Michael Coleman, fiddler, and Fritz Kreisler, violinist, who agreed that each could not play properly the music of the other, which gives support to the notion that it is the musician who determines the nature of the instrument, but that is misleading, if not just all wrong. Regardless, some supposed "violins" aren't worth a tinker's damn in an orchestra but make excellent fiddles. The opposite has never been proven, to my knowledge.
On a different note, fiddlers I know prefer to use a viola bow to take advantage of the extra length, so there is an actual purpose for violas, after all, once the instrument is discarded.
I play violin, viola, and a fiddle. I paid for my instruments with contest winnings.
This is what I hear them say at the New Mexico State Fiddler's Championship Contest:
Fiddlers are Fun-addicts
Don't harrass the Pink Fiddler, she's willing to resort to violins.
The difference between a violin and a viola is just an illusion--The violin makes the violin players' head bigger.
|Dear Flyin' Fiddler ~
Up through the Renaissance era the "Viols" were made to order for members of a family (and as you grew you got a bigger one) so that they could make music together. They had no bass bar and were not constructed for optimun volume and were VERY soft. You could not perform for an audience with them. Surely you have seen these in paintings.
At the same time fidels, smaller, long, thin string instruments that were made to be stuffed in a pocket, were being played by mostly men for entertainment. They WERE meant to be loud because they often accompanied the singing and dancing of men at taverns and on long hunting expeditions.
Antonio Stradivarius and I-forget-his-first name, Amati, and a few other guys, mostly from Italy, began making an instrument that had the best qualities of both the Viol and the Fidel. Antonio's model was considered the best and became the standard for this new instrument, which he called the "Violino," leaning on the "classier" viol name (he knew where his $$$ market was!). The standardization of the stringing of the instrument led to the creation of Violas & Celli. The Bass viol is still just that ~ the largest version of the original viol instrument and not in the "violino" family at all!
Guys in the back woods could neither afford a "violino," nor might they have even been interested in this softer sounding instrument.
Today everyone plays on a violino. You can see fidels only in museums, although I am sure you could find someone to make one for you. And, there are these "travel" fiddles ... made of stairway railings and the like that are closer to fidels.
Whether you use it to play melodic, classical music or fiddle on it for jams or dances, the INSTRUMENT is the same.
Fiddlers often do flatten the bridge so that they can play double (and even triple?) stops more easily and that does also result in keeping the left hand finger action down, but but it also muddies the sound.
Moving the bridge is NOT a good idea!!!!!! The bridge is carefully placed with one end over the soundpost and to move it away from there not only will deaden the sound of your instrument but run the risk of having the soundpost pop through the top and/or the unsupported bridge break in 1/2! I have seen of these things happen to my students who have replaced their own bridges.
Not cleaning rosin off the top of your instrument (even under the fingerboard) may look "happy" but it is destroying your instrument! Like a misplaced bridge or soundpost it will deaden the sound of the instrument and as it melts into the finish it will continue to stiffen the wood until the instrument is almost totally unresponsive and very soft and dead. Playing such an instrument is difficult and tiring and most often described as "sawing wood" because it developes an over heavy bow arm. Good way to get tendenitois and even bursitis ~ and cut your comfortable (and fun) playing life short!
|Same instrument, i even know people in chamber orchestras calling their
violins fiddles however some country and trad. players do file their bridges a bit flatter so as to be able to play triple stops allowing for more drone notes to be used at once
Submitted by: dazza malbut
|a fiddle is played fast and upbeat where a violin is played soft like the word violin instead of fiddle.
Submitted by: Paul Peters
|Main difference between a violin and a fiddle is in the audience. The people trying to stay awake are listening to a violin.
Submitted by: Wallace Shank
|Hi Mr. Flyin' Fiddler,
Here's the difference between a fiddle and a violin:
A violin sings, and a fiddle dances!
Submitted by: Bonnie Hilden
|If played correctly the name doesnt matter. I love the sound of both but it's just not a trumpet.
Submitted by: Sgt. James E. Smith
Aug 67 - Aug 71
Saepius Exertus - Semper Fidelis - Frater Infinitas
Often Tested - Always Faithful - Brothers Forever
|I have been playing the violin for 18 years. Being taught in school how to play, the only thing I knew was classical. About a week ago I was invited to begin playing with a bluegrass band. I have never played a fiddle before and I always believed that the difference was in the bridge. As I found out last weekend, the difference is in the music and the attitude of the player. I had no problems playing the bluegrass music on my "violin" In fact, once I got the rhythm of the music down it was quite fun. The music we were playing said violin on it in the left corner. So there was no difference I guess. If I am ever asked what the difference is again I will have to say that playing the fiddle is more laid back. There are no dynamics, or any discipline to the music. Being taught classical all my life, I was told when to be loud or quiet, to play ONLY the notes that are on the sheet of music, and to hit the note precisely. Playing fiddle style you decide when to be loud, you can add your own notes or don't play some notes, and you slide into notes all the time. I definatley agree that the difference is the attitude and style of the performer.
Submitted by: Reichal Fontenot
|Well, If you would ask My Dad, "Little Red Hayes, I'm sure He would
It's a combination of Attitude and the type of Music Your playing. Being brought up in a Home full of Music and a variety of Instruments, I've always heard it being called a Fiddle.
Stuart was correct, You can still find Little Red playing in Liberty Texas at the Liberty Opry every Saturday Night.
If anyone would like to contact Him, You can respond to my E-Mail addy and I will relay Your message.
Submitted by: Jan
|yas i twas ridding yourn postses in i seed tha anser on beverly hillbillys uncle jed showed that fellar how to play tha fiddle en he couldnt even reed musikbut it shor twas pretty
|They are the exactly same instrument. Most Bluegrass/country/traditional/folk musicians call their instruments a fiddle.
If you buy either, and providing you do not buy a down-sized version, the 4/4 instrument is the same size. A fiddle player walks into a music store and buys...guess what? a violin.
Some fiddlers prefer to flatten the bridge. Even though double stops can be played with either a high-arched or lower-flatter bridge, you can go between adjacent double-stops faster and easier if the bridge has less curvature.
Fiddlers also play "chop-chords" with double stops while playing background for the singer or other soloists. When you lessen the curvature, it naturally results in a lower flatter bridge.
Some successful professional fiddle players play very high-end vintage Italian-made instruments, calling them fiddles rather than violins.
When I was in Nashville, Roy Acuff used to introduce an old fiddle player who played a Stradivarius.
As someone else pointed out, and research will support, the names started out the same, but were altered by passing into and through different languages.
Fiddle players tend to hold the instrument in any way that suits them, for example, using a "three-point" contact (thumb-index-fingertip) with the left hand, while classically trained violinists will use a two-point contact (thumb to bottom of neck-fingertip). The fiddler will change grips to close to a classical grip when producing vibrato. Fiddlers don't feel bound by "correctness" when holding or playing the instrument, being more concerned with results, so you are liable to see it done many different ways.
Submitted by: John Davis
|I've been asked that question many times, too. Once when I got up to
play in Branson, I asked the audience if anyone knew the difference between a
violin and a fiddle. One fellow raised his hand and said he knew the
difference. He stood to his feet and said, "the difference is a violin has strings but the fiddle has "strangs". He must have come from the South. Ha!
|It all depends on the type of music you're playing, I suppose. If you're playing classical on the thing, it's a violin. If you're playing blugrass, country, or folk music…it's a fiddle :)
|the difference is in the spelling, and the fiddle is an uncouth violin,,,
|Having read all the comments about the Fiddle and Violin I am sticking with my theory that fiddle is a nickname.
| i have a bumper sticker i got from fiddler magazine that says "a fiddle is a violin with an attitude" i think that sums up a lot of it.
|Well, maybe one difference is that rich folk go to fancy concerts to
hear a high priced fiddle and us poor folk go to a jamboree to hear a cheap
I have had more fun reading the comments and I just love them. My
question is....which came first the violin or the fiddle? Is the violin a rich
man's fiddle or is the fiddle a poor man's violin?
Love and Hugs,
|IN AN EXTRACT FROM CHARLES R. TOWNSENDS "THE SAN ANTONIO ROSE"-THE LIFE
AND TIMES OF BOB WILLS UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS PRESS 1976, HE ATTRIBUTES
THIS QUOTE FROM WILLS "THE DIFFERANCE BETWEEN A FIDDLE AND A VIOLIN IS ONE
IS CARRIED IN A FLOUR SACK, THE OTHER IN CASE" ENOUGH SAID.
|The instruments are the same. Some trad players like lower flatter
bridges--it's not for playing double stops, think about the mechanics a
minute, but to reduce the arc of the right elbow when crossing strings,
particularly to the E-- violinists will frequently play the E with the
fourth finger on the A string, fiddlers almost invariably cross-- in
fast tunes a flatter bridge can help here.
The best reason for the names I ever heard is this: The generic name
for all of the bowed stringed instruments is "viol," an Italian word. When the
violin arrived in Ireland and Scotland after the Renaissance it quickly
began to replace the small-pipes as a ceilidh instrument.
Now when those same Irish and Scots got on the boat and went to
Amerikee, or England to work, they still called it the same thing, but when English speakers saw the word "fidheal", what they said was.....fiddle. So the
term fiddle became associated with the instrument when used in popular
This was told to me by an old pal, a writer and fiddler. I don't know
whether true or not, but it's the neatest explanation I've heard so
|Difference between a fiddle and a violin:
People will pay to hear a fiddle.
A fiddle gets out of the case more often.
A violin is a $1000 more!
Fiddles don't play with a horn section, or timpani.
Changing strings: a violin changes strings when they sound dull, a fiddle, when they break.
What's the difference between a violin and a viola?
|I run an agency Based in Glasgow, Scotland. I was asked to provide a quote for a 'Violinist', I thought, well, I know heaps of fiddlers, is that the same as a violinist? Or is it a completley different thing??
So I go to Google and type in 'what is the difference between violin and fiddle'. In return I get a sore head and work out nobody really knows, some folk think they do, but other folk as always know better.
I think the answer must be either that old man you spoke to or the guy who said "The difference between a violin and fiddle is the number of teeth of the one who's playing it."
So, I'm gonna call one of ma fiddler mates and send him to the dentist....
Submitted by: Iain the Piper
|I'm not sure if it's fiddle or violin, but you might ask Little Red Hayes.
He plays fiddle at the Liberty opry in Liberty ,TX on Saturday nights.
He is the Little Red Hayes that played in band for Ray Price.
If you know Tom Beardon he is wondering what ever happened to Little Red Hayes. I say that because I just finished reading a documentry on Tom Beardon's Website, and he made the above statement about Little Red Hayes
Submitted by: Stuart
Does the fiddle not turn into a violin if you play classical music.
Actually I have two tru fiddles. One is tin so the beer dont affest it and the other is spruce and maple so keep the beer off it.
Photos attached. My pal Paul holds the Trapezoidal one.
Fun to read all the e-mails. Thanks.
|I am 3rd generation off the boat...County Mayo and Cork. I want to contradict all that I have heard.
I grew up with a gent by the name of Tim Britton and he was, by far, the best bag piper a had, or have, ever heard. I told him that I was going to see a fiddler I had not heard of (I am embarrassed) by the name of Martin Hayes. He stopped me in my tracks and said that I should pay attention when I see the performance. He went on to say that it would be the only time in my life that that I would see a fiddler play the violin and a violinist play the fiddle. I am seeing him on March 8 and will let everyone know how it went.
peace through music
|"I was taught that there are three slight differences between the Violin and the Fiddle."
"One: The Fiddle is shorter than the Violin."
"Two: The bridge is set different for the fingering."
"Three: The Fiddle is not as fragile as the Violin."
"This third reason being due to the fact that the Fiddle was made to travel better, because it was made for the bard type musicians. The Violin was a more refined form of the Fiddle, made to play a softer music. The Fiddle was made to be plunked, plucked, twanged, strummed and bowed. The Violin was made to be played softly with a bow."
|Someone told me that the difference between them is where they came from. The fiddle came from Ireland, Scotland, and some other countries up there. While the Violin was Italian. This might've started as the ancient greek instrument (I forget the name) and moved up to different variations, like the guitar, and fiddle. ehhh.
But whatever the case...in my opinion, I would say the fiddle is teh best and that is why I plan to learn how to play it.
|Hi every one from over here in Wales, UK.
I would like to put my two-penny worth to the fiddle v violin debate. I am an amateur violin maker and feel that no matter what you call the instrument or the player there are good players that put feeling into their work no matter which instrument they play.
The main body of the violin/fiddle is the same in both cases but as fiddle players mostly play in first position very fast and repetitively, they need to keep their fingers closer together so the string length needs to be shorter. You do this simply by moving the bridge up towards the fingerboard on a full size violin, this shortens the distance between each note placement. Altering the shape of the bridge will also help. Of course, buying a smaller (3/4 or 7/8) violin would be better, mainly because altering the bridge can alter the balance both physically and musically in the violin. It's best not to have too great a distance between bridge and sound post as cracks could appear under the A and E strings due to an estimated 48 to 51bs of pressure exerted by metal strings onto the little bridge.
There is a delicate balance between the sound and structural integrity of a violin.
You still can play very fast on a standard violin set up. The 'from the shoulder' method was introduced along with a longer string length to better enable the violinist to move up and down the fingerboard with greater intonation and, dare I say, feeling.
I would also like to say that the anecdote above, of a fiddle that was almost white with rosin makes my heart sink, as there is nothing that can reduce the resonance and tone of the top plate more than layers of rosin binding with the varnish to make a totally inflexible sound board.
Happy fiddling - Bernard
| I've heard of people fiddling with the violin but never heard of anyone violining with a fiddle. Seriously, violins are about as variable as pianos...grands, consoles, spinets...yet all pianos.
| A sure-fire way to tell the difference between a fiddle and a violin is to simply -OBSERVE THE AUDIENCE-
| the difference is... no one cares if you spill beer on a fiddle. ha-ha
| As a classically trained violinst and informally trained fiddler I can verify that the only difference is style. Fiddle is often used as a nickname for violin in orchestral settings (as in first or second fiddles) but fiddling, whether Scottish, Irish, Bluegrass, or Oldtime, is just the style on a regular violin. It has nothing to do with the bridge (which is only higher or lower or flatter depending on quality and preference) or fine tuners (which didn't exist when fiddling began). Bows are as wide ranging within the classical realm as within the fiddling realm. It's all music and it's all the same insturment.
| You only have to hear a classically trained German girl try to play "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" to know the difference is more in the player than the instrument.
| I enjoyed reading all of the responses to this.
Primarily the difference is how the instrument is
played and to a lesser extent how it is set up to
assist the playing technique. A fiddle player will
often bee seen holding the bow 1/3 of the way along
from the frog, this is closer to the balance point and
assists the playing in short fast bow strokes using
the top 1/2 to 1/3 of the bow.
Submitted by: Alan
|Technically, I believe the difference is in the tone of the instrument
or more importantly, where the sound post is placed. From my research
on this topic I have found that the fiddle is set up to be brighter,
more cutting a tone where as the violin is meant to have a rounder,
warmer tone. It is all in the placement of the soundpost and the make
of the "violin".
|It's all in the bow-it's how the nut(user)at the end of the bow uses it.
I would like to add a correction, if I may, to the response from Lucie Dandeneau in Manitoba. The difference in a violin and fiddle may not be clear-cut to some, however the difference between a violin and viola is most certainly definite. I have examples of each. The lowest note on a violin is a G. (Down from middle C). The lowest note on a viola is C (octave below middle C). The viola is actually more like a cello than a violin.
In reading the numerous responses you have received, I see most everyone has the same idea. It’s not a “what” but a “how” difference. I am sure that as violins arrived in America from Europe and aged, repairs had to be made that would account for differences in fingerboards and bridges. (The low bridge is DEFINITELY a plus in my book – and I’m classically trained, shame on me!) I have heard that an instrument called the fiddle is a Middle Ages period instrument that is a predecessor to the Stradivarius era violins we use today, but I have never found anything concrete that puts one against the other.
Despite the names we give these things, are we all glad we have them and have so many wonderful ways to use them!!! A. Dutton
|Simply put; there truly is no differences accept in the attitude of the musician playing them. I love playing classical when a soothing mood strikes and I like to break down when I feel like dancing. When I feel like dancing and floating I play both! Fiddles and/or Violins are both made by the hands of man and played by the hands of man sharing the same thing, a love for music.
Submitted by: Erica Foster
Erica James Live Web Site
|Well you can tell if a guy is playing the fiddle very easily, if he is wearing blue jeans, it's a fiddle.
|You can fiddle with anything but you have to play a violin.
|I went to Nashville Tennesee with my family and I found "There ain't a dimes worth of difference" there the same instrument just different ways of playing them!
Or as my grandma says "Hillbilly Music"!
|I took a class for violin teachers and the first day I told them I played Celtic Fiddle Music. After after a few days of the class, the violin teacher said to me, "What instrument do you really play?" (True story)
The difference is in the artist. Seamus Connolly could take Ishtak Pearlman's instrument and make it dance, and Ishtak Pearlman could play Bach on Seamus's fiddle.
It isn't the instrument it is in the heart of the player.
|When I was in school I have always learned that the difference between a fiddle and a violin was the size. The fiddle is smaller than the violin. I used to know a girl in school who took classical violin and it did appear to be quite larger than the fiddle. I come from a family of fiddlers so I have seen plenty of fiddles in my life. My 15 year old son now plays the fiddle (he is known here in Manitoba, Canada as the "Metis in Black"). I would like to know when the size of the violin changed? Just as I was writing this letter I decided to look up the origin of the viola....surprise! the answer to everyone's question is in the size, the violin is the same as the viola and not as the fiddle. Viola is italian for violin.
Thank you much
Submitted by: Lucie Dandeneau
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
|My oldtime banjo picking friend John Michaud, who died of a heart
attack last winter, who was one of the happiest guys on earth, he was a
mountain man from Missouri full of all kinds of wise words of wisdom and loved
his banjo almost as much as he loved his woman said,
"The difference between a fiddle and a violin is that a violin has strings and a fiddle has strangs"
John was a man of many quotes.
Submitted by: ~Mary Schallert (fiddle & violin teacher, but mostly fiddle)
|She was a violin when I met her, but she's a fiddle now!
Submitted by: Scott Shipman of the Uptown String Band, Greene County, IL
|The difference between fiddle and violin is that people who call themselves violinists play classical and people who play fiddle don't play classical.
Submitted by: T. Wilson
|I always heard "The difference between a fiddle and violin is, A violin has a case". But, I lowered my bridge so the strings are close to the fingerboard, this prevents my fingers from getting tangled in the strings when playing fast and I flattened the bridge a little to play double stops easier.
|The difference between a violin is very simple. True, they are basically the same, however the answer to your question is the bridge. You see, the bridge on a fiddle is generally higher with a flatter top. A fiddle also has four fine tuners.
Submitted by: Julia South firstname.lastname@example.org
|Its all about the heart of the person playing. A true violinist cannot be a fiddler and a true fiddler cannot be caged as a violinist, although there are some that border this, and it could just be what kind of mood your in..but yes, its all about the heart and soul of the person speaking with his/her music and what he/ she wants to say to the world.|
Submitted by: K Ross KROSS6@cogeco.ca
|Thank you for the many discriptions. I love blue grass, but tolerate violins.|
Submitted by: "Mokie" email@example.com
A violin is the instrument you carry to rehearsals.
Your ear teaches you to fiddle a tune the way your
heart wants to hear it.
Fiddle is finger-painting. Violin is
I've seen an aged and well-worn luthier's manual
that gives the dimensions -
height and curvature - for standard violin bridge
and standard fiddle
bridge. You can reshape a violin bridge into a
fiddle bridge, but once you
do you can never truly go back to violin.
|Chaconne is played on a violin. Bonnie Portmore is played on a fiddle. With the first the mind speaks to the heart. With the second the heart speaks to the mind. With perseverance one can play both well on the same instroment which, is my goal.|
Submitted by: John firstname.lastname@example.org
|My 13 year old daughter says it's the way you hold them.... you hold a violin on your shoulder with a chin rest and you hold a fiddle 2/out and lower on your arm.... I laughted.|
Submitted by: Cicki Harper email@example.com
|Fiddle music makes you want to tap your feet, violin music makes you want to sit still or fall asleep.|
Submitted by: Martin Milner Martin.Milner@wwavrc.co.uk
|The difference between a violin and fiddle is the number of teeth of the one who's playing it.|
Submitted by: firstname.lastname@example.org
|In answer to classical musicians getting offended by the term "fiddle", my 11 year old son (a fiddler down to his bones, much to his violin teacher's discontent), will be the first to tell you that, Isaac Stern referred to his instument as a fiddle.|
I agree with the statement that the difference between a fiddle and a violin is attitude!!
|My opinion is who is playing the instrument. Bluegrass calls it a fiddle or sy Bob Wills playing Western Swing music. Classical Artists would call it a violin.|
Submitted by: Running Deer email@example.com
|My husband says that the difference between a violin and a fiddle is.....|
Submitted by: Katie Bailey Wallerkbmusic@cfl.rr.com
|My band director said that the fiddle and violin were the same thing. However, my friend told him that a fiddle was two inches shorter than a violin. I'm pretty sure this isn't true. We just said it to make him look like an idiot, but you never know...|
Submitted by: Kelsey Engvik, Everett MAdragonsmeetsword@aol.com
Here is one I just heard from a viola player. She claims that a fiddle has a flat fingerboard, for playing chords, while the violin fingerboard is curved. I had never heard that before! I have looked over dozens of fingerboards and haven't found a flat one yet.
Just a bit you might want to add to your "fiddle vs. violin" page.
|The difference between a violin and a fiddle is that a fiddle is held looser and further down the shoulder and the bow is held in the middle rather than at the end. That's what my music teacher told me.
Submitted by: ?????firstname.lastname@example.org
|Violin = Practicing makes perfect the art of playing music.|
Fiddle = For fiddling around and doesn't have to be ferfect, like I do. Have more fund doint it too!
Submitted by: MikeYourRight@satx.rr.com
|Certainly this has been said before........|
If you are sitting down when you play:
it is a violin-
if you are standing up:
it is a fiddle.
Submitted by: Mark Childs email@example.com
|The fiddle is a much older word for bowed instruments. There were fiddles many hundreds of years before the type of fiddle called a violin was first produced in Italy. So really a vilolin is a fiddle like an automobile is a type of car. Like a railroad car is a type of car.|
There are other types of fiddles also like the hardanger fiddle and viols. This is the way I explain the differance between a violin and a fiddle.
Submitted 12/16/03 by: Jim Edwardsjambone47250@yahoo.com
Last night I saw a band called Fonnmhor (http://www.fonnmhor.com/), and I was talking to the fiddler, and being as I am, asked about the difference between a fiddle and a violin. Her reply was: a violin sings while a fiddle dances.
Submitted by:Ryan, 10/01/03.
|The technical difference between a fiddle and a violin is that a fiddle has a flatter bridge than a violin because fiddle players like playing double notes.
Submitted by: Ken Hyerkhyer123@msn.com
|To me the fiddle means: working class folks just playing around on not sobering serious music, but having fun playing balads, hoedown, jigs, reels and hornpipe music.
A violin on the other hand is a prim and proper edicate playing of oprietic and classical music of proper attired wealthy folks.
Submitted by: Waynewaynebl@aol.com
|Back in Arkansas, an old fiddler told me the difference between a
and a fiddle is that a violin has a case!
Thanks for a fun site!
|I've always heard tell that a violin has 'strings' and a fiddle has
Also, that a fiddle has a 'red neck'.
Submitted by Tim Richardson from Acworth, Georgia.
I heard once that a violin is just a fiddle with an attitude!
Submitted by Brett Heitzkie, fiddle and banjo genius of Oklahoma City.
|OK - you asked for it...
The difference between a fiddle and a violin is:
You can spill a beer on a fiddle and it doesn't wreck the tone.
Also, if you look way inside an old fiddle, you're likely to find the rattle off a rattlesnake. That's to
keep the strings dry because everyone knows that rattlesnakes live where it's very dry and therefore
will suck up all available moisture.
How do you stop a fiddler from fiddling? Put a piece of sheet music in front of 'em.
Submitted by Beverley Conrad
|Violin or Fiddle?? Same Instrument, Different Tunes........
Submitted by Michael Reaves, Principal of 2nd Violins, Oklahoma City Philharmonic. Mike is in this picture, somewhere, along with his wife Cathy.
|Well, I agree with the old time fiddler. Violin......Fiddle....... same thing. However, I have talked with classical violinists who get outright "Put Out" if you call their violin "A fiddle". When I was a young girl, I remember someone telling me that some fiddler's prefer a flatter bridge to help them with double stops or shuffles, where most violinists prefer a more rounded bridge to aid in articulation and clarity. So, in this instance there may be a slight difference. In most cases though, whether for fiddler or violinist the bridge is rounded according to the shape of the fingerboard. It all depends on who's soing the playing. Fiddler plays the fiddle. Violinist plays the Violin. There are some of us who do both. Honestly though, it's not so much what the instrument is called that matters. What matters is how much a part of the musician it becomes. A loving tune from the heart of a fiddle player speaks more deeply than thought. Vibrato rich and sweet. Haunting and melodious. A jaunty jig, full of life, the soul sours heavenward, itching to dance.
Now for me, the big question is: "What does a Scot wear under his Kilt?"
Submitted by Shanda McDonald, The Okie Darlin.
|The difference between a fiddle and a violin? About 20 Grand a year's what I heard.|
Submitted by Larry Franklin. Fiddler Extraordinaire. Larry has a great site and does some excellent Fiddle work. Check it out!
|The late Orville Burns told me the difference between a fiddle and a
violin is "the nut at the end of the bow" that's always sounded right to me.|
Submitted by Gary Lee Moore.
|I have always wondered the answer to this question. I grew up as the
first yankee in my family. With all these southerners around me, I have been
exposed to a lot of the bluegrass type music. Growing up in the North,
and traveling the world with the military, I have been exposed to many other
genres of music.
I would have to say a violin is played the rich or for the rich. A fiddle is played by the heart or for the heart.
Submitted by: Dennis Allen
|the fiddle is played with zest and upbeat.|
the violin is dad and sometimes rather "draggy"
Submitted by: firstname.lastname@example.org
E-mail me with your theory.
If you do not want your e-mail posted let me know and I'll leave it off!