Fiddle: From Europe to the American South


The fiddle has historically played an important role in the home, community and music of Appalachia. Its roots stretch from lutherie of Italy to repertoire of the British Isles to rhythm of Africa. This document provides sources to trace its path and influences beginning with the modernization of the violin in Cremona, mid-16th century, until the mid-19th century in the Southern Appalachians. Materials referencing Scottish, Irish and British music are only included which instruct as to the democratization of the fiddle and musical trends in those locales in the 17th century. Sources about African-American and German musicians that depict widespread influence on fiddle styles are also included.

Introductory Text: 

Feintuch, Burt. “The Fiddle in the United States: A Historical Overview.” Kentucky Folklore Record. Bowling Green: Kentucky Folklore Society. Vol. 29, January-June, 1983. pp. 30-38. App Coll GR 1 .K42

Library of Congress Subject Headings: 

Highly Relevant:

  • Appalachian Region Music
  • Appalachian Region, Southern – Folk Music
  • Bowed String Instruments – History
  • Fiddle Tunes – Ireland
  • Fiddle Tunes – Scotland
  • Fiddling
  • Folk Dance Music – Appalachian Region, Southern
  • Folk Music – Appalachian Region, Southern
  • Folk Music – United States
  • Music – Blue Ridge Mountain Region
  • Old-time Music
  • Old-time Music – History and Criticism
  • Violin – History
  • Violin Makers
  • African Americans – Music

Also Relevant:

  • Fiddle Tunes – Appalachian Region, Southern
  • Fiddle Tunes – North Carolina
  • Musical instruments -- Appalachian Region, Southern
  • Violin Music – History and Criticism


  • Appalachian Region
  • Appalachian Region – Civilization
  • Appalachian Region – Bibliography
  • Musical Instruments – Appalachian Region, Southern
  • Musical Instruments – Construction
  • Musical Instruments – United States


  • Folk Music – North Carolina
  • Folk Music – Virginia
  • Folk Music – West Virginia
Clipping Files Subject Headings – W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection: 
  • Black Musicians – Appalachia
  • Folk Music
  • Museums Music – Appalachia
  • Music – Appalachia
  • Music – Fiddle Music
Library of Congress Call Numbers: 
  • ML 3551
  • ML 3556
  • ML3915
  • ML3561
  • M 1629
  • ML 128
  • ML1
  • ML100
  • ML102
  • F106
  • F 217
  • ML 3545
  • ML 3520
  • GR 1
  • GR105
  • ML1015
  • ML 800
  • ML 880
  • PS476
  • ML3799
  • E186
  • ML410
  • PN3195

Alburger, Mary Anne. Scottish Fiddlers and Their Music. Southampton, UK: The Camelot Press Ltd, 1983. App Coll ML 3431.A42
Cottrell, Allin. “Old-Time Music: A Scottish Perspective.” Old-Time Herald. Fall, 1988, Vol. 1 No. 5: 15-16. Galax, VA: Old-Time Music Group. App Coll ML 1 .035
Milnes, Gerald. Play of a Fiddle: Traditional Music, Dance, and Folklore in West Virginia. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1999. App Coll ML 3551 .M55
Speilman, Earl V. Traditional North American fiddling: A Methodology for the Historical and Comparative Analytical Style Study of Instrumental Musical Traditions. Ph.D. Thesis, Madison: University of Wisconsin. Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms, International, 1975. App Coll ML3915 .S65
Titon, Jeff Todd. Old-Time Kentucky Fiddle Tunes. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2001. App Coll M1629.7.K4 O43
Travis, Jim. “American Folk Fiddling: Its Gaelic Derivation.” Tennessee Valley Old-Time Fiddlers Association Newsletter. (Originally The Devil’s Box) April 6, 1968, Vol. 4: 6-12. Madison, AL. App Coll ML1 .D325
Wells, Paul F. “Fiddling as an Avenue of Black-White Musical Interchange.” African-American Music of Appalachia. (An article from: Black Music Research Journal. v.23 no.1-2, Spring 2003: 135-147.)Chicago: Columbia College, 2005. App Coll ML 3556 .B58

Guides, Encyclopedias, and Dictionaries: 

Encyclopedia of Appalachia. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press: 2006. Contains information on all topics relating to Appalachia. See section entitled “Music.” App Coll F106 .E53

The New Grove Dictionary Of Music And Musicians, Stanley Sadie, ed. Washington, DC: Grove’s Dictionaries of Music, 1980. A comprehensive scholarly encyclopedia of music. Vol. 26 pp. 88-92; vol. 8 pp. 767-776; vol. 26 p. 742; vol. 26 pp. 663-687. ASU Music Stacks ML100 .N48


Appalachian Bibliography, 1972. Volume II: “Music and Musical Instruments,” pp. 760-764. Morgantown, WV: West Virginia University Library, 1972. App Coll Z1251 .A7 A6
Bennett, David Parker. A Study in Fiddle Tunes from Western North Carolina. M.A. Thesis, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, n.p. 1940. Chapter 1. App Coll ML3561 .F5 B4
A Brief List of Material Dealing with Fiddling in North America: Excluding American Collections of Fiddle and Dance Tunes. Library of Congresss, Archive of Folk Song, 1974. From Bibliography File box, folder “Fiddle.” Z1251 .A7 B4
Hickerson, Joseph C. A Bibliography of Fiddling, Fiddle Tunes and Related Dance Tune Collections in North America: Including Representative Styles from the British Isles and Scandinavia. Library of Congresss, Archive of Folk Song, 1974. From Bibliography File box, folder “Fiddle.” Z1251 .A7 B4
Mendelson, Michael. “A Bibliography of Fiddling in North America, Part 1.” JEMF Quarterly. Summer, 1975, p. 104-111. Los Angeles: John Edwards Memorial E Foundation. App Coll ML1 .J55
Miller, Terry. Folk Music in America: A Reference Guide. New York: Garland Publishing, 1986. pp. 105-113, 216-221, 357. ML128.F74 M5
Moser, Joan. A Source Book for Appalachian Music Studies. Berea, KY: Berea College Appalachian Center, 1975. ML3551.A57 M67
Speilman, Earl V. Traditional North American fiddling: A Methodology for the Historical and Comparative Analytical Style Study of Instrumental Musical Traditions. Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms, International, 1975. App Coll ML3915 .S65 1981

Abstracts and Indices: 

RILM Abstracts of Music Literature

Music and other fields as they relate to music. ABC-CLIO: America: History & Life
United States and Canadian history and culture from prehistoric times to present.

International Index to Music Periodicals (IIMP)
Covers nearly all types of world music.

A trusted archive of important scholarly journals.

Old-Time Herald Index. Galax, VA: Old-Time Music Group. ASU APP COLL ML1 .O35 v.1-5, Index
Index to the primary periodical source for Old-Time Music.


American Music. Champaign, IL: Sonneck Society and the University of Illinois Press. Vol. 1-22, 1983-2004.

Black Music Research Journal. Chicago, IL: Columbia College. Vol. 1-23, 1980-2003. ASU Online Subscription:

The Devil’s Box. Madison, AL: Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Association. Vol. 1-10, 1976- present. App Coll ML1 .D325.

Ethnomusicology. University of Illinois Press. Vol. 1-46, 1953-2002. ASU Online Subscription:

Fiddler Magazine. Cape Breton, NS. 1999-present. (Appalachian Collection houses only vol. 4-5.) App Coll ML1 .F25

JEMF Quarterly. Los Angeles: John Edwards Memorial Foundation. Vol. 8-25, 1972-1982. App Coll ML1 .J55

Journal of American Folklore. Boston, MA: Houghton, Mifflin, and Co. Vol. 1-115, 1888-2006. ASU Periodicals

Kentucky Folklore Record. Bowling Green: Kentucky Folklore Society. Vol. 1-32, 1955-1986. App Coll GR 1 .K42

Old-Time Herald. Galax, VA; Durham: Old-Time Music Group. 1987-present. App Coll ML1 O.35.

The Strad. London: Lavendar Publications. Vol. 99-117, 1988-2006. ASU Music Journals.

Strings. San Anselmo, CA: String Letter Corp. Vol. 2-22, 1987-2008. ASU Music Journals.

Barry, Phillips. “American Folk Music.” Southern Folklore Quarterly. June, 1937, Vol. 1 No. 2: 29-47. Sub-topic: “Instrumental Folk Music” p. 44-47. App Coll ML1 .J55

Erdely, Stephen. “Ethnic Music in the United States – An Overview.” Yearbook of the International Folk Music Council. Vol. 11, 1979: 114-137. ASU Online subscription:

Kahn, Ed. “Hillbilly Music: Source and Resource.” Journal of American Folklore. July, 1965 “Hillbilly Issue” Vol. 78 No. 309: 257-266. ASU Online subscription:

Whisnant, David E. “Thick as Fiddlers in Hell: Issues and Resources in Appalachian Music.” Appalachian Journal Autumn 1977, vol. 5: 103-115. App Coll F216.2 A66


Jabbour, Alan . “Fiddle Tunes of the Old Frontier: The Henry Reed Collection - (American Memory from the Library of Congress).” American Memory from the Library of Congress - Home Page. 24 May 2006. 27 Sep 2007.

McClatchy, Debbie. “Appalachian Traditional Music: A Short History.” In: Musical traditions: The Magazine for Traditional Music Throughout the World. 27 June 2000.

McLaughlin, John. Fiddlers in the Poconos: Survival or Revival? 1986. 26 Oct 2007

Tedesco, Marie. Marie Tedesco’s Selected Bibliography: Archives of Appalachia, East Tennessee State University.

Audio and Video Sources: 

Alan Lomax. Appalachian Journey. VHS. Cambridge, MA: Rounder Records, 1990. App Coll VC 302

Compiled by: 

Compiler: Emily Schaad, 4 December 2007