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Couldn't Have a Wedding without the Fiddler The Story of Traditional Fiddling on Prince Edward Island

by Ken Perlman

Part of the Charles K. Wolfe Music Series Series

Couldn't Have a Wedding without the Fiddler The Story of Traditional Fiddling on Prince Edward Island Synopsis

Canada's Prince Edward Island is home to one of the oldest and most vibrant fiddling traditions in North America. First established by Scottish immigrants in the late eighteenth century, it incorporated the influence of a later wave of Irish immigrants as well as the unique rhythmic sensibilities of the Acadian French, the Island's first European inhabitants. In Couldn't Have a Wedding without the Fiddler, renowned musician and folklorist Ken Perlman combines oral history, ethnography, and musical insight to present a captivating portrait of Prince Edward Island fiddling and its longstanding importance to community life. Couldn't Have a Wedding without the Fiddler draws heavily on interviews conducted with 150 fiddlers and other Islanders -including singers, dancers, music instructors, community leaders, and event organizers-whose memories span decades. The book thus colorfully brings to life a time not so very long ago when virtually any occasion-a wedding, harvest, house warming, holiday, or the need to raise money for local institutions such as schools and churchs-was sufficient excuse to hold a dance, with the fiddle player at the center of the celebration. Perlman explores how fiddling skills and traditions were learned and passed down through the generations and how individual fiddlers honed their distinctive playing styles. He also examines the Island's history and material culture, fiddlers' values and attitudes, the role of radio and recordings, the fiddlers' repertoire, fiddling contests, and the ebb and flow of the fiddling tradition, including efforts over the last few decades to keep the music alive in the face of modernization and the passing of old-timers. Rounding out the book is a rich array of photographs, musical examples, dance diagrams, and a discography. The inaugural volume in the Charles K. Wolfe American Music Series, Couldn't Have a Wedding without the Fiddler is, in the words of series editor Ted Olson, clearly among the more significant studies of a local North American music tradition to be published in recent years.

Couldn't Have a Wedding without the Fiddler The Story of Traditional Fiddling on Prince Edward Island Press Reviews

Ken Perlman s comprehensive study of fiddling on Prince Edward Island makes a beautiful beginning for the Charles K. Wolfe Music Series. With rich commentary from the fiddlers on learning, style, and social occasions, with Perlman s historical research, sensitive observation, and deft analysis, Couldn t Have a Wedding without the Fiddler is among the very best musical ethnographies ever published. Henry Glassie, Professor Emeritus at Indiana University and author of The Stars of Balleymenone With an eye for detail and an ear for nuance, Ken Perlman's in-depth study deftly deconstructs Prince Edward Island's distinctive fiddle culture, artfully embedding the music in its social milieu. The result, like a well-played reel, is deeply satisfying and deeply respectful of its subject. Couldn't Have a Wedding Without the Fiddler will now take its place beside the groundbreaking work of Sandy Ives on the folksong traditions of Canada's island province. Edward MacDonald, Associate Professor of History at the University of Prince Edward Island and author of If You're Stronghearted: Prince Edward Island in the Twentieth Century Ken Perlman s book on Prince Edward Island fiddling is a watershed accomplishment in the study of a grassroots art form. It supplies a rich and textured analysis of a fiddle tradition that, till now, has been virtually ignored in scholarly research. It is an extraordinary body of research, incorporating numerous quotations from interviews that profile the tradition in the words of its participants, and a model for artistic ethnography. Alan Jabbour, former director of the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress Ken Perlman's comprehensive study of fiddling on Prince Edward Island makes a beautiful beginning for the Charles K. Wolfe Music Series. With rich commentary from the fiddlers on learning, style, and social occasions, with Perlman's historical research, sensitive observation, and deft analysis, Couldn't Have a Wedding without the Fiddler is among the very best musical ethnographies ever published. --Henry Glassie, Professor Emeritus at Indiana University and author of The Stars of Balleymenone Ken Perlman's book on Prince Edward Island fiddling is a watershed accomplishment in the study of a grassroots art form. It supplies a rich and textured analysis of a fiddle tradition that, till now, has been virtually ignored in scholarly research. It is an extraordinary body of research, incorporating numerous quotations from interviews that profile the tradition in the words of its participants, and a model for artistic ethnography. --Alan Jabbour, former director of the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Book Information

ISBN: 9781621900979
Publication date: 2nd July 2019
Author: Ken Perlman
Publisher: University of Tennessee Press
Format: Paperback / softback
Pagination: 504 pages
Categories: String instruments,

About Ken Perlman

A highly regarded banjoist, guitarist, teacher, and music collector, Ken Perlman previously published a collection of over 400 tunes called The Fiddle Music of Prince Edward Island: Celtic & Acadian Tunes in Living Tradition; he also produced a 2-CD set of field recordings for Rounder Records called The Prince Edward Island Style of Fiddling. He has written several music instruction manuals now regarded as classics in their field, notably Clawhammer Style Banjo, Melodic Clawhammer Banjo, and Fingerstyle Guitar.

More About Ken Perlman

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