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This research examines the emergence of the five-string fiddle in contemporary North American fiddle culture within the past ten years. By interacting with leading artistlevel practitioners, the research documents the evolution and impact of the instrument to date in exploring the possibilities the five-string fiddle presents for musical performance and innovation. North American vernacular music and, in particular, the contemporary fiddle playing landscape, exemplifies virtousic and innovative idiomatic technique and improvisation as central to an overarching musical explosion, evidenced in the music of many high level, multi-stylistic contemporary practitioners. Within contemporary American fiddle performance, it is compelling to observe how many of the most innovative and highly regarded players now perform on five-string fiddles. The research uses a qualitative research methodology, drawing on interviews conducted with seven leading American fiddle players, each of whom has adopted the five-string fiddle in their own musical practice. The participants represent a rich cross section of American fiddle culture. They emerged naturally during the course of the literature review, and in-depth listening research, as particularly relevant sample cases. All participants were identified as leading exponents of the diversities encompassed in American fiddle music, between them sharing extensive professional recording, performance and academic experience, and all playing on five-string instruments. The research is further illuminated through practice, reflecting on my own musical work in illustrating how I have personally adopted the five-string fiddle, drawing influence from the research in demonstrating some wider possibilities of the instrument. This enquiry is important as it addresses the lack of specific research to date regarding the five-string fiddle, despite the significanance it holds for some of American fiddle music's leading exponents, and consequently, for fiddle music itself. Equally significant, is the role of the instrument in facilitating the performance of innovative extended instrumental techniques, in particular, the five-string fiddles association with the rhythmic/percussive 'chop' bow techniques, now, so conspicuous within contemporary groove-based American string music. ix The findings of this research established the definitive emergence of the five-string fiddle, and subscribe that the five-string has now become a widely accepted part of the mainstream instrumentation in American music. This understanding emerges clearly through the words and practice of the participants. From this perspective, the research identifies the musical reasons that inspire the instruments popularity and elaborates through practice, the musical possibilities it presents to others.
Daly, P. (2015). Five-String Fiddle and the American Vernacular. Doctoral Thesis. Technological University Dublin. doi:10.21427/D7FS39