Insight to the musical preferences of 25 individual players, and how music-making and the role and status of Newfoundland fiddlers has evolved over time
Bridget O'Connell PhD, a lecturer and fiddle teacher based at the Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), has recently published a book entitled 'Newfoundland Fiddle Music in the 21st Century'.
Originally from Thurles, Co Tipperary, Bridget completed an undergraduate BA(Hons) Music degree in WIT in 2003 and subsequently completed her PhD ‘Fiddle Sound in Newfoundland in the 21st Century in 2019. Her research covered new grounds in terms of looking at the instrumental traditions of Newfoundland, specifically the fiddle, which had not been explored to the same degree up until that point.
Bridget’s new book 'Newfoundland Fiddle Music in the 21st Century' (Mel Bay, 2021) features the findings of her research. This meticulously researched anthology presents detailed biographies and transcriptions, including bowing, ornamentation, and accentuation of 39 fiddle tunes as played by 25 Newfoundland fiddlers from locations throughout the island. For unparalleled authenticity, Bridget’s live field recordings of each tune are available online, offering a unique perspective of the various types of tunes and techniques favoured by past and present Newfoundland fiddlers.
Newfoundland unique settlement patterns
Newfoundland, a former British colony, possesses a rich and varied cultural heritage due to its history of unique settlement patterns. Beginning in the 16th century, European migrants from Ireland, Scotland, West-Country England, and France settled on the island, bringing with them their various cultural practices, including their fiddles.
Newfoundland fiddling tradition
This collection provides insight to the backgrounds, geographical locations, and musical preferences of the individual players, and how music-making and the role and status of Newfoundland fiddlers has evolved over time. The tunes included vary from original compositions and revival collectors’ treasures, to reinterpreted versions of timeless Irish, Scottish, and French tunes. Together, they form a part of the modern-day Newfoundland fiddling tradition.
“The connections between Waterford and Newfoundland are very strong and Waterford people have a natural curiosity about Newfoundland,” said Bridget who has been teaching fiddle for the last two decades in Waterford. “This book will delight fiddle players and any musician who wishes to further enhance their repertoire and technique, or simply learn more about the island of Newfoundland and its music.”