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Anne Lederman's Response to the Michigan Fiddling Manifesto Discussion

07/10/13

 

Anne Lederman's Response to the Michigan Fiddling Manifesto Discussion


Biography of Anne Lederman:
Originally from Manitoba, Anne Lederman is a fiddler, singer and mutli-instrumentalist, composer and researcher. She has performed and recorded under her own name and with many artists and groups such as Muddy York, The Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band, Njacko Backo, her own group, Fiddlesong, and, most recently, Eh?!. A former Associate Professor of Music at York, she is known especially for her research on Aboriginal fiddle traditions in Canada. In 1986, she produced a 4-album archival set (now a double CD), Old Native and Métis Fiddling in Manitoba. She has also published the first two parts of a 3-part Teaching series: Tamarack?er Down: A Guide to Celtic-Canadian Fiddling Through Rhythm. Anne is also the founding Artistic Director of Worlds of Music Toronto and currently teaches Canadian Fiddling at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, as well as at camps and Festivals throughout the country.


Response:

It is interesting that Elliot considers the radio and jazz to be "nasty" (although he is perhaps referring to Ford). Up here, the radio was an incredibly important disseminator of old time music across the country for a long time. Yes, it possibly hastened the demise of some older regional styles, but those were choices that musicians made, i.e., to try to copy what they were hearing. In my view, it is really no different than the influence of one player traveling to a remote community in the 19th century and inspiring others to play, or to change the way they played. We know for a fact that whole fiddle traditions in remote communities in Canada can be attributed to the initial influence of one traveling trader. Then they evolved along their own lines, in keeping with the culture they became part of.

On another note, our best-known form of "Old TIme" music, that of Don Messer, was a completely new hybrid of the 1930s - 1950s, incorporating (I hear some of you shudder) swing music. It is often not to my personal taste (I tend to go for older styles, as do many more recent urban converts to traditional fiddling.) But in a kind of ironic turn, Don Messer style is now, itself, considered somewhat "old-fashioned" even amongst "Old TIme" players, those who perceive themselves to be carrying on that tradition. Further, many of the more recent takes on traditional fiddling up here - contemporary Irish, Cape Breton, Newfoundland, French-Canadian or other Canadian bands, are building on those much older, pre-Messer traditions, and doing things that the elders probably do not like, without apology. I think everyone makes their own decisions about where the "respect" line actually is. It's not always about pleasing the elders, in my experience (often an impossible task). It is about acknowledging them. The fiddlers who don't, always seem a bit ungrounded and off-kilter to me, personally and professionally.


Also interesting that Elliot feels he did the wrong things to preserve the traditions, even though, by his own admission, there are elders now who did learn the old style who are still with us. I would join Elliot in urging Trae and younger players to learn and pass on the old tunes along with their own personal statements. I think that both can be managed and that both are richer for it. It seems to me that this is exactly what Trae is doing, both through this site, and through his research, writing, playing and teaching. Making the music available is what matters. Then those who are inspired by it can take up the torch and run with it any way they want to. Which, of course, they will, whether anyone approves or not.

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