Transmutations of fiddle music : tracing folk melodies to their roots
Samantha Jane Braman
May 21, 2020
Department or Program
This thesis accompanies my senior violin recital, an exploration of the roots of folk melodies in traditional fiddle music from the Southeast of the United States and the East Coast of Canada as well as classical compositions by Béla Bartók and Grażyna Bacewicz. First, I examine Irish music, analyzing the rhythmic structures and ornamentation of the tunes. Then, I track a tune that traveled from Ireland and Scotland to Missouri, noting changes in rhythm and bow pattern. I then follow a tune that traveled from Ireland to Cape Breton Island, noting the differences in syncopation and tempo. After this, I shift my discussion to two classical compositions: Polish Capriccio and Romanian Folk Dances. I examine the ways Bacewicz and Bartók incorporated folk melodies in composing these pieces. They added new parts, accompanying lines, and articulations while preserving the melodies and motives of their source material. This analysis helps me understand the important role of folk music in community as well as in the development of national identity. In my recital, I included two original fiddle tunes that I composed inspired by other preexisting melodic and motivic ideas, thus embarking on a similar process of folk music transmutation.