|© MUGFORD 2004. All rights reserved.|
| Contributing an article for publication?
Contributing an article for publication couldnt be easier. You can write as much or as little as you want, but as a rule of thumb, a main article is usually about 2500 words with some photographs and/or illustrations. Your article can be on any fiddle related subject.
You can send your article as a 'Word' attachment or as email text. Any images can be sent as jpeg attachments or sent by post, which will be scanned and returned to you as soon as possible. If you would like any graphs, tables or simple illustrations drawn specifically, that can be arranged.
Send your article in good time, if possible before the final copy date, which is one month before publication date. If youre interested in submitting an article for publication it is always best to contact Jed Mugford (the editor) first to be sure of a space in the next issue.
Click here to submit a description of your article and the amount of copy you have wrtten or intend to write. I can not accept articles as hard copy only, it takes too long to key, so please only supply your copy as computer ready text.
Copy dates are: 1 February, 1 June and 1 October. But always aim to send in your article well before these dates to be sure of inclusion in the next issue.
Chris HaighI started playing violin at the age of seven, and laboured with little success for ten years until I discovered that, for me at least, fiddle music could be a whole lot more fun than classical music. Promising careers in geology and teaching were recklessly abandoned, and I began a lifelong search for the most obscure, unpopular and uneconomic niches of the musical world to which I could devote my limited abilities. Things began well when I started playing fiddle with progressive rock band Speedy Bears and jazz-rock band Inner Ear, just as punk was at its height in the mid 70's. Encouraged by the total failure of the former band, and being sacked from the latter, I progressed backwards and downwards through traditional folk and bluegrass, stopping just short of New Orleans jazz, where I would undoubtedly have spent an eternity in the unmerciful flames of hell. Bankruptcy and destitution caused a radical change of direction, and I started demanding money for my services, instead of paying people to listen to the dulcet tones of my fiddle.
I soon discovered that if no one was going to listen to recordings I made myself I would be better off playing on other peoples’; with a combination of bluster and natural charm I’ve bluffed my way onto over 70 albums. Over the past 25 years I have played and recorded with a motley crew of musicians, from Pop artists such as Alison Moyet, Michael Ball and the sadly missed teen idols Steps (I'm proud to have played on ‘5,6,7,8’ - once voted one of the UK's most hated singles of all time!), the off-the page trip-hop of Morcheeba to the Goth-Rock of All About Eve and the chicken-head biting rock excesses of Rolf Harris, David Soul and James Galway. Desperate for some semblance of credibility, I began working with the impossibly eclectic Zumzeaux, and bluffed my way into the sublime Malian grooves of Oumou Sangari.
Collector of fiddle styles
As a short-trousered schoolboy in the 60’s I was forever collecting things; coins, fossils and stamps, which I kept neatly arranged in drawers and cabinets like a Victorian gentleman. When I eventually got into fiddle playing I transferred my interest to the collecting of fiddle styles and information thereon. My website at www.fiddlingaround.co.uk is my new shiny display cabinet with categories ranging from everything from Western swing to Welsh fiddling. Of course there’s no money to be made giving away the contents of my mental library, so I’ve also dabbled with writing books, starting with “Fiddling around the world”, “Any Fool can write Fiddle Tunes”, and most recently “The Fiddle Handbook”.
| John Kirkness Moar
Place of birth?
Norse, according to the "Blood of the Vikings" DNA test.
Earliest musical education?
Recorder at junior school. At about 10 my grandfather gave me a half-sized fiddle hed bought from the auction mart. My uncle Andy (himself a fine fiddler) strung it and showed me where to put my fingers. My first tunes were "Skye Boat Song" and "The Barren Rocks of Aden".
A good start! What happened then?
I gave it up! After a years classical lessons at school I was so hacked off that the fiddle went back into its case and never came out again.
What got you started, then?
Pentangle, Fairport and Steeleye Span. Dave Swarbrick was God, and Rags, Reels and Airs the holy text. I joined a group at University playing mandolin, which came easily after the early violin lessons and the footling about on the guitar. Next came whistles, tenor banjo and finally the fiddle.
So - did you find it easy to take up the instrument again?
Yes and no. I got annoyed that playing in tune was so much harder than on the mandolin, so I banged frets into the violin fingerboard. Problem solved!
Who were your main influences at that time?
Lots, but I really liked Barry Dransfields and Swarbs use of drones, Tom Anderson, Liz Carrolls Irish/American feel, Sugarcane Harris playing blues and Stephane Grappelli.
What happened after university?
I became a teacher and moved to Launceston, in Cornwall. I wanted to play in a dance band, and had the great good luck to meet a brilliant accordionist, Kathie Upton, who was looking for musicians at the same time. She really taught me all I know about playing for dancing. She would set up a book on the music stand, say "Right - well play that, that and that" and wed welly on into it, which did my sight reading a power of good! I also played a bit with the near-legendary Bob Cann, and with the Trigg Morris of Bodmin.
How long did that last?
A few years, but Ive got a low boredom threshold as far as my teaching is concerned, so I moved about a bit: to Tiverton in Devon and to Warminster, Wiltshire. That meant changing bands, too. I learnt the flute and started to write music when there was no band on the go. Finally I taught myself the accordion in order to get a group together, which was enormous fun.
Youre back in Orkney now. Do you notice many differences?
The main one, when I moved nearly twenty years ago, was that the standard of playing was much higher here than where I was in England. There was no chance of getting into a band! I enjoyed playing with the Strathspey and Reel societies, though.
The other thing was that when I was living on the island of Shapinsay (pop. 200 or so) I noticed that a lot of the musicians - mainly middle aged and elderly men - were composing their own tunes. I felt that there was a real danger of the music passing away with the musicians because they were very modest about their skill and didnt try to press others to learn the tunes. So, the Community Council gave me a grant which allowed me to collect, transcribe and publish about thirty of the tunes in a book called "The Sound of the String".
Anything more recently?
I was involved with the Orkney Folk Festival for a while. The high point of my career, though, must be when I was asked to write two songs, which Sir Peter Maxwell Davis set to music. It is an amazing feeling to hear your words turned into something you could never have imagined, and sung for the first time.
Do you do any playing, though?
Ive been learning the saxophone this year, but I do very little on the fiddle, Im afraid. Ive never really liked the noise I made, and anyway I can listen to other people doing it so much better: Graham Townsend, Kevin Burke, Alasdair Fraser, Joe Venuti, and a galaxy of younger players like Jennifer Wrigley and Catriona MacDonald.
You feel the tradition is in good hands, then?
Definitely. Fiddle teaching is a lot more enlightened these days, so fewer kids are put off as I was: the instructors use a lot of dance tunes, for a start. In Scotland, theres the Strathspey and Reel societies and the Fiddle and Accordion groups which mean that youngsters can learn by listening so that they soak up the feel of the music: its like learning to speak your own home dialect. So - yes, the future
| Jed Mugford The Editor
Brought up in the small village of Hartland on rugged Atlantic coast, but now I live in Oxfordshire.
I took an interest in music at an early age after hearing my sister's Beatles records. My sister (Lin) and I became swept along by Beatlemania of the 1960's. When I was about 6 or 7 years old, my parents bought me an acoustic guitar and Bert Weedon's book 'Play in a Day'. Sadly, in my case, it took almost 10 years before I could play, and that was after I had bought myself an electric guitar and a Beatles song book, from then on there was no looking back. I joined a small local band for a couple of years playing Country music.
Taking up the fiddle
I took up the fiddle in 1994 because I wanted to carry tunes at sessions, which I wasn't able to do; being a very mediocre guitarist. But having taken up the fiddle, I discovered that there was no way a fiddler could find out what was going on in the UK fiddle scene, other than by word of mouth or coming across a leaflet by chance. So in March 2000 the first copy of FiddleOn magazine was produced.
Desert Island Disks?
Songs of the Auvergne - Bailéro by Canteloube. Song for Ireland by Dick Gaughan. Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams. Gi'mme Shelter by The Rolling Stones. Great Gig in the Sky by Pink Floyd, Ah Sweet Dancer by Micheál Ó Súlleabháin and anything by James Taylor, or the Beatles, I could go on and on.
| Glen Titmus
Glen Titmus started playing the fiddle in 1984. After playing for some years the fiddle started to come apart and, after recovering from the shock of discovering how much it would cost to have it repaired, he decided to do it himself! Armed with a copy of Heron-Allen and basic woodworking skills learned in childhood he repaired the instrument, and then several belonging to friends. He now repairs violins for a living, www.glentitmus.co.uk, as well as making violin bows and selling violins and bows from his workshop in Taunton and at festivals around the southern half of England.
Glen still plays fiddle, specialising in English country dance music, teaches and runs workshops.
| John Offord
I was born in 1947 in Camden, London. My mothers family were partly Irish and partly from Norfolk. My fathers parents were from Southwest England. I have never been to college. My parents advised me to work in an office and not to be a manual worker like my father. Apart from a brief spell as a carpenter I have always done office work and I have been working in my current job, for the London Fire Brigade for over 25 years.
My parents only liked light popular music c.1930-1960. My father played the ukulele-banjo. I also like jazz and classical music, both western and eastern. My first influences of folk were Dave Swabrick and students I knew at Dartington college in Devon in the 70s. I first took up the mandolin but gave it up for the fiddle because it is louder and more versatile. I started dancing and playing with the Hammersmith Morris but gave up dancing in the early 80s when I started to learn Irish music. I started to play French folk music with the Blowzabella musicians, this was much easier than Irish. After hearing John Kirkpatrick play, I started playing more English music and published a collection of tunes, mainly in 3/2 and 9/4 called John of the Greeny Cheshire Way in 1985. I am currently finishing the second edition. I am in contact with the Village Music Project, which is making available on the web the many thousands of tunes found in manuscripts in England.
Since the 80s I have played in many sessions, French, English and Irish. I play in an enormous ceilidh band called Gig CB who play mainly French and English music in France and England. I restarted playing and dancing Morris with Blackheath 4 years ago.
| Sophie Parkes
Sophie Parkes is a lover of words and music, which is probably why she is a folk music advocate. She has contributed to folk music magazines and websites for over a decade, providing interviews, reviews, news and features for FiddleOn, fRoots, Spiral Earth, English Dance and Song the Manchester Evening News, R2, and many more. In May 2012, Sophie published an official biography of Eliza Carthy, entitled Wayward Daughter, courtesy of music publisher Soundcheck Books. The book charts the life so far of one member of folk music's most important dynasties, and in Spring 2013, Eliza will release an accompanying double album, also entitled Wayward Daughter, to celebrate twenty-one years as a professional. To mark the occasion, Soundcheck Books will also publish the e-version of Wayward Daughter, featuring a new chapter provided by the writer. Sophie also plays fiddle in Manchester-based psychedelic indie band, Air Cav.