• American Fiddle Music Research: The Contributions of Samuel P. Bayard

    Carl Rahkonen (see profile)
    Fiddle tunes, Ethnomusicology, Archival resources, Appalachian Region, Folk music
    Item Type:
    Conference paper
    Conf. Title:
    50th National Meeting of the Society for Ethnomusicology
    Conf. Org.:
    Society for Ethnomusicology
    Conf. Loc.:
    Atlanta, Georgia
    Conf. Date:
    November 18, 2005
    Permanent URL:
    The history of ethnomusicology should include the contributions of those who studied their own local traditions. One of the foremost researchers of American fiddle music was Samuel P. Bayard, whose lifelong work was the collection of folk music and folk songs from Southwestern Pennsylvania and Northern West Virginia. When Bayard began collecting in 1928, he made transcriptions in the field. Shortly after the Second World War, he began using a wire recorder and soon switched to a reel-to-reel tape recorder. Between 1948 and 1963 he recorded some 68 informants, primarily fiddlers, fife players, and singers, on 31 reels of tape. His transcriptions of this music appeared in two books: Hill Country Tunes (1945) and Dance to the Fiddle, March to the Fife (1982). These books were a model of fieldwork-based research, from which Bayard also developed his theory of “tune families,” used in subsequent ethnomusicological studies. After his death in 1997, Bayard’s recordings, research papers, and extensive collection of tune books were donated to the Special Collections Department of the Pennsylvania State University Libraries. They provide a great deal of additional information about the repertory, styles, and accompaniment found in the fiddle music of the Northern Appalachian region. This presentation will mention Bayard’s contributions to the history of ethnomusicology, and also how his archival collections have been used to discover new information about American fiddle music, particularly the geographic areas where he collected these tunes, the titles, and the genres he collected.
    Last Updated:
    5 months ago


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