With the dozens of variations of music that exist in the world, with all of the fusions and blends, the highs and the lows and all of the other extremes, there is only one genre that truly stands alone in the way that exemplifies Texas style fiddling. Those who play together regularly stretch in a broad range in ages from near toddlers to those approaching a century of life. It’s an amazing spectacle to behold. And they come to the practice from all walks of life be they doctors, plumbers, students or grandpas sitting on the porch. Texas fiddling bears no judgement on anyone that shares the great love of it and welcomes everyone with open arms.
The melodies come with a history all of their own, some passed down through families and spread to the public, some with stories of attached of historic events and across miles and oceans and languages. The technique is unique as well – bows fly across the strings with blazing speed and a rapid beat that takes you into wild Texas deserts and European dancehalls or someone’s veranda. It’s not the kind of music that one plays or even listens to passively. It has a life of its own and while those who fiddle may believe that they control the strings, they do not control the passion that reaches out and grabs people and stays with them for a lifetime. The tunes carry names like Leather Britches or Dusty Miller and everyone who plays has a favourite.
Fiddling begins is many families at a young age, often as early as four or five and the elders loving teach the young and they in turn do the same, making it a tradition across many generations. The younger they start, the easier it seem that they catch on and while they stick to what they’re taught by the grandparents or even the great parents, they often find a way to make it their own. Others still are classically trained but regardless of how they develop the skill, they all seem to develop the love.
Organization like the Texas Old Time Fiddling Association helps to keep the tradition alive by holding contents for fiddlers of all ages to attend across the state. Those who participate can often be seen every weekend, on their own or with their families, dancing and clapping along. Competitions are always held in conjunction with other community events such as fairs or holidays and such, exposing anyone in attendance to the rich tradition.
The style has been existed for many years and in Texas, it brings back warm memories for players and the audience alike. The melodies are rich and smooth and can vary from a clean waltz to the more erratic polkas or breakdowns that make one want to jump to their feet. It is because of organization like the Texas Old Time Fiddlers Association that keeps the genre alive and continues to deliver it to audiences where ever they may be.