Old-Time Fiddle (2023 program)

Lael Sigal & Ray Chen
Workshop Area 2 / 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

The biggest difference between violin playing and fiddle playing is the emphasis on rhythm, because so much traditional fiddle music is rooted in dance music.

In this workshop, Ray Chen and Lael Sigal will teach an old-time fiddle tune with an emphasis on the rhythm and phrasing that makes old-time fiddle music distinctive.  They will also address the topic of seconding the tune, a chording approach to playing second fiddle that is a big part of the textured sound of The Corn Likkers old-time string band.

American old-time music is an aural tradition.  Many musicians were self-taught and couldn’t read sheet music, so the music was passed down from person to person by ear.  In the spirit of that tradition, Ray and Lael will teach the tune by ear and give sheet music to those who want it after.  Recording devices are welcome.

They hope that participants will leave the workshop with a better understanding of old-time music, seconding, and how to learn music by ear.

Participants who want to learn a tune should know their way around their instrument (post-beginner level), bring their instrument, a recording device if desired, and be ready to learn by ear and play!

Ray Chen and Lael Sigal have played music together for four years as the lead and second fiddlers of The Corn Likkers old-time string band.

Ray has been playing and studying old-time fiddle for more than 20 years.  He’s been lucky in that time to have spent time with many master old-time fiddle players and to have spent over a decade studying with John Engle, an expert in the style of the renowned old-time fiddler Tommy Jarrell.

Lael has been playing the violin since age four.  She fell in love with old-time music in 2012 and started to study fiddle and singing.  For the past five years she has developed her skills in second fiddling after being inspired by the playing and teaching of Tricia Spencer.