The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #58629   Message #928713
Posted By: greg stephens
08-Apr-03 - 11:49 AM
Thread Name: creative output of folk fiddlers
Subject: creative output of folk fiddlers
I have just been indulging in a little idle speculation. The question is, about how many tunes did your bog-standard fiddler actually make up? Trouble is, where do you start making even a ball-park estimate. Let's say, just to take England as an example, that we look at say 1600-1900 as the period in which the vast majority of the traditional fiddle repertoire was created. At a guess, there are something of the order of 10,000 tunes written down/recorded in some other way. But that's only a very vague guess. Anyone care to make a better guess? And then we'd have to guess, how many tunes were made up, but didnt get far enough or last long enough to actually make it into a note-book or publication(or did make it on to paper, but the paper hasnt survivrd).
   And then we need to know how many fiddlers operated in that period. Judging by diaries, farmers accounts, newspapers etc etc there must have been something like one fiddler per village as a rough rule of thumb. Perhaps 1% of the population?? Which adds up to a lot of fiddlers over three hundred years. But how many? A thousand, or a hundred thousand, at any one time?   And if there were a thousand at any one time, how many does that make in 300 years?
   The floor is yours. My guess is that there were many many more fiddlers than tunes, but the figures might be of the same vague order of magnitude.