fiddleIn the mountains the traditional ballads are dying out, largely through the competition of native ballads and hillbilly songs, though the folk festivals have helped revive them.  Meanwhile, folk music is still as vigorous and flourishing as when Bob Taylor’s fiddle, rifle, ax and Bible were the humble penates of the pioneer’s cabin.  As one North Carolina fiddler and fiddle maker put it years ago, while explaining and demonstrating the different tunings for different pieces:

“I’m a fiddler, you know, not a violinist.  What I play is old-time stuff.  I don’t know a thing about music.  Yes, I made that fiddle.  It’s got my name on it.  It’s not a very good job; it isn’t finished up.  I play quite a number of tunes.  They’re what you call old-fashioned stuff.  You may not know them…Scolding Wife, Sandy River, a piece you may know as Calico, and another called Happy Holler, Cluck Old Hen.  Old time stuff.  Cumberland Gap, Turkey in the Straw, Cripple Creek, Sourwood Mountain.  The selection fits the key.  But there’s not one in one thousand that does it.  They all tune their violins to the regular key.  I don’t know a thing about music.”