Violin and fiddle are two confusing words. Some people say they refer to the same musical instrument while others argue that they are different. Even though the two terms, violin and fiddle are often used interchangeably, there are actually a few differences between them.
Before we can look into the differences between a violin and a fiddle, let’s first look at the definition of each of the two terms. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, a violin is defined as a musical instrument that has four strings which you usually hold against your shoulder under your chin and play with a bow. The definition of a fiddle however does not vary much from that of a violin. The Free Dictionary defines a fiddle as a violin, especially one used to play folk or country music while Your Dictionary defines a fiddle as stringed instrument that is played with a bow, such as a violin. In addition, Collins Dictionary defines a fiddle as any instrument of the violin family.
Difference between violin and fiddle
Now let’s look at the differences between a violin and a fiddle. We will consider various parameters by which violin and fiddle differ from each other. These are as follows:
Type of music
A violin and a fiddle differ from each other in terms of the kind of music played by each of them. In regard to this, violin is used to play classical or jazz music while a fiddle is used to play folk and country music. In classical and jazz music, no singing accompanies the instrument while in country and folk music, singing usually accompanies the instruments being played.
Violin and fiddle also differ in terms of their structural setups. To start with, a fiddle has a flatter bridge compared to that of a violin. The violin has an arched bridge. The flat bridge of the fiddle allows for double and triple stop bowing while the arched bridge of the violin allows for single noting.
Secondly, the strings of a fiddle are mostly made of steel while those of a violin are synthetic in most cases. The steel used in fiddles is important for sound and durability.
The violin and fiddle serve different purposes. The violin usually plays clearly defined notes. It adheres to the composer’s interpretation of a given piece of music in addition to expressing the musical performer’s own interpretation of the music. The violin also includes clear treble reading. The fiddle on the other hand only expresses the performer’s own interpretation of a given piece of music. Unlike a violinist who can reproduce a composer’s piece of music, a fiddle player can deviate so much from the original music such that what they are playing becomes unrecognisable.
The violin and fiddle differ in terms of their accompaniments. The violin is usually accompanied by other instruments in the violin family such as violas, cellos, and other violins. The fiddle on the other hand is usually accompanied by completely different instruments such as drums and guitar.
Violins are considered more valuable than fiddles. Fiddlers usually play on cheaper instruments in comparison to the instruments which violinists use. The retail price of a violin can go upto $100,000 while a fiddle can cost around $50.
The level of skills required for playing a violin and playing a fiddle differ. Playing a fiddle may not require much training but playing a fiddle usually requires much professional training. Playing a violin requires much professional training because of the accuracy that is needed when playing a violin.