Hutchins Library
Special Collections & Archives
Fiddle Tune Search by Kentucky County
 

The field recordings of musician-researchers Bruce Greene, Steve Green, John Harrod, Barbara Kunkle, Steve Rice, and Jeff Titon are especially strong in documenting Kentucky’s older generation fiddlers. In many instances the fiddle tunes and playing styles that they have documented date well back into the 1800s. Predominant tune sources for the fiddlers they recorded include minstrel stage music, Civil War military music, and the dance music of Britain, Ireland, and in some instances, France and Germany. Nonetheless real but less well documented, are the musical interchanges with African and Native Americans.

Transcriptions of some selected fiddle tunes from these collections have recently been produced by Appalachian Music Fellowship recipient Erynn Marshall.

A useful perspective from which to explore a large portion of Berea’s fiddle recordings, are the three broad regional traditions identified by Jeff Titon in Old-Time Kentucky Fiddle Tunes (University Press of Kentucky, 2001).

South-Central

Playing styles found most commonly in the south-central region include fiddle-banjo combinations associated with African-Americans prior to the Civil War. There is also an even older tradition of solo fiddle tunes not well suited to banjo. Representative fiddlers from this region include Doc Roberts (Madison County), Clyde Davenport (Wayne County), and Jim Bowles and Isham Monday (Monroe County). Davenport’s playing includes both styles. Bowles tends mostly toward the African-American and Monday more toward the solo style. Doc Roberts is particularly notable for the extent to which he merged more modern styles with his older repertoire, much of which came from African American fiddlers of his acquaintance.

Northeast

The more elaborate melodies that became common in the northeast tended to not be well suited to the banjo. Representative fiddlers from this region include Alfred Bailey (Bath County), Darley Fulks (Wolfe County), and Santford Kelly (Morgan County.)

Bath
Boyd
Carter
Elliott
Fleming
Greenup
Lewis
Morgan
Owen
Powell
Wolfe

Southeast
Fiddle-banjo duets were particularly prevalent in the southeast but the solo tradition was also well represented among fiddlers born as late as the 1880s and 1890s. Representative fiddlers from this region include Estill Bingham (Bell County), John Morgan Salyer (Magoffin County), and Effie Pierson (Owsley County), and Hiram Stamper (Knott County).

Bell
Floyd
Jackson
Knott
Lee
Letcher
Magoffin
Owsley
Perry
Pike
Whitley
 

Browse across and beyond regional boundaries by clicking on a specific county from the map below. (72 of Kentucky’s 120 counties are represented in the Berea recordings. Inclusion of sound files for each of these counties is progressing.)

Searches will open a new browser window. To continue searching the Berea Archives only, return to this page by closing the DLA browser window.

Fayette County Franklin County Montgomery County Fulton County Hickman County Graves County Carlisle County Ballard County McCracken County Marshall County Livingston County Lyon County Crittenden County Trigg County Caldwell County Christian County Hopkins County Webster County Union County Henderson County Daviess County McLean County Muhlenburg County Todd County Logan County Hancock County Ohio County Butler County Warren County Simpson County Calloway County Breckinridge County Grayson County Edmonson County Barren County Allen County Meade County Hardin County Hart County Metcalfe County Monroe County Cumberland County Clinton County Wayne County Adair County Green County Larue County Taylor County Russell County Jefferson County Bullitt County Nelson County Marion County Casey County Pulaski County McCreary County Washington County Boyle County Lincoln County Spencer County Mercer County Anderson County Shelby County Oldham County Trimble County Henry County Carroll County Gallatin County Owen County Scott County Woodford County Jessamine County Garrard County Madison County Rockcastle County Laurel County Whitley County Knox County Bell County Clay County Harlan County Leslie County Jackson County Owsley County Lee County Estill County Clark County Powell County Bourbon County Harrison County Grant County Pendleton County Boone County Kenton County Campbell County Bracken County Robertson County Nicholas County Bath County Mason County Fleming County Menifee County Wolfe County Breathitt County Perry County Letcher County Knott County Pike County Floyd County Martin County Johnson County Magoffin County Morgan County Lawrence County Elliott County Rowan County Lewis County Carter County Boyd County Greenup County Kentucky Map

 

Fayette County Franklin County Montgomery County Fulton County Hickman County Graves County Carlisle County Ballard County McCracken County Marshall County Livingston County Lyon County Crittenden County Trigg County Caldwell County Christian County Hopkins County Webster County Union County Henderson County Daviess County McLean County Muhlenburg County Todd County Logan County Hancock County Ohio County Butler County Warren County Simpson County Calloway County Breckinridge County Grayson County Edmonson County Barren County Allen County Meade County Hardin County Hart County Metcalfe County Monroe County Cumberland County Clinton County Wayne County Adair County Green County Larue County Taylor County Russell County Jefferson County Bullitt County Nelson County Marion County Casey County Pulaski County McCreary County Washington County Boyle County Lincoln County Spencer County Mercer County Anderson County Shelby County Oldham County Trimble County Henry County Carroll County Gallatin County Owen County Scott County Woodford County Jessamine County Garrard County Madison County Rockcastle County Laurel County Whitley County Knox County Bell County Clay County Harlan County Leslie County Jackson County Owsley County Lee County Estill County Clark County Powell County Bourbon County Harrison County Grant County Pendleton County Boone County Kenton County Campbell County Bracken County Robertson County Nicholas County Bath County Mason County Fleming County Menifee County Wolfe County Breathitt County Perry County Letcher County Knott County Pike County Floyd County Martin County Johnson County Magoffin County Morgan County Lawrence County Elliott County Rowan County Lewis County Carter County Boyd County Greenup County Kentucky Map

 

Choose from the following options to browse available fiddle sound files via the Digital Library of Appalachia.

 

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Fayette County Franklin County Montgomery County Fulton County Hickman County Graves County Carlisle County Ballard County McCracken County Marshall County Livingston County Lyon County Crittenden County Trigg County Caldwell County Christian County Hopkins County Webster County Union County Henderson County Daviess County McLean County Muhlenburg County Todd County Logan County Hancock County Ohio County Butler County Warren County Simpson County Calloway County Breckinridge County Grayson County Edmonson County Barren County Allen County Meade County Hardin County Hart County Metcalfe County Monroe County Cumberland County Clinton County Wayne County Adair County Green County Larue County Taylor County Russell County Jefferson County Bullitt County Nelson County Marion County Casey County Pulaski County McCreary County Washington County Boyle County Lincoln County Spencer County Mercer County Anderson County Shelby County Oldham County Trimble County Henry County Carroll County Gallatin County Owen County Scott County Woodford County Jessamine County Garrard County Madison County Rockcastle County Laurel County Whitley County Knox County Bell County Clay County Harlan County Leslie County Jackson County Owsley County Lee County Estill County Clark County Powell County Bourbon County Harrison County Grant County Pendleton County Boone County Kenton County Campbell County Bracken County Robertson County Nicholas County Bath County Mason County Fleming County Menifee County Wolfe County Breathitt County Perry County Letcher County Knott County Pike County Floyd County Martin County Johnson County Magoffin County Morgan County Lawrence County Elliott County Rowan County Lewis County Carter County Boyd County Greenup County Kentucky Map