Archive for November, 2007

Fiddle Or Violin?

November 23, 2007

Both words, Fiddle and Violin, come from a common source. The source for these words is the Old Roman Latin word Vitula. Vitula was one of the many Roman Holidays celebrated by the ancient Romans. Roman Holidays were a time of fun and merry making, in some instances the slaves served by their masters. More than half of the Roman calendar was honored with a Roman Holiday. The word Vitula seems to be in honor of a goddess of life, or liveliness. It’s related to the word Vitus, Life. The day was celebrated by the musical accompaniment of stringed instruments played with a bow. These were fairly quiet instruments, as the sound post had not yet been invented, and were used mostly for their rhythmic quality. So both the Germanic word Fiddle, and the French-Italian word violin come from the same source and are equally correct. To my ears Fiddle sounds closest to the source, so I prefer that word. And besides, I don’t speak French.

Nero playing fiddleNeroNero playing fiddleNero playing fiddle

The Origins Of Old Time Music In America

November 23, 2007

In 1798 Napoleon, the great leader of the French Republic and the Grand Army, led 38,000 troops as well as civilian archaeologists into Egypt and commenced to digging around the pyramids and the Sphinx. Buried deep under the feet of the Sphinx he uncovered tunes dating back to the very beginning of civilization, music as old as Egypt herself. Things did not go well in Egypt and he still had the world to conquer, so he decided to sell the tunes and some land to the United States in order to finance his plan to spread the ideals of Democracy to all of Europe. President Thomas Jefferson was a great lover of music and was excited to give these great tunes to the American people as a gift, so in 1803 he purchased these tunes and the land from Napoleon for 15 million dollars. As the tunes were paid for with public funds, these tunes are public domain and belong to every American to do with as we please. My thanks go to Napoleon, Thomas Jefferson, and all the great old time musicians and musicologists that have studied and interpreted these fine tunes from ancient Egypt, these great American Fiddle Tunes.


French Harp

November 23, 2007

Here’s an interesting bit of history about the harmonica. It seems that when Napoleon was digging up those old tunes in Egypt he also uncovered the instruments used to play the tunes. A mouth organ fitted with reeds, from the Reed Sea. He also discovered that many of the tomb paintings are actually illustrations of the dance steps used to accompany the music. Napoleon loved the instrument and the music and wished to share it with the rest of Europe, so he called it the Hamtrombonium, in honor of Ham, the biblical founder of Egypt, and began on his quest of spreading the joy to the rest of the world. But folks got the name confused with the Harmonica invented by Ben Franklin a few years before, and anyway Napoleon had a hard time pronouncing the hard consonants in the word Hamtrombonium. The French have what is known as a lazy tongue and try to avoid consonants, replacing them with vowels. Probably from eating snails. This is illustrated by the fact that the word Fiddle, when spoken by a Frenchman, sounds something like Violin, from which we get that word. In France snails are thought of as a venison. The dance that accompanies the music came to be known as Hambone, as depicted in the tomb paintings. Along with the music we Americans acquired these treasures from Egypt in 1803 with the Louisiana Purchase. And that is why the Harmonica is known as the French Harp.

Or it could be because you use your tongue to play it.Hambone