The Role of the Violin in Two of the Musical Folk Traditions of Trinidad and Tobago

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  • Topic: Violin, String instrument, Guitar
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  • Published : February 13, 2013
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The role of the Violin in Two of the Musical Folk Traditions of Trinidad and Tobago.

By Janelle Xavier

Research Project Proposal: The role of the Violin in 2 of the Musical Folk Traditions of Trinidad and Tobago. By Janelle Xavier
Proposal Descriptions:
This research paper compiles primary and secondary data from interviews with violinists who work or have worked specifically in folk music in the Trinidad and Tobago. It seeks to investigate and document the reasons for and the importance of the violin in Caribbean music culture. The paper will also seek to notarise some elements of folk violin pedagogy. The report will form the basis of an electronic blog and will consist of a proposal, typed interviews, and a general list of interview questions, pictures, audio recordings and music scores.

Project Rationale:
1. Cultural information transmitted through written word and musical scores can lose much of their meaning and intent when read, because of the nuisances of both language and melody. For instance, when most ethnic musical styles are notated using the standard begun outside of their context, they are usually played without their correct ‘swing’ or ‘feel’. 2. In November 2011, St. Lucian folk violinist Joseph Ives Simeon died at 87, taking a rich violin pedagogy with him. The player has many recordings, but much of his style died with him. This project is the beginning of this researcher’s (and classical string player from the Caribbean) attempt to preserve the pedagogical information inherent only in the different styles of Caribbean string folk playing, for use by Caribbean players.

Objectives:
1. To audio record the sounds and actions of violin playing in the Caribbean folk context. 2. To document the musical views and ideas of current exponents of Caribbean folk violin playing. 3. To define the role of the violin in varying Trinbagonian folk traditions 4. To chart the evolution of the roles of the instrument in Trinbagonian culture

General Interview Questionnaire:
* How did you learn to play the violin? (How did you learn to play the violin in folk music?) * What types of events do you play for? And what is the significance of your instrument in that setting? * Do you have any stories about your experience of folk violin playing as a spectator? (now and in the past)? * What were the most important lessons your teacher taught you? * Can you describe your holds for the violin and bow?

* Can you describe your bowing style?
* Please describe your fingering style.
* Do you admire any other players (now and in the past)? * Have you ever played classically? How do you feel this style differs in the way it feels OR Is it comfortable to play in this way for long periods of time, or was it ever more difficult to play for longer periods of time? * What are the different types of music that you play? Can you play an example of each? What are the differences among them?

The Violin and the Musical Folk Traditions of Trinidad and Tobago.
Introduction
2012 marks the Centennial Anniversary of the first ever recording of Calypso music. Engrained in wax (a new technology in 1912), this first recording was ‘Mango Vert’, an instrumental composition by George R.L. ‘Lovey’ Baille (a melody known today as the folk tune Mangoes, with added lyrics by Olive Walke). The stylish, well structured, yet heavily improvised piece was recorded by Lovey’s String Band, a group lead by violins.

This paper hopes to explore the violin’s role in Trinbagonian culture in a holistic sense. Apart from the String Bands of yesteryear, we will look at the instrument’s role in Tobago’s Tamb’rin music and the Christmas season staple of Parang. At present, in all three areas, it must be said, the use of the instrument is almost non-existent. My interviews with modern violinists who have worked in and experienced our folk traditions for at least...
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