ISO Satan's fiddler.
February 15, 2008 3:54 PM   Subscribe

Name the darkest, most evil fiddle player out there. Atonal, discordant, scratchy, and furious are all big pluses.

This isn't for any type of public performance, so any kind of recording is ok- be it you tube, itunes, CD, or what have you.
posted by Thin Lizzy to Media & Arts (33 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Ashley MacIsaac's album Fine Thank You Very Much is the most ferocious fiddle album I've ever heard. The best part (to me at least) is that it's totally traditional. Not cheesy pub band crap but a guy who knows all the tunes playing his ass off. He's totally apeshit crazy too, and that ocmes across in a great way.
posted by sully75 at 4:10 PM on February 15, 2008

The guy on Birds of Fire^ was pretty awful.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 4:13 PM on February 15, 2008

Laurie Anderson comes to mind for "atonal, discordant, evil, dark..." Here's a clip of "Speak My Language", from Wong Kar Wai's film, Fallen Angels.
posted by kaseijin at 4:18 PM on February 15, 2008

Granted... her violin is quite non-traditional.
posted by kaseijin at 4:19 PM on February 15, 2008

Oh! Also, the Pogues.
posted by kaseijin at 4:23 PM on February 15, 2008

Warren Ellis, of The Dirty Three?
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 4:27 PM on February 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Iva Bittová? very caried career, but something like this? or this?
posted by Rumple at 4:47 PM on February 15, 2008

For me it would have to be Sid Page who played with Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks and many others.

Listen to his tortured solo in I Scare My Self from either version and you'll agree.
posted by mattoxic at 4:49 PM on February 15, 2008

Better example of extreme squeek.
posted by Rumple at 4:49 PM on February 15, 2008

Best answer: She plays viola, not violin, but she fulfills all other requirements you've listed: my old friend LaDonna Smith.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:52 PM on February 15, 2008

Mark Wood
posted by Wolfdog at 4:56 PM on February 15, 2008

Presumably you really do mean "fiddle" as opposed to "violin", right? Same instrument, but drastically different ways of performing. (One time I heard Itzhak Perlman try to play "fiddle" on his Stradivarius, and he was terrible. He's probably the finest violinist alive, but fiddle is entirely different.)

The first of the two fiddle solos in "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" (Charlie Daniels Band) may fit your bill. That's what the Devil plays in his competition with a guy named Johnny, and it is just as you describe it: dark, furious, discordant, atonal.
posted by Class Goat at 4:57 PM on February 15, 2008

(Not fiddles) John Cale's viola on Venus in Furs (from the first Velvet Underground album, but he kills it solo live), and George Crumb's Black Angels.
posted by Bigfoot Mandala at 5:08 PM on February 15, 2008

Scarlet Rivera, who played on Dylan's "Desire". She's kinda fiddle-raunchy.
posted by wafaa at 5:09 PM on February 15, 2008

Best answer: Michael Gordon's Industry is a cello piece inspired by a "vision of a 100-foot cello made out of steel suspended from the sky." The sound gets gradually more distorted and monstrous as it progresses -- here is a clip, though you really gotta hear the whole piece.
posted by speicus at 5:29 PM on February 15, 2008

The music of New Wave/No Wave fiddler Walter Steding (featured briefly in 'Downtown 81,' now better known as a visual artist) has been used in some locales as a legal if not ethical alternative to waterboarding.
posted by Kinbote at 5:38 PM on February 15, 2008

Response by poster: Well done, hive mind and feel free to keep the posts coming until I'm out of my skull with insane fiddle music (though I do appreciate the other stringed instruments as well).

If it helps to narrow the field, I'm very happy with a few of the Bittova tracks as well as the Michael Gordon piece, and I just bought "The Compass" by LaDonna Smith from itunes. Sifting through all the suggestions has been lots of fun though.
posted by Thin Lizzy at 6:10 PM on February 15, 2008

Burning Star Core.
posted by tew at 6:19 PM on February 15, 2008

An incomplete list of jazz violinists-not-fiddlers, in descending order of 'out'-ness: Billy Bang, Mark Feldman, Owen 'Fiidla' Brown, Regina Carter.
posted by box at 6:21 PM on February 15, 2008

Estradasphere's own Timb Harris. Disclaimer: Estradasphere is my favorite band in the world.
posted by Mach5 at 6:33 PM on February 15, 2008

I'll add Leroy Jenkins to box's list of jazz violinists.
posted by thedanimal at 6:48 PM on February 15, 2008

Agreeing with sully75 with the Ashley MacIsaac, but I'd suggest instead/as well a different album choice, given that you seem to want the heaviest, craziest, furious-est fiddle you can find. That would be his album Hi, How Are You Today? It features garage guitars, what can only be described as grunge bagpipes, and more ferocious fiddling than you can shake a bow at. Now, it'll be more buried in the mix than with Fine, Thank You Very Much, but oh, what a mix to be buried in!
posted by roombythelake at 6:51 PM on February 15, 2008

There have been MANY fiddlers like this over the months on the Bowed podcast, -- and if you ask the guy who runs it this question, he will probably be delighted to give you answers. He seems to be an expert on, or at least a serious connoisseur of, dark/edgy fiddling.
posted by lorimer at 8:05 PM on February 15, 2008

Oh, how could I forget Carla Kihlstedt?
posted by speicus at 9:53 PM on February 15, 2008

Tony Conrad, who early on played with John Cale in Theatre of Eternal Music. Legend has it that Cale and Lou Reed moved into Conrad's old apartment and found a copy of a book called The Velvet Underground.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:02 PM on February 15, 2008

King of the Slums.
posted by gene_machine at 1:24 AM on February 16, 2008

Paul Mercer does some amazing electric fiddle work. I've seen him several times live at D*Con Atlanta.
posted by bprater at 2:31 AM on February 16, 2008

Atonal, discordant, scratchy fiddle is how I make my living. I'm taking it you mean fiddle, as opposed to classical violin. Often the scratchyness is the bow pressing hard enough to produce volume and the discordant is what happens when you ornament at high volume. And high violume is necessary when playing to a room full of dancers who are drinking and yelling, which is what constitutes "fun" in places where fiddles are still used to generate "fun." And there ain't a heck of a lot of places still doing that in the 21st century.

In the US, the older Cajun musicians like Dennis McGee (1893-1989) are the sound you want. He's in a youtube clip here and here, discussing his friend Amedee Ardoin, the` creole musician and father of Zydeco (with scratchy fiddler Canray Fontenot included as well.) The best modern practioner of this Creole style is probably Cedric Watson who plays with the Pine Leaf Boys.

Im going through a heavy Brazilian fiddle phase, checking into the northeastern Uber-Funk traditions known as Cavalo Marinho. They use an old portuguese fiddle known as a rabeca alongside percussion instruments. It's plenty scratchy.

As for other scratchy styles, there is the northern Italian village fiddling of Resia, in the Friuli district near the Slovene border.

I live and play mostly in Hungary, and in our neck of the woods my faves are the band from Tecso (Tjaciv in ukrainian) - Hutsul-Ukrainian music that is still played in the western Ukraine. In Romania there are still a lot of rural fiddle traditions, such as the Gyimes fiddle style. The the Bihor region they make a resonator fiddle with a trumpet horn (vioara cu goarne... self link) that exploits the scratchiness of the fiddle to the nth degree (warning: lyrics NSFW in Romania!.) (A lot of these videos are self-links to my youtube site. It's hard to stay out of the picture sometimes.)

My absolute favorite fiddle band is the village Gypsy band from Palatka in the Mezoseg region of central Transylvania, in Romania. They have a family traditon of highly ornamented slow tunes that depend of executing dense ornamentation and bow slurs in unison in order to create a huge volume that can be heard acoustically at weddings. This is also the backbone of the tanchaz revival scene in Budapest. Bonchida ain't bad either...
posted by zaelic at 4:42 AM on February 16, 2008 [7 favorites]

oops... I blew one of the Cedric Watson links up there... here it is...
posted by zaelic at 5:26 AM on February 16, 2008

C. Yeh of Burning Star Core and the violist of Noxagt. Though neither of those are "traditional fiddle," as such; they're more in the direction of experimental noise rock.
posted by ubersturm at 5:32 AM on February 16, 2008

Ahg! Just woke up... screwed the pooch on the resia link as well.
posted by zaelic at 5:43 AM on February 16, 2008

Mark O'Connor's version of The Devil Went Down to Georgia (with Charlie Daniels) is darker than the original IMHO. You can find it on his CD named "Heroes". Read the next to last paragraph in this review for more -
posted by andreap at 4:32 PM on February 16, 2008

posted by Demogorgon at 6:51 PM on February 16, 2008

« Older Help with curl   |   I'm a hurtin' skeptical wuss. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.