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TITLE
Donald Riddell, fiddle craftsman (6 of 17)
EXTERNAL ID
GB1796_SINCLAIR_DONALDRIDDLE_06
PERIOD
1980s; 1990s
CREATOR
Donald Riddell
SOURCE
Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
ASSET ID
1919
KEYWORDS
fiddles
violins
violin
craft
crafts
music
audio

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The late, great, Donald Riddell BEM, from Kirkhill near Inverness, was a fiddler, composer, and fiddle maker. He was also a Pipe Major in the Lovat Scouts. His pupils include Duncan Chisholm, Bruce MacGregor and Iain MacFarlane.

In this audio extract, Donald talks about obtaining a good fiddle tone, a skill he learnt from Alexander Battan Grant, a fellow fiddle maker and composer. The image shows Donald working on a fiddle.

'To get good tone on a fiddle it all depends on good material in the first place, with resonant properties and knowing how to make them vibrate. A fiddle is just a wooden box of peculiar construction built as a resonator - that's all it is. And I discovered through Grant that the tone of fiddle depends on the relationship of the front and back - a speed of taper and that relationship is determined by the thickness of the wood. But this thickness - no one can ever discover it if they've got to use callipers and mathematical instruments. You've got to measure the vibrations and you do that with your ear, just by tapping, gently tapping, or brushing the plates with your fingers you can assess the speed that they're vibrating at and get the relationship adjusted that way. Generally the thicker the wood, the higher the speed of vibration, you see, and therefore the higher the pitch and the thinner you work it, the lower it goes and this is, this is comes a time when you must know the pitch you're aiming at'

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Donald Riddell, fiddle craftsman (6 of 17)

1980s; 1990s

fiddles; violins; violin; craft; crafts; music; audio

Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

Bill Sinclair Audio: Donald Riddell

The late, great, Donald Riddell BEM, from Kirkhill near Inverness, was a fiddler, composer, and fiddle maker. He was also a Pipe Major in the Lovat Scouts. His pupils include Duncan Chisholm, Bruce MacGregor and Iain MacFarlane.<br /> <br /> In this audio extract, Donald talks about obtaining a good fiddle tone, a skill he learnt from Alexander Battan Grant, a fellow fiddle maker and composer. The image shows Donald working on a fiddle.<br /> <br /> 'To get good tone on a fiddle it all depends on good material in the first place, with resonant properties and knowing how to make them vibrate. A fiddle is just a wooden box of peculiar construction built as a resonator - that's all it is. And I discovered through Grant that the tone of fiddle depends on the relationship of the front and back - a speed of taper and that relationship is determined by the thickness of the wood. But this thickness - no one can ever discover it if they've got to use callipers and mathematical instruments. You've got to measure the vibrations and you do that with your ear, just by tapping, gently tapping, or brushing the plates with your fingers you can assess the speed that they're vibrating at and get the relationship adjusted that way. Generally the thicker the wood, the higher the speed of vibration, you see, and therefore the higher the pitch and the thinner you work it, the lower it goes and this is, this is comes a time when you must know the pitch you're aiming at'