Chatter and Chitter Music

My Very Own Fiddle

Today’s post was written by Chitter.

girl holding fiddle

Chitter and her 1863 Fiddle

Music is a permanent fixture in my life. My family is blessed with musical talent, so naturally everywhere I go people want to talk music with me. They like to talk about the good old days when Pap made music.

For as far back as I can remember there has been music in my home.

Some of my first musical memories are vague tones and notes floating through the floor from our basement into my crib when I was a child. Pap and his music friends chose our basement as a jam space, and even though I didn’t know it then, those musical memories will last me a lifetime.

As far as instruments go, the fiddle has always interested me and I have played for almost ten years now with the same instrument. Several months back I started wanting something different, something with a bolder richer tone. 

I expressed my feelings to a friend and he said “Just wait. You don’t need to find the fiddle, it will find you.” He knew I was a little frustrated and impatient, but I was trying my best.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized I could wait. A couple of weeks passed by, and this same friend sent me an email about a fiddle he found for sale. I was so excited I called the gentleman with the fiddle and ended up buying it from him. I’ve had it for a month or so and I love it dearly. It fits me well and feels like an old friend.

The fiddle is from Denmark. The label inside reads 1863. There’s also a notice that some repairs were done in the 1930’s in Europe.

I wondered how did it get here from Denmark?

The man who sold me the fiddle told me he got it from a local man named Randall Collins some years ago. Randall said a Danish man sold it to him and told him he brought it from Denmark when he came to America, and that it was his grandfather’s. The fiddle traveled in and around Denmark being played and enjoyed and now it will travel in and around Brasstown where I will play and enjoy it.


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  • Reply
    Mickey white
    June 4, 2021 at 7:54 pm

    how do you take care of a fiddle and what is the stuff they put on the bow?|
    PS love your mom’s yourtubes

  • Reply
    Ray Presley
    February 16, 2021 at 8:41 pm

    Well, I’m totally hooked. Started watching the videos of Appalachian speech, then listened to the girls singing and then visited the John C. Campbell Folk School that you mentioned. To me there’s no better musical experience than listening to a bunch of people sitting around on the porch or wherever playing some pure country/folk music. My mother introduced me to dulcimer (she called it a dulcimore) and now I have hers as well as one that my wife bought me from John Maxwell, who lived in Nashville and made each one by hand

  • Reply
    Susan Jones
    February 2, 2020 at 10:29 pm

    Chitter, your new fiddle’s “coming out” video was the perfect way to close a beautiful, sun-drenched Sunday. As you played Amazing Grace, my wind chimes sang along from the back porch and I kept time. Yep, it’s a special one, all right, but only as special as the fiddler.
    I hope you enjoy it until you are an old, old woman and your musical, great-grandchildren have to draw straws to see who gets to play their way into the next century on Grannie’s 1863 fiddle!

  • Reply
    January 24, 2020 at 9:34 pm

    Loved reading how music is such a wonderful part of all your lives , so glad your fiddle found you. I enjoy the unique sound of a fiddle , fast moving or quiet and slow..

  • Reply
    January 24, 2020 at 8:13 pm

    That is awesome I’m so glad for you, I know your so proud, congratulations.

  • Reply
    January 24, 2020 at 4:52 pm

    This is a wonderful story- thank you for sharing it!

  • Reply
    Uncle Al
    January 24, 2020 at 4:13 pm

    What a great piece of history. Congratulations and I’m sure you long enjoy it.

  • Reply
    January 24, 2020 at 4:07 pm

    The fiddle looks BEAUTIFUL and what a fantastic historic story of its beginnings. You are so blessed for it to find you. I look forward to hearing it being played by you. My husband’s father gave him his great-grandfather’s violin/fiddle that was said to have been brought over from Ireland. It was in terrible shape in an old wooden case. We took it to a violin repair shop and it cost $300.00 to just get it better shape. Can’t play it. The repair man said it was made early 1900 so the family story may not be true because that family came here in 1630. It sure doesn’t look as beautiful as your fiddle.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    January 24, 2020 at 12:09 pm

    I noticed that you had a new fiddle. The old one didn’t have the fine tuners on the strings. The new one has a deeper richer tone, a warm sound. Older fiddles are usually that way. The wood mellows with age and playing. Hopefully it will continue to sound better and better.
    The new old fiddle looks bigger to me? Is it a 4/4?

  • Reply
    Jeanette Queen
    January 24, 2020 at 10:34 am

    Such a great story of your Fiddle ! I love it, so glad you’re fiddling on and keeping the musical heritage alive !
    So neat that the Danish fiddle has a beautiful, Appalachian Fiddler, sawing them strings !

  • Reply
    Betty Hopkins
    January 24, 2020 at 9:30 am

    Interesting!!! We have a family of fiddle players, too … my brother Dean, my cousin Bobby, and my Uncle Vaughn Saxon! You may know Bobby from the Country Cousins who have played the Sorghum Festival for years, but Bobby finally had to hang his fiddle up due to arthritis. And Randall Collins is known around our area as one of the best fiddle players around, so I’m sure he had the best instruments. In fact, my mother gave my brother Dean $5 for his first fiddle lesson from Randall, and he has been hooked ever since. Dean said although he gets paid when he plays for events, he’d pay them to let him play. He loves it that much!

  • Reply
    January 24, 2020 at 9:29 am

    What a wonderful post! I’ve always heard good things come to those who wait. I admire folks like you who can play a fiddle or violin, and make beautiful jewelry.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    January 24, 2020 at 9:11 am

    I love fiddle music and old fiddles. Old fiddles get your mind to wondering, who made them, who played them, where all have they been. I bought a fiddle at an estate auction that had hung in a barn for many years. The 90 some year old man that owned the fiddle had another fiddle he played. I got out bid on that one. The barn hanging fiddle I got for $25. and it was in rough shape. I had already taken several fiddles apart and repaired them, so I took this one apart and repaired it. It had a sticker in it showing it had been repaired in 1892. Although my Dad already had several fiddles he liked the tone of my French made fiddle and I let him have it. He played that fiddle up until his death.
    Chitter keep learning those old tunes and composing new ones. They become harder to learn, at least for me, now that I’ve gotten older.

  • Reply
    January 24, 2020 at 8:55 am

    Finding that fiddle is just one of those things that was meant to be. It looks like it was made for you. Hopefully your family will continue to make music for many years to come and they can use this picture when they write their story 100 years from now.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    January 24, 2020 at 8:45 am

    Did it, I wonder, start out as a violin in Europe and become a fiddle in Appalachia? I’m not being smart. I mean could it be an illustration of European to American cultural change; different folkways and lifeways but a love of music a common feature?

    The local genealogical society might have, or could get from the public, further insight into that story of a Danish immigrant arriving sometime after 1930. Generally speaking, genealogist are happy to help and love making the historical connections. But I can understand a reluctance to maybe create a conflict within yourself. I expect I would feel that way anyhow. In some ways it would be great to know more, just not in every way.

  • Reply
    Jack Yates (AKA Howland)
    January 24, 2020 at 8:38 am

    Chitter: I’ve been reading this blog since before you owned a fiddle; I remember when you first showed up with it and I’ve watched your progress with it as well as Corie’s guitar work. I remember when someone said that your fiddle sounded raspy; it was I who suggested getting an aluminum A-string to smooth it out. It worked for me! Now, if we could just find a pre-1964 Kalamazoo-built Gibson for Corrie…

  • Reply
    Bob Dalsemer
    January 24, 2020 at 8:36 am

    May you and your fiddle make lots of great music for many years to come and especially play for dances at the Folk School!

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    January 24, 2020 at 8:03 am

    Congratulations! We look forward to hearing it!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    January 24, 2020 at 7:58 am

    A wonderful story and also perfect that you have the history. So many times that is lost

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    January 24, 2020 at 7:40 am

    Just like that fiddle your music will become part of Brasstown’s history.
    Keep on keepin on.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 24, 2020 at 7:38 am

    All you have to do, Chitter, is believe and all things will come to you! You have already experienced that, now all you have to do is remember it!
    It’s a beautiful fiddle and will be a good companion to you as you spend the next 50 years or so getting acquainted!

  • Reply
    Trent Wren
    January 24, 2020 at 6:47 am

    What you think of as a fiddle I think of as a History textbook. It was made during the American Civil War to start. Your average immigrant didn’t have a lot of space on the ship for baggage, nor would he want to carry by hand too much stuff. Yet he thought enough of that instrument to bring it to the new country. And everyone else in its history thought enough of it to keep it in good condition for 157 years, That fiddle has seen a wave of immigration, then migration to Appalachia, currently to you, and gosh only knows knows where it will go in the future, when we are part of history.

    That instrument is also a History book, and it is still being written.

  • Reply
    Leon Pantenburg
    January 24, 2020 at 6:29 am

    My latest fiddle also found me. It belonged to my best friend from college. He bought it in 1973, and played it for a while before giving it up. The fiddle became a wall ornament at his house for the next 30+ years. My wife and I were visiting, and I noticed the fiddle. Long story short, he gave it to me. I had it re-worked and now I play it every day. I started out with my great-grandfather’s violin, which also found me. I love the old time music, played on old instruments!

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    January 24, 2020 at 6:18 am

    Obviously The gentleman who told you a fiddle would find you was correct, how else can you explain a Danish Fiddle now living in Brasstown, NC located in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains. I’m sure the fiddle has found it’s home with Chitter to love and continue to free the beautiful music waiting to be freed by her hopefully for years to come. Congratulations!

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