7-Song History of the Fiddle in the South
The blues are primarily associated with the guitar, but a tradition of blues fiddle existed in the pre-World-War-II era. Much of “blues” and “old-time” music was very similar, and the distinction between “black” blues and “white” old-time/country music was artificially created by record companies in the early twentieth century. Both genres had similar roots, and a surprising number of blues musicians played the fiddle. After World War II, however, many black Americans migrated from the American South to the North, taking blues music with them. As blues went electric and became more distinct from country and folk, the fiddle was abandoned in favor of amplified instruments that could be heard in loud nightclubs. As a consequence, the fiddle is rarely played as a blues instrument today. “Sittin’ on Top of the World” is a standard originally written by members of the Mississippi Sheiks, who play it here. Here the fiddle player roughly mirrors the vocals during the verses and plays a solo over a different chord progression—another innovation from the folk tradition.
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