Sunday, July 4, 2010

Eric Marten, fiddler

Eric Marten, violinist, music teacher and historian, delighted the visitors of a school house (c. 1845, from Manhasset) at the Old Bethpage Village Restoration with traditional tunes on this swelteringly hot Independence Day.

Eric played one of four 19th century violins in the possession of the Village. This violin/fiddle differed from a modern day instrument in a number of ways - sheep gut strings produced milder, richer, less metallic sound, the violin had no chin rest and no fine tuners. It was tuned differently from the standard GDAE and its pitch was lower than modern A-440. 

The simple tunes were charming, warm, and catching. It was not difficult to imagine dancers moving gently to the rhythm. If not for the fact that we wanted to preserve the gravitas of the place, were eager to hear more music and more information (and were very hot), we would have danced ourselves, right there, in the small, one room school house.

Eric Marten is the music historian at the museum. He has extensive knowledge of period tunes and instruments. Over the years he has been involved in the works of The Long Island Traditional Music Association (LITMA), where he currently conducts Young Musicians Fiddle Instruction Series workshops, The Barnburners, The Long Island Fiddlemonic Orchestra, The "No Frills" Contradance Orchestra, and various school fiddle clubs on Long Island.

If you need information about traditional tunes, period instruments at the Village, or just want to play music, contact Eric at 1.516.359.3801.

In the following video, Eric plays the fiddle while his wife plays limberjack, a wooden instrument.

More fiddle music performed by Eric can be found on YouTube:

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