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At the heart of English folk
Dave Swarbrick

The English Fiddle Symposium - Call for Papers & Participants

Newcastle University in partnership with Sage Gateshead, have announced the first English Fiddle Symposium, running from Thursday 30 April - Friday 1 May as a sister event to the Folkworks Fiddles on Fire festival at Sage Gateshead. They are currently looking for people to contribute at the conference - see their message below.

The aim of the English Fiddle Symposium is to bring together a wide range of expertise, thinking and practice, to discover the "state of the nation" for the fiddle in traditional English music. We aim to discuss and document the current shared aesthetics of performance practice, and to provide a forum for the further dialogue about regional styles, repertoire, belonging and mediation of traditional English music. In so doing we aim to share understandings about the fiddle tradition in the English context, in terms of the transmission, educational utility and digitalization of English folk music, the place of song accompaniment in shaping the new tradition and ultimately, to create a useful resource focused upon the fiddle in English traditional music.

We welcome contributions from a wide range of practice, including but not limited to the disciplines of musicology, ethnomusicology, history, performance practice, arts management, policy-making etc.

The following list of topics is indicative and not meant to be exclusive:

  • Work on existing archives and other forms of retrieval of old repertoires
  • New contributions to English fiddle repertoire or practice
  • The role of the fiddle in ensemble playing and the use of fiddle as self-accompaniment to song
  • The fiddle in social, traditional or ceremonial dance
  • Is there a distinctive English fiddle style? Where do the borders lie? Is it more meaningful to refer to surviving (or emerging) regionalities such as Southwest, Northeast etc?
  • The influence of Scandinavian and other European repertoires on English practice
  • Case studies of notable practitioners, past or present
  • Practice-based or mixed contributions

A selection of papers will be included in an edited book or journal.

The deadline for submission of abstracts is 23rd January 2015. The selected contributors will be notified by 1 February 2015.
Proposals for individual papers (20 minutes with ten additional minutes for discussion) and for panels (up to one hour) will be considered. Abstracts (300 words maximum) should be submitted to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with a short biographical note. Proposals for panels should also include an abstract for each individual paper.


We are witnessing a successful revival in English folk music, a thriving performing scene, and robust teaching traditions. However, in comparison to the visibility of World and Celtic musics, English folk music has been neglected within the public discourse, particularly in the press, radio and television.

The English media, although they comprise a substantial and highly articulate audience for music of ‘the Other’, they often revert to lazy cliché or tired denigration of indigenous musical traditions. English traditional music and English folk music are today healthier than ever before, but are unevenly geographically distributed. The Edwardian collectors, in particular, discovered and preserved much of our dance music, met many players and documented what they found. But old music is still being unearthed, re-contextualized and recorded by modern collectors, performers and enthusiasts. Today there is a substantive community of professional and semi-professional performers driving the current folk revival performing alongside and within vibrant community settings where English folk music constitutes a powerful practice for community belonging and social cohesion.

17 October 2014

Eliza Carthy
Catriona Macdonald
(Symposium Directors)

International Centre for Music Studies,
School of Arts & Cultures,
Armstrong Building,
Newcastle University,
Newcastle upon Tyne,
NE1 7RU.


National Youth Folk Ensemble

National Youth Folk Ensemble


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