Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Jeffrey Taylor

Committee Members

Joseph Straus

Stephanie Jensen-Moulton

Daniel Phillips

Subject Categories

Music Performance


Charles Ives, fiddling, violin sonata, New England fiddle, interpretation, pedagogy


In his violin sonatas, Charles Ives frequently parodies fiddling style, both through overt quotes of fiddle tunes, as well as inventive compositional devices that mimic the fiddler’s style of bowing, ornamenting a melody, or generally rustic performance. Given the breadth of these fiddling allusions, it is important that violinists who perform Ives’s sonatas understand the distinctive aesthetics of fiddle performance, including the numerous ways in which it diverges from classical performance. In this dissertation, I survey pedagogical writings on fiddling, notated tunes, and recorded fiddling performances in an effort to characterize the performance practices of fiddlers from Ives’s native New England region. My findings from this study are then applied to the subsequent performance analysis of Ives’s Second Violin Sonata, in which I discuss technical and interpretational considerations to help violinists mimic fiddlers and fiddle music. Specifically, this analysis examines issues of bow stroke and execution, bowing patterns, fingerings, ornamentation, use of vibrato, tone color, and general performance aesthetics.