Magazine article Strings

A Fiddle with No Name

Magazine article Strings

A Fiddle with No Name

Article excerpt

Andrea Zonn, born in 1969, is a prominent singer, songwriter, classical violinist, and fiddle player who has toured or recorded with such musicians as Vince Gill, Lyle Lovett, James Taylor, Yo-Yo Ma, Randy Travis, Keb' Mo', Neil Diamond, and Alison Krauss-many of whom are featured on her latest album, Rise. She was raised in a musical family: Her father is a music theory and composition professor and her mother an oboist and pianist. Zonn began fiddling at age ten and quickly fell in love with bluegrass. She now calls Nashville her home.

-Heather K. Scott

What instrument do you play?

I play a no-name fiddle, probably Italian, from the mid-1700s. The fiddle was previously owned by Buddy Spicher, a premier fiddler who recorded with folks like Conway Twitty. I bought it through George Gruhn, who told me that every once in a while, Buddy would clear out his fiddles. I figured when I bought it that he had passed it on because he didn't want it anymore. But, interesting story: I recently had a chat with Buddy and learned that he has missed it! Turns out he sold it and another fiddle because he needed the money at the time.

What bow do you use?

My favorite is a Morizot, but I don't often use that on the road. Depending on the weather conditions, I either play a no-name French stick, or a composite. I'm still on the hunt for another bow that's as well-balanced and responsive as the Morizot, but less vulnerable.

In what condition is your fiddle?

It's currently in pieces, being completely restored. It started to become a bit frail when I took it out on the road. It's not an expensive fiddle, but it really speaks to me. So, I took it to Jerry Pasewicz' Triangle Strings in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Ryan Hayes is currently working on it. Once I get it back from the shop, Buddy and I are hoping to play together.

Is this your primary instrument?

For non-classical music, yes it is. I also bought a stop-gap fiddle last year to take on the road-it's a German fiddle. It doesn't speak to me like my no-name fiddle, but we get along. For classical playing, I play a 1690 Giovanni Tononi.

How does your no-name fiddle compare to your Tononi violin?

I've had this one for almost 30 years. I bought it in 1987, and my primary classical violin is very different from this fiddle. The fiddle tends to sound better over a microphone or through a pickup, and the violin is much better for projecting acoustically.

There's nothing delicate about this instrument-it is a meaty fiddle!

What unique gift does this fiddle bring to your playing?

I think most players experience a chemistry of sorts with their chosen instruments. To my ears, my fiddle sings differently when I play it than when other players do. The same is true when I pick up someone else's instrument: I get a different sound out of it than they do. …

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