Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Burt Feintuch, Lynwood Montell, Charles Guthrie


This thesis was submitted the department of Modern Languages & Intercultural Studies which no longer exists.

Degree Program

Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


English-language texts associated with fiddle and banjo in the southern United States are described and then indexed for comparative reference. The fiddle songs are typically humorous, very brief, highly variable and disunified. The same is true of many banjo songs associated with the banjo. Ballads in the fiddle and the banjo repertory are not indexed if previously catalogued by Child or Laws.

Fiddle and banjo songs are defined as texts associated with fiddle or banjo playing, either through instrumental accompaniment or because informants mentally associate them with the fiddle or banjo. Various ways of performing the songs are enumerated, with particular attention to instrumental accompaniment and the square-dance context. The texts are often improvised, and they tend to be formulaic. The nature of formula is discussed, with analysis of certain formulaic structures in fiddle and banjo verses.

The disunity and variability of most fiddle and banjo songs has made them difficult to compare. They are therefore indexed, not as integral texts, but as stanzas which are taken as self-contained entities. The Index of Stanzas is compiled from printed collections and from fieldwork in West Virginia. Stanzas are arranged according to subject matter, with cross references and an open-ended numbering system to allow for expansion. Anglo-American and Afro-American texts are indexed together, and some useful information pertaining to the provenience and the context of each stanza is included.


Anthropology | Folklore | Music | Musicology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social and Cultural Anthropology