Today the Japanese one-string fiddle is likely to be regarded as little more than a curio to be bought for a few pounds at auction. A chordophone of simple construction, they amount to little more than a small, usually wooden, soundbox pierced by a long neck, a wire string, and are played upright like a cello. Despite its name, the Japanese one-string fiddle did not originate in Japan, and it first appeared as the Chinese fiddle in 1853 as a solo turn in a blackface act in New York. Popularised on the British music hall stage in the late nineteenth century by ‘The White-eyed Kaffir’, George Chirgwin, the instrument faded from view in the 1950s. Few nineteenth-century examples of the Japanese one-string fiddle survive and the instrument’s history must be constructed from newspaper reports, lithographic images and from the twentieth-century amateur enthusiasm for the instrument. It was supplied with factory-made instruments and by the home hobby and handicrafts industries that began in the late 1800s and which distributed a range of Japanese one-string fiddles as free, detailed paper plans, or kits of bundled wood and a string.
|Pages (from-to)||131-152 & 202-203|
|Number of pages||23|
|Journal||Galpin Society Journal|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Mar 2020|
Bibliographical note12,524 words
- Popular music
- Music Hall