Thinking about how Scottish fiddlers handled their instruments in the days before the shoulder support and chin rest I remembered that wonderful book(let) produced a decade or so by the Rutland Press, Edinburgh: Elegance & Entertainment in the New Town of Edinburgh. The Harden Drawings. With and essay by Iain Gordon Brown. (Edinburgh, 1995). This little book, along with Memoirs of a Highland lady; the autobiography of Elizabeth Grant of Rothiemurchus, is invaluable in illustrating popular upper-class music practice in Edinburgh, Scotland and elsewhere in the first decades of the nineteenth century. The Harden drawings capture violin, flute and keyboard music sessions including some great depictions of fiddlers playing “off the shoulder”:
An accordion and fiddle /
fit nimbly together their different natures /
with such bouncing wit it makes small /
the darkenss outside that goes straight up /
for ever and ever.
- Norman MacCaig 1978