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'Henry Reed playing the fiddle in his living room'
Henry Reed playing the fiddle in his living room

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Listen to Henry Reed playing "Turkey in the Straw."

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Fiddler Henry Reed of Virginia
Have you ever heard traditional fiddle music? One well-known fiddler, Henry Reed, grew up in Glen Lyn, Virginia. Reed was born in 1884 and grew up in a musical family. He spent most of his life performing fiddle tunes that bring to mind the history of the state's Appalachian frontier. Reed learned an amazing number of tunes, most of them by ear. He knew a wide variety of melodies, such as those from the early American frontier, waltzes, popular tunes from the turn of the 20th century, and 19th century marches.

The style of Henry Reed's fiddle playing, like the style of other older fiddlers in the South, is a combination of different influences. For instance, the rhythms he used came from both European and African American influences. American Indian music may also have made an impact on the method of playing that Reed learned so many years ago.

During the mid-1960s, folklorist Alan Jabbour recorded Henry Reed performing fiddle tunes. Many of the traditional tunes Reed played became popular again during the fiddling revival of the later 20th century.

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CREDIT: Jabbour, Karen Singer, photographer, "Henry Reed playing the fiddle in his living room." circa 1967. Fiddle Tunes of the Old Frontier: The Henry Reed Collection, Library of Congress.
AUDIO CREDIT: Reed, Henry; fiddle, "Turkey in the Straw." Fiddle Tunes of the Old Frontier: The Henry Reed Collection