Eck Robertson’s “Sally Goodin:” The Norwegian roots of a seminal American fiddle performance


Chris Goertzen (University of Southern Mississippi, emeritus)

Pioneer Texas fiddler Eck Robertson’s signature piece, “Sally Goodin,” became the first commercial Country Music recording. Today’s fiddlers consider it to be the first piece in contest fiddle style; many play it following Eck’s 100-year-old version closely. A Norwegian immigrant luthier farmed in Oklahoma near Eck’s Texas Panhandle home in the 1910s-20s, and sold violins and one hardingfele to the leader of a fiddle trio to which Eck belonged. Eck’s variation technique in “Sally Goodin” resembles that typical of contemporary contest fiddling less than it does Norwegian hardingfele style. American fiddling may owe an enormous unacknowledged debt to Norway.

Part of 03-12 Song and Performance, Thursday, October 13, 2:30 pm–4:30 pm