Adrianna Ciccone’s parents would take her to the Pembroke Old Time Fiddle & Step Dance Festival in the Ottawa Valley when she was a child. At three years old, she saw a group of other kids playing the fiddle and dancing all night long there. It didn’t take her long to ask her parents for fiddle lessons after that experience.
Strong Roots (Canadian Roots Musicians): Adrianna Ciccone
I talk to Adrianna Ciccone about her passion for fiddle music, writing new tunes and where she finds inspiration.
She has explored many different styles of music since that point. Adrianna says, “I took classical violin and piano lessons as a child, played flute in my middle school band, performed Italian songs with my dad playing accordion, and was exposed to worlds of music during my college years at Berklee. While I like exploring, I always return to traditional fiddle styles and the sense of community that surrounds them. “
Her start with traditional Ottawa Valley and Québecois fiddle music has expanded outwards to encompass other traditional styles. She explains, “I fell in love with Appalachian old time fiddling a few years ago and spent my time in college diving into that world with Bruce Molsky and the American roots music program at Berklee. Through friends and mentors I continue to discover the traditional fiddle music of Sweden, Norway, Brittany and beyond. Each style is unique but there are many common threads that weave them together.”
Adrianna is also interested in respectful musical cross-pollination between traditions. She points out, “I often think about how to blend different traditions in a way that keeps their individuality. The result can be greater than the sum of its wonderful parts.”
Writing tunes in the traditional style is another part of her approach to music. Adrianna explains, “There are many exercises and tools I’ve been taught to help coax out a stubborn tune, but most melodies that I end up enjoying were somewhat inspired from the start. “
Early in the tunewriting process, Adrianna says she can tell how easily the tune will flow. She continues, “Most often I’ll have a few tune ideas floating around. They might be melodies, tune names or broader concepts. Eventually a tune will start to form out of or into one of those ideas.”
The reality of the new music industry is that artists have to take on multiple roles outside of just making music in her view. She says, “We have to be creators, booking agents, publicists, web designers, and so on. Juggling it all can be a challenge, and there are parts of it that come more naturally to me than others. It’s like solving an ever-changing puzzle.”
Traditional music is gaining strength across Canada and around the world in Adrianna’s opinion. She says, “With the rise of technology and social media, there are a lot of opportunities for traditional music to travel across borders. Exposure to various styles of music is such a great thing. It’s important to preserve and promote traditional music, but it’s also important to let it evolve. I really believe that’s the key to its survival.”
In the future, she wants to do more touring and performing, but she is also working on a major project. She says, “I’ve started this exciting project thanks to a generous grant from the Canada Arts Council. I’m arranging and orchestrating traditional Canadian fiddle tunes for fiddle soloist and string orchestra. It’s exciting to explore all the possibilities that an orchestra brings, all while keeping the traditional feel of the tunes.”
One of Adrianna’s sources of inspiration is playing with other musicians. She says, “Fiddle music is social music. There’s the interaction between players, the push and pull of a group, the jokes and laughter - the social aspect drew me in from the beginning, and keeps bringing me back.”
To learn more about Adrianna and her music, please visit her website here.
This profile is based on an email interview with Adrianna Ciccone.