Darol Anger

Associate Professor
617 747-2328

“We have students coming from a classical music background who are interested in playing various vernacular styles—jazz and fiddle music, blues, pop—and then we also have fiddle players who learned by ear or through various traditional routes and who are interested in expanding their theoretical knowledge. That’s two very different approaches, although after a couple of years it all evens out. Usually they wind up expanding their taste buds a little bit, so they’re interested in more styles. There’s a string style for every country, usually four or five.”

“Classical players often have never played anything by ear. When you consider that 90% of the musical population of the world are ear players, it’s so odd that so many people who do read seem to have blinders on for any other way of approaching music. So the first thing is to just kind of connect them with their bodies. You spend a lot of time doing call and response, and that leads right into functional theory. Which all of a sudden has a lot more relevance to most of these players, because they’re not just human jukeboxes anymore; they have to actually figure out what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. Once they’ve figured out that the boundaries are artificial, they tend to progress very quickly.”

“Then we have players who are more ear players, many of whom have never read a note of music, and in some cases have evolved a whole system of music theory for themselves that may not correspond too closely with what is taught in schools. A lot of times it’s breaking small habits and reorienting people to what most people are talking about when they talk about music. In undoing, you have to find what is good about their vision and integrate that into this bigger world. These players are already far along, so bad habits are more difficult to break. It’s work for the student, it’s work for the teachers, but it’s incredibly rewarding, because they’re so talented.”

“The acoustic music scene is larger than people think. It still feels small, but a lot of that is because most of the people who are real fans also play a little. So there’s very little separation between the audience and the most respected performers. The audience is very knowledgeable, like jazz. Certainly, the acoustic music community is centered in Boston, because of Berklee and NEC. Even the people who are not matriculating are still here. There are certainly tremendous opportunities to play together and exchange ideas and form bands. If you really want to be around people who are doing important stuff, you’ve got to go to Boston.”

Career Highlights

 

  • Fiddler, violinist, and producer
  • Leader of Darol Anger's Republic of Strings, the Duo, and Psychograss
  • Cofounder of Turtle Island String Quartet, David Grisman Quintet, Montreux Band, and New Grange
  • International performances and tours with the Turtle Island String Quartet, the David Grisman Quintet, Vassar Clements, Michael Doucet, Bill Evans, Béla Fleck, Johnny Frigo, Stephane Grappelli, Michael Hedges, Mike Marshall, Paul McCandless, Edgar Meyer, Bruce Molsky, New Grange, Mark O'Connor, Tony Rice, Dr. Billy Taylor, Tony Trischka, and Yonder Mountain String Band
  • Recordings include Republic of Strings and Generation Nation (Republic of Strings); Woodshop (the Duo); Diary of a Fiddler (Darol Anger); Heritage (various artists)
  • Publications include instructional DVDs Chops and Grooves and Blues on the Fiddle, and books Darol Anger Fiddle Tunes and Homespun Bluegrass Jamalong with Darol Anger
  • MacDowell Fellow, UCross Fellow, VCCA Fellow, and Rockefeller grant recipient