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Richard Ryley was a weaver and lived in Barnoldswick in the West Riding of Yorkshire. He was also a musician and supplemented a meagre income by busking. The period covered by this diary (1st Jan 1862 to 11th June 1864) spans the most severe part of the ‘Cotton Famine’ caused by the American Civil War. It gives some small insight into the way that music integrated into his life. His friend William Parker Atkinson kept his diary and passed it to his Granddaughter. The original diary is held by The Craven Museum, Skipton and a photocopy is at Barnoldswick Public Library. Research and transcription is the work of Simon Wilson.
Anyone looking through the wealth of material in these old English fiddle manuscripts must be struck how different it is to the music of recorded 20th century English fiddlers, and must inevitably wonder about how it was played. The following two essays represents an initial attempt to answer that question. The first was given as a talk at Sidmouth Folk Festival in August 2000, the second as a talk at the Aberdeen “North Atlantic Fiddle Convention” in August 2001. They are presented here in their ‘raw’ state, for which no apologies. It is the author’s intention to eventually produce a more thorough, better organized, academically conventional and reader-orientated piece, but it is felt that the issues and ideas raised need an immediate airing.