April 5, 2007

Young Fiddler Speaks With Daze

Print More

In her most recent self-titled, solo release, Lissa Schneckenberger, the young, exciting fiddler brings to life both traditional style Celtic music and original compositions with her dynamic performance style. With training from both New England Conservatory of Music and traditional music camps, she is a musical force to be reckoned with.
Lissa comes from a traditional folk background and I was curious to find out more about her repertoire. “My focus more and more is New England traditional music. So traditional music and songs from the North East states [make up my repertoire]” she said over the phone. “I have done a lot of research over the past, I don’t know, four or five years looking for traditional songs from that area. I started going back and listening to field recording, looking through old books for tunes and songs that are unique to this area. I guess I was originally inspired to go that route because I am from New England — I grew up in Maine.”
She is always searching for material. “It’s really a fun thing, hunting, when you get into it and I’ve gotten hooked. Looking through all of the sources and trying to find out how to imagine what music sounded like in a specific time and it’s listening to old songs.” In this way, Lissa is simultaneously a performer and an ethnomusicologist: she discovers and then performs her music. On her album, she also includes original tunes such as “The Riddle.” She finds inspiration “in people [. . .] For example, I’ll think of a friend or a family member or even a story about that person or even a story about something that happened, and I’ll write a melody to commemorate events for the person, or as a gift, which is common in traditional music. A lot of people do that sort of thing for gifts or to memorialize an event or story.”
I asked if she found it a responsibility to perform in this tradition, as she is among the next generation of Celtic musicians. She seemed mildly offended at the question. “I would say, no, I don’t find that it’s a responsibility or that anyone should or have to carry on these folk traditions. I do it because I’m absolutely obsessed with it and really enjoy it.”
The culture of the Celtic tradition also motivates her to play. “It’s music that, for the most part, has fun connotations. I like that social aspect of it and I think that’s what kept me going. Especially as a kid, it kept me really into it. I would want to go home and practice fiddle because I knew I would have a jam session to go to next week that I’d meet a bunch of friends at, and would want to play music with them. That would be my inspiration for playing and learning new tunes.”
In a continuation of that thought, she explained, “is unique in modern culture because it’s a type of music that is ideally made by anybody for anybody and with anybody. It’s called folk music, meaning it’s for folks, for everybody. It is participatory in its intent, the intention that it should be participatory. It’s got a social context where you’re playing music in a jam session, at a dance or at a party.”
She encourages the people who will be hearing this music for the first time to “sit back and enjoy it. If it makes you feel like tapping your feet, go ahead and do it. Don’t feel like you have to think hard or analyze anything. Enjoy it! If certain aspects of the music pop up and feed your interest, then, that’s great. It means we’re doing our job!”
When I asked her about Ithaca, she said that it is “one of our favorite stops. We’ve played for coffeehouses, workshops, dances and dances in town. We love doing the Bound for Glory show. It’s always a hoot. Everybody’s really enthusiastic and the audience always is willing to participate and sing along on whatever we tell them to sing on — it’s always fun.”
Lissa is on tour now through the North East and Midwest with her trio: Correy DiMarrio, double bass, and Steve Corrie, guitar. On Sunday night she will play Bound for Glory, a WBVR live radio broadcast from Cul de Snack in Anabel Taylor Hall at 8:30p.m. On Monday she will play at the Pourhouse in Trumanburg at 8:30p.m. To learn more about Schneckenburger, check out her website at www.lissafiddle.com.