Fiddle-L Anthology 1999

A Tour 'Round The World Of Fiddling

Performer Bio



Robert Thomas (Bob) Borcherding, Brentwood, Missouri, U.S. (

Bob was born February 10, 1955, in Kirkwood, Missouri. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, University of Missouri-Rolla, Kirkwood, and works as an electrical engineer.


Bob's heritage is German; both parents were born in St. Louis. Bob began playing violin in 1980 while living in Kirkwood; his brother also plays. He had a few lessons with Darin Davidson and attended workshops in Cape Breton style fiddling with Buddy McMaster at the Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins, West Virginia (1990, 1991). Bob says that his favorite fiddle tune is always the last one he heard. He doesn't hesitate to name Buddy McMaster as his favorite fiddler.


Bob enjoys playing many types of tunes, including strathspeys, pols, polska, hambo, brudmarsch, polka, slip-jigs, reinlender, snoa, ganglat, springleik, and airs. He plays a few tunes in cross tuning. Before learning the fiddle, he played the mandolin and also plays guitar and concertina. His preferred backup for fiddle tunes is piano. Most frequently, Bob can be found playing for dances and dance weekends; he also plays at dance/music camps, jam sessions, Missouri Country Music and Old Time Fiddlers Association events (though he's not a member), as well as wedding parties, wakes and funeral services. He sometimes plays in a band.


The first contest Bob entered was at Lewis and Clark Days, in St. Charles, Missouri, May 1988(?). He doesn't remember what tunes he played ("For crying out loud, I don't remember!"); he had guitar backup and recalls that Pete McMahan was a winner, and probably Geoff Seitz. He has also entered the contest at Clifftop, West Virginia (Appalachian String Band Festival). He enjoys participating in and judging these contests, (he judged at the St. Charles, Missouri Lewis and Clark Days event from 1990-1993; the stipend was $40). His qualifications for judging include attentiveness, open-mindedness, and being a long-time listener to fiddle music; it helps if a judge plays fiddle, but it is not essential.


Bob describes his style as "Diverse. Missouri dance, plus I play Scandinavian, Irish, Scottish/Cape Breton, Appalachian." He names Geoff Seitz of St. Louis as an early influence; there are countless styles overall in his opinion. Where Bob lives, old time Missouri fiddling is dominant.


The violin Bob plays was made by Geoff Seitz in August of 1993. It is Seitz's modification of a Guarneri; its responsive sound is solid, balanced, and smooth. Bob uses a Wolfe Forte Secundo shoulder rest; he prefers Pirastro or Synoxa strings. His two primary wood bows were made by R. Arnold Stoess, and John Brasil. While Bob says he does not collect violins, he owns four; he does not do repairs but works on setup for his instruments.


"I love the sound, I like to see others dance to it. It is a continual, unending challenge."


For the tape, Bob chose the following tunes, which he learned both from hearing them and from transcriptions:

Old Joe -- from (*UNDERLINE)The Old Time Fiddler's Repertory(*UNDERLINE) (learned in 1985); Meriweather -- from Phillips Collection (a friend loved the tune, so I learned it in 1985. I've not heard another play it.); Judique Jigs -- Brother-in-law's transcription (learned in 1989); Neil Gow's Lament for His Second Wife -- from Skye Collection (after hearing Bonnie Rideout play it gorgeously -- learned in 1991).