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Current Research Projects

by Dwight Newton, organologist.

Following are research projects in organology recently completed or currently under way.

John Jacob Niles, Luthier

John Jacob Niles was a unique musician who preserved, interpreted, and added to the American Appalachian ballad tradition. After he died in 1980, the University of Kentucky received his papers, music, photographs and a number of furnishings Niles had made for his home in rural Clark County, east of Lexington. Also included in the Niles Collection are most of the unique instruments he built and used in performances over a period of over 40 years. This project involves examining and documenting the Niles instruments.

Early Trans-Appalachian Pianos

My colleague at the University of Kentucky, Nikos Pappas, has a research interest in early American music and approached me about a research project to survey early pianos and piano making in Kentucky and the Ohio Valley.

E. Burdick Fiddle, 1937

I acquired this interesting country fiddle in 2005.

Sears, Roebuck Violin Bow, ca. 1897

Imitation snakewood bow with a genuine ivory frog sold originally for less than $2.

The Fitchhorn Song Flute

You've probably played one of these.

Sears Wing-Ding Plastic Guitar

Otherwise known as the Emenee Tiger guitar.

The Tromba Marina

A research paper from 1978. Though now dated and incomplete, this remains the most comprehensive information available online relating to this curious instrument.

Selman Roach, Gunsmith, Locksmith, Luthier

Information provided by the descendent of a violin maker (1856? - 1933) from Windber, Pennsylvania, who was a friend of Buffalo Bill. (In progress)

Updated 06/27/2008
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