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Scottish Fiddle Competition

January 1 @ 10:00 am - 11:59 pm


Scottish Fiddle Competition

Why enter a fiddle competition?

It’s a personal goal, it’s a chance to be heard, it’s a yearly measure of progress, it’s a time for camaraderie among your fellow competitors, it’s a chance to really learn some new tunes, it’s a good opportunity for our honoured guest judge to hear what New Zealand Scottish fiddlers are doing, it lets an appreciative audience know that there is such a thing as Scottish fiddling, it’s an opportunity to be part of a Scottish fiddle competition tradition which dates back to Niel Gow in the 18th century, and most of all it supports the Games which are supporting Scottish fiddling. All ages and levels are welcome – give it a go and good luck!

Rules of Competition

To be held annually at the Waipu Highland Games on the 1st of January from 10.00 am

Definition of categories:

Competitors will indicate both a performance category and an age category. At the judge’s discretion, in the event of a performance category receiving disproportionate entries, categories may be further divided by age.

  • Novice: Open to any fiddler new to the art of Scottish fiddling, no age restrictions. When a novice competitor has won first place in three novice class competitions, that competitor will be required to enter intermediate or advanced class.
  • Intermediate: Open to any fiddler with some knowledge of Scottish fiddling, ornamentation and techniques. When an intermediate competitor has won first place in three intermediate class competitions, that competitor will be required to enter the advanced class.
  • Advanced: Open to any fiddler with extensive knowledge of, and experience in, the art of Scottish fiddling, its styles, ornamentation and techniques.

Competitors may enter any one class for which they are qualified in any single competition. The judge will assign the competitor to the appropriate class if there is a question about which class is appropriate. The judge may assign the competitor either before or after they play.

Order of competition:

Registration opens at the highland games at 10.00 am. Please allow enough time to locate the competition location. All competitors must complete a registration form and indicate the level at which they plan to compete.

  1. Novice competitors
  2. Awards – novice
  3. Intermediate competitors
  4. Awards – intermediate
  5. Advanced competitors
  6. Awards – advanced
  7. Judge’s prize

Performance requirements:

Fiddlers will perform without any other accompanying instruments.

The use of written music is optional in any class unless otherwise stated (this rule is intended to encourage new fiddlers who may need written music).

  • Novice: Novices will play one Scottish tune, two parts. All ages invited.
  • Intermediate: Intermediates will play a march, strathspey and a reel without pausing between tunes. No substitutions of other types of tunes will be permitted.
  • Advanced: Advanced competitors shall play an air then pause, followed by a set of tunes, a march, strathspey and reel in that order without a pause. No substitutions of other types of tunes will be permitted.

The Judge may request that the air be played once through, 2-part tunes be played twice through, 4-part tunes once through, and no tunes more than 4 parts.

In the event the judge is unable to decide the ranking of contestants from the first performance, the judge may either declare a tie or request a second performance.

Judging criteria

For the opening air and the march-strathspey-reel sequence, the following factors will be considered:

  • Timing: The tempo and rhythm must be appropriate both to the tune chosen and to the style of execution. While some variation may be appropriate for proper interpretation, the overall context and structure of the tune should not be lost.
  • Execution: This may include command of the instrument, bowing, ornamentation, correct intonation and the mastery of effects.
  • Expression: This is the quality of the performance that appeals to the listeners’ feelings and reflects the performer’s judgment and ability in capturing and conveying the sentiment of the composer or the traditional associations of the tune.

In the march-strathspey-reel sequence, the following additional factors will be considered as part of expression:

  • Transitions: Does the transition between each tune provide an effective bridge in terms of melodic flow, tone and rhythm?
  • Overall coherence: The extent to which the tunes as played stand together as a coherent musical statement.

In all aspects, performance in the traditional Scottish style will be the significant element in distinguishing otherwise technically comparable performances.

The opinion of the judge shall be final as to all aspects of competitors’ performances.

Tune guidelines:

The main criterion for the acceptability of any particular tune in any category should be how the tune is played, not how it was originally written. Transpositions from the original key and original tunes in the Scottish style are both permitted.

Specifically permitted in each category are:

  • Air: Any slow air, pastoral, slow strathspey, lament, or other tune played as an air.
  • March: Any march (pipe march or other) whether 2/4, 4/4/, 6/8 (or any other time signature), or any other tune played as a march.
  • Strathspey: Any dance strathspey or other tune played as a strathspey.
  • Reel: Any reel, Scots measure, hornpipe, or other tune played as a reel.
  • Waltzes, jigs (6/8 and 9/8) and hornpipes: Such tunes will be allowed in the novice category, but will when played in the original manner they will NOT be allowed as substitutions for any of the categories above.


Entry fee received in advance includes the gate fee. Walk-in entries will be accepted – buy your own gate pass.

How to Register
  1. Choose the number of competitors that you’d like to register for the events listed below.
  2. Add them to your ticket cart. You can continue to add other events registrations to the cart if you are entering other competitions.
  3. When ready, go to the checkout where you will be asked to complete personal details for each competitor/event being registered.
  4. Complete your contact details and submit your registration.
  5. You will be provided instructions on how to pay for your tickets through internet banking.
  6. Event tickets for each competitor will be emailed to you once payment has been received and confirmed.


January 1
10:00 am - 11:59 pm


Caledonian Park
Main Road
Waipu, Northland 0510 New Zealand


Waipu Highland Games Fiddling


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