In 1987, the fiddle became Missouri’s official state musical instrument. This string instrument is relatively small, light and easy to carry, making it a popular choice among travelers and immigrants. The violin dates back to 16th century Europe. It is unclear when the instrument was adapted for dance music and earned the nickname “fiddle.”

What’s in a name?

Technically, a fiddle is a violin. The term “fiddle” is applied when the musician plays a certain style of music, usually bluegrass, jig, folk or Cajun. Generally speaking, if you play classical music, you’re a violinist. If you play bluegrass, you’re a fiddler.


Revised Statutes of Missouri (RSMo)

§10.080. State musical instrument. – The fiddle is selected for and shall be known as the official musical instrument of the state of Missouri. (L. 1987 H.B. 630 § 1)

approved 17 July 1987
effective 28 August 1987


Photo Gallery:

Click on an image below to enlarge and read a caption. This will open a new window in the Missouri State Symbols Flickr album.

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Additional Resources:

Kinder, R.M. and Kristine Lowe-Martin. Old-Time Fiddling: Hal Sappington, Missouri Fiddler. Warrensburg, MO: Johnson County Historical Society Press, 2012.

Marshall, Howard W. Play Me Something Quick and Devilish: Old-Time Fiddlers in Missouri. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 2012.

Marshall, Howard Wright. Fiddler’s Dream: Old-Time, Swing, and Bluegrass Fiddling in Twentieth-Century Missouri. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 2017.


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