Dan Compton is a multi-instrumentalist performer and teacher with a deep knowledge of traditional folk music. He specializes in strings – guitar, fiddle, mandolin, octave mandolin, and tenor banjo – as well as C#/D Irish-style button accordion.
Dan has a strong background in classical guitar. He earned a Master of Music in performance from Lewis and Clark in 1983 (working with guitarist Ian Mitchell), and performed in masterclasses with Christopher Parkening, Michael Lorimer, and José Thomas, among others.
Over the years, Dan has explored a wide range of guitar styles, from progressive rock, through ragtime, to traditional Irish dance music. Adept at both fingerstyle and flatpicking, Dan is also well versed in alternate tunings, notably DADGAD. He can guide students through the intricate solo styles of John Renbourn and Pierre Bensusan, the roots-based music of Mississippi John Hurt and the Carter Family, as well as the inventive backup playing of Micheál Ó Domhnaill and Gilles LeBigot.
Dan stresses understanding technique, harmony, scales and modes, and other tools necessary to be a complete guitarist. But above all, he teaches students how to use their ears: to hear and understand what’s going on in the music and to translate that to the fingerboard.
Dan is also an experienced Irish-style fiddle player. His music is especially influenced by players and mentors like Kevin Burke, Matt Cranitch, and Denis Murphy. Dan is adept at other fiddle styles as well, notably Appalachian, Quebecois, and Breton. He studied violin technique with Kathryn Gray and Tina Alexander.
In teaching the fiddle, Dan emphasizes learning by ear, helping students to hear the structures and phrasing in traditional music. His students also explore in detail the ornamentation and bowing used in different styles, as well as solid and relaxed bowing technique, tone production, and intonation.
Dan takes a similar approach in teaching the mandolin, octave mandolin, and tenor banjo – with a special emphasis on plectrum technique and tone production, rhythm, and ornamentation.
In addition to private lessons, Dan teaches the popular "Irish Session Class", which offers a unique setting for learning Irish traditional tunes on all traditional instruments, as well as the listening skills essential to ensemble playing.
Dan currently performs with fiddle player Lisa Ornstein and box player Johnny Connolly, button accordionist Fran Slefer, flute-and-banjo player Mark Roberts, Scottish fiddler Jamie Laval, the poly-folk group Sprig, and the dance bands Jigsaw and The BFD. His most recent recordings include The High Caul Cap (with Mark Roberts), Session at the Cottage (with Fran Slefer), and The Magic Paintbrush (with Lisa Ornstein).
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