The world-folk music duo, Simple Gifts, performs Monday at 7:30 p.m. in the Collingwood Arts Center.
Drawing on a wide variety of ethnic folk styles, Karen Hirshon and Linda Littleton will play lively Irish jigs and down-home American reels, driving Klezmer frailachs and haunting Gypsy melodies. Their tunes have the distinctive rhythms of Balkan dance music, Scandinavian twin fiddles, and original compositions written in traditional styles.
"What we are trying to do is give people a real taste of instrumental folk music in a short time in an informal setting," said Hirshon, who lives in central Pennsylvania, as does Littleton.
"The majority of what we play is probably anonymously written," said Hirshon. "But we'd never say we're traditionalists."
Rather than precisely replicate a song as it might have been played long ago in a faraway setting, they're likely to personalize it by using different instruments or adding a few jazzy chords.
"We frequently learn by ear from other musicians or from sheet music. We learn the melody, but the arrangements and harmonies and instrumentation are our own."
During two, 45-minute sets, they'll talk about their 10 or so instruments, including the banjo-guitar (it's got six strings and a guitar-like neck), octave fiddle (has more of a viola or cello sound), and bowed psaltery (a flat, triangular stringed instrument the length of a violin that's cradled in the arm and bowed).
Littleton, long a classical musician, founded the group in 1989. Hirshon, who joined Simple Gifts in 1995, has played in bluegrass and old-time bands.
Simple Gifts performs Monday at 7:30 p.m. in the Collingwood Arts Center at 2413 Collingwood Blvd. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for students and people 60 and older. Information: 419-244-2787.