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Fiddle Bowing

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GUEST,Roisin 15 Dec 07 - 11:24 AM
katlaughing 15 Dec 07 - 11:38 AM
Jeri 15 Dec 07 - 11:44 AM
Stringsinger 15 Dec 07 - 01:56 PM
Gern 15 Dec 07 - 02:12 PM
The Sandman 15 Dec 07 - 02:17 PM
Sorcha 15 Dec 07 - 02:29 PM
GUEST,strad 15 Dec 07 - 03:01 PM
GUEST,BBofey 15 Dec 07 - 03:23 PM
GUEST,HHarry 16 Dec 07 - 09:12 AM
The Sandman 16 Dec 07 - 11:38 AM
GUEST,BBofey 16 Dec 07 - 11:54 AM
The Sandman 17 Dec 07 - 04:48 AM
GUEST,Nfkfiddler 17 Dec 07 - 07:11 AM
The Sandman 17 Dec 07 - 08:50 AM
The Sandman 17 Dec 07 - 10:09 AM
Jeri 17 Dec 07 - 10:34 AM
katlaughing 17 Dec 07 - 11:05 AM
The Sandman 17 Dec 07 - 11:15 AM
GUEST,BBofey 17 Dec 07 - 12:53 PM
GUEST,Russ 17 Dec 07 - 01:04 PM
The Sandman 17 Dec 07 - 02:24 PM
GUEST,BBofey 17 Dec 07 - 03:10 PM
The Sandman 17 Dec 07 - 04:56 PM
Stringsinger 17 Dec 07 - 07:32 PM
katlaughing 17 Dec 07 - 07:53 PM
Rowan 17 Dec 07 - 08:05 PM
The Sandman 18 Dec 07 - 04:14 AM
The Sandman 22 Dec 07 - 12:20 PM
GUEST,BBofey 22 Dec 07 - 01:03 PM
The Sandman 22 Dec 07 - 02:06 PM
Jeri 22 Dec 07 - 02:54 PM
Sorcha 22 Dec 07 - 02:56 PM
GUEST,strad 23 Dec 07 - 10:53 AM
The Fooles Troupe 23 Dec 07 - 11:41 PM
The Sandman 24 Dec 07 - 09:13 AM
s&r 25 Dec 07 - 05:59 AM
GUEST,Sharon G 25 Dec 07 - 11:53 AM
katlaughing 25 Dec 07 - 01:27 PM
Stringsinger 25 Dec 07 - 09:30 PM
katlaughing 25 Dec 07 - 10:42 PM
GUEST,sparticus 26 Dec 07 - 02:23 AM
Jack Blandiver 26 Dec 07 - 11:16 AM
Stringsinger 26 Dec 07 - 11:38 AM
katlaughing 26 Dec 07 - 12:40 PM
The Sandman 26 Dec 07 - 02:59 PM
katlaughing 26 Dec 07 - 11:44 PM
GUEST,Roisin Ban 27 Dec 07 - 10:59 AM
s&r 27 Dec 07 - 12:17 PM
The Sandman 27 Dec 07 - 12:23 PM
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Subject: Fiddle Bowing
From: GUEST,Roisin
Date: 15 Dec 07 - 11:24 AM

On the thread about Left-Handed playing of Violin and Fiddle, someone writes that most of the skill in playing lies in the bowing. I've read this in books too. From experience, what would players say are the two or three most important things to be sure of in bowing correctly, and similarly for the things to be avoided? In simple terms, for a chick of little brain.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: katlaughing
Date: 15 Dec 07 - 11:38 AM

I was always praised for using the whole bow; seems a lot of kids weren't bold enough or something. Any way, I always got high marks for it, so I'd say that's one thing: Do not be afraid to use the whole bow when appropriate.

Keep it rosined!


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: Jeri
Date: 15 Dec 07 - 11:44 AM

In my opinion, the most skill is needed in the hand that has the most difficulties.
For me, that IS the bowing hand.

Work on playing with a controlled but completely relaxed wrist. Pretend you're drawing lines with that hand. This is what gives you those really fast triplets, snaps and other quick direction changes. You do use your whole arm, but the really small, fast movements should come from the wrist

Where the bow is on the strings and angle will change the sound. You can practice in a mirror


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: Stringsinger
Date: 15 Dec 07 - 01:56 PM

I find this mysterious. Getting the wrist loose enough and yet trying to control the direction of the bow is hard. When to use the fingers and when to use the hand is confusing.
Plus, all those bow holds. Texas fiddlers grab the bow underneath the frog with the thumb.
Rural fiddlers have their bow hold up the stick and not at the frog. Even some Irish fiddlers do this. There is a German bow hold flattening the fingers on the stick, a Russian bow hold where you grip the stick with the second knuckle of the index while balancing the stick with
the middle finger and pinkie, a French bow hold where you grip the stick with the first knuckle and balance the bow with the middle and pinkie. Some bow with the entire arm and some with just the wrist and minimum arm movement. Some use detached bowing and others use a long bow with hammers and pulls in the left hand. Then there's the shuffle bowing, the Georgia style, the Tommy Jarrel style. Some use the full bow and some like certain jazz players (Stuff Smith) just use the upper middle area of the bow.

It's all very confusing.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: Gern
Date: 15 Dec 07 - 02:12 PM

I share the frustration. Five years in fiddling, after 40 years of other instruments, I just can't relax more bowing wrist. I tense my jaw muscles, exhaust my hand muscles, and when I become conscious of it all, I can only stop it for a few seconds before it sets in again. I wonder if there are exercises to overcome wrist tension and the stiffness it creates in my playing?


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Dec 07 - 02:17 PM

Frank,To be able to play with power,It is necessary to use the whole bow.
using a classical bow hold,with the thumb bent,enables the player to use the wrist more.
many players in the past have made fine fiddle music using bow holds,that makes it more difficult for them to acheive
a good sound yet they have done it,however they may have been better players,if they had had a more correct hold.,on the other hand they may not.
my opinion is this,that any pupil starting off today would be advised to use a classical bow hold,with thumb bent,and right elbow quite high,regardless of whether they wish to play trad folk,jazz or classical.
this will be particuarly beneficial when it comes to playing airs,but will also enable the player to play with oomph.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: Sorcha
Date: 15 Dec 07 - 02:29 PM

I use a classical bent thumb hold....I could find pictures, but I can't explain how to stay relaxed and in control. The hold is similar to holding a pencil with all 4 fingers and thunb...almost a pincer grip.

I guess most of the tension is in the fingers, with the pinkie the most 'free'. Index finger controls the 'tension' of the bow on the strings.

Try doing 'wrist circles' while holding a pencil with the fingers on one side, thumb on the other. Then, try just going to the left then right using only the wrist. Keep as much elbow motion out of it as possible. The forearm will flex, but the elbow should stay immobile. You can turn the motion so that you are going up/down too instead of just left/right.

Elbow bowing is easy and what everybody uses to start with. When you use the whole bow, the wrist should be bent down when at the frog, and up at the tip. Just gradually move the wrist. Long smooth bow strokes should show you how to use and move the wrist while keeping it relaxed.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: GUEST,strad
Date: 15 Dec 07 - 03:01 PM

Try practising with the elbow of the bow arm resting either against the wall or on a table. Then you'll have to get some wrist flexibility to play as the bow movement will have to come from the wrist. And I didn't learn how to play triplets until I learnt "Within a Mile of Dublin" (730 in the O'Neill 1001). It just takes time and patience. The Trumpet Hornpipe is another good tune for triplets. Don't let it beat you - if I can, then you can!


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: GUEST,BBofey
Date: 15 Dec 07 - 03:23 PM

'To be able to play with power,It is necessary to use the whole bow.'

I've never heard such rubbish. Try telling that to Mairead Mooney, Ciaran Tourish, Jimmy Campbell, James Byrne or any decent Donegal fiddler.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: GUEST,HHarry
Date: 16 Dec 07 - 09:12 AM

I absolutely agree BBofey.( I am not from Donegal ).


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Dec 07 - 11:38 AM

bbofey,
you are entitled to your opinion,but you are in my opinion wrong,by using the whole bow and proper wrist movement more power can be obtained,.
sorry.much as I like the Donegal style,it is not one I associate with powerful playing,particuarly on airs[where whole bow and good wrist movement really can produce good control,pleasant tone and varying dynamics].
in my opinion and to my ears,single bowing style is less powewrful to slurring three or any other number up,to prepare fora a long powerful down bow and thus creating emphasis,but we all have different tastes,and there is room for all styles.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: GUEST,BBofey
Date: 16 Dec 07 - 11:54 AM

Good, I'm glad that I'm 'entitled to my opinion'!

Captain, you must be the only person in the known universe who does not 'associate Donegal with powerful playing'.

What in heaven's name was Johnny Doherty up to? Have you never heard Danny O'Donnell? Is Danny Meehan's playing as docile as a lamb? Should Vincent Campbell give up his storming mazurkas and lancers? And, above all, Tommy Peoples is still the most powerful fiddler playing in Ireland today, not as fiery as in the 1970s, I'll grant you, but still capable of insurpassable drive and verve.

As for air-playing by Donegal fiddlers, you really do not know what you're talking about. Never heard Doherty's 'Paddy's Rambles Through the Park' or James Byrne's 'Maidin Fhomhair'?

It's clear from your postings to this thread that you haven't got a clue about the fiddle music of Donegal or for that matter about fiddle technique in general.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 04:48 AM

SORRY ,I disagree with you,in the end what a person likes is subjective.
of course I have heard all the Donegal players you mention,and still disagree with you.
I reiterate,holding the bow with the correct classical hold[bent thumb,fingers at the frog end,elbow high]enables you to use more wrist]and subsequently obtain more volume,any player using this technique will not have to rely on pa to get added volume.
observe classical orchestras,and see how much volume they manage to obtain.
In the end aplayer has to hold the bow how he /she is comfortable,I am comfortable with the classical hold,I have described,and would advise beginners to adopt this hold.
Matt Crannitch uses and advises this hold ,and to me is a perfect illustration of my point,and is in my opinion an excellent player,particuarly of airs,but thats only my subjective opinion.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: GUEST,Nfkfiddler
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 07:11 AM

This thread seems to have moved to bowing traditional Donegal fiddle tunes and I can't agree with the Capt..    Fast and powerful tunes cannot be bowed with a full bow.   What about triplets; surely this is the shortest of bowing and could still be termed powerful.

IMHO the bow hold is another argument altogether.

Back to the initial post it is 'all in the bowing'.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 08:50 AM

I did not suggest bowing triplets with a whole bow,triplets are not particuarly loud, volume wise.
with the correct classical hold and using slurred bowing,it is possible to play all kinds of traditional music well,reels, jigs,polkas,strathspeys, hornpipes airs etc.
once you start holding the bow 2/3 of the way up,you are restricting the amount of volume you can get[particuarly important for airs].
the bow is a certain length for a reason,make full use of it when necessary and the music is improved,dynamics are particuarly important for airs,while one can play quietly while holding the bow halfway/2/3 ,one cant play as loud as when the full bow is used.
using a bent thumb helps wrist movement,wrist movementis important when using the bow.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 10:09 AM

another example, where being able to use the full length of the bow to advantage,are the capers in morris dancing,with a good long sweep of the bow,the capers can be played louder,than when a fiddler uses only part of the bow.
my argument, is why restrict yourself,when if you hold the bow with a bent thumb,and use its full length,you enable yourself to be able to play all forms of music well.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: Jeri
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 10:34 AM

Could you guys resist the urge to debate with each other and try to focus on Roisin's question?

PLEASE?

Captain, I didn't even know you played fiddle...

If there's any possibility of debate, there's no right or wrong but OPINION. Correctness and style are different things. How much of the bow you use depends on your style. Bowing perpendicular to the strings is simply correct - there isn't anything debatable about THAT.

Experiment with angle of the bow - you can use the edge of the hairs to 'dig in' a bit more. You can move the bow closer and farther from the bridge to get different sounds. Some styles use rapid wrist movements and in other styles, the bow is actually bounced off the strings. Some bow two strings at once ('double stops') and some play only single strings.

My advice is to learn everything, try new things, then decide what you want to keep.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: katlaughing
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 11:05 AM

Hear, hear, Jeri.

One thing I do agree with: the classical hold does enhance wrist ability.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 11:15 AM

On the thread about Left-Handed playing of Violin and Fiddle, someone writes that most of the skill in playing lies in the bowing. I've read this in books too. From experience, what would players say are the two or three most important things to be sure of in bowing correctly, and similarly for the things to be avoided? In simple terms, for a chick of little brain.[roisins question]
I am focusing on it ,avoid holding the fiddle bow without a bent thumb,avoid holding the bow in any way but the classical way,avoid holding the bow 2/3 up,That way you can play all kinds of music.
try and have the fiddle bow,in the middle of the bridge,practice long bows to enable you to learn to keep your bow straight,keep your right elbow high,keep your left elbow tucked in close to your chest,do not support the fiddle with your left wrist,otherwise you will not be able to get out of first position
JERI yes I do,Furthermore my partner is a very good fiddle player,see cathycook1 on youtube.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: GUEST,BBofey
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 12:53 PM

Jeri, I appreciate your point, but this Birdseye person can't be allowed to get away with his nonsensical views about Donegal fiddling style. Quite simply he doesn't know what he's talking about!

He wrote that he has 'heard' all the Donegal fiddlers whom I mentioned. So what? That's a far different thing from having witnessed them all in the flesh, as I have been fortunate to do. How can Birdseye appreciate their bowing styles when he hasn't seen them?

But then I noticed this strange statement in the middle of one of his postings 'any player using this technique will not have to rely on pa to get added volume'. I presume 'pa' isn't a reference to his father, but to PA. Why should any traditional fiddler, playing in a session, need a PA?

Birdseye is off his trolley, as the thousands of Irish fiddlers who don't use the classical position emphasize each time they play!


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 01:04 PM

Be sure to rub the horsehair against the fiddle strings, not the wooden thingy.

Russ (Permanent GUEST and banjo player)


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 02:24 PM

Troll alert,RE B BOFEY.
Plenty of fiddle players playing in concerts use PA,[including Siobhan Peoples and Michelle OBrien]youare the only one who has mentioned sessions,
In Plenty of advertised sessions in Ireland, that are in fact gigs,the musicians use PA.
BBOFEY are things in Leitrim ?


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: GUEST,BBofey
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 03:10 PM

You still don't know what you're on about, Birdseye. Please do tell us where all these advertised sessions that are in fact gigs take place? Because they certainly don't happen here in Donegal especially here in Ballybofey, the longer version of my name.

If anyone's a troll around here, it's you with your half-baked ideas.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 04:56 PM

Frank,To be able to play with power,It is necessary to use the whole bow.
using a classical bow hold,with the thumb bent,enables the player to use the wrist more.
many players in the past have made fine fiddle music using bow holds,that makes it more difficult for them to acheive
a good sound yet they have done it,however they may have been better players,if they had had a more correct hold.,on the other hand they may not.
my opinion is this,that any pupil starting off today would be advised to use a classical bow hold,with thumb bent,and right elbow quite high,regardless of whether they wish to play trad folk,jazz or classical.
this will be particuarly beneficial when it comes to playing airs,but will also enable the player to play with oomph.
BBOFEY,There is my original posting,it was you who brought DONEGAL FIDLING into the discussion,my point is that by adopting a classical technique ,it enables the player to have the technique to be able to play any kind of music.
The original poster did not specify what kind of music she wishes to play,if she had specified Donegal fiddle music,I would have directed her to the music of Nealy Boyle and Danny O Donnell,However she didnt.
If you want to contribute anything to help Roisin,why dont you do so.Please make your own suggestions to help her,that would be much more constructive,than slagging my opinions.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: Stringsinger
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 07:32 PM

Hi Captain,

it was my great honor to accompany Ti Jean (Johnny) Carignan at the Gate of Horn in the 1950's. Apparently he did everything "all wrong" according to many classical violinists and one famous one in particular attended his dances and concerts to see how on earth he did what he did.

I have heard that the elbow should be held high and then I've heard that it should be held low.

I have seen Mariead Nesbitt play with Celtic Woman and she seems to go from one bow hold to another. When she does her reels, she grips the stick up from the frog. For more lyrical and sustained bowing, she goes classical.

I know for certain that Stuff Smith never used long bows. Also Claude Williams. They seem to favor the short bows in the middle of the stick.

Apparently fiddlers agree that Tommy Jarrel doesn't have a pure classical tone, more of an Appalachian scratch but he plays with the kind of feeling that's appropriate for that kind of music.

The jazz and classical violinist Regina Carter does it classical but can swing too.

Then Schnuckenack Reinhardt does it wild and crazy and can really tear it up on Gypsy Jazz.

After hearing all of these great players as well as many others Irish, Coleman, Killaran, Morrison, Altan etc.

I am hopeless confused!

Frank


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: katlaughing
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 07:53 PM

I am not endorsing either side in this discussion. Just wanted to see more of what you all are talking about. So, here are some samples of the folks mentioned:

Siobhan Peoples with mic;

She and Michelle are in this one this one with a bunch of others. There are some good close-ups of the bowing if you watch it long enough.


THIS ONE is really neat. Professionally produced about the different styles (not just fiddles) around Ireland, with subtitles.

This one shows Danny Meehan's bowing very clearly.

Vincent Campbell. His mazurka playing reminds me of my dad's Western Colorado fiddling, though dad used a classical hold, if I remember correctly.Still sounds a lot like dad's, though and dad learned from a "Tweedy." Surely that's an Irish name? May have been a connection in Ireland in Mr. Tweedy's line.

And, one of the best on youtube, imo: 90 year old woman fiddlemaker in the Ozarks who also performs five times per week. Near the very end, you can clearly see her bowing. She also clogs!


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: Rowan
Date: 17 Dec 07 - 08:05 PM

Although I'm new to playing ( attempting, actually) the instrument I've seen lots of violinists and lots of fiddlers from just about every tradition. Dick has properly, in my understanding, conveyed the advice from the tradition that is the most international, that of the classical violinist. In a sense, such violinists must deal with the broadest of musical requirements on thier instrument and so must use a technique that allows them to produce the required effects for lengthy performances over a lifetime of playing.

More specialised traditions require their performers to deal with the specialities of their respective traditions and these specialities may be more comfortably achieved with techniques that work well in that tradition but might not work as easily or as well in another.

Which means that, if all I wanted to play was the sort of music that the bloke in the next hamlet was brilliant at, I'd be silly not to emulate his technique as carefully as possible; if he sat the fiddle on his upper arm and gripped the bow in the middle, you bet I'd try to master that technique. Of course, if I also wanted to master the music of yer man from Donegal, as well as the one from Kentucky and the one from Romania (let alone the one from Vietnam) and they each had really idiosyncratic techniques, I'd probably be buggered unless I developed expertise in holding the instrument and the bow in a way that allowed me to play all the styles with equal facility.

This might mean that I'd be well advised to do as Dick recommends, most of the time (especially while learning), and change to more specialised grips on those occasions when the music couldn't be properly performed without them.

But I'll probably be arthritic before I got so good.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Dec 07 - 04:14 AM

Stringsinger,I have also tried many different grips,but am now most comfortable with the classical grip[I think the most important aspect of this is the bent thumb].
perhaps, how you feel most comfortable is important,or if you have a definite idea of playing one kind of music[eg old timey]adopt a grip up the bow,the only problem with this that if you want to then play texas long bow style or bluegrass,its arguably not the best grip.
the other grip I like is holding the bow under the frog,the disadvantage I found with this was that I [probably just me]couldnt get so much pressure on the top of the bow with the index finger.
I do believe that a CLASSICAL grip with bent thumb is best,because you should have no problem playing every kind of music with this grip, with a classical grip with fingers at the frog end the player should be able to execute short bows ,long bows ,and play every kind of music and every kind of Irish music from sliabh lucra LONG BOW STYLE[Julia Clifford]to Donegal style.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Dec 07 - 12:20 PM

re Donegal style,
I am agreat admirer of both Nealy Boyle,and Danny ODonnell,while both these players were from Donegal,they bear very little resmblance to Tommy Peoples,so there are were clearly a number of different Donegal styles,some players more powerful than others..
Michelle O Brien a modern Donegal player,is very good but no way would I describe her as powerful as Tommy Peoples is, in his reels and jigs,but she is STILL good
Perhaps more important than region is the character of an individual musician,fiddle playing can be a reflection of someones character,a sensitive person is more likely to play sensitively,and a very extrovert person is more likely to play with flamboyance,although there will always be exceptions.
To say that all Donegal fiddlers play in a certain way is as silly as saying that Mary Mcnamara and NoelHill and Chris Droney all sound the same,[they Donegal fiddlers may share certain charecteristics,much use of trebles,scottish influences in repertoire and to a varying extent style]but they do not sound the same.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: GUEST,BBofey
Date: 22 Dec 07 - 01:03 PM

Birdseye's at it again!

Michelle O'Brien is from Clare though she was a pupil of Tommy's for a while.

The reason that Neilly (or Neillidh, never Nealy) Boyle and Danny O'Donnell (not ODonnell) sound different is that both had classical aspirations and were fans of Scott Skinner.

There are very distinctive differences in styles across the county and most marked when comparing say someone like Dinny McLaughlin from Inishowen to any of the Campbells from the Croaghs or to any of the Teelin/Glencolmcille fiddlers. The reasons for this are nothing to do with individual character, but the lack of public transportation and the dearth of cars in much of Donegal right up until the 1970s. For an example the O Beirne brothers from Kilcar played in a very different style to fiddlers from Teelin even though the two were separated by just a few miles.

Travelling fiddlers such as the Dohertys might have influenced the Campbells or Teelin fiddlers such as Frank and Con Cassidy but more in terms of repertoire than style.

I don't think Birdseye has anything useful to say on the subject of Donegal fiddle styles.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Dec 07 - 02:06 PM

There are very distinctive differences in styles across the county and most marked when comparing say someone like Dinny McLaughlin from Inishowen to any of the Campbells from the Croaghs or to any of the Teelin/Glencolmcille fiddlers. so speaks Bbofey.
That is exactly what I am saying,so it seems I do have something useful to say on the subject of Donegal Fiddling.
while there is undoubtedly something in what you say about lack of transportation,it is not as simple as that,most traditional players had a radio[a classic example is wee peerie Johnson,the shetland guitarist whose style was developed from listening to Eddie lang on short wave radio during the second world war more than 60years ago].
many times the musician doesnt have to travel far to receive outside influences,the outside influences come to him,Neilly Boyle,Danny O Donnell[and THE INFLUENCE of ScottSkinner, as you point out].
Personality plays a part in all kinds of music whether its Donegal fiddle playing ,English Unaccompanied Singing ,[Sam Larner and Walter Pardon are good examples.
have you made any helpful suggestions,for the original poster:no.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: Jeri
Date: 22 Dec 07 - 02:54 PM

Anyone who wants to continue the 'debate' on styles should start a thread on styles and stop the boorish trollery on this thread.

Initial question: From experience, what would players say are the two or three most important things to be sure of in bowing correctly, and similarly for the things to be avoided?


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: Sorcha
Date: 22 Dec 07 - 02:56 PM

Thank you Jeri. I was about to ask if they can just stop arguing and acting like 4 year olds yet.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: GUEST,strad
Date: 23 Dec 07 - 10:53 AM

Well said, Jeri & Sorcha.
The main thing, to my way of thinking, is to play the notes cleanly, and not e.g. clip other adjacent strings - what my wife calls Tattie Soup.

Being a bear of very little brain, it took me a long time to change my bowing from one note one bow to being able to play three notes down one up or vice versa and similar variations. So now when I learn new tunes I try different bowing patterns. The more you try, the better player you become. Happy Christmas everyone!


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 23 Dec 07 - 11:41 PM

"most of the skill in playing lies in the bowing"

My dad was a classically trained violinist, who taught me a bit, so I know I'm no expert.

There is a lot of good info in this thread, you just have to be able to sort out the wheat from the chaff.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Dec 07 - 09:13 AM

as a beginner I found exercises playing whole long bows useful,particuarly arpeggios ,trying to get six or eight in one bow across strings.I also practised the scales of D OR G major,eightnotes to one bow, two four note bows,then three, three, two.five and three,in as many different slurring combinations.
I also practised bowing ornamentation,by playing two semiquavers and two quavers,as if I was in jig time, eg 1and 2 3,and also 1 2and, 3 for every note of the scale starting on both up and down bows,this requires being able to play short bows quickly, again from the wrist. SO PRACTISE both long and short bows,Practise fiddle rolls,both long and short rolls,long rolls can be used to replace dotted crotchets in jig time,beginning of Morrisons jig could be played,Instead of E [ long ROLL E F#E D E ,or a four note bowing ornamentation e f#e e the first two being semiquavers or e ef#e,the middle two being semiquavers,or alternatively four notes of the same pitch, four Es,
Both these different types of ornamentation require competence with both long and short bows.HappyChristmas.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: s&r
Date: 25 Dec 07 - 05:59 AM

You hold the fiddle. The fiddle holds the bow.

Stu


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: GUEST,Sharon G
Date: 25 Dec 07 - 11:53 AM

Just found this thread. (and though I love Irish fiddle music, the discussion seems to have gotten a bit detoured on the Donegal style details).

I agree bowing is very important (along with playing in tune!)
There are some good reasons to use a classical hold - it works pretty well. Some people can develop a fairly serious injury to the thumb from the "under the frog" hold (not everyone) and there are some things that are just more difficult to do with the "grab it up the stick" hold. That said, plenty of people do both of those things very capably- but I'd still suggest starting with the classical hold.

It's good to be able to use the whole bow- even dance fiddlers who play fast and furious with short bows will want to play a waltz.

Scales with all different kinds of bowing patterns can be good ground work. You learn to hear if you're in tune and you can practice any kind of tune- waltz, polka, jig, reel etc depending how you vary it. Since you don't need to think about a tune, you can really listen to the sound you're making.

Personally, for fast fiddle tunes, reels, using short bows above the mid point works for me.

One of the most important aspects of bowing is how each style of fiddling has characteristic styles- whether separate bows, double-stops, where the slurs are, speeding up the bow for accents etc. That is the part of fiddling that comes from listening and watching- every style is a separate language or dialect. So it's hard to offer general guidelines. Listen, listen, listen... and watch/ ask other fiddlers.

Hope that's helpful....


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: katlaughing
Date: 25 Dec 07 - 01:27 PM

If you don't have ready access to a group and/or a fiddler to learn from/play with, check out some of the resources listed on this old thread about practice tapes, etc.

kat


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: Stringsinger
Date: 25 Dec 07 - 09:30 PM

Kat, Siobhan Peoples seems to hold his elbow moderately high and doesn't have quite
the perpendicular bow to the bridge. This is interesting because he gets a scratch
which has a bite to it. It's a mellow sound. Probably a French fiddle.

I loved the comment about "the young people" being "all notes and no music".

Now Danny Meehan seems to play from the elbow rather than a lot of wrist motion.
His bow is all over the board which makes it scratchy but this is desirable with some
fiddlers. Vincent Campbell does the same bowing on his mazurka, not really parallel
like the classical folks.

Violet Hensley from the Ozarks is an inspiration. Fiddlers do live longer!

I've noticed something else. Regardless of how you hold the bow, there is a built-in
lilt that the Irish fiddlers have, a kind of endemic rhythm that classical technique will
not get you. Some fiddlers lilt and others have a different motor imprint. The Hungarian fiddlers would not be adept at Irish music and probably the other way too. A lot of this
seems to come from body types. Also, I think there is a natural talent for finger dexterity that enhances the learning of the fiddle. The Russian bow hold seems more like a classical style where the stick is pinched with the bent thumb and the middle finger as a fulcrum point with the index and the pinkie guiding the bow depending on its direction. The bow rests more on the second knuckle than the first as in French bowing styles.

Tommy Jarrell was anything but a classical player and yet in his idiom produced influential followers of his Round Peak style.

Stuff Smith never seemed to use a full bow. I don't think that classical style players could get that sound automatically. Claude Williams was another one like that.

Regina Carter seems to be the Wynton Marsalis of the violin.

I think there has to be a certain built-in energy level in players to get some of the notes in at a fast tempo. This may be genetic as well as acquired.

Also, in noting bow holds, I see that some hands are more naturally adept at a comfortable playing position due to their structure.

Some players have short necks and large jowels that seem to be good for certain types of music. (Mediterranean?)

The tempos and the rhythmic styles are also seemingly influenced by hand structure and
body type. I think it really helps to be a dancer to play dance music.

Environment and starting early on the instrument seems to help some.

I am still confused as to what bow hold is best.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: katlaughing
Date: 25 Dec 07 - 10:42 PM

Frank, you've put lots more study into this than I ever thought of!:-) I know, even classically trained, I was taught to use my elbow to help control which string the bow was working; but the real work was in the wrist and the fingers on the bow, as you pointed out. I had the luck to also watch my dad fiddle, so I grew up *hearing* both. To be honest, I never thought twice about how to hold the bow. I did it the way my teachers explained and I have finally gotten into fiddling more and the few people who have heard me in the past year or so say I don't sound half-bad, so something must be alright, no matter how I'm holding it!**bg** To anyone, I say just do what works best for you.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: GUEST,sparticus
Date: 26 Dec 07 - 02:23 AM

Has Siobhan had the operation?

Merry Christmas.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 26 Dec 07 - 11:16 AM

Here's a guy with one arm:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=SYmqC5XznEw


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: Stringsinger
Date: 26 Dec 07 - 11:38 AM

Kat, that's what I've decided is the way to go. Find your own way.

Sedayne that's pretty amazing. I knew a bicycle rider in the circus who had one leg.

Django had two fingers.

Moral: If it's in you, it'll come out no matter what.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: katlaughing
Date: 26 Dec 07 - 12:40 PM

Yes, Frank, that seems to work. By the way, sparticus was being funny about Siobhan (Shi-vawn) because, even though it's hard to tell in that video, the fiddler is a She.:-)


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Dec 07 - 02:59 PM

Frank ,what type of music do you wish to play?.
I have played with good players of Irish TRAD, English trad,Scottish trad ,and jazz players too,that have all used a classical hold or something very similiar.
You refer to a scratch in the sound,this can be obtained by pressure from the index finger on the bow,having a classical hold is not going to prevent you from getting that scratch.
however, everyone has to find that which they are comfortable with.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: katlaughing
Date: 26 Dec 07 - 11:44 PM

I suppose some of you already know about this website: Irish Fiddle dot com, but I hope the original posted will come back in and see this. There is a LOT of info on there which might be helpful, including some tunes to learn (if you have the right plug-in.)


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: GUEST,Roisin Ban
Date: 27 Dec 07 - 10:59 AM

Many thanks to everyone who took the time to contribute. In addition to the hints and tips, which I'll experiment with, what's the deal with "the fiddle holds the bow"? Do you allow the bow to "rest" on the strings, or do you consciously "apply" it (if you see what I mean; by "rest" I mean, if the fiddle suddenly disappeared your bow would drop down a bit, whereas with "apply" I mean if the same thing happened your bow wouldnt dip at all)? Maybe my head's a bit looser than my wrusts,

Roisin


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: s&r
Date: 27 Dec 07 - 12:17 PM

I was told this years ago - it means don't apply excessive pressure with the bow. If you hold the bow at the frog the weight of the bow will give enough pressure for bowing. Like all maxims, there are exceptions.

If you press hard and bow slow the result will be a scraping sound - nasty. This is one reason that many fiddlers avoid playing at the heel - the leverage from the weight of the bow is greater there. You will learn with long bows to press with the index at the tip of the bow, and with the pinkie at the heel.

Stu


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Subject: RE: Fiddle Bowing
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 Dec 07 - 12:23 PM

on the string bowing,is a feature of certain irish styles,sliabh luchra fiddlers,Padraig O Keefe and Julia Clifford come to mind.It depends which style you wish to play in[I would recommend Geoff Bowens book How to play folk fiddle,which deals with on the string bowing,and many different traditional styles.Dick Miles


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