On Bowing Patterns and such
Your wish, Jeff, it’s my command -- more or less, and don’t go taking advantage of that, mind. *grin* And after all, I don’t want to go boring the ears off non-fiddlers.
I’m not very good at (among other things I’m not very good at) concentrating on when I’m doing downbows. Joan Hanrahan, early on in my fiddling, told me that you shouldn’t slur across strings, and you rarely change bows while staying on one string -- unless of course you do (she said with a smile and a shrug). That’s made for some very interesting bow patterns. You can’t stick with that all the time, of course, but it does make for some great feel and style bits -- with lots of cross bar bowing.
Hey, what would you guys think about taking some extremely common tune and throwing different bowing patterns at it, similar to what Will was doing with Drowsy Maggie? What the heck, let’s use Drowsy Maggie. Will had suggested the following different bowing patterns for it:
A common type of phrase in reels is (Eminor): |E2 BE dEBE| On fiddle, this usually involves a string crossing and several changes in bow direction. One “standard” way to bow this would be: down-bow the E2 B, up-bow E, down-bow d, up-bow E, down-bow B, up-bow E.
Kevin Burke usually plays this same phrase as: down-bow the E2 B, up-bow E dE, down-bow B, up-bow E, repeat. Note that in Kevin’s approach, he’s slurring the first three eighth note counts, slurring the next three eighth note counts, and then tapping out separate bow
strokes for each of the last two eighth note counts. He does this even if the actual notes change: EGBE dEBE would be played: down-bow EGB, up-bow EdE, down B, up E. (3EEE BE dEBE would be played: (3down-up-down_down, up EdE, down B, up E.
In his book, Traditional Music in Ireland, Tomas O’Canainn examines the playing of Cork fiddler Matt Cranitch. He describes possible bowing for this same “Drowsy Maggie” type of phrase as follows:
down-bow on E2 B, up-bow on Ed, down-bow on EB, up-bow on E to the next bar’s E2 again, slurring across from the off beat to the next main downbeat.
Matt apparently uses a cut note (a tap with the ring finger in this case) to break the slurred E into two distinct notes. Then down-bow B, up-bow EFD,
down-bow A, up-bow D.
I have used that same cut note to break a slurred note into two, but note that I haven’t seen that much in Clare or Galway.
Has anyone any other suggestions for this poor defenseless tune?