Graces/Cuts/Rolls

Graces/Cuts/Rolls

Listening to Natalie MacMaster I’ve noticed (and want to learn) her lightening-fast graces, cuts, and rolls. I have the bowed triplets down, but I can’t seem to get the … how do you say? … the liquid-like, lightning-fast ornaments down. And when she goes from the A string to the open E string, she accents the note so that it "pops". Do you have any tips on doing these?

Re: Graces/Cuts/Rolls

(I’ve noticed Donnell Leahy has these down wonderfully as well.)

Re: Graces/Cuts/Rolls

No big surprise, since they’re husband and wife.

Re: Graces/Cuts/Rolls

Rytmic talent, pratice practice and practice.

Re: Graces/Cuts/Rolls

You can accent a note, or an ornament, by speeding up the bow for the required duration. It’s best done with finger and hand; anything further up the arm probably won’t produce the fine accuracy required for speed.
In one style of playing polkas on the fiddle you do this on half-beats 2 and 4 (that is, for a polka with 4 eighth notes in a bar), often even when beats 3 and 4 are one note. This gives a characteristic off-beat lift to the tune, and is wonderful when a polka is played at full set-dancing speed (i.e. PDQ!). It isn’t a particularly easy technique to master, as I know from experience - and I’m still trying, and needs a lot of slow practice.

The ear is the best teacher

The more you learn about ornamentation the more diversity and variety one starts to hear. And when you really start to intently listen to a wide range of styles/performers/instruments it gets even better/worse.