Fiddle Bowing Question

Fiddle Bowing Question

First of all, I’m a beginning-level fiddler. When I play a tune, I don’t consciously try for specific bowing patterns. I reckon I have enough other problems without worrying about that. Problems like putting my fingers down in the right places and keeping the bow perpindicular to the strings. And I’m hoping that I’ll end up bowing correctly without putting any conscious effort into it. That’s one question, I suppose. What do you think? It’s something I’ve thought about for a while. However, the reason I was prompted to write here is this: I recently composed a jig and I am having difficulty with the bowing of one note. I have tried to change the note, but I cannot find one I like as well. Here is the sequence of notes and they occur right at the start of the jig/A part:

|DEF ABA| AFE D3|

The bowing problem for me is the A note at the start of the second measure. So, perhaps some experienced players could tell me how they would handle the bowing of these 10 notes. Thanks.

Slan,
Mairtin

Re: Fiddle Bowing Question

My bowing is down on DEF, up on ABA, down on A, up on F, down on E, up on D3.
Slan,
Mairtin

Re: Fiddle Bowing Question

my personal personal preference would be to slur (DEF) (ABA) (AFE) D3 depending on what I want to achieve and how lazy I feel at that moment. Some would do this some wouldnt, it depends on your personal preference really. It all depends just which notes if any you want to empasise.

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Re: Fiddle Bowing Question

Joze, I’m not sure what "slur" is in fiddling. Assuming its the same as in speech, one note runs into the next. If so, how is it done? Is this mainly fingering or bowing? I repeat, I’m a beginner.

Slan,
Mairtin

Re: Fiddle Bowing Question

The so-called basic Munster bowing pattern is two notes per bow, with the second note accented with an increase in bow speed and pressure. Although it’s most obviously and blatantly seen (err, heard) in polkas, where’s it’s exaggerated immensely, it’s actually meant to be a starting point for your bowing in all kinds of tunes, even jigs. Try slurring across strings, beats and barlines, it’s liberating!

—Dan

Re: Fiddle Bowing Question

Mairtin, a slur is when you play two (or more) without any break between the notes. On fiddle that ould mean playing the notes without stopping or changing the direction of the bow, while changing the fingerings on your left hand. For example, if you were bowing an F# on the E string, and while the bow was still moving you lifted your first finger you would have slurred an F#-E.

With practice you can do this across strings as well.

Re: Fiddle Bowing Question

If that’s so, matan, I must be slurring. I play the first 3 notes on one stroke and the second 3 on one stroke. I did not realize that that was a slur.

Slan,
Mairtin

Re: Fiddle Bowing Question

Bit surprised at the answers so far - I wouldn’t be doing so much ‘slurring’.

I normally bow jigs mostly a bow per note. In this case, however, there are several possibilities, the one of which I would probably choose most often being DE(F A)B(A | {d}A) FE D3.

In other words, separate bows for the first two notes (down up) then a down bow for the F# and A, an up bow for the B, a down bow for the A and the next A across the barline, with a cut on a d to separate the two notes, then up, down, up.

Re: Fiddle Bowing Question

I’m with benhall. One bow per note, starting each bar on a down bow.

The first note of the bar is usually the one you tap your foot to - it’s the note that defines the rythm of the tune. Therefore, it’s a very important note to get the right emphasis on. Make sure you have a strong, deliberate stroke on that note.

To that end, a down bow at the start of each bar helps a lot. If you really must slur, I’d say do it in groups of 3s, so you’re not slurring across the bar line.

My personal preference would be not to slur at all. The exception is in a 4/4 tune like a reel where a crotchet is grouped with 2 quavers eg.
|DEFA B2dB|
I slur the dB to put me back on track for a down bow at the start of the next bar.

I probably break my own rule a lot these days, but that’s how I learned it. There’s lots of different schools of thought on bowing technique though.

Re: Fiddle Bowing Question

Ah, now, let’s be clear - I use masses more ‘slurs’ (if we *must* call them that) in reels than I do in jigs. And, if I do ‘slur’ in jigs, it’s *usually* across the bar line. I almost never ‘slur’ in 3s on each half bar in jigs. I think it tends to give a kind of nineteenth century, English country dance feel to them, which doesn’t really fit in the idiom..

But perhaps that’s only when *I* do it - tradshark, you’ve been playing in a great area for the music for a long time now (at least, I think so, from your profile), so I’m assuming that when *you* do it, it sounds OK. Just goes to show - what works for one may not for somebody else - I’m still with you, tradshark, in the one note per bow in jigs, though … on the whole …

Re: Fiddle Bowing Question

Hehe, no worries benhall, as I said there are many schools of thought on the subject. None of them are really "wrong". And I do seem to be breaking my own rules a lot these days too. I don’t consciously think about it, so sometimes I’m not sure exactly what I’m doing with the bow, so I revert to explaining how I was taught to do it. I have a kind of Donegal/Clare hybrid style, which is a bit weird.

I agree that slurring in jigs doesn’t sound great. I prefer single bows myself. I notice that you put a gracenote between the As across the barline. That’ll still work when slurred because it breaks up the open string.

I actually never heard them called "slurs" till I came to this site. Never had a name for it before, do you have one?

Re: Fiddle Bowing Question

I agree, Tradshark. There’s no right or wrong way to bow jigs, it all comes down to personal preference. If what your doing feels comfortable and sounds good, don’t worry about it, otherwise you’ll tie yourself up in knots wondering which way your bow should be going.

Re: Fiddle Bowing Question

I don’t like the name ‘slurs’. I implies something smoother than what actually happens a lot of the time. But I haven’t got a better word - tied notes perhaps?

Re: Fiddle Bowing Question

I usually slur two eigth notes down then bow an eigth note up in a jig, but that changes if I’m emphasizing some other note or using some type of ornamentation.

Re: Fiddle Bowing Question

Don’t you find that a bit skippy and Fotherington-Thomas like?

Re: Fiddle Bowing Question

I slur frequently and as often as possible, when speed is required.

Honestly, I’m jealous at you fiddlers who can keep up at fast sessions WITHOUT slurring, I have no idea how you do it.

When it’s slower, heck, use two strokes for each note, knock yerself out.

As with so much of all this, it’s personal preference, do what’cha like as long as it sounds spiffy.

Re: Fiddle Bowing Question

And you can also do one bow per bar, or even one bow for two or more bars.

But I’m talking about bowing control exercises 🙂

Re: Fiddle Bowing Question

Or you could slur the whole tune, and just change bow when you go to play it second time around ;)

(I’m joking. Don’t.)

Re: Fiddle Bowing Question

If you don’t slurs on jigs how do you play Jig of Slurs! 😉
Hehe!

Re: Fiddle Bowing Question

It might be true that there’s no "wrong" way to bow jigs, but I think I could argue that there are still some ways that sound better than other ways. 🙂

In particular, I find that anything excessively repetitive sounds clunky to my ear, especially if the bow is changing on the beat every time. I much prefer the sound of slurring into the beat more often than not. It gives the tune a little more gentle swing, and makes it sound a little less flatfooted and heavy.


So, I would prefer to hear: DE(F A)B(A {d}A)F(E D3) (which was benhall.1’s)
or: DE(F A)BA AF(E D3)
or just: DE(F A)BA AFE D3
or even: D(EF A)(BA A)(FE D3)

over: (DEF) (ABA) (AFE) D3
and: D(EF) A(BA) A(FE) D3
and: (DE)F (AB)A (AF)E D3


But then again, "de gustibus non est disputandem". Do whatever you yourself prefer to hear.

Re: Fiddle Bowing Question

It’s not the Jig of Slurs, it’s the Jug of Slugs.

Re: Fiddle Bowing Question

thanks georgi - much more like it.

And for those who may wish to know whether georgi knows what he’s talking about, try watching this (sorry georgi) - it is brilliant. Inspirational. (Bastard - I bet you’re nice too. Some people make you sick. 🙂 )

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AerVZHfJ2P8

Re: Fiddle Bowing Question

Please, Sir, may I be excused. My brain is full. (Larson, The Far Side)

Thanks, everyone. (I’m afraid if I say any more, everyone will know I didn’t understand any of it.)

Georgi "Do whatever you prefer to hear"

I listened to the Reavy tune, and yes, that’s what I prefer to hear. But I tried all those permutations/combinations, and I don’t sound even remotely like that.

I guess I will have to be contented with the best sow’s ear purse I can make.

Slan,

Mairtin

Re: Fiddle Bowing Question

there is a very good book by David Lyth called munster Bowing styles in irish fiddle playing[comhaltas publication].julia Clifford for instance,in jigs,quite often slurs groups of three,she also slurs pairs of notes.
PatrickKelly slurs four quavers,then boWs seperately,eleven quavers at rhe beginning of a jig called gillans apples.This book gives youan insight into munster bowing.
what it shows you is that[within any area or style] there are many different ways to bow.often an upbow slur is executed so you can emphasise with a down bow the next note.

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