Getting Good Sound

Getting Good Sound

How do you get good sound on waltzes and et cetera? The best fiddlers just have gorgeous sound — it’s like they press down more on their bow in the middle of the note and give it a little more vibrato there — but is there more to it than that? My waltzes sound rather harsh and not very graceful at all.


Re: Getting Good Sound

I’m not a fiddler, so I can’t help you on the sound itself. but if you a waltz to be graceful : keep a very steady rythm, and emphasize slightly the 2nd beat. Play as if the 1rst beat was bringing to you to the 2nd, quite legato. Makes the waltzes sound nice, with an "up in the air" feeling. with the box, I tend to play softly the note of the 1rst beat, with a crescendo coming to the 2nd, and softer on the 3rd (using the bellows much in the same way you could use the bow)…
fiddlers should be able to give more precise advice…
hope that helps…

Re: Getting Good Sound

From my post in the previous topic, it’s going to sound like I’m preaching here, but anyway:

Watch out for the first note on each bar! Those are about the most important notes in the tune. They define the rhythm and the "lift" of the tune. The other notes in the bar really just lead you to the start of the next bar. Some suggestions that might help:

* Give the note its proper length. Don’t cut it short. This applies to all notes of course, but it’s very important for the first in the bar.

* Press the note firmly into the fingerboard. Not a death-grip, but make sure you get the string right down. It’ll help get the note clear.

* Don’t lean on the bow for a strong bow stroke. Get it instead by using more of the bow and drawing it slightly faster over the string till you get the note to its correct length.

* A bit of vibrato on the long notes never hurt anyone. You need the string pressed nice and firm to get it clear.

* Keep the bow off the fingerboard!

Hope this helps.

Re: Getting Good Sound

Make sure your bowing arm is relaxed, and that your bowing is nice and smooth and the movement is from the wrist and elbow, not the shoulder. I had a similar problem with slow airs, and it was down to poor bowing technique.

Re: Getting Good Sound

"press down". I always get worried when I read that. Your arm is plenty heavy enough to get all the sound you need out of the fiddle. Instead of thinking of pressing down, think of relaxing your arm, your bow sinking into the string, and let gravity do the work for a change!


Re: Getting Good Sound

reenactor - it you’re referring to tradshark’s post, let me interpret (if you don’t mind, tradshark?). I think he meant to press the string firmly with the left hand. You get a much cleaner tone that way. Took me a while to figure out what was meant …

Re: Getting Good Sound

I, on the other hand, got a little worried by:

"Watch out for the first note on each bar! Those are about the most important notes in the tune. They define the rhythm and the "lift" of the tune. The other notes in the bar really just lead you to the start of the next bar."

I don’t *think* that’s how I play… Like many people here, I’ve played for dancing over the years, and various dancers have told me it gives them a lift to here other parts of the tune emphasised. This is especially true if you’re using particular tunes/dances, like the Houlichan Jig.

And what about polkas? Seems to me they often have the emphasis on the half bar rather than the start of the bar. Jigs also sometimes have more of an emphasis on the half bar.

Then again, I’ve heard styles that were more ‘evened out’ than this, and still sounded good …

(This must be good for me - it’s got me thinking …)

Re: Getting Good Sound

no, I was referring to a comment made by the original poster. "it’s like they press down more on their bow…"

Re: Getting Good Sound

Ah, right … sorry … In that case, I agree

Re: Getting Good Sound


If you’ve got a fiddle teacher (and your profile says that you do), you should be asking her/him this question.

Virtually all the advice provided above could be either good or bad for you, depending on what your actual problems are—and we can neither hear nor see you play here. If you were already using too much bow, the advice to move the bow faster above wouldn’t really help you; but a decent teacher (or even just another fiddle player) can usually see exactly what needs fixing most in a matter of seconds.

Re: Getting Good Sound

Well, my mom won’t pay for my fiddle lessons during the summer, so …

And for some reason, whenever I ask my teacher something, I don’t get exactly what I want for an answer — it’s like even if I spend forever explaining, she doesn’t quite understand.

(Don’t get me wrong, she’s a wonderful teacher.)

(And very smart.)

Re: Getting Good Sound

‘the more you press,the less sound comes out’

i would keep on playing until you find what’s often called ‘the point of contact’ with yr bow.
you’ll know when you do as it’s a bit like the ‘sweet spot’ -say on a tennis racquet.

re waltzes etc-you might possibly try slurring more notes together than you would usually and then reduce the slurs but try keeping the same sound.or something like that anyway…

the bow is the thing that produces the sound so spend most of yr time with that thought in mind.

and one last thing…

don’t press!

hope this helps

Re: Getting Good Sound

Hi guys,

Yup, I meant press firmly with the left hand, not with the bow. The bow should really just carry its own weight. You don’t need to put pressure on it at all.

As for my comments about the first note of each bar, I’m not suggesting you lean on these to the exclusion of all else - I’m just trying to make you aware of their importance to the overall rhythm of the tune. I’ve heard plenty of people not give these notes their full length and end up speeding up in the middle of the tune. The tune sort of gets away on you a bit.

There will always be different emphasis on certain parts of a tune - this is a matter of style. But the original question was about getting a good sound. A good overall sound is hard to get if you’re skimping on the important notes.

Anyway, I’m just trying to help, as are those that disagree with me. It’s like an advice buffet - take what works for you and leave the rest!