What type of bowing practice?

What type of bowing practice?

Which of the following do you do (and do you have other tips?)

1. Bowing for feel
2. Up and down bows
3. Speed
4. string-crossing

Or do you just play one tune after the other aimlessly and hope it all comes together?

Your insights please

Regards

The Shylock

Re: What type of bowing practice?

I’m working on bowing for "feel." I’ve been stuck in the classical world so long that it’s taking some time to get the feel of something different.
As far as up and down, well, isn’t that self-explanatory? ; p

Re: What type of bowing practice?

"play one tune after the other "

Pretty much, combined with listening to those tunes over and over. The only way to get the bowing is to listen, it can’t be written down or explained.

Re: What type of bowing practice?

Aim for accuracy (intonation, time) by playing the tunes. And playing the tunes some more. When accuracy becomes second nature, subtleties (speed, bowing direction, string crossings,double stops, colour and your own voice) will follow naturally.

Posted by .

Re: What type of bowing practice?

drone — Right on.

Re: What type of bowing practice?

Rather than "practice" bowing, I prefer to just play, though I may pay attention to specific aspects of bowing while playing.

My hunch is that timing is the most important thing to get right with your bow hand, for this music. So in the early years especially, it helps to be conscious of your timing whenever you play. Learn to listen to your timing (and that of good players) down to the smallest, almost inaudible detail and nuance. Precision timing is a lifelong learning process, but it starts the first day you pick up a bow.

Working on all the varieties of attack, tone, volume, string crossings, double stops, slurring, etc., works the same way. But timing is key.

Posted .

Re: What type of bowing practice?

Screetch, certain vital aspects of bowing, like string crossing patterns and slurs, you definitely can write down. Probably the best way to learn these is by carefully watching good fiddle players, (and even better having them break down bowing patterns for you in a quiet moment). Some of these cross string patterns can be very hard to pick up solely by listening - unless you have an incredible ear, you need a visual as well. I’ve seen many players who are just brilliant on other instruments learn fiddle as a second or third instrument, and struggle mightily with the bowing until shown the various patterns.

Re: What type of bowing practice?

Case in point: pedal or figure-eight bowing.

E2 BE dEBE (as in the opening to Drowsy Maggie or In the Tap Room)

Up bow the E2
Down bow B
Up bow EdE
Down bow B
Up bow E

You can make a little practice loop out of this by continuing the next bit of In the Tap Room:

dBAF DEFD

by slurring that up bow on the last E of the first phrase into the dB

Up bow EdB
Down bow A
Up bow FDE
Down bow F
Up bow D and E2 to start over

Alternately, to go between the pedal bowing and single bowing, you can single bow the EdBA bit as follows:

Up bow E
Down bow d
Up bow B
Down bow A

then Up bow FDE
Down bow F
Up bow DE2

I know this is a tedius way to transfer the info, but if you carefully follow each bow change above, you’ll have one of the signature "patterns" for bowing Irish reels with that sort of (extremely common) string crossing.

Posted .

Will CPT a question

Hello Will,
Always interested in your opinions, you’re saying timing, rythmn is of the utmost and you’re also saying here that I need to get the bowing for certain groups of notes ; EDE for example, do you actually work out the bowing on each tune you play or does it just come from playing?

I know that some reels speak for themselves on hearing them while others need a bit of work. Should I work this out before I start learning the tune for real?

Thanks for your thoughts on this one Willl

The Shylock

Re: What type of bowing practice?

Heya Shylock. Glad to see that you’re following this thread—some good advice from everyone here.

The reason I say that timing is the most important is because that more than anything else is what gives your playing nyah. Without good, subtle timing, your playing won’t have lift and life. Timing is created by your bow hand.

And timing is more than just rhythm—timing is also how you anticipate or delay a note around the down beats. Plus, it’s also an issue of how abruptly or gradually you begin and end notes—your "attack." Whether you "pop" onto or off of a note, or whether you slur smoothly in and out of that note. Etc.

Now on to working out the bowing to specific phrases. In the long run, what you want to be able to do is bow the notes any which way—***and lots of different which ways***—to get the lift, pulse, nyah, swing, etc., that you want in that phrase.

This is very important: There is no single way to bow any given phrase. Eventually, your bowing will be so effortless that you will be able to get the sound you’re after no matter whether the bow is going up or down on a given note, and in all sorts of combinations of slurs and single bows. That’s the goal.

In practice, however, certain patterns of slurs tend to work well for most fiddlers in recreating the nyah that they hear in other’s bowing. The pedal or figure-eight bowing I outlined above is just one example. It’s well worth pausing to learn that specific pattern because that type of string crossing phrase occurs sooooo frequently in Irish reels. And once you get the pattern down, you can toss it in on autopilot when such a phrase comes along—and ***it will sound right.*** That phrase will have the emphasis in the right places, with nyah and lift.

Once you know that approach to bowing the phrase, you’ll be better able to bow it many different ways, but still create the same or similar "right" sense of emphasis, nyah, and lift. Ultimately, you’ll bow the phrase several different ways as you play through the tune, just for variety’s sake, but always with nyah and lift.

[Of course, all of this is just based on my own experience, and considering what I’ve learned from other fiddlers, and what seems to work best for most of my students. Other approaches are also valid.]

If I set out to learn In the Tap Room, I would suss out the notes, using mostly single bow strokes for each note until I had the tune well in my head. Then I’d let slurs creep in where they sounded appropriate. And I’d also learn that pedal bowing pattern and use it a fair amount in this tune, till it all felt familiar and easy. Before long, you’ll find yourself pedal bowing through similar phrases in Morning Dew, Mountain Road, Miss McLeod’s, Bucks of Oranmore, Green Mountain, Drowsy Maggie, Maudabawn Chapel, Bantry Lasses, Rolling in the Ryegrass, and the list goes on.

Hope this helps.

Posted .

Re: What type of bowing practice?

The one thing that distinguishes the fiddle/viola/cello/bass from most other instruments is that those four each has an extra functional layer between the player and the instrument in order to produce the sound. That extra functional layer is of course the bow, so the player is having to produce and control the sound of the instrument through an intermediary which itself has to be controlled. No wonder those four instruments are so difficult to play!
Compare the above situation with a brass or woodwind player whose lips and breathing directly control the sound; or a harpist or classical guitarist whose fingers are in direct contact with the strings. This is not to say that these instruments aren’t difficult to play - they most certainly are, but their difficulties are different to those of the fiddle.

Re: What type of bowing practice?

That’s definitely true ‘hound. It has taken me almost 3 years
to reach the point where I can make the bow go with the beat
consistently, but I still have to really concentrate on it - like trying
to walk on a balance beam. I reached that point on the clarinet
in about 2 weeks — 40-odd years ago.

Re: What type of bowing practice?

Stephane Grappelli once said something to the effect of feeling your fingers caress the strings, as though the bow isn’t there. That image helped my bow hand technique to a surprising degree.

Posted .

Re: What type of bowing practice?

I love how around 1:07 Frankie pleads with Stephane to join in because he is struggling a bit and Stephane hangs him out to dry for just a little while…really hilarious!

Posted by .

Will Thank again

Hi Will,

Man you have some good tips out there! Nice one! One more question, I have been working on The Mountain Road, now I find that tricky to get any type of slurs in the first half the second speaks for itslef and the slurs sound great, but the first part I am using separate bow strokes, would you mind going through that first part with me and giving me your thoughts on it, I really would appreciate it….Or is it just the first part that needs that driven up bow to emphasise the tune?

Looking forward ot your reply Will and many thanks

The Shylock

Re: What type of bowing practice?

[Of course, all of this is just based on my own experience, and considering what I’ve learned from other fiddlers, and what seems to work best for most of my students. Other approaches are also valid.]
so said, Willcpt
.Wills advice is very good,but you will end up sounding like Will.
we all agree he is a good fiddler,but shouldnt the pupil be trying to find his own style.
this is also the problem when learning from a tutor like Cranitch,but Cranitch approaches the first bars of Drowsy Maggie thus.e b slurdown, ede,slur up b. e. seperates.
ONeils[1001green]e down,bedebe all six notes slurred up.PatrickKelly does it differently again.

Posted .

Re: What type of bowing practice?

Erm, Dick, I also said: "Once you know that approach to bowing the phrase, you’ll be better able to bow it many different ways, but still create the same or similar "right" sense of emphasis, nyah, and lift. Ultimately, you’ll bow the phrase several different ways as you play through the tune, just for variety’s sake, but always with nyah and lift."

Pedal bowing is extremely widely used. Very few Irish fiddlers *don’t* use it. The example you give of Cranitch is pedal bowing with the up and down bows reversed from the way I explained it, but it’s still basically the same "pattern." And I bow it that way, too, when it fits.

In short, Shylock won’t end up "sounding like Will," he’ll end up sounding like a decent Irish fiddler. The reason to copy what other Irish fiddlers do is to sound like an Irish fiddler, not like any one of them specifically. (I think we can all agree that I don’t sound like Kevin Burke. ๐Ÿ™‚ )

Posted .

Re: What type of bowing practice?

[Warning: Wordslide ahead. Detour around the mess unless you’re willing to tunnel through heavy verbiage.]

Shylock, the opening phrase of Mountain Road is exactly like the opening phrase of In the Tap Room, so you can use the same pedal bowing.

One way to de-mystify pedal bowing is to realize that it’s just a "Georgia shuffle" applied to string crossings. The Georgia shuffle is a down bow followed by three eighth notes (or their equivalent) all on one up bow. The down bow falls on the backbeat—the "3" of 1234 in a reel.

So you can use this shuffle anywhere in a tune, not just on string crossings. (It’s okay to use this pattern a lot when you’re first learning it and getting it comfortable in your bow hand. But once you have it, don’t overuse it or your bowing will sound predictable and boring.)

Pedal bowing on Mountain Road looks like this:

(For the phrase F2 AF BFAF)

up on F2
down on A
up on FBF
down on A
up on F

Now, to continue to the next phrase, you can do lots of different things. The next phrase is F2 AF EFDE

Since I just ended the first phrase on an up bow, the simplest way to get the next F2 to sound is to change bow direction—down bow F2.

Now you have a choice. You can either slur the down bow onto the A (the backbeat in this bar), and so keep the Georgia shuffle going:

down on F2A
up on EFE
down on D
up on E (and slur into the F2 that starts the next phrase)

Or you can play the A on an up bow and continue the slur into the following notes:

down on F2
up on AFEF
down on D
up on E (and slur into the F2 that starts the next phrase)

Either way gives you a nice emphasis on that low D, which helps create lift (by emphasizing the backbeat a bit) and also anchors the phrasing by "declaring" the lowest note of the tune so far.

Of course, you might also play the second phrase as:

F2 AF EDB,D

But the same bowing applies, and either way you emphasize that low "B," with a down bow.

For example:

down on F2
up on AFED
down on B,
up on D

You can also do the Georgia shuffle on the first phrase and then single bow each note of the second phrase. This helps break up the string of slurs.

I like to play a triplet on the F2 of the second phrase:

F2 AF BFAF | F/F/F AF EFDE |

Here I would most likely do the triplet as down/up/down. This leaves me with the same choices as above for how to continue—slur onto the A with that down bow, or start the A on an up bow and continue the slur across AFEF.

Yet another option here is:

down on F2
up on AF
down on E
up on F
down on D
up on E

This mixes a short slur (AF) with single bows, for variety.

Eventually you’ll want to try such phrases with every possible combinations of single bows and slurs, and every possible mix of up and down bows. It’s fun to get carried away with this sort of thing. I sometimes catch myself bowing these phrases as:

down on F2
up on AFBFAF
down/up/down on F/F/F
up on AFED
down on B,
up on D

The point of all this is to lossen up your bow hand to the point that how you bow a tune isn’t dictated by the tune itself, but by all the varied ways you can hear the timing and phrasing in your head—to let that come out under the bow.

[And it’s much more effective and fun to do all this in person, rather than just throwing words at it. But if you take the time to read through these examples and try them exactly as they’re written out, you’ll get it.]

Posted .

Re: What type of bowing practice?

Re: What type of bowing practice?

Ignore my last "post" - I was writing something but decided to delete it. Somehow, it got posted …

Re: What type of bowing practice?

Well now that you’ve piqued our curiosity….

๐Ÿ˜‰

Posted .

Re: What type of bowing practice?

I assumed lazyhound had missed the hazard warnings, been overwhelmed under the wordslide, tunnelled through, emerging disheveled and speechless…

Re: What type of bowing practice?

Will, since you ask …
I was writing about Robert Harbron’s comments concerning the performance of folk music in his sleeve notes to his latest CD. I quoted from them in my comments in
https://thesession.org/recordings/3052 (third paragraph).
Then I had second thoughts and decided that what I had typed wasn’t quite relevant enough for this discussion.

Re: What type of bowing practice?

Good on you, Trevor. Harbron’s comments *are* relevant, because all my abcs and bowing indications above don’t amount to squat if you don’t already know what this music sounds like when it’s played with pulse and lift and nyah.

Posted .

Re: What type of bowing practice?

The only difference I do in those opening phrases in the above tunes, is that I play the first note on a down bow and slur into the next, before going into the next three notes on the up bow - for the rest, I would do pretty much what Will does.

Re: What type of bowing practice?

That’s good old Will allright, what a post ! Learnt lots from you this way, Will (no longer these days, I’ve reached the stage of merely instinctive bowing ๐Ÿ˜‰ and ๐Ÿ™‚. In the old days now and again there was talk about The Book you were going to write. After retirement, I guess.

Will, A gentelman scholar, mighty…

Hi Will,

Couldn’t get back earlier to you, just arrived in Dublin for a few days fiddle lessons with a very good teacher thank you for your post, I will check it out and let you know how I get on.

Thanks again for all your help much appreciated

The Shylock

Re: What type of bowing practice?

Hi Shylock,

You ‘re still very welcome t odrop in at my place if you might be around. Holidays now and not going far away, so lots of time ๐Ÿ™‚ .

Re: What type of bowing practice?

Heya Ben, I often bow this sort of phrase just as you describe—starting on a down bow. Really, you want to be able to do any of this stuff with the bow going either direction. In mid flight, you don’t want to be worrying about whether your bow is going up or down—you just want to be able to get the pulse and nyah you’re after regardless.

Yet it can help to sort out some specific bowing, as outlined above, just to get started. Once you’re comfortable with a pattern, it’s good to flip the bowing (ups for downs and vice versa) to see what happens.

Henk, I do have that book started, but paying jobs keep me from finishing it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Posted .

Will and Ben

Thanks Will,

greta help….Ben I would love to drop over to you befoer I start up again end of August, have a month after Dublin in Costa Rica, but may around 20th of August we can meet up.

Let me know where you are from Eindhoven

Regards

The Shylock

Re: What type of bowing practice?

You’d be very welcome, Shylock. Just drop me a line.

Re: What type of bowing practice?

Will do Ben much appreciated

Re: What type of bowing practice?

gosh it took a while to get here

hello!

right when playing tunes down bows on the first beat of the bar tends to work well and slurring is a good way to make this happen

bouncing the bow is another good technique but explaining it on here is a bit complicated

then theres putting the beats in the right places - in a 4/4 tune you want a slight emphasis on the 1st and 3rd beats in the bar

in a 3/4 tune you want a slight lilt and this is achieved by lengthening the first note and emphasising it slightly and shortening the 3rd note of the bar

in a 6/8 tune you want emphasis on the 1st quaver beat of the bar and the 4th quaver beat of the bar

so yea hope that was of some use? maybe not but really it’s all just a case of experimenting and seeing what matches a certain tune

Lucy

Re: What type of bowing practice?

Whatโ€™s a Nyah?

Re: What type of bowing practice?

Nyah is the secret sauce that keeps you coming back for more.

Re: What type of bowing practice?

I can’t remember who, there’s a interview with a great Shetland fiddler who’s asked the equivalent of "what is the nyah?"
He says something like
"It’s errrr"

"It’s well….."

"It’s….."

"It’s how you play it!"

Re: What type of bowing practice?

(when you’re playing it well)

Re: What type of bowing practice?

Vechy - could say "nyah" was a series of accented notes, and on the correct notes.

Also dynamics, where you vary the volume for effect (not the same volume all the way through.

Last, but not least, judicious use of a rest (you miss out a note) for effect.

Probably lots more, but they are often difficult to put into words.

Haha! Just realised this thread is 11 years old! Still very good questions, of course.

Re: What type of bowing practice?

"Whatโ€™s a Nyah?" is one of those eternal questions. If I’m not mistaken Pythagoras was the first to broach the question.

Re: What type of bowing practice?

No, Cheeky. First mention was King Tut on his deathbed, but since then there’s been some conjecture that it was actually a burp.

Posted by .