Open-string rolls on the fiddle

Open-string rolls on the fiddle

After fiddling for many years in both Midwest and Irish styles it finally dawned on me that doing fluent rolls wasn’t ever going to be possible without working at it. I’ve been practising roll-heavy tunes such as The Boys of the Lough and several Paddy Canny tunes. In some of the transcribed tunes I’ve printed out (many from Henrik Norbeck’s great collections) I am encountering rolls on the open (I presume) E and A strings.

How is this done? Is there string-crossing involved, which it seems to me would make the rolls difficult to execute quickly? Perhaps the transcriptions are from flute or box players.

Re: Open-string rolls on the fiddle

I don’t know about anybody else, but I’ve been practising rolls on open strings by way of Matt Cranitch — for an open string, say, A, it would be A-B-D-B-A (you could also roll ABCBA). I also have been practising Kevin Glackin’s open string ornament of a fiddle version of the piping cran, but that’s going to take me far far FAR longer, as it involves single bowing the D in two extremely quick triplets between the open As. When showing it to us, Kevin said that it would take us roughly ten years to figure out, and to keep at it, sooner or later it would come, and the best bet is to listen to lots of Donegal fiddlers and lots of pipers at the same time.

Hope that helps —

Zina

Re: Open-string rolls on the fiddle

Mein Gott!! I would n’t like to even think of rolls involving string-crossing,or not executed by myself anyway.
I’m sure there’s more than one way but for what it’s worth I do this:
01310 which you can of course do on any open string.
I can’t claim my rolls are fluent but this way does interrupt the bare open string sound if you’re wanting a bit of bite for variation.
Good luck,
Dave

Re: Open-string rolls on the fiddle

Heh. This would be the Web version of two people talking at the same time. *grin* Hi Dave — how’s it going on that end of the pond?

Zina

Re: Open-string rolls on the fiddle

Ay up,Zina! It’s OK,thanks.This time of year is pretty busy so I’m having to pay for all the idle moments of the Summer!
Next week in Liverpool and then about 50+ Nutcrackers to get through before I become a gibbering idiot. Well,more so than I am now!
How’s yerself?
Dave

Re: Open-string rolls on the fiddle

Heh — pardon us, Layers, while we hijack your thread! Oh lord, Classical Boy — you have my pity there…I will put on the Nutcracker ONCE during the entire season at some point, and then it gets taken RIGHT off the CD player string. Still, it pays, right? Got to make up for all that free time larking around in the nice seasons…

Life is doing all right here. I’ve hardly had a minute to get ready for the hols, though — although I did get some decorations up, but considering what a fuss I normally make of the season, it’s pretty tame by comparison. Still, my husband is just as happy about it, as I always make him help me take it down. πŸ™‚

Oh yipes, I’ve stayed online much too long, I’m going to be late for the session if I don’t watch out! Hugs and kisses your way, Dave!

zls

Re: Open-string rolls on the fiddle

Thanks, Zina and Dave! A-B-D-B-A works well for me.

I think I’ve heard Kevin Glackin’s cran on a recording, though I didn’t know what it was at the time. Is it that stacatto stutter-sounding ornament, reminiscent of Tommy People’s bowed triplet?

Re: Open-string rolls on the fiddle

Well, I hesitate to say yes, because I don’t know how to explain it other than "a cran", but stacato stuttering sounds about right… I’ll have to see if I can find a recording of Kevin doing it to see if it’s the right one!

zls

Re: Open-string rolls on the fiddle

There is no way of rolling an open string, no matter how well-bowed it wouldn’t have the right rhythm. You can cran an open string - but It’s not the norm. More typically if there is a Roll symbol (~) over an open string note it implies a treble bow - like Tommy People’s ornament. Although Tommy’s scratchy trebles are his trademark, trebles aren’t usually nearly as scratchy. Pre-Peoples trebles were three clean notes of equal time value with as little bow scratching as possible.

Re: Open-string rolls on the fiddle

Whoa, Brad! I agree that the triplet has been the preferred ornament in these situations, but for longer than you and I have been alive fiddlers have been rolling or cranning open strings. And it’s actually no more difficult to get the rhythm right on an open roll than on any other roll. Matt Cranitch teaches it in his book on Irish fiddling, and I’ve heard the technique explained by Kevin Burke as well. It basically matches what’s been described above in this discussion thread. I’m not sure what you mean by "it’s not the norm." Many players routinely roll open strings in certain situations (slower tempo tunes, and when playing with whistle or flute, when open A’s and e’s are rolled more frequently).

I also have to disagree with you on the pre-Peoples triplets, based on my listening to the playing of Junior Crehan, Bobby Casey, John Kelly, even Michael Coleman, Joe Ryan, Johnny Doherty, and on back. Yes, most of these players used a light, distinctly three-note triplet, but more percussive "scratch" triplets also occur, depending on the effect they were aiming for. I hear so few absolutes in this music—we should probably avoid trying to introduce them here.

Posted .

Re: Open-string rolls on the fiddle

I’ve been told & I have tried it & I believe it’s impossible to roll an open string. Cran yes, treble yes - but a roll just *can’t* be done on an open string - much as a flute can’t roll a "D". It’s just the end of the line & can be cranned or cut - but you can’t roll it.

Also - not one of those fiddlers you mentioned above played trebles like Peoples - only Tommy Peoples does (or can (or wants)) play them that way.

Re: Open-string rolls on the fiddle

Tis the season to be jolly…and argumentative? *grin*

Geesh, Brad, I don’t care whether you call it a cran or a roll or a cream cheese danish. If you’re claiming it can’t be a roll because you can’t hit the note below the main tone, then that’s just semantics. I think the preceeding discussion is more focused on ornamenting an open string with a series of 5 notes produced with cuts—the main tone and four grace notes. It certainly is possible to do this, and in the same rhythm as a roll on a fingered note. Any fiddlers interested can follow Kevin Burke’s lead, and play open string cream cheese danishes using Zina’s formula in the second posting on this thread. That’s how the trad fiddlers I’m familiar with do it. Burke taught it that way at a workshop I attended in September, and it’s in Matt Cranitch’s book as a "standard" approach to ornamenting an open string. Cranitch calls it a roll.

As for the triplets, I never said those fiddlers do Peoples-like triplets. NO ONE esle does Peoples’ triplets. In fact, most everyone’e triplets are personal and distinctive—it’s actually fairly easy to tell a Burke triplet from a Hayes triplet from a Coleman triplet from a Doherty triplet, etc. But the fiddlers I listed do in fact play percussive triplets in some settings, in addition to playing the more daintily articulated ones.

Most of the great fiddlers I’ve visited with are eager to echo the sounds they hear from other players, even on other trad instruments, and they’ll do what they need to to get those sounds. To them, that is what traditional technique is. So sometimes fiddlers roll open notes, sometimes they put a pause in where the flute player breathes, sometimes they do tight, cranny triplets or drones to mimic the pipes, sometimes they slide into notes—and I’ve heard "authorities" say that all of these things are non-traditional or wrong. Me, I’d rather follow the practice of the people actually playing the music than worry about theoretical correctness.
Will

Posted .

Re: Open-string rolls on the fiddle

I especially agree with Dave’s "… this way does interrupt the bare open string sound if you’re wanting a bit of bite for variation." (A bit of a bite of cream cheese danish?)

While Matt Cranitch’s "roll" may not be a TECHNICAL roll in that the note does not cut and pat under the note, he does indeed call it a roll. I think the names you call things tend to matter a little less (not that they are unimportant, of course) and what you play is the most important.

Zina

Re: Open-string rolls on the fiddle

A roll is a roll - A cran is a cran. They are two different things, it is not just semantics. A motor and an engine are two different things (even though similar to a layperson) - the difference is not just semantics. I’m not meaning to split hairs for the sake of splitting hairs - I want to point out that a roll is not a cran. Crans are not often used by fiddles in the first place, it’s a pipe ornament.

The original question was what do fiddles do when they see a roll on an open string note in sheet music and the answer is at least 99.9% of the time, a treble bow. A cran on a fiddle is so rare that I’ve only heard it on one recording.

Re: Open-string rolls on the fiddle

Brad,

I partly aggree with you; a roll is not a cran, but a motor is an engine!
πŸ™‚

To my ear, the treble bow (as opposed to the bass bow?) is the fiddle ornament that sounds the most like a roll played on the flute.

Re: Open-string rolls on the fiddle

Whatever.

Posted .

There’s also the possibility to perform open-string rolls using the tuning pegs! When will they come up with a whammy bar for the violin?

Re: Open-string rolls on the fiddle

Yes, Brad, a roll is not a cran, and I don’t believe anyone ever said it was. But in Cranitch’s world, the 0-1-3-1-0 is a roll, even though it doesn’t cut and pat over and under the note, and who the hell am I to argue with Matt Cranitch? A bowed triplet is also just fine and dandy as an ornament on an open string. So is a cran, which is much more common in Donegal fiddling than anywhere else, and I imagine it’s fun to play (I have to imagine, I can’t play it yet), but I know of very few fiddlers with the guts or dexterity to try it who didn’t grow up playing it.

Layers now knows that you can use a 0-1-3-1-0 roll on an open string, or just to play a bowed triplet, or if s/he really wants to frustrate him/herself, s/he can try for the cran.

*grin* Is the baby teething or something, O my favorite curmudgeon? It sounds like you haven’t gotten much sleep recently! πŸ™‚ Although — what IS the difference between a motor and an engine? I’m not even a layperson when it comes to mechanics - I’m just completely ignorant when it comes to anything like that!

Zina

I mean, I don’t care what you call it, but this doodly thing with the index and ring fingers cutting an open string note works, and enough trad fiddlers use it that it seems to me to be part of the tradition. Bowed triplets also work, and probably do get used more often than other techniques on an open string note. But either one can be made to sound something like the roll a flute might produce.

If you really WANT to get technical about it, I suppose a fiddle "can’t" play a cran, because a cran is a piping technique. But I get an icky feeling when people put music into black and white terms, absolute do’s and dont’s. Especially when we’re talking about how other people might want to play something. Sounds like Brad plays triplets on open strings "99.9 percent" of the time. Great. I do triplets too, but sometimes I do the doodly-cream-cheese-not-a-cran-or-roll-danish-thing, and sometimes I ignore the roll symbol and just play a straight note, and sometimes I cut it with just one tap of a finger (and I’ve heard that Irish fiddlers aren’t supposed to do that either), and I learned to do these things from listening to Kevin Burke, Martin Hayes, Eileen Ivers (god forbid), Bobby Casey, Junior Crehan, Sean Keane, Liz Carroll, and Ciaran Tourish. I don’t know what they call the different ornaments (though I’ve heard "doodly" and "deedly" bandied about by the best of them). Brad and I have been here before on other topics, and I’d like to think that we can agree to disagree respectfully while letting other people form—and air—their own *opinions*. Can we try to be less prescriptive here?

(End of rant)

Will

Posted .

Re: Open-string rolls on the fiddle

Technically, 0-1-3-1-0 ain’t a cran either (a cran would have to be something like 0-3-0-1-0), so it must be a roll!

Re: Open-string rolls on the fiddle

I shall now forever think of the 01310 roll as the cream cheese danish ornament. *grin* No one will be able to figure out why I’m giggling softly to myself in a session in the middle of a tune. Thanks bunches, guys. Heh.

zls

Re: Open-string rolls on the fiddle

For record a motor runs on electro-magnets & an engine runs on internal combustion. But they both make things spin.

Re: Open-string rolls on the fiddle

Electro-magnets! See, you DO learn something new every day. I’d never even imagined that a motor had magnets in it, much less was run by the things…

zls

Re: Open-string rolls on the fiddle

I’ve been to workshops with Paddy and Kevin Glackin, and I have been practicing the open rolls as 0-2-0-1-0 ever since.

Is this yet another way of faking the open-string roll or have I been sleeping in class???

Re: Open-string rolls on the fiddle

Yes, if you’re really fast, you can use the tuning pegs.

Re: Open-string rolls on the fiddle

Halldor, yes, it is another open string roll, and it’s not *exactly* a fake. Glauber, what’s with you and the tuning pegs, huh? *snicker*

zls

Re: Open-string rolls on the fiddle

Ive heard kevin burke teatching a "fake roll" as 0-2-0-1-0!! but you can practice a triplet instead a fake roll.