Tommy Peoples’ Triplets

Tommy Peoples’ Triplets

How does he get those really tight sounding triplets? Examples on the Katharine Cornell Concert Album…especially The Frieze Britches. Its almost spiccato bowing. Suggestions anyone? Thanks in advance.

Re: Tommy Peoples’ Triplets

Welcome to Ed.
Name drop alert..
In 1978 I asked Donal Lunny (we were supporting the Bothy Band at Cardiff Uni.) exactly the same question and he just said he flicks the end of the bow with his little finger (or the one next to it) at the same time as moving the bow in the usual way to get the triplets. So you have the vertical bounce at the same time as the lateral movement. Good luck practising it.

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Wow, that sounds both hard but rewarding!

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I haven’t heard the Katharine Cornell Concert Album, but I know Tommy Peoples’ triplets quite well, and I studied them for a bit earlier on. So, unless his playing has changed drastically, here’s how he get that triplet sound :

He get the triplets by using a *very* short bow stroke for each one, sometimes so short that the string is ‘choked’, so that the note is not allowed to sound - there’s no pitch, just a ‘scrud’ (which of course sounds perfectly OK in its context).

At other times, the bow movements are slightly longer, and you can hear the note pitches.

During the triplets / trebles, his bow stays on the string, and most certainly does not leave it, as spiccato bowing would do.

I did a video some years ago, and slowed it down, and it bears out all that I’ve said above.

Re: Tommy Peoples’ Triplets

Referred to as "Cat-sneezes" in this earlier thread:
Lots of excellent tips that I remember reading at the time, and 12 years later I think I’ve nearly got it. Also here: Some of these excellent postings are from people who no longer inhabit this site. I found this clip from Bruce MacGregor very helpful;

Re: Tommy Peoples’ Triplets

As Jim said. If I bear down on the bow a bit during those *very* short strokes, I find it helps add the Peoples "crunch"… and good thread references from RichardB.

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Re: Tommy Peoples’ Triplets

For the geeks 🙂 - I found one of the threads where TP’s triplets were discussed, and here’s what I wrote after I slowed down a video of his playing :

"I had long suspected that TP’s ‘finger flick’ and any other visuals of his right hand were a bit of red herring. From watching the slowed-down video, it looks to me like he is ‘breaking’ from the 1st knuckle joint when the triplet is started. This action turns the bow outward, and I think the lifting of the pinky is just to get as loose a grip as possible so that the bow can be moved very quickly, and over a very short distance.

The pinky action is not producing the triplet, the 1st knuckle joint is (again, it’s me seeing with my own eyes at a speed where all these movements become clear). The bow does not leave the string, or bounce. I don’t think it would be physically possible for it to bounce, and produce three sounds or notes in that very short space of time, traveling in alternate directions (it could, of course if the bow was only travelling in one direction, eg ricochet)."

The whole thread is here :

Re: Tommy Peoples’ Triplets

I always thought maybe his bow is quite loose so sometimes you get the sound of the wood scrunching on the strings? Not sure if thats correct just my wild theory🙂

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Well, you’d need a lot of pressure to make the wood contact the string, so I doubt he is doing that 🙂

If you just put a bit more pressure on the bow on very short travel you can get a nice scrunchy sound.

You set the string in motion then stop it again (by changing direction) before it has a chance to sound a note.

Three points of strangulation 🙂

Re: Tommy Peoples’ Triplets

‘My own approach is considered unusual. My technique relies on a slight aggressiveness applied to the down-bow on the first note of the three. Then, by stopping the bow to change direction, the momentum carries it through the other two notes of the triplet. Some ask me, "Do you flick the bow with your small finger?" I don’t, nor with any other finger either. The small finger acts as a balance, as well as coming off the bow to allow it to follow through in the opposite direction and back so suddenly I invariably play the first note of the three on the down-bow and approach it a little more aggressively than usual.’
- Tommy Peoples, in his book Ó Am go hAm – From Time to Time (2015).
Available through

Re: Tommy Peoples’ Triplets

My triplets come from the wrist - you start the stroke with a trailing wrist, then while your forearm continues to travel the same way you throw the bow the opposite way with your wrist.

So on a down stroke you start with your wrist high and your hand pointing to the right, then without stopping the downward movement of your arm you flick your hand up and wrist down to the normal leading position which, depending of the relative speeds of arm and wrist, either stops the bow or gives a brief upstroke. I find it much harder to do on the up bow, and it does require a very relaxed wrist and grip, which might be where the lifted pinky comes in.

Re: Tommy Peoples’ Triplets

WOW!!! Great comments. Thanks everyone for this response. I got the "little finger flick" response from someone on and have been trying it and not getting even close. Time to try the rest, especially the "scrud" tip. That one sounds promising as it seems to be along the same lines as the roll, insofar as the note isn’t allowed to sound in the roll…more of a "rattle" as Kevin Burke puts it. Also loved the "cat sneeze" reference. I had written to someone about it calling it a "cat spit" sound, but more like when kittens are playing and spitting at each other…cats don’t really do it. I sounds like a sonic effect that should be part of everyone’s Irish ammunition supply. Also, don’t stop with the comments. Until I get this down, every tip is welcome.

Very Respectfully, Ed Ebel

Remember: good fiddling is like a bakery…very important to have tasty rolls 🙂

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Clarification: In the quote from Tommy’s book I posted above, there should be a full stop (.) after ‘suddenly’. My lack of punctuation has garbled it a little.

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About the little finger myth, I’ve heard all sorts of stuff, like people wearing rings of various weights on that finger to get the triplet to sound just right, and the person who told me he saw little kids in Ireland learning fiddle who would hit the bow with their little finger and sometimes the bow would pop out of their hand.

With YouTube there’s no need for speculation… I’m guessing there’s a video somewhere of Tommy Peoples playing.

A funny story, a fiddler I know, back in the 70s, got a Tommy Peoples record (vinyl) and returned it to the shop saying there was a defect, "pops" all over. The "defect" was his triplets!

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It’s not a "myth". I’ve seen it done, and it was very effective - certainly by a fiddler at the Willie Clancy week in the mid-1980s in a session in Mullagh. May have been Seamus Sands from Newry, but it was a while ago, and I’m not 100% certain of that. I have heard it said that Peoples does it, but have only seen him in person a few times, and was never close enough to see if he did use that admittedly very rare technique. The only person who can really answer the OP’s question, of course, is Tommy himself.

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Re: Tommy Peoples’ Triplets

I think the ‘myth’ thing is to do with believing that the little finger is integral to the execution of the triplet. It is not. Tommy himself confirms this (see DaveL335’s post above) - Tommy’s words are on P39/40 of his book "From Time To Time", for anyone who owns the book.

As I mentioned earlier, I slowed down a Tommy Peoples vid just to satisfy myself of exactly what was happening with those triplets, how they were executed, and it’s as I wrote in my earlier post. I can’t very well make that video public (!), but here is the video of Tommy that I used.

If you watch it, it’s perfectly understandable that an observer would think the finger is flicking the bow and actually making the triplet work, but that is most certainly not the case :

(embedding is disabled, so you’ll need to click on the "YouTube" logo at the bottom right of the pane) :

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I’ve tried Jim’s slow down and loop trick on that clip. and I still can’t see how he does it. There certainly isn’t a ‘little finger tap’, but quite often (though not always) he loosens or changes his grip. Sometimes the bow bounces a little, sometimes it doesn’t. The only thing that seems to be consistent is that every time he does it he rolls the bow away from himself so he’s playing on the edge of the hair - not far enough for the stick to hit the string, but always to 45deg or more. That, I suspect, is what gives it the bite and ‘crunch’ (though it still doesn’t explain how he can do it so frigging fast!)

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Triplets, or trebels are a function of hand/wrist or forearm motion, mostly already mentioned by Jim, and what Tommy said, etc. Just so our aspiring fiddlers don’t spend a minute more trying what was suggested in the early comment about finger lifting. Really. No disrespect, but THAT will do nothing to create that crisp stuttering sound and is not about rare or common. It’s biomechanics. The pinky and even ring finger can indeed lift, but not to MAKE the triplet. OK, now I can stop cringing. 🙂

Mark… the speed is in part, a function of tensing slightly the forearm or hand and/or about 2-3 fingers momentarily for those incredibly tiny motions. It’s the muscle control to press and release; press and release. And practice is always "big" to "small." Big triplet bowings as needed to smaller and smaller, and our buddy the metronome is a great tool to organize the control of said motions. Takes a bit but can be done, even if you didn’t start at age 9! Happy trebling. ;)

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>>"a function of tensing slightly the forearm"
That sounds as though you are talking about the "shiver" rather than triplets.

Bruce MacGregor gives a very clear demo here of how the triplet comes from a quick flick of the wrist with a totally relaxed arm and grip: The issue with Tommy Peoples is the ‘crunchiness’, and from slowing down that clip that Jim gave I’m sure that is coming from rolling onto the edge of the hair each time.

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MacGregor’s triplets, while perfectly fine, do not sound like Peoples’.
Even captain smooth, Kevin Burke, goes ‘crunchier’ than that.

Michelle O’Brien is the only player I’ve heard who nails them.
On a good recording, you can hear Peoples is sometimes doing a tiny
bit of ricochet, despite what he writes. You can also hear it with O’Brien.
She uses this technique far more than he ever did.

Re: Great finger flicking controversy

I am merely passing on what Donal Lunny told me all those years ago. Really. No disrespect.

Re: Tommy Peoples’ Triplets

I don’t think Michelle O’Brien is nailing it there, what she is doing is quite different from the Peoples crunch, it sounds much more like ricochet, and she is very deliberately lifting off to a thumb and index only grip each time.

BTW, I didn’t post the Bruce MacGregor clip as an example of how to play Peoples triplets, just to refute the idea that to play (any) triplets fast you should tense your forearm.

The more I watch that Tommy Peoples clip at 1/4 speed, the more convinced I am that rolling onto the edge of the hair is the key to it - just as it gives crunch to those awful Haas style chugged chords that are so fashionable at the moment. Tommy may not even be aware of exactly what he is doing and might simply think of it as ‘digging in a bit’ but the roll of the bow is very distinct on every triplet in the closeup shots.

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To my ears, Michelle O’Brien comes as close to Peoples as anyone I’ve heard. He was her teacher for a while - not sure how long.

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Mark & Mark - can you explain what you mean by "ricochet", in simple terms?

eg explaining a bowed triplet - "the bow stays on the string, and the pattern is D-U-D (or U-D-U), what happens with "ricochet"?

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[*just as it gives crunch to those awful Haas style chugged chords *]

Mark M - I’m just curious as to what you mean - Natalie Haas, on cello? Doing "chopping", or something different?

Thanks 🙂

Re: Tommy Peoples’ Triplets/Anyone’s really 🙂

I think my statement about tensing the forearm has been taken a bit too far. 🙂 Such is the fun of conversation not in real time.

Your muscles/tendons/fascia and so on are all very brilliantly connected. No matter whether a player lifts their bow fingers or not, or is playing a treble or a shiver, nor what amount of wrist motion is used in the playing of any of it…there is a constant tensing and releasing in the whole arm really. You would not be able to stay connected to the string let alone control tiny stuttering effects w/o some actual involvement of the arm muscles, no matter how relaxed the wrist is. I mentioned biomechanics. Even Bruce, using a wonderfully relaxed wrist and finger motion, is "tensing" and releasing said tension with every bow stroke, even if he is unaware of it. If you were to have stood next to him in that video (which I did see, thanks Mark - it’s a great example of terrific arm and wrist movement 🙂) and rested your hand on his right bicep or forearm muscle you would have felt exactly what I am talking about. Extreme no, but it will be there.

What he is NOT doing is playing the triplets by sort of locking up his arm to make the fine motor movements. Something Kevin alludes to re: the uneven triplet type of technique. But even there it’s a grabbing of sorts then release.

You can do this various ways - and I prefer to go the way of least tension and least motion to accomplish any technique, but there is still a grab and release mechanism at work here. How much does depend upon speed and volume, training - or lack thereof - because the wrist simply does not function alone.

When you mention the rolling of the arm, it does give more control of the bow middle to lower area. We play entirely in a pronated position of the arm, and that rolling as you call it slightly supinates (palm up position) the arm. If you were to just put your stick on any string; flat hair, say in the middle of the bow, then rotate your wrist towards the scroll just slightly so that it raises up and is gently curved (pinky and thumb both should be on their tips on the stick and slightly round…never locked straight) you will notice forearm muscle and tendon movement in the process. Some you will not even feel. This is just with the stick on the string so the arm is not even engaged in holding the weight of the bow, and w/o doing any actual bowing. So just the bare minimum motion of rotating your forearm/wrist engages muscles and tendons, albeit devoid of tension (hopefully.) lol

Now draw that bow as much or as little as you wish and you are engaging more. Most players, no matter how experienced they are in their genre, are not aware of what is going on in there. But the process is all about pressing and releasing, balancing and rebalancing, moments of tension then release… even when a specific set of motions is done supposedly just by "a very relaxed" hand. Just because it’s fine motor work (smaller muscles, smaller movements) does not eliminate that engagement of the myriad muscle system in that arm. And, to go back top my point about using that tension… if you deliberately engage more of the gross anatomy to play faster and/or louder, well, that’s an option that I was referring to.

Re: Tommy Peoples’ Triplets


", what happens with "ricochet"?"
The bow bounces. The end result is a tone that switches on and off. If you listen to the Tommy Peoples clip and one of the Michelle O’Brien ones, both are making the same sort of ’ distortion guitar’ tone, but with Peoples it pulses - gets louder and softer, with O’Brien it stops and starts. (I’m being very careful to avoid the word ‘staccato’, because we’ve been there before 😉 )

" I’m just curious as to what you mean - Natalie Haas, on cello? Doing "chopping", or something different?"
Exactly that (or more accurately fiddlers who use that same technique on fiddle).


OK, looks like we just have a language problem. If someone talks about ‘tensing muscles’ I assume they mean tightening opposing muscles to create tension and stiffen the relevant joint. If you simply meant using the forearm muscle to move the wrist then I agree with you entirely, but I would have described the action as a movement of the wrist rather than a tensing of the forearm. The place where muscle tensing (my sense of the word) does come in is in the Shetlanders’ shiver - where the upper arm is briefly tensed, and when it is released the whole arm gives a little shake.

"When you mention the rolling of the arm, it does give more control of the bow middle to lower area. We play entirely in a pronated position of the arm"
I didn’t mention rolling of the arm, I was talking about rolling the bow. If you have a means of slowing down video take a look at the close-ups in that Peoples clip. Evey time he plays a triplet the bow rolls over to 45 degrees or more. You can’t produce that degree of angle from your wrist, it has to be done by bending your thumb more and rolling the bow stick up your fingers towards the knuckles.

Re: Tommy Peoples’ Triplets

Hi Mark M,

OK thanks, I thought "chopping" was what you meant.

About the ricochet business - I just wanted to clarify your meaning of ricochet (I use it a lot myself in the standard "classical" way - and a persistent ricochet always happens in the same bow stroke).

Anyway, I repeated what I did 3 years ago, in this thread :

.. yeah, it gets boring after a while 🙂 … however, this time I also recorded the TP clip above, using audacity, so I could home in on the triplets. Looking at the waveform, the triplets are 0.2 seconds in total. So, for ricochet to happen during the triplet (presuming that’s what you mean), the bow would need to leave the string and re-contact it again within that time, and given that there are 3 separate bow strokes, I think that this is a physical impossibility.

I’ve always maintained that triplets / trebles / birls are executed with a simple D-U-D (or U-D-U) with a very short bow travel, and slightly increased bow pressure to give the "bite", at least on the first note of the three.

With Bruce McGregor, and Alasdair Fraser, the triplets are quite cleanly sounded as musical notes.

With Tommy’s, sometimes the bow pressure is so (relatively) great, and the stroke duration so short, that the note is "scrudded" - the string is choked/strangled so much that it does not have a chance to vibrate and sound a musically pitched note. Just a "tch". Other times, one or all of the pitches can be heard.

I think the finger flicking and bow tilting are really just a coincidental visual distraction, leading to false aural conclusions !

Real geeky stuff, like 🙂

Re: Tommy Peoples’ Triplets

Doggam you, AB - now you’re gonna keep me up all night here !! 🙂

Re: Tommy Peoples’ Triplets



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Re: Tommy Peoples’ Triplets

Can someone please post a clip of what is being referred to as a ‘shiver’?

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Thanks Hup. So ricochet is the same as a shiver, or rather a shiver is a drawn out ricochet?

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"With Tommy’s, sometimes the bow pressure is so (relatively) great, "

Well that’s what I thought too. But if you look at those closeups in your clip you realize it isn’t the case - if he was simply increasing the bow pressure the bow would stay upright and the hair would be pressed towards the stick. That isn’t what happens, what actually happens is that the bow rolls onto its side. And I don’t think it is just a visual distraction - it is how he is achieving the extra ‘bite’ for just that brief fraction of a second. (Just as in Haas style chord chugging you roll the bow (albeit the other direction) to achieve the required extra bite)

Re: Tommy Peoples’ Triplets

"I’ve always maintained that triplets / trebles / birls are executed with a simple D-U-D (or U-D-U) with a very short bow travel, and slightly increased bow pressure to give the "bite", at least on the first note of the three.

With Bruce McGregor, and Alasdair Fraser, the triplets are quite cleanly sounded as musical notes."

Maybe that’s the problem - that people don’t execute them short (and scratchy) enough. Besides, once I heard some explain the rhythmical distribution of a bowed "triplet" as x/x/x rather than (3x , I started to notice that it was indeed the way I played them. And the idea is the same on plucked string instruments - the plucked treble often has a choked note.

Re: Tommy Peoples’ Triplets

Cheeky Elf,
"So ricochet is the same as a shiver, or rather a shiver is a drawn out ricochet?"

No, they are completely different. ricochet simply means to bounce at a glancing angle (like a bullet ricocheting off a wall) so in ricochet bowing the bow keeps moving the same direction, but makes tiny bounces off the string, like skipping a pebble on water, to produce a series of short notes.

The shiver is a way of playing triplets. The movement comes from the upper arm - hold your arm out in front of you and suddenly tense the muscles of your upper arm (try to make your biceps bulge like Popeye) If you do it right you’ll see your whole arm shake, and that is what is used to make the short bow strokes of the triplet. The advantage of the shiver is that it doesn’t require a fluid wrist, hand or grip, even people with a very tense bow hold can produce a triplet that way. One of the disadvantages is that it is not at all versatile - the speed of the shake is governed by the inertia of your arm, so you can only ever shiver at one speed - if that speed doesn’t match the tempo of the music you produce uneven triplets.

I can’t really illustrate it with a clip, because unless there is a really clear close-up of the wrist and hand you wouldn’t be able to distinguish between the shiver and bowed triplet.

Re: Tommy Peoples’ Triplets

Thanks, Mark. I get it from your description - no video needed.

Re: Tommy Peoples’ Triplets

Hi Mark,

<<I didn’t mention rolling of the arm, I was talking about rolling the bow.>>

My mistake… that’s what I meant… bow. 🙂

<<…You can’t produce that degree of angle from your wrist, it has to be done by bending your thumb more and rolling the bow stick up your fingers towards the knuckles.>>

If I am understanding "degree of angle correctly" as in the stick simply being rotated away from the player, he may well be doing this with fingers and thumb, but to say it cannot be done with the wrist is not correct.

Bruce seems to play with a fairly flat back of hand no matter where he is in the bow, but he does a natural slight raising of the wrist on the up bows. He may well be doing most of the stick rotation with his thumb and fingers, but I would suggest that if he is using his fingers to do that, it’s also simply because he is NOT using his wrist. ;)

Also called rotating the stick, it’s easy enough to teach as a hand/wrist motion. Using the wrist for that (vs a few fingers) actually gives better control over the entire stick as needed. I think I could see that his wrist is raising a bit naturally while making that slight pitch of the bow, but I can’t tell what the exact movement under his hand is anyway. The thumb btw, also naturally straightens a bit and curves depending upon where the player is in the bow, so it’s not like it remains static.

I pulled up a video of a well know contemporary classical player, Hillary Hahn. She has about as solid and well controlled a bow arm as any player who has ever lived. This video (Mendelssohn Concerto) has lots of close ups so you can see that her bow is actually pitched consistently, while her wrist has that gentle curve, fingers round and so on.

The slow movement at about 14: makes it easy to see her strokes, and at 20:30ish till :45 is a beautiful close up of how the wrist rotates the bow on the up bow, especially travelling closer to the frog. You can see that her fingers are holding that stick firmly while it is the hand/wrist that pivots the bow. This is quite standard in bow technique, more extreme at the frog.

I looked for something that could show this kind of close up - and that slow movement part is also videoed under the bow arm too!

Anyway… my point here isn’t about what Bruce is or isn’t doing, but to clarify that rotating a stick to any degree can indeed be a wrist function.

Oh, interesting about the shiver Mark… thanks for the description.

Re: Tommy Peoples’ Triplets

Diane, have you looked at the Tommy Peoples clip in slow motion yet? What your lady is doing is playing consistently on the edge, and rolling the bow by about 15 degrees from end to end, all perfectly normal. What Tommy is doing is cranking the bow over from flat to 45-60 degrees and back again in the 0.2sec that it takes to play a triplet. As I said originally, you could not do that using your wrist (and if you watch his wrist in the wider shots, it barely moves at all).

Re: Tommy Peoples’ Triplets

Hi Mark, yes I have. 🙂 Every slow option they give - although for some reason there is no audio at 1/4 speed. So I mostly watched the .50. And just did again. As a matter of fact, what I see is that during his triplets played and shown, from (for ex) 2:17 to 2:22, his triplets are usually played with a pretty flat bow upper third, along with his normal slight rotation during the return up bow.

At 2:29-2:32 very short here… his 3 examples back to back are played with flat hair.

At 2:51 to 2:59 he rotates his stick away from himself on the up bow, and back flat for the triplets!

Just after, when he slows it down to demonstrate at 3:05, it is actually barely tilted either way for either the triplets or the up bow longer note. He is very high in the bow here, and there’s just a bit of normal wavering, if you will. There will always be movement, even if not deliberately presented, side to side.

Perhaps if you suggest a specific couple of time frame clips, I can look more carefully at what you are seeing re: him moving fingers and thumb. We can’t actually see through the back of his hand to say what the thumb is doing, but even so, you seem very sure of what you are observing so please pinpont it for me. 🙂 And a 45 to 60 degree observation is not clear to me.

We don’t typically refer to angling by degrees in classical training so I wouldn’t immediately relate to a measurement of such, but do you mean that starting from a perfectly flat bow, the stick is turned about 45 degrees to the right (away from him?) Your observation of Hillary’s "10" degrees vs what Bruce is doing?

But as it looks to me, it’s all happening opposite from what you are saying anyway. How interesting!
But yes, he barely moves his wrist at all, just a slight raising movement. I do believe also, that he is simply doing the entire triple as a back and forth quick hand motion. There really is no need to do the finger/thumb movement you are seeing to create a crisp sound. can be done flat or angled. (Not that he’s not.) But I sure don’t see it slow or fast.

I’m sure we are boring the heck out of everyone else here, or perhaps just I am. lol

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[*I’m sure we are boring the heck out of everyone else here, or perhaps just I am. lol*]

No worries, Diane. I’ll just continue from where you left off 🙂 In any case, it’s extremely relevant to Irish trad fiddle playing, if a little intense.

I downloaded the Tommy Peoples clip into PowerDirector, and slowed it down to 50% speed. Then I exported it, and imported it in again, and repeated the 50% slow down on the slowed-down clip), so the video and audio were 25% of the speed of the original.

Even at this slow speed (and the video / audio sync was still good) I couldn’t really get much more than Diane and Mark got already got in terms of analysing what was going on.

A couple of things I’m now sure of - the bow stays on the string thoughout- there is absolutely no ricochet. For ricochet to start, the bow would have to be off the string, which it clearly is not.

I can see his finger moving outward, as does the bow hair, and I think I know what’s going on. His 1st finger seems to lift (or at least straighten out), and I think he’s rolling the bow hair outward by using the outer knuckle of the thumb (which you can’t see), and as well as the D-U-D travel, there’s a slight scratch along the string as well as across it (and it’s often pitch-less). His hand motion is a little bit like how you would roll the bow out for a ‘chop’, although the bow does stay on the string.

Tell you what, at 1/4 speed, that’s the perfect way to learn a bowing pattern !

Re: Tommy Peoples’ Triplets

Leave it to Jim with the high tech toys to dissemble stuff like this. 🙂 I’m afraid I’ve lost the context of the ricochet remarks but no, I can tell you as a classical player there is no ricochet bowing going on here. If I read most of the Q&A’s right, the ricochet question was indeed answered.

What, Jim… your PD thing can’t Xray his hand? Worthless!

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I’ve just spent half the afternoon doing what Jim did! And I stitched together a couple of snippets and stuck them on youtube here:

The first clips show the bow angle - it obviously is an intrinsic part of the sound, it happens every single time he plays a triplet, and nowhere else. It’s also very fast - less than 1/10 second for the bow to lay down then back up.

The final clips show his hand. They’re pretty indistinct, but he’s clearly not bending his wrist to angle the bow, but his grip opens up (not always in the same way, sometimes all except the index come right off the stick, sometimes they don’t). From the way his hand opens I think he is rolling the bow across the ball of his thumb by extending his fingers, rather than rolling it up the fingers by bending his thumb as I first thought.

Jim, I don’t know why you’ve got so fixated on ricochet - my original remark regarding Michelle O’Brien was simply that her triplets "SOUND much more like ricochet" than Tommy’s, meaning simply that hers sound like an AK47 to his cat’s sneeze, I didn’t mean to imply that she was using ricochet. However, looking at her hand movements in relation to Tommy’s you may well be right that she has nailed the technique, even if she doesn’t produce the same sound.

Re: Tommy Peoples’ Triplets

Mark M, about the ricochet, there’s a bit of old-git-ism here (me, not you) 🙂

I was really just trying to clarify for the benefit of anyone else reading. Earlier, Mark Huppert said this :

"On a good recording, you can hear Peoples is sometimes doing a tiny
bit of ricochet, despite what he writes. You can also hear it with O’Brien.
She uses this technique far more than he ever did."

You said "However, looking at her hand movements in relation to Tommy’s you may well be right that she has nailed the technique, even if she doesn’t produce the same sound."

It was Marked Huppert who commented on Michelle, not me 🙂

Anyway, after all that, I don’t like his triplets anyway, but that’s just me. I’m trying to de-program my own playing to cut them down a bit.

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"Anyway, after all that, I don’t like his triplets anyway, but that’s just me."

(I don’t either, but don’t tell anyone;))

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Well I still love his triplets 🙂

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They are very effective in punctuating the tunes 🙂

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Tommy’s triplets aren’t my cup of tea either, give me Bruce MacGregor any day, But when I hear a fiddle making a noise I don’t understand, the engineer in me has to find out how it’s done.

Re: Tommy Peoples’ Triplets

Well, I like all of my notes to sound out cleanly and clearly.

If I’m playing a bowed triplet (eg ABA) then the notes need to be sounded clearly, otherwise there’s no point in playing them. Same with a bowed triplet with 3 identical notes.

Re: Tommy Peoples’ Triplets

Odd question but I’ll ask because it seems logical given Jim’s last reply.
Jim, when Tommy Peoples plays his triplets (the ones this thread is dissecting) is there no point in what he’s playing?

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Re: Tommy Peoples’ Triplets

[*Jim, when Tommy Peoples plays his triplets (the ones this thread is dissecting) is there no point in what he’s playing?*]

AB - Oh, there’s a point all right. They are part of the ‘musical line’, but if they are pitch-less then they could be considered to be more of a rhythmic effect than part of the melody. If they were pitched notes, then they could be considered to be both.

All I was saying earlier was that I like my own triplets to sound out cleanly, with the pitches clearly audible - regardless of what the notes are.

Re: Tommy Peoples’ Triplets

Thanks, Jim. Yes, primarily rhythmic and less about notes.

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Re: Tommy Peoples’ Triplets

Well done Mark on the video slow down. It’s really weird sounding that slow to say the least! lol But the quick flatting of the bow sideways is very clear to me now - and pretty quickly done even at that speed; thanks for doing that. Strange technique, but it works for him. 🙂

Re: Tommy Peoples’ Triplets

Good video Mark, thanks for that.

I meant to add, when answering AB’s question, of course the TP triplets would not work in a tune where the triplets were actually part of the melody (eg a waltz, mazurka etc).

Re: Tommy Peoples’ Triplets

I don’t know if anyone is still following this discussion. I was amazed at the number of replies and thank everyone who contributed. I have one more thing to add. I can really see how he is turning the bow and somehow using his index finger to this effect. I still can’t do it. But I am able to get that sound occasionally, and its not from the bow hair. Its actually from the wood of the bow hitting the string! Somebody give me a reality check: is it possible that this is what’s producing that sound? Thanks again to everyone.

Re: Tommy Peoples’ Triplets

@Edward - I doubt very much that it’s anything to do with the wood of the bow hitting the string.

He’s using very short bow strokes, and when you can’t hear the note pitches, that’s when the bow travel is extemely short, not enough to sound the note - just enough to scratch out the ‘death scrud’. Then, just after that, another two of them follow, in a very short space of time. It’s a very effective little ornament.

If you forget about (for the moment) what you see him doing with his right hand, and the fingers, you can get that effect by simple means - very short bow strokes, and more pressure on the string. That’s all there is to getting that sound.

Optionally, you can tense up your fingers and wrist to get short notes. That’s what some violinists do when playing very rapid tremolo.

There’s a good description of how ‘scratch’ works, and its place in fiddling here : (Graham is one of my fiddling friends).

The first few paragraphs explain the relationship of scratching to musical notes, and the rest explains why your playing sounds so different to you than it does to your listeners.