FIDDLE - Bowing trip-ups, need some direction and questions answered
I recently started playing fiddle again, having seriously started last year, but I got my own just this past July. I’m trying to absorb as much knowledge as I can before I make terrible habits for myself in the future. I’m once again noticing one which I traced back to last year: bowing trip-ups.
I initially believed that Irish fiddling had strict-but-lenient rules for bowing direction, and I tried practicing tunes with set bowing directions, while not being too obsessed… if that makes sense. This methodology worked, when I didn’t screw up the “note + direction” aspect.
Now, as I continue studying Matt Cranitch’s book on Irish Fiddle, I am more under the impression that it’s quite lenient, but in most (not all) cases, it’s ideal to start and/or end on a down bow. But I’m really trying to take to heart what the fantastic Kevin Burke once remarked about his bowing technique: the bow goes up and down. A year ago, I would’ve been driven mad by this thought, but I’m starting to see the light in that, whether I’m seeing it clearly or not.
So, I’m now bent on trying to avoid tripping up when I play tunes. While I can make a recovery of sorts, it’s at the expense of playing the wrong notes until I’m back to familiar territory, after which I soon screw-up again. I think what this says about my playing is that I’m not focused nearly enough on the notes.
I hear so many great fiddlers, and I assume they screw up too, and it probably sounds great. And if they practice so often, and don’t trip-up the tune to break the rhythm very often, perhaps they have some ingrained way to just put the importance on the notes and the expressive quality of the tunes. I think that would put less emphasis on the bowing direction. It’s all mystifying stuff.
So, I’m tempted to believe that my answer lies in just focusing on the notes, and hitting them with what direction I happen to have, hopefully after having developed a feel for the basic bowing mannerisms for tune types. That way, I’ll learn more than one way to attack the notes. But I still don’t know if my thinking is correct.
I have my presumptions about the answers, and how they may interrelate; withholding them further, I must ask these questions:
1.) Is bowing direction really that important?
2.) What aspects (the ubiquitous, often ambiguous “practice” being one of them) could help me avoid tripping up?
3.) Does anyone have any insight from famous fiddlers on how often they trip up and how they handle it?
Sláinte, agus grma as do chuid ama,