Unknown fiddle ornament - “bow slide?”

Unknown fiddle ornament - “bow slide?”

So basically, years ago my only fiddle teacher showed me an ornament that I use extensively (no longer his student). However, I don’t know what it’s called, have never seen it notated and am unsure on how often I’ve even heard it. Basically, say you have G2AB. Instead of sliding with your 3rd finger from F# to G in one bow stroke, as per a typical slide ornament, it involves playing the F# and the G with your respective fingers (2nd and 3rd) in a single bow stroke, equaling the length of G2. Though perhaps with a bit more weight given to the G than the F. I am at work so I can’t post an audio example but I hope you know what I mean. It’s almost as if you’re adding a "delay" to the G note, or cutting it, but this time with a note below and not above which is what a cut always is. The G still rings out in the G2AB, but the F slightly "pushes" it for lack of a better description.

Anyone know what I’m referencing? What is it called? In any case I use it extensively, perfect way to spice up a lone X2 note.

Re: Unknown fiddle ornament - “bow slide?”

It’s a ‘hammer on’, used a lot in Scottish fiddle music, particularly where the fiddle is immitating pipe articulation.

Re: Unknown fiddle ornament - “bow slide?”

There are many names for it, no doubt.

@MarkM: ‘hammer-on’ suggests to me a very short lower note - akin to a ‘tap’ (‘pat’, ‘strike’ etc.) on wind instruments - articulating the main note. From pianoter’s description, I hear something more like the insertion of an extra melody note that delays arrival at the main note. This is something I do a lot, not only on fiddle - it is transferrable to any instrument as a stylistic feature. The classical (Italian) term is ‘appoggiatura’ (‘leaning note’) - there is, no doubt, a more idiomatic term in traditional music.

Ed. - Having watched the clip posted by Jim Dorans, the tutor uses the term ‘hammer-on’ to encompass both the short percussive grace note and the more leisurely movement from the lower note to the main note. She does not, however, go quite as far as making the lower note last a full quaver (1/8-note).

Re: Unknown fiddle ornament - “bow slide?”

CMO, I think we are both envisaging the same thing, the lower note clearly sounded, then the extra finger added do give a ‘doowah’ effect loosely approximating to a slide. But the first note is always a grace - if it gets as long as a quaver then you are just playing two quavers slurred together. I assume the term ‘hammer on’ has been appropriated from guitar terminology.

Re: Unknown fiddle ornament - “bow slide?”

"…if it gets as long as a quaver then you are just playing two quavers slurred together"

Yes, that’s what I mean. It’s more of a melodic variation than an ornament, I suppose.

Re: Unknown fiddle ornament - “bow slide?”

As I recall from an Aly Bain workshop, he used the "Deil Amang The Tailors" (Amaj) as an example of this.

Assuming one note per bow, he would start it as E-G# G#A E-G# G#A , where the last G# had the accent, and was a ‘false’ note. The last G#A were played in the same bow.

He explained it in more detail, but he’s so softly spoken it was hard to catch all of it.

Re: Unknown fiddle ornament - “bow slide?”

Yes, Devil Amang the Tailors is a good example. To see it used more subtly Carol Anderson has a very pipey style. You’ll see her using it a lot here (most obviously on the last note of most phrases, but in a lot of other places too) along with some other pipe ornamentation like 3rd and 4th finger cuts.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAd6IPAzLnY

Re: Unknown fiddle ornament - “bow slide?”

Hello everyone thanks for the responses! After watching Hanneke Cassel’s video it seems indeed that what I am referring to is a hammer on grace note. Interesting, I have heard of hammer ons plenty especially in relation to guitar playing but I don’t know why not in fiddles. How is it notated? Is it more prominent in Scottish than Irish fiddle traditions?

Re: Unknown fiddle ornament - “bow slide?”

It’s not normally notated, it’s just an ornament you put in where appropriate. In pedantic sheet music where it is notated, then it’s normally shown as a grace - a quaver in a smaller type-face slurred onto the start of the main note.

I think it is used more in Scottish than Irish, although I’m not an expert on Irish styles, and there may be areas where it is used more, but to me the hammer-on is used more and the slide less in Scotland, while the Irish use less hammer-ons and more slides.

Re: Unknown fiddle ornament - “bow slide?”

Excellent fiddle playing by Carol Anderson.

Scorchio

Re: Unknown fiddle ornament - “bow slide?”

"How is it notated?"

It would probably be notated as, in classical terms, either an acciaccatura https://tinyurl.com/yczeotuc (if a very short grace note, like a ‘tap’ on flute) or an appoggiatura https://tinyurl.com/y87qzk2q (for a longer note, taking a significant amount of time from the main note).

"I have heard of hammer ons plenty especially in relation to guitar playing but I don’t know why not in fiddles."

I could be wrong but I think the term has its origins in guitar playing, where the finger has to literally ‘hammer’ onto the string to make the note, since the vibration in the string is set up by the impact between string and fret.

Re: Unknown fiddle ornament - “bow slide?”

That’s not quite how a hammer-on on a guitar normally works. Usually the string is already ringing with the lower note, and the higher finger is brought down smartly so that the string keeps ringing but changes pitch, without the vibrations being killed while the string is in contact with the finger but not the fret. The string isn’t actually energized by the left hand finger. It’s the same on the fiddle - the string is ringing at the lower pitch, and the finger is brought down smartly so that it doesn’t damp the string between the two notes. The difference between a hammer-on and two slurred notes is quite subtle, but the hammer-on goes bawaaah, where a slur goes bah waah

Re: Unknown fiddle ornament - “bow slide?”

I would agree with Mark M’s last two comments. At least in Scottish fiddle music, I think that this ornament is so commonplace that it is isn’t regarded as anything special and comes fairly naturally. I had certainly never thought about it before, but after reading the earlier posts I played through half a dozen of my favourite (Scottish) marches, reels and jigs on the fiddle. I noticed that if I played a note followed by the next one up on the same string (e.g. C# > D or G > A) I would more often than not (and without thinking about it) play the higher note as a "hammer on", especially if it is the first note in a group of four (march or reel) or three (jig). It strikes me as a totally natural embellishment which is inherent in the music. It is probably easier to play than two clean notes, and has the advantage of giving extra emphasis to the first note in a group as well as giving a more varied and thus interesting sound.