Recommend a good tutorial for how to bow a jig

Recommend a good tutorial for how to bow a jig

I have not played many (or really any) jigs on the fiddle. I’m basically a beginner at it and my only experience of fiddle is hacking away at an American old-time jam for a decade where we pretty much only play tunes in 2/4 or 4/4 or 3/4 time. So, now that I have access to a good beginner slow-session, I’d like to maybe give this Irish fiddling a try. Can you recommend a good tutorial video to show me how to bow a jig properly? Something that isn’t totally lame and horrible (why am I so good at finding videos that sound like classical musicians who have no clue??), but also that isn’t so fast you can’t tell what the heck is going on?

Re: Recommend a good tutorial for how to bow a jig

The Kevin Burke DVDs "Learn to Play Irish Fiddle" (vol 1 and 2) are a good resource. The way I first learned was to maybe play the first three notes separate and then slur the last three, or the other way around depending on the tune. I don’t remember in the KB DVD how he teaches it, but in a workshop I took, he would sometimes slur the first 4 and bow the last two separate.

Re: Recommend a good tutorial for how to bow a jig

The Matt Cranitch and Pete Cooper books are often mentioned for learning to approach the Irish styles.

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Re: Recommend a good tutorial for how to bow a jig

I like both the Cranitch and Cooper books. I think it’s Pete Cooper’s book that has a nice visual of the zig-zag pattern of long -short-short for playing jigs- it’s very helpful for people getting their feet wet into Irish music.

Re: Recommend a good tutorial for how to bow a jig

I actually have the Cranitch book. I don’t have any kind of device to play the CD that came with it, though, and on the page about jigs he suggests listening to the CD. His description for bowing the reel is really helpful, but there’s not a lot of description for the jig. Does he intend for you to bow DUD DUD? If so, how do you do that? Please be nice. I’ve never had lessons.

Re: Recommend a good tutorial for how to bow a jig

« The way I first learned was to maybe play the first three notes separate and then slur the last three, or the other way around depending on the tune. »

With respect to the poster of this suggestion, just pretend you didn’t see it. It’s _totally_ the wrong way to go about things.

My suggestion would be first to learn to play jigs nicely using all separate bows. This is essential in my view and actually a tricky thing to achieve, for various reasons. But once you have got things happening nicely with separate bows, stating the rhythm properly, then you can think about slurring.

And the first place to start slurring is across the beats from time to time (linking notes 3 and 4, or 6 and 1). Not all the time, but where the tune wants you to. And of course these are not the only places you can slur.

For pointers on the tricky art of getting note lengths and emphasis right using separate bows, here is a comment of mine in a previous discussion (also submitted by someone coming from an old-time background, incidentally): https://thesession.org/discussions/33082#comment706723

Some of the advice given by some of the other contributors to that discussion is also worth heeding.

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Re: Recommend a good tutorial for how to bow a jig

Here’s a great video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZ3YJV3ZHaY


Under the settings icon at the bottom right you can change the speed - slow it down to half speed and try to emulate the bowing. See if you can get as much lift into your jigs as this 9-year-old!

Re: Recommend a good tutorial for how to bow a jig

Thank you both, Stiamh and Airport. I see from the video and the suggestion that perhaps, like with old-time music, it doesn’t really matter which direction the bow goes. To me this doesn’t mean therefore that it’s ~easy~, just that it’s like anything else. I’ll see if I can learn something from that girl. Even at 1/2 speed it’s hard for this old lady.

Re: Recommend a good tutorial for how to bow a jig

And before anyone jumps on me, by "it doesn’t matter which way the bow goes" I mean that I’ve learned to play old-time by ear and at times I’ve taken workshops with people who teach tunes by hollering out the bow direction and I never can match the bow direction they holler out, and neither can the people I’ve learned to play from. I’ve always been told not to worry about it, which makes sense to me because what happens if you stick an extra little thing in the tune and your bow direction gets off? What do you do then? In my mind you have to figure out how to make it sound right whatever direction the bow is going. Hopefully it’s about the same for Irish jigs, if I can figure it out.

Re: Recommend a good tutorial for how to bow a jig

"it doesn’t matter which way the bow goes"

The way the bow goes makes all the difference to how the tune sounds. But I expect what you mean is that there is not one particular way the bow has to go at any given point in a tune - and this is absolutely correct. It would, however, be a useful exercise to learn a few tunes tunes with specific bowings, to gain some insight into how bowing and melody work together.

Re: Recommend a good tutorial for how to bow a jig

I have a digital copy of the Cranitch CD I can share with you if you want to message me sbhikes…

Re: Recommend a good tutorial for how to bow a jig

Let any number of proficient fiddlers play a tune - even if they play the exact same notes, there will be a lot of variation in bow directions and slurs/ties.

Re: Recommend a good tutorial for how to bow a jig

"The way the bow goes makes all the difference to how the tune sounds. But I expect what you mean is that there is not one particular way the bow has to go at any given point in a tune - and this is absolutely correct. It would, however, be a useful exercise to learn a few tunes tunes with specific bowings, to gain some insight into how bowing and melody work together."

Yes, most definitely to all of that. And yes, it would be useful to learn a few tunes with specific bowings. The Cranitch book shows little downbow marks only on the first of the measure, which is what led me to ask my original question. I found his description for bowing Anything for John Joe was great for getting the groove, but that’s a reel. This slow session I’ve found plays a ton of jigs, slip jigs and slides. Slides are easy, jigs not so much (for me anyway).

Re: Recommend a good tutorial for how to bow a jig

As for accenting notes, that can be done by increasing pressure/bow speed on the note, or playing a note on a change of bow direction. Also, slurring across the bar can give a good (but different sounding) accent too.

As said before, there are many ways of bowing a jig, applying/mixing different bowing patterns, depending on the tune itself.

Re: Recommend a good tutorial for how to bow a jig

Yeah, I’m sure there are many bowing patterns. Coming from a mandolin old-time perspective I’ve kind of learned to just "set the right hand in motion" and let it go from there. Fiddle is so much more variable and expressive with many ways to "set the right hand in motion".

Re: Recommend a good tutorial for how to bow a jig

"The Cranitch book shows little downbow marks only on the first of the measure"

Take it from there. It’s up for the next note that isn’t tied with the first, then it’s down… I’ve learned the patterns he suggested for two jigs in the whole book, but they only apply if I stick to the exact same version. Any minor deviation from that requires me to do something else for a half measure, then I can be back on track if I want.

Re: Recommend a good tutorial for how to bow a jig

Jeff, what is it for the 4th note then?

Re: Recommend a good tutorial for how to bow a jig

sbhikes - 4th note is a down-bow. The pattern is D-U-D U-D-U all the way through, unless marked otherwise.

I just checked the book.

Re: Recommend a good tutorial for how to bow a jig

D-U-D U-D-U
1 - 2 -3 4
#4 would be an up-bow.

Re: Recommend a good tutorial for how to bow a jig

//#4 would be an up-bow.//

Well, yeah, it’s obvious now you mention it!

Sorry, beer is too strong :)

Re: Recommend a good tutorial for how to bow a jig

Got it! Actually, that’s more helpful than you know. I think. I’ll give that a try tonight.

Re: Recommend a good tutorial for how to bow a jig

I took a few Skype lessons with Kevin Burke on this very topic and although I make no claim to any sort of competence in this area he did make a couple suggestions which have been very helpful. The first is avoid any sort of repetitive patterns. While it may work from time to time it runs the risk of taking any sort of lilting Sprit out of the music. The second is to try experimenting with how many notes one can play with the bow going in one direction. While you may not settle on long bows as you find the bowing you like, it opens up many possibilities one would never think of out of the gate. Watch this video of him playing and you will see 4 or 5 notes played on one bow frequently. Of course that’s Kevin. It may not be the interpretation you want. Let your muse be your guide.

https://youtu.be/9yXA5jhAxMs

Re: Recommend a good tutorial for how to bow a jig

> It may not be the interpretation you want. Let your muse be your guide.

Seriously I am like a kindergartener when it comes to playing the fiddle. There’s no muse, there’s no interpretation. There’s just a struggle and a hope I can play with some tiny measure of respectability at a slow session where most people have sheet music and half of them get lost even while looking at the sheet music.