Bow strokes help

Bow strokes help

Hi This Paul again everyone. This time I need a little help on bow strokes for the fiddle. My cousin picked up a fiddle lately and is finding the strokes hard to master. Is it D U D U D U D U for reels on the fiddle. When he starts Drowsy Maggie he plays the first E2 on a down and the B on an up. Wouldn’t that mean that is he playing the on beats on an up stroke and is that okay. He finds that way much easier but it goes against everything I learned on strokes. Give me an idea of the strokes for jigs and reels on the fiddle because I play the banjo. What works for the banjo might not work for the fiddle. Is a light bow or heavy bow better? Thanks

Re: Bow strokes help

I think Drowsy Maggie has some tricks in it for a fiddler. I’ve been taught to cross-bow that tune in the first part DD UU DD. Other, more typical, reels have a DUD UUU DU bowing pattern. Still, some people demand single bowing all tunes, though I’ve never been around anyone who does that strictly.

Anyway, I seem to remember there are some wonderful threads about this subject on The Session. Try a search and see if there is any helpful information!

Re: Bow strokes help

dont do single bow strokes - you’ll end up sounding classical!

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Re: Bow strokes help

An abundance of single bow strokes is also a hallmark of many great Northern fiddlers…put an ear to John Doherty, Altan’s Mairead ni Mhaonaigh, etc.

Yup, we covered a lot of ground on bowing in other threads. Try searching for "bowing patterns" and "slur" to key in on some of the more detailed discussions.

And remember, bowing is simple: the bow goes up and the bow goes down. You can combine notes (slurring) in either direction, and where you change direction will influence how you give life to the beat. It’s important to be able to emphasize notes and the beat equally well with a down bow or up bow, and even in the midst of a slur. But bowing is also highly individual and (evenutally) freeform, so try everything. There are very few absolutes—"you MUST do it this way," or "NEVER do this." Just try things and see what works for you. Also, find a teacher or good player to mentor you. Good first-hand guidance usually quickens the learning process.

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Re: Bow strokes help

As Will says, it’s important to be able to do things equally well with the down or up bows. However, at the begining, it helps to pick a pattern for each tune type, at least it did for me.

Kevin Burke’s fiddle videos helped me a fair bit. I used his bowing patterns to get a feel for how a tune type sounded and to get comfortable - both the patterns provided on the sheet music and how he actually does it in the videos. Somehow this helped a lot with all the right-hand stumbling. Don’t get stuck on the patterns though, you don’t want to be married to them for life. I don’t focus on using his patterns anymore - sometimes use em (particularly if I’m stumbling over a new tune) and sometimes don’t - but they provided a starting point. It also helps to think about what Stephen Grappelli said about how he doesn’t think about the bow but his hand as if he was using it to do the actually playing [ Will posted the exact quote somewhere in one of the discussions, but I can’t seem to find it - anyway, that’s the gist of it, I think.]. Whenever the stumbling gets going, focusing on the hand, instead of the bow, helps smooth things out for me. (not sure why, maybe cus my mother said long sticks could poke someone’s eye out if you played with them?)…

Re: Bow strokes help

Hi - it’s Helen, and as a classical fiddler (is there such a thing?) I’ve been following with interest what you’ve all been saying about bowing. Grappelli said it well. I find if I think of the sound I want, like singing, many bowing problems disappear and the music works well. But you have to be relaxed enough. For me, when I want to practise something hard, I like to do it in as many different ways as I can think of. This loosens me up.

Re: Bow strokes help

It’s like tongues in flute playing. Sounds rubbish if you tongue every note. Try playing a tune with just a single direction of the bow. Let the finger decorations do the whole lot. This is good practice for any who feels the overbow

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