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by Dale Russ
September 06, 2016
Hey Irish music fans, glad to have you here! There’s so much to cover in such a broad topic as Irish fiddling, but I want to start from the beginning, more or less. I won’t be telling you how to hold the fiddle, or where the notes are, but I’ll assume you have some experience with a fiddle or violin and just point out the basic techniques that I find helpful. From there, we’ll talk about all of the elements that make Irish fiddling sound Irish. Please feel free to comment or ask questions—I’ll do my best to answer them as soon as I can. We’ll start out with a few reels and jigs to get you comfortably situated, since those are the most commonly played tunes in sessions, then move on to some other forms. Hope you enjoy our exploration!
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Comments and Discussion
Dale's course includes 33 video lessons and 30 complete tunes. We aren't currently adding new lessons to Dale's course.
You have accurately described two approaches, the first one in which the graces separate eighth notes. The only thing I might add is that the “eighth” notes may vary in value from player to player. If we think of a long roll occurring at the beginning of a half-measure, it takes up the timing of a dotted quarter note. So, if we think of the roll as a dotted quarter being divided into three eighth notes separated by graces (cuts), those eighth notes can be of equal value, or the first eighth note can be longer at the expense of the second eighth note. This rhythmic emphasis is in accordance with the natural “swing” of Irish music, in which the 1st and 3rd eighth notes are accented by either length, volume, or both at the expense of the 2nd and 4th eighth notes.
The second scenario which you describe occurs when the player extends the length of the first (“home” note as you called it – I like it!) even longer, waiting to execute the first movement of the upper grace, resulting in the roll “snapping” at the end of the dotted-quarter space. As you note, at this point, it is indeed hard to call it a quarter note. If you have a chance, check out Matt Cranitch’s notation of a roll. His approach obviously falls into the second category, as opposed to my approach which can also be found in Brendan Breathnach’s notations (the Ceol Rince na hEireann collection,for instance).
Both approaches are legit. To be more complete in the discussion, there is a third way of playing rolls as well, as you can hear in the playing of Michael Coleman, Brian Conway and James Kelly, as examples. None of them use this style of roll exclusively, however. This third approach is to treat the dotted-quarter space as a quintuplet, which most accurately describes the figure known as a “5-note roll”, in my opinion. Thus, a roll on the C on the A string for instance would be c-d-c-b-c, played with equal value in the space of the dotted quarter.
Now, as to why I choose one over the others. One of my earliest influences was Paddy Glackin. If you listen to his rolls slowed down (which is how I learned them), you can hear the relative equality of the lengths of the eighth notes (first approach). This was reinforced in me by learning the tin whistle soon after I started the fiddle, and this approach to rolls can also be heard in the playing of Paddy Keenan and Matt Molloy on pipes and flute, respectively. In the playing of all three, the rolls are clean and strong. This influenced me to learn to separate the roll into three cleanly-articulated eighth notes. As I got into teaching, I realized that many people had had rolls described to them as “the note, the note above, the note , the note below and then the note” (see 5-note roll above). But in practicing, they were trying to play this sequence in a rapid succession without breaking it down, and the result was that they were not playing the roll cleanly. In fact, there was a huge tendency to attempt to play the lower grace before the upper grace was even finished sounding. When this becomes your muscle memory, there’s a problem.
To interject, I think a lot of fiddle players – non-Irish and native Irish alike - learned how to play rolls in this manner. Rolls are difficult to explain and even harder to execute. Many players never had any but the vaguest explanation of rolls when they were learning, and had to work it out for themselves. Some were more successful than others (Gerry Harrington of The Smoky Chimney fame is a good example). For some, like myself, it’s a matter of preference, then choice.
One problem I find with the “snappy” kind of roll is that, when you slow down a tune, you still have to play the “snappy” roll IF you learned it as a hit-or-miss muscle-memory action, which can sound out-of-place. If, on the other hand, you learned by playing them slowly, with a controlled motion – no matter the style - you can play them at any speed you like. When you have more control over your technique, you have more possibilities for expression in your music. For any of the three styles discussed here, I recommend learning them as a controlled motion.
I hope this answers your question. Thanks for asking; it was well posed and relevant to many!
Many thanksfor getting back to me.
I'm on board now, and really enjoying the course. I particularly like your DETAILED explanations and can see that I've not really understood until now where the bounce and swing come from in Irish music! I'd really like you to include in the course the tune I've been obsessing about (see earlier comment!) from the Introduction - you did take the trouble to give me the title "Sean Maguire's", but so far I've only come up with reel of the same name, which is a different tune altogether. I know that this often happens! Anyway, more power to your elbow - time to practise my rolls!
All good wishes,
Welcome aboard and good choice to play the fiddle! If you can keep up with the play-along after only 4 months of playing, you’re doing very well! Give yourself a pat on the back. ;)
Good questions as to gracing. You are correct in surmising it’s probably not good to add them to every accented beat lol. If, when you practice them, you are gracing every accent, you might want to alternate gracing notes lest you get in the habit of doing every one. I have noticed in my own playing that I tend to grace first-finger notes reflexively, which is not necessarily a good thing. Perhaps it’s because those notes are prime candidates for graces, and I hope for my sake that’s the case! I tend to grace second-finger notes second-most (coincidentally!) and third-finger notes third-most (I think I’m starting to see a pattern here...). For another take on this, I recommend listening to James Kelly to hear how and when he uses graces for second- and especially third-finger notes.
There are no guidelines that I know of about use of graces unless, perhaps, you are studying a specific style or, even more so, a specific player. I advocate using graces only on accented notes, yet there are some players who grace unaccented notes and get away with it! So, rules be damned. For any generalization someone might make about Irish fiddle-playing, there will always be an exception, so keep your ears open and decide if some particular element you hear is something that YOU want to incorporate into your playing. Again, if you are studying a specific style or player, there WILL be rules. Follow them until you understand them well enough to break them.
Hope that answers your question, and thanks for the feedback! Glad you’re enjoying it.
The tune in the Intro (if we’re looking at the same place) I’ve known as “Sean Maguire’s”. It goes by several other names, usually after the person that popularized it locally. I recently saw it referred to (in Reg Hall’s collection of music from London) as “A Night In Ennis”.
All the best, and give me a shout if I didn’t answer your question!
Quick question to carry on from my last comment. It's with regards to adding grace notes to the down beat (or accented beat). Is there any particular reason why you might or might not add them to certain beats? Maybe depending on what follows? Obviously it might not be best to add them to every beat :) but just wondering if there were any unwritten guidelines of is it just personal preference like most other things?
Also, do you have any suggestions as to how to incorporate these into a practice? I have just been performing scales to a metronome and adding them in.
All the best,
Just about to embark on your old-time course. As a Scot, I'm very interested in Ulster-Scot tradition and love the old time sound that emerged in the US. Slightly concerned that I might become confused with trad Irish bowing and the old-time style...Just one other thing: could you tell me the name of the tune you play in the introduction to the course, please?
Many thanks and best wishes,
I am new to the fiddle (been playing for about 4 months now). Just wanted to let you know that I'm really enjoying your course. I love the progression and diversity, and I feel like I've learnt a great deal from you. I really like the detail you go into about the tunes/styles/techniques etc, I find it all very interesting.
Just got through The Swallow's Tail Reel. The play-along was a bit speedy at first, but I know it's for my own good! :) And when I made it all the way through at speed in the play-along, it made it all the more satisfying!
Anyway, thank you for a great course.
All the best,
I appreciate that you understand the knotty situations cellos can create in trad Irish sessions ;) You most certainly will be as welcome to my classes as any fiddle player, though, obviously, bowings may not be applicable, and I'll leave you to make those transitions. I do believe everything else will be relevant. I assume, since you're here, you're already well-versed at that.
As I'm sure you've found (and this may or may not be applicable, so forgive me if I am assuming), the current style of backing (chunking?) on cello can have the effect of turning up Irish noses, as opposed to in Scottish music circles where it has become the norm (as far as I can tell). Most Irish trad players have been slow to assimilate this style into the paradigm. However, I don't think anyone has cause to complain about tunes played on the cello. Personally, I find it impressive!
See you there -
That's a great idea. Haven't done any set dances yet... Unfortunately, I only record lessons about once a year as it involves a trip out of state. But I'll definitely put it on the list!
I'm a cellist planning on attending the Sean-nos NW festival in Olympia WA this April. I'd love to take your classes, but want to be sensitive to barging into spaces where my instrument isn't traditional. I'm competent in music theory (and therefore accompanying), treble clef, and am comfortable in my upper register through 7th position. Think I can join in without being too much of a hassle?
You know, that's a good idea. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can discuss it further.
Glad you’re liking the videos!
Fiddle players I like:
MacDara O Raghallaigh (“Ego Trip” recording)
That’s a partial list, but a good start ; )
As you might’ve guessed, I don’t follow bands so much. I prefer listening to solos and duets, because I like hearing each individual’s expression and interpretation. I recommend solos and duets (and I specifically mean with no accompaniment) so you can hear the underlying groove that the melody instruments create without any reliance on rhythm instruments.
I’m not sure what you mean by a list of the tunes I teach. That can vary depending on the situation and anticipated skill level of the student. Can you clarify, please?
Are you able to accommodate private Skype lessons as well as via the string school? Looking for the best way to get feedback on whether progress is being made. Thanks!
I'm getting a lot from your videos, thank you for that.
I was wondering if it might be possible to get a list of good players (fiddle and pipes) as well as bands to listen to and/or more specifically, a playlist of the tunes you teach so I can listen and soak in some of the grooves.
What I found when I was learning was that, if I slowed good players down to half-speed, the swing would be noticeable, even as it seemed to disappear or even out when played at working speed. So I learned to practice at slow speeds with the swing, and when it got up to tempo, it would sound “right”. That would be the same principle as applies to the rolls practice.
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, there is quite a variety of swing from player to player in the reels. To my ear, I have heard the most swing in certain pipers, and the least in Donegal (or, Northern) fiddlers.
It IS a part of my teaching strategy to develop this in my students, but I can’t confess to any cunning ; )
If you need a mnemonic to help you with the bounce, I like NEW poTAto, NEW poTAto, NEW poTAto, etc…
Have fun with it.
I might say I'm more comfortable with the more logical half/quarter note terminology than the crotchet/quaver idea prevalent on this side of the water, but thanks for the consideration!
One other thing, if I may make so bold: I notice with the reels you teach that at a slow tempo the tune is heavily accented, almost swung. This is far less noticeable up to working speed.
I get the feeling that the strong accent is somehow morphing into the bounce, drive, lift or whatever that characterizes reels as played by the fiddler who "gets it", regardless of ability level, and is noticeably absent from the playing of others (looks in mirror).
Is this a cunning part of your teaching strategy to develop this in students?
As to your question; there are a couple of elements to consider. First, I'll reiterate the idea of the accents coming on the first and third eighth notes (quavers?), so you should probably be noticing your bow stick approaching the string at those points. The bow might be appearing to be bouncing up and down between the accented and unaccented notes. Second, when you play a roll, you are, as you know, slurring through a dotted quarter note (dotted crotchet, I believe), which means that if the roll begins on the downbeat, you will be adding pressure to the first note of the roll (at the attack), AND at the third note of the roll, which happens to be the offbeat, letting the pressure up slightly in the middle of the stroke, which corresponds to the unaccented second note.
If the roll begins on the second eighth note, the bow pressure comes on the third eighth note, which is the accented offbeat and middle of the bowstroke, and the pressure is let up on the beginning and end of the stroke.
I have to assume that your question is specifically addressed to the first roll placement, since the accents come at the beginning and end of the slur. I HAVE noticed that some people have difficulty adding pressure to the end of the slur, and it's mostly because they are not comfortable using the whole length of the bow. This doesn't seem to be the case for you, and I applaud you for being comfortable outside the three inches or so of the stick we only usually need. Therefore, if you are maintaining the rhythmic bounce or lift from accenting the first and third eighths, do indeed continue to do so! For moral support and confirmation, I recommend a heavy dose of James Morrison and/or Hugh Gillespie, at full and half-speed. It is invaluable to compare your rolls to theirs at half-speed.
Kudos also for making the effort to re-train your left hand. I know how frustrating it can be to feel like you are starting over. Changing your rolls to this style is like trying to unstick tape that has stuck to itself. Patience and perseverance are essential! Best of luck in your efforts, and thanks for writing. Good to meet you!
I've been playing fiddle a few years now - self-taught, so taught by somebody who didn't know anything! I was deeply impressed with your playing when I found your videos on YouTube, so when I saw this course advertised I jumped right in and am glad I did.
On a technical point; I am one of those who play(ed) rolls with all the notes bunched up together at the end, occasionally sounding ok, but mostly not. As i try to play rolls as you do I'm finding that the finger movement is a bit slower although much more rhythmically accurate. I think that my difficulty is that my bow stroke runs out of steam when I need to sound the last note of the roll, and I find I'm giving the bow a little extra shove at this point. It sounds ok I think, but I wonder if I'm learning bad habits if I persist with this. Do you think I should continue, or would you advise a stronger bow stroke overall for the roll which would carry me over to the last note?
I'd say your observation about the triplets is accurate. My approach is to play 16th notes the same as I play 8th notes - they're just "smaller" and shorter. The end result is that it may look like the motion is confined to the wrist and/or fingers, but really it's just the same motion as longer strokes, just compacted. I definitely do not attempt to "break" my wrist when playing triplets, nor do I try to execute them with my fingers. I don't see anything wrong with either of those alternatives - they will probably produce a different effect; fingers may produce a lighter sounding triplet, and using just your wrist may not sound as strong as using your arm from the elbow down.
On developing speed, I think both approaches are beneficial. Of course, you want to practice slowly to develop command - bow control for tone and rhythm, so this should be your first priority. Metronomes are your friend in this endeavor ;-). Again, start at a speed at which you can play the whole piece - whether it be a whole tune, just a phrase, or an exercise - and then incrementally raise the tempo a notch or two so the change is barely perceptible. You may reach a speed at which certain phrases stand out in difficulty, so it's a help to practice those phrases separately with the same approach.
On the other hand, if you are lucky enough to have a local session or community dance band that you can be part of, there is great safety in numbers! When there is a lot of sound around you from fellow musicians, you can really let loose with your bow arm. I found this to be extremely helpful when I was first playing. Playing loudly will really help become freer with your bow. This is one of the ways of finding parameters! If you don't have such social situations, playing at home with recordings is the next best step. Use the play speed enhancement in Windows Media Player or The Amazing Slowdowner or such software.
Normal session speeds will vary across the globe. You can reasonably expect to find these tunes played at the speed I play them to demonstrate, plus or minus 10 beats per minute, depending on different factors.
A few questions:
1) Galway Hornpipe - when I watch you play the triplets at speed it looks like the bow motion is one where the fingers, hand and arm are acting as a single unit(in other words the movement is from the elbow), as opposed to a quick down-up-down using primarily the fingers and the hand. Am I interpreting this correctly?
2) Would you comment on what you think is the best method to get up to session speed. I've read theories from "play slow and clean and the speed will eventually come", to "if you don't try to play fast, you'll never play fast." And related to this would you indicate what you think normal session speeds are for the 5 tunes we are learning.
Now,, as you practice this, I want to point out that I, personally, don't think of these kinds of exercises as "practice", but more as "play". I hope that you would see this as a chance to experiment with what your body does to produce which sounds out of your instrument. You'll hear me say this many times - it's about finding the parameters of the instrument, e.g., how hard can you press the bow onto the strings vs. how lightly? How do each affect the tone? What happens to the sound when you draw the bow slowly vs. quickly? How does the bow FEEL when you do each? Can you feel the vibrations of the bow in the fingers of your bow hand? All of theses sensations and tones exist in a playground of possibilities that you create.
I mentioned distractability earlier. I don't know how your practices go, but I do want to encourage you to have this attitude of play when you do these parameter-investigating activities, and to focus on those things I mentioned, really letting yourself get into the aural and tactile sensations of your body and the fiddle. This facilitates the dissolution of the feeling that the fiddle and bow are foreign objects, separate from your body. You may perceive them as such, but the sensations are NOT separate and, indeed,integrate the two.
So if you find your mind is wandering, just gently re-focus it on your activity without reprimanding yourself. The last three words are so important I would underline them if I could ;-). And this goes for anything you are practicing, at any time.
An extension of this play, then, can become going from the long bows on two strings to short bows on two strings, as you'd be playing in Bile them Cabbage Down. Conversely, you can start with short bows and lengthen them a little at a time, until you're using the whole bow.
One more thing to try - while playing a long bow, keep the bow on one string while dropping the bow for short notes on the adjacent string, in a rhythmical pattern, keeping the bow going in one direction through the whole stroke.
Hope these help. Above all, have fun! That's an order! ;-)
A non-lesson question. I have not been able to find the sheet music for The Boy on the Mountain on Soul Food, did you write that, or if not can you point me to a source for the music.
So glad I have found your course in Irish Fiddle..I have been taking classical lessons for about 6 months but thought I would give the classical music a rest and try this instead. I love Irish Fiddle music.
I do have a question though you were talking about playing the G string while playing the d string as well and I was wondering if you could go more into how to do that..I have learned to play Bile the Cabbage down, but I just can't seem to get the hang of playing the two strings at once..
Thanks so much on your help with this and I am looking forward to more classes with you.
Thanks for your interest!
I must admit I am unfamiliar with what Martin did with Under the Moon, but I do know that detailed transcriptions of all of the tunes on Soul Food would take months! I hope that you are finding the sheet music for the tunes posted useful. In them, I try to transcribe – as accurately as possible – all of the ornamentation I use in each lesson. Those techniques/ornaments can then be applied to many of the tunes on Soul Food. I do realize that there are probably some ornaments on the CD that I have not yet covered in the lessons, however. Those ornaments are usually comprised of the elements already introduced; slides, graces and bowed triplets. It would be a useful exercise to listen to basic rolls, graces and triplets on the CD at a slower speed, via the Amazing Slowdowner or some such software, and when you feel confident of what you’re listening to, try to decipher what is happening on the more complex ornaments. BTW, Windows Media Player, if you use it, has a function allowing playback at down to half-speed. I think Garage Band on Mac has a similar tool.
I do want to emphasize here that, although a lot of the appeal of Irish music is the ornamentation, you can play perfectly good Irish music without it. So don’t feel you must play ornamentation in order to be playing Irish music. I just want to include that here for anyone else who happens to be reading this.
By now, you’re probably playing the polka posted for December lickety-split. The next tune will be posted in the beginning of January. I hope you’re enjoying the tunes, and continue asking questions when puzzled!
If you do decide to do this I would like to emphasize the need to include all the ornamentation. I have accumulated quite a bit of Irish sheet music over the last 4 years and a problem with most of it is the lack of ornamentation. Now I appreciate that all us learner-bees need to learn the nuances of ornamentation, and this is one part of your course that has great value for me. But the problem I have is that even though I am retired I have limited time to practice every day, and I would rather be practicing as opposed to trying to figure out all the cool ornamentation I hear in my music collection.
Thanks for listening
p.s. when is a new tune coming?
Have a wonderful holiday everyone!
If you're not hearing any particular emphasis on accented notes in string-crossing patterns, it might be because the notes on the string with the alternating notes are naturally tend to pop out just by their position. That is, in the A part, 3rd measure, the G on the D string creates the drone effect while the alternating B and D notes on the A string are in accented positions, plus standing out in contrast to the drone. So, there's no real need to add much pressure to the A string notes. I'm only guessing that this has anything to do with your observations, so I apologize if I'm off the mark. This is true whether you are single-bowing this pattern or slurring into the accented notes.
Let me re-state that it's okay to use either pattern. Neither is more Irish-sounding than the other. The single-bowed pattern will probably have a more percussive effect, and the slurring pattern will tend to sound smoother. How much so depends on the player.
As for how much offbeat to put in as opposed to downbeat, make sure not to exhaust yourself over-analyzing it - the most reliable answer will come from listening! If you want to speak with a certain accent, you have to hear it for some period of time and experiment with what sounds authentic and what doesn't, right? That's all you're doing with learning THIS accent. Listen, experiment, and allow yourself the time to perfect it. You have the kinesthetic tools; it's just a case of how long it takes to create what you're looking for with them. Some people are more adept at this than others. It's all relative :) You will. get. this. Yes!
I found Truthful John in the Roche collection, Vol. 3 #89. I can't at this moment verify how faithfully I followed the written setting. If you don't have Roche, I highly recommend it. Hopefully it's still being published and is available. That would be a great tune to cover in a future lesson, but I don't think I'll be recording the next batch for several months, unfortunately. I do like those older sounding tunes that seem to have come from the piping repertoire, and there are scads of them in there. Great stuff!
I also notice with your playing - and others who get this - that the cross bowing figures are not accented in anyway, as in no swell or emphasis off or on beat as opposed to, say that 'g' in the 2nd measure where the slightly faster bow makes a nice natural emphasis on the start of the 3rd beat. Is that fairly true for them all, do they just stand on their own, no bowing speed/length changes? I usually see about 3 inches of bow used!
With all the slight leaning into the off beats in reels that is done, I'm unsure often when and where to do so, because the ties into the downbeat of a measure is also common. When sped up and played by the experts... it just sounds right. I will. get. this. :) Thanks!
Thanks for the response on bow pressure. To answer your question about my experience with bow pressure, my current preference is to let the weight of the bow on the string take care of the issue unless an accent is needed. I’ve been playing 4 years and bow pressure has been evolutionary starting with noticeable pressure to grab the string, particularly when changing strings, to diminished pressure each year until the current preference. I think most of this change has to do with bowing exercises, some of which you mention, like long bows on open strings for both single and double stops. I do these every day and believe they help with both tone and a more relaxed bow pressure. The other exercise I did for months was pulsating bow pressure on long bows which also helped understanding the nuances of bow pressure tremendously.
The part that is still tricky are double stops. I like the sound of double stops played with no additional bow pressure. There is a purity to the tone when played this way, but consistently pulling it off is another matter. Take for example The Boyne Hunt where despite a desire to play with little additional pressure I often end up adding index finger pressure to assist the angle of the bow plane to get both strings. I appreciate your point about the consistency of the bow plane being the critical piece. This is one more of my ongoing works in progress,
I changed to the Russian grip and like it. I find adding accents is more easily done with the grip, and it seems like the grip/bow relationship is more unified and something I no longer have to think about. So, thanks for the suggestion. One other positive from the change was I’ve noticed I’m more aware of my pinky on the bow since making the change, which I also like.
Somewhere on the PegHead site I think it mentioned sending in tune requests for lessons, so if interested I’d love to dive into Truthful John, which I think is a great tune. I haven’t been able to find any sheet music for it, and not sure who wrote this but your arrangement is wonderful. I enjoy the percussive nature of the tune.
Thanks for all the help, and I’m enjoying the lessons.
I like the two parameters that you have laid out. I would have difficulty believing either advocate uses one or the other all of the time, or exclusively. In my own playing, I am constantly varying between both.
First off, as I believe I explain in the introductory lesson, I prefer a Russian-style bow hold, with the bow under the index finger knuckle closest to the hand. This allows me to put pressure on the bow either by pressing down with my index finger, or by rotating my wrist counter-clockwise, using the thumb as a fulcrum. In my explanation of reel and hornpipe rhythms, I talk about the rhythm being reduceable to ONE-two-ONE-two, etc. On the "two" - or unaccented note - I am using, at most, the weight of the bow; just enough to get a good tone (as opposed to too light and "feathery"). On the "ONE", or accented note, a more complex event happens. But it's only complex because it takes a lot of words to describe it ;).
When you want more volume, you usually speed up the bow. When you speed up the bow, you usually need to add enough extra (subtle) pressure so the bow does not come off the string. And when you add pressure, if you rotate your wrist as described above, you will need to add a little resistance with your index finger, or, more correctly, keep your forearm and index finger in the same alignment throughout the motion. Make them move as a unit. So, for instance, if you are single-bowing a passage of eighth notes with the accented notes on the down-bow, you will add a little pressure on the accented note, then release the pressure on the up-bow (unaccented note). The bow will naturally default to its own weight at that point, if you do not do anything to further influence it. Then you add the pressure again for the ensuing down-bow.
Like I said, that's a very wordy description of a very simple process.
As for arm weight, I don't feel qualified to answer that question, partly because it never made much sense to me, and never even heard of the concept until I'd been playing for several years. I am always playing with weight in my arm (if your arm is relaxed, it hopefully is happening naturally), as it is the anchor for my wrist and hand. Without arm weight, your arm will not be unified enough to put ANY pressure on the strings, as though you were trying to play with an inflated balloon for an arm. Make sense? I don't know how you can add MORE arm weight without the corresponding resistance in your wrist and index finger to compensate, otherwise your weight/pressure will be lost. Hard to explain without being there in person. Perhaps it will help to imagine your arm is filled with water, which would make your arm feel weighty, as opposed to imagining it filled with air, or even helium.
Tonally speaking, the more pressure you use - independent of bow speed - the grittier tone you will produce. You might want this at times; you might want it all of the time. I can only encourage you to, again, find the parameters of what constitutes acceptable tone for you, personally. Experiment with pressure on the down-bow; bow-weight only up, then reverse it, with the pressure on the up, slack off the pressure on the down. Do long bow strokes varying the speed and pressure throughout ONE bow stroke. Notice how the tone and the physical feeling of the bow on the string varies as you move the bow towards and away from the bridge.
When you are playing double-stops, you are having to vibrate twice the number of strings as usual ;), so you will need more pressure. More energy output requires more force. The amount, however, is subtle, and you may not physically notice much difference. Your attention may be more directed to making sure each of the two strings is getting sufficient pressure to sound equally, if at all. The consistent plane of travel of the bow is almost more important than the pressure. In fact, I encourage everyone at some point to simply practice playing two open strings together on a LONG bow stroke, if you are still in beginning stages of learning. Some more advanced players still cannot do this consistently and would benefit. When you have this command of the bow, your single-string playing will be cleaner (you won't be hitting adjacent strings) and tuning adjacent strings by fifths will be much easier.
There you go. Sorry you asked? ;) Please think of it as experimentation, and have fun!
Would you provide your view on bow pressure. I’ve read different views on pressure from “the natural weight of the bow provides enough pressure”, to “arm, wrist and finger pressure needs to be exerted to grab the string”. And also, does your pressure change when playing double stops, both as accent notes and extended notes.
Thanks for the discussion on relaxation. It all helps!
Once again, many thanks.
Another approach complementary to the mirror (though you didn't explain what the process was with that) is to watch someone whose motions seem relaxed and would like to emulate, and literally pretend you are them. I'm not kidding here! After you have an internal sensation that you are doing what they do - or you ARE them! - go to the mirror, boy, and reproduce the image of their motions in your own body's reflection. I've used this myself in my attempts to play Cape Breton music, and it helps!
These are the best suggestions I can offer through typed words. I hope you find at least some of it helpful. Good luck! And be kind to yourself!
I'm looking forward to the next tune you posted. :)
Glad you like Soul Food!
p.s. Just bought Soul Food and think it is great!
Back to fiddle :) - I have been trying to incorporate the differences in style, and you reminded me to practice the rhythms just on open strings - thank you! Looking forward to more so that all these tunes I keep learning sound more Irish than they do, um ... Vivaldi. Heh.
Glad the videos are helpful!
I am really pleased to have found your course as, from what I have seen so far, it is exactly what I need to add some "character" to my playing. As far as bowing is concerned it would appear (correct me if I am wrong) from your video that you hold the bow hair very flat on the string as opposed to using the edge. Do you have any comments to make on this?
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