Visit School of Fiddle with Darol Anger
Want to hide these Google ads? Join the Players Union!

 All Forums
 Playing the Fiddle
 Music Theory
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Scales!


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link.

Page: 1  2  3  

Fidla - Posted - 11/26/2008:  06:48:15


Ok you old timers, hear me out! I know you don't like practicing ;) but I gotta tell you the easiest way to learn the fiddle is to play scales!

Scales help us play in all keys. They help with harmonizing, and they help with improvisation, which you need if you're going to play Bluegrass or Jazz! Scales are easy to play because they follow the same pattern of intervals, no matter what the tonic (first note). For beginners, the major scale intervals are Root, whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half. The minor scale intervals are Root, whole, half, whole, whole, half, whole, whole. The easiest way to see it visually is the white and black keys on a piano.

Start with all the majors. G,A,B,C,D,E,F; then their relative minors: E,F#,G,A,B,C#,D. If you do these every day, a minimum of 6 days a week, I guarantee you will be able to play with confidence.

(here's a link to a handy chart: adamrsweet.com/scales.xls)

In addition to playing the scales, I recommend the following bowing exercises. play them with every scale:

1. start with whole bows from the frog to the tip. count 4 beats per stroke
2. 4 quarter notes. start in the middle of the bow to tip. so GGGG,AAAA,BBBB,CCCC, etc
3. 8 1/8th notes. start in the upper quadrant. so GGGGGGGG,AAAAAAAA, etc
4. 2 sets of tripolets. in the upper quadrant. GGG GGG, AAA AAA, etc

Keep your bow parallel to the bridge (you might want to practice in front of a mirror for a while, at least until you get the hang of it).

______________
Adam R. Sweet
adamrsweet.com


Edited by - Fidla on 02/18/2009 06:27:51

brya31 - Posted - 11/26/2008:  07:24:32


Hmm...good advice I will give her a shot I usually just take one trip around with long bows on each scale

TimK - Posted - 11/26/2008:  08:28:26


Good advise Adam. I normally start my daily sessions in just that manor although I don't run all the scales every day. Doing this will also be of great benifit to training your ear, improving your intonation and bow control.

TimK

_______________________________________________________________

Wrangle up yer mouth parts, drag yer banjer out, tune yer ole geetar till it twangs right stout, for the snow is on the mountain and the wind is on the plain, so we''ll cut the chimny''s moanin with a livelier refrain.

OTJunky - Posted - 11/26/2008:  08:33:33


quote:
Originally posted by celticagent

Ok you old timers, hear me out! I know you don't like practicing ;) but I gotta tell you the easiest way to learn the fiddle is to play scales!
Running scales does help a lot. But if you want to play OT fiddle you gotta practice some bow rocking too...

--OTJ
"I can barely fiddle on four strings. Why would I want five?"

DougD - Posted - 11/26/2008:  09:03:26


quote:
Originally posted by OTJunky
Running scales does help a lot. But if you want to play OT fiddle you gotta practice some bow rocking too...


And ascending and descending thirds too...

coelhoe - Posted - 11/26/2008:  09:09:08


On the other hand, life is short, and the novice player might find it more useful at the start to concentrate on the keys that are most common for OT music: G D A C and the relative minors of Em (G), and Am (C). Once you have a few tunes in memory from each key, you can expand in whatever direction you would like, though I would recommend, as a second step, common modes in those same major keys before branching out to F, E or B or Bb.

While "all the keys, all the scales, all the positions" is a common approach for formalized, institutionalized instruction on most instruments, it does not necessarily meet the needs of the OT player working within a regional repertoire.

Dennis

"Not being able to play very well is a good substitute for not having good taste." -Eddie Adcock

fiddlerdi - Posted - 11/26/2008:  09:33:15


I play a lot of bluegrass and swing styles, some celtic too.
I'll back you up on the scale practice!! Also try to be aware of the notes or the patterns that you are playing while doing so. Time spent doing this will not be wasted. It will also get eaiser and eaiser each time you play them.
I like to start some of my practice sessions playing the scales around the circle of fifths. I know this is an advanced thing but I will use it for my example because that's where I'm at with my playing. I couldn't do it without stopping a month ago and now I can play them all smoothly and mindfully.
Another really good advanced exercise is to play the arpeggios, or thirds and blend them into the one, four and five chords of different keys. Really a helpful exercise for playing back-up.

FiddlerDi

FiddleJammer - Posted - 11/26/2008:  09:37:04


There are a lot of vocal old time players here, but let's not get constricted, eh? I enjoy some Scottish and Irish on the side. Can't beat a pub atmosphere for a good time, seems to me.

Cheers,

Terri

tunelist, musings, and podcasts at
fiddlejammer.blogspot.com

brya31 - Posted - 11/26/2008:  10:27:08


agree 100%. I was going to have a separate thread about arpeggios, because most people dont' know what they are or how to play them. Maybe you can start it, FiddlerDi?

The above statement would be true in my case.

OTJunky - Posted - 11/26/2008:  10:36:24


quote:
Originally posted by celticagent

quote:
Originally posted by fiddlerdi
I like to start some of my practice sessions playing the scales around the circle of fifths. I know this is an advanced thing but I will use it for my example because that's where I'm at with my playing. I couldn't do it without stopping a month ago and now I can play them all smoothly and mindfully.


Awesome! I, too, like to practice them this way --also the relative minors.
I suppose that if you really wanted enough command of the instrument to play jazz, you'd practice all the scales in all the modes in all the keys...?

--OTJ
"I can barely fiddle on four strings. Why would I want five?"

bj - Posted - 11/26/2008:  10:41:01


Adam, do you crosstune? Just curious.

^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^
Motto for the Week- If something isn''t working, why are you still doing it?

Me on the Web --
doneinstyle.com
My inspiration:
pandora.com/?sc=sh14633812588807237

jehanna - Posted - 11/26/2008:  11:04:33


Yes Adam a few of us around. I was born to Celtic music. I learned Irish flute as a child rather than fiddle. I took up fiddle for bluegrass a few years ago after I figured out anyone and everyone can play bluegrass bass. I play and play with scales every time I tight the bow. I still consider myself a beginner. I play some tunes that cross over like whiskey and st ann's but I have a ways to go before fiddle shows up at an Irish session. Unlike my bluegrass and old time friends who are helpful and tolerant they would eat me alive.
BTW-- Tell me how to convince the bluegrassers that Star of the County Down is a reel, not a waltz!!!

When I can play ragtime annie like Rex I will quit learning.
lime rock can stay in the creek.

coelhoe - Posted - 11/26/2008:  11:09:20


Adam: You addressed your comments directly to old time players, or maybe it is just old timers.

"Ok you old timers, hear me out! I know you don't like practicing ;) but I gotta tell you the easiest way to learn the fiddle is to play scales!"

That was the reason for my comments above.

Dennis



"Not being able to play very well is a good substitute for not having good taste." -Eddie Adcock

Fidla - Posted - 11/26/2008:  11:19:38


Dennis - I meant old players...you know, like me ;) old guys that like to fiddle

Jehanna - Star is a classic waltz! I've never heard it played as a reel...

______________
My website: for fiddlers
adamrsweet.com

Five String Fiddles, Bows for Fiddlers
emilysviolinco.com

Everything you wanted to know about Bow Hair, but were afraid to ask
bowhair.net

jehanna - Posted - 11/26/2008:  11:29:33


Yikes! I never heard it as a waltz till I started playing grass.
youtube.com/watch?v=5rGhb0pAK3...e=related

When I can play ragtime annie like Rex I will quit learning.
lime rock can stay in the creek.

scrubber - Posted - 11/26/2008:  11:31:33


The problem with scales is, they sound like scales !

Certainly, fiddlers should work to aquire facility on their instrument, and scales are one way to attain this. On the other hand, nothing is more boring than scales! It's a fiddlers paradox -- we learn the scales but then we avoid blatant use of them in our performance!

dave


Edited by - scrubber on 11/26/2008 11:39:01

bj - Posted - 11/26/2008:  11:32:42


quote:
Dennis - I meant old players...you know, like me ;) old guys that like to fiddle


Well, Adam, you're on a forum where a lot of the fiddlers play Oldtime fiddle, which is a specific style. It might help to remember that when you're calling people out. You might also remember that not all fiddlers are guys.

^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^
Motto for the Week- If something isn''t working, why are you still doing it?

Me on the Web --
doneinstyle.com
My inspiration:
pandora.com/?sc=sh14633812588807237

rastewart - Posted - 11/26/2008:  11:39:38


What you say is very true, and as you say, the more so for those of us who like to dip into a couple of different styles. I'm proud to say that I play bluegrass, jazz, and Celtic fiddle equally well. I'm ashamed to admit that that is in the sense that I speak Aramaic, Chinese, and Hittite equally well. But that aside, when I do manage to get some practice time in, I've come to include some scales and exercises every time. If I had to get rid of all my fiddling books but one, the one I'd keep would be Aerobics for Fiddlers.

~Rich


_____________________________________________

... in savage and impenetrable darkness with chaos and pandemonium before me, and the demon madness of that night-baying viol behind me.--H.P. Lovecraft

fiddlepogo - Posted - 11/26/2008:  12:49:10


quote:
Originally posted by scrubber

The problem with scales is, they sound like scales !

Certainly, fiddlers should work to aquire facility on their instrument, and scales are one way to attain this. On the other hand, nothing is more boring than scales! It's a fiddlers paradox -- we learn the scales but then we avoid blatant use of them in our performance!

dave



This is why I think scales are overrated-
and Django Reinhardt apparently didn't use them for the reasons you just said.
A lot of hours get put into them, and when your done, you don't have something you can PLAY for anyone.

I was looking at stuff at a local music store,
and while I was there I heard one of the teachers practicing scales on his fiddle-
AND THEY WERE ALL OUT OF TUNE!
And I never practice scales, and I get complements
on my intonation!
On the other hand, I don't go up the neck.

But here's the thing, I find being in tune has to do with <reference>
points. Drones in Old Time fiddle have helped me a lot that way.
Eventually I memorize where the fingered note was "in tune" with the drone note, and then I can leave off the drone note if the tune doesn't require it.

What I heard happening was that that fiddler was doing scales up
the neck, with no reference points. And nearly everything he was
playing was out of tune- WRONG- and his practice was only
getting himself used to doing it wrong again!

I've also noticed that there are a fair number of violin players
who have bad intonation, and a scale oriented approach
hasn't been a magic bullet for them either.

The one tune I occasionally use 3rd position on is the high part
to Sally Goodin. I like that because I can use the drone to get the notes right. When I have that down, who knows, maybe I'll learn something else up there.

My whole approach to getting facility on the fiddle is to examine
the fiddle tunes I have learned for technical difficulties,
and then play a bunch of them with the same technical problem
one after the other, to HAMMER on that problem area.
In other words, I use fiddle tunes as exercises.

When I play electric guitar, I used scales just as beginning step
to learn where the notes were. After that, I just played music with the notes- a lot of what music is is just finding an important note, and using it as a center point for the other notes around it to orbit around for a bit. You could say I'm noodling, but I'm trying to noodle as musically as possible.
But a scale is unnatural in that you aren't practicing that "orbiting" of
notes around important chord notes- you sail right by them and treat all the notes the same. To me, that doesn't have a whole lot to do with how you really play music.

I need to try and apply this musical noodling approach I've learned on guitar to fiddle-
I've done it some, but I need to do it more.

One beneficial aspect of playing fiddle tune melodies on fiddle
and noodling musically on guitar is that I don't get complaints from my neighbors about my practicing- except that they can't hear it well enough! People tell me they stop and listen outside to hear me practice- and I think a lot of that is that when playing, I try to MAKE MUSIC AT ALL TIMES! If I was playing scales, I KNOW they wouldn't be saying such things.
Scales are a TERRIBLE thing to inflict on family and neighbors in large amounts! Their horrible predictability is a form of mental torture even if they are in tune!

If I changed my mind about scales being useful for practice, I think I would want to get a "silent fiddle" to practice them!

Michael- Old Time 90% of the time!

"It''s hard to take yourself seriously when you''re singing about chickens!"

ezfolk.com/audio/bands/1088
for mp3s, blog, and "Michael''s Old Time Fiddle & Banjo Hour" (hifi & lofi audio streams)

fiddlepogo - Posted - 11/26/2008:  12:50:49


quote:
Originally posted by celticagent

quote:
Originally posted by jehanna

Yikes! I never heard it as a waltz till I started playing grass.
youtube.com/watch?v=5rGhb0pAK3...e=related

When I can play ragtime annie like Rex I will quit learning.
lime rock can stay in the creek.



Oh yes the vocal version is more like a reel than a waltz, but the instrumental version is definitely in 3/4 time!




It sounds more like a march to me.

Michael- Old Time 90% of the time!

"It''s hard to take yourself seriously when you''re singing about chickens!"

ezfolk.com/audio/bands/1088
for mp3s, blog, and "Michael''s Old Time Fiddle & Banjo Hour" (hifi & lofi audio streams)

SMDTMTL - Posted - 11/26/2008:  14:11:12


I guess I'm looking for trouble here, but I think that the subject line of this thread should be "essential for a SOME fiddlers" , or "POSSIBLY helpful to any fiddler".

I learn melodies and bowing, and think of scales as an unnecessary step along the way for some fiddlers, and particularly for old time fiddlers. . If you took the hundreds of great old time fiddlers and found out how many of them ever practiced scales in their lives, I bet you'd be lucky to find 5%... Is their playing lacking?

I know some good fiddlers, and a very lot of very great guitarists, and not one that I know has spent any time doing scales. I think this is teacher's idea, but it's by no means the fastest path to learning. The good players, learned tunes, phrases, and melodies, and in so doing got all the benefits they would have derived from doing scales, (intonation, facility, and knowlege of the neck) but additionally they learned music at the same time, (and had some nurturing fun.) Why throw music out of the equation?

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for a very studious, dedication to learning. I get up every morning, and first thing I play the fiddle for an hour and half, every day, but for me scales would have always been a round-about detour from learning the instrument. You learn the notes in scales, by learning the tunes...

When I run out of new melodies, or new ideas I'll do some scales... or more probably, not.

I wasn't really looking for trouble, but there's something about the pedagogical approach to learning music I think which is almost pointlessly discouraging to people.

How many people have you met who started to learn an instrument some time in the past, and gave up and you find out years later they can still play a some little of part of some scale... scales took the fun out it and became a roadblock instead, so they quit.

OK, anyone who wants to, have at me....
Steve

bj - Posted - 11/26/2008:  14:19:25


Actually, Steve, I mostly agree with you, though I do find scales useful just to give me reference points when I'm switching fiddles since my three fiddles are proportioned a wee bit differently from each other.

I think there are a lot of paths one can travel to learn things. Not everyone's brain works alike. For some, scales are a good thing to do. I certainly did a lot of them when I first started out, since I found it helpful in learning the fretless neck. But most of the practical skills I've learned come from playing tunes. You don't learn intervals from doing scales. You don't learn chromatic runs from doing scales. You don't learn bowrocking from doing scales. Etc.

In other words, one size doesn't fit all when it comes to fiddling.

^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^.^
Motto for the Week- If something isn''t working, why are you still doing it?

Me on the Web --
doneinstyle.com
My inspiration:
pandora.com/?sc=sh14633812588807237

Tennessee Tom - Posted - 11/26/2008:  16:05:21


quote:
Originally posted by celticagent

Any other celtic/bluegrass players than me?



Absolutely, Celticagent, and I greatly appreciate your posts! I'm very interested in Irish fiddling (and Celtic, I guess, but I must admit I'm not sure about what the difference is). Maybe you could cover the differences between "Celtic" and "Irish" in a separate topic.

In a recent post, I called attention to my "Haste To the Wedding" performance as being "Irish." Someone said it was really from England, but I think we concluded it originated somewhere in the British Isles. That's close enough for me.

As for bluegrass, I would love to get better at that, but I find playing real hot-sounding bluegrass is just too difficult at this point. Maybe you could also help to wean us bluegrass wannabees as well! My long-term goal is to be able to do backup (e.g., fills, runs, and embellishments) like what you would expect a fiddler for Jimmy Martin to be playing. That's hot-stuff!

I think learning more scales and theory will help me in attaining that goal. For starters,I sometimes practice chords and fills using "cry in the beer" music instead of bluegrass to practice against. That music a bit slower, so it makes things easier. That's been slow going, but I am making some progress.

Cheers,
Tom

Percy - Posted - 11/26/2008:  16:15:03


CelticAgent... I'm in an Irish folk band -- and originally picked up the fiddle to learn Celtic/Irish tunes... in the process, I've learned to like a lot of OT and bluegrass (especially the waltzes). But I still really love Celtic/Irish tunes.

I'd love to see you start a thread for the likes of us!

bsed - Posted - 11/26/2008:  17:54:39


I agree with Steve that scales may not be the most important tool in a fiddle students toolbox, but they should be in there nonetheless. As many years as I've been playing, I'll still pull out your basic A-maj scale once in a while to check myself when something don't seem right.
Maybe its like doing math w/o calculators. Some people forget how to do long division because they get so used to having that crutch.


Just call me Dwight.

FiddleJammer - Posted - 11/28/2008:  11:35:22


I know, totally off topic header, but since there's been this side discussion going on ...

Star of the County Down is in Bill Matthiesen's first waltz book. But, personally, I love it best as a feisty march.

Cheers,

Terri

tunelist, musings, and podcasts at
fiddlejammer.blogspot.com

rastewart - Posted - 11/28/2008:  21:01:51


quote:
Originally posted by celticagent

Terri - I love the work Bill Mathiesen's done to promote waltzes...through his 3 (or is it 4) little pink and teal books,



Actually, it's his 3/4 books ...

~Rich


_____________________________________________

... in savage and impenetrable darkness with chaos and pandemonium before me, and the demon madness of that night-baying viol behind me.--H.P. Lovecraft

curlyrayfan - Posted - 11/29/2008:  15:07:46


I play bluegrass, and I play scales some times. I mean its not the most important thing to me. Since I don't play hardly at all up the neck, scales seem nearly use less. My playing is in almost all 1st position. Only a few songs I wander into second position.

John 3:16

moonfiddler - Posted - 11/29/2008:  19:02:58


I do scales to warm up my fingers. It`s freakin` snowing here!

TimK - Posted - 12/01/2008:  07:43:44


[quote]Originally posted by bj

You don't learn intervals from doing scales. You don't learn chromatic runs from doing scales. You don't learn bowrocking from doing scales. Etc.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
You don't? Intervals make up scales. A chromatic run IS a scale and arpeggios are great exersizes for bow rocking & string crossings.

TImK




_______________________________________________________________

Wrangle up yer mouth parts, drag yer banjer out, tune yer ole geetar till it twangs right stout, for the snow is on the mountain and the wind is on the plain, so we''ll cut the chimny''s moanin with a livelier refrain.

Feistyfidlr - Posted - 12/01/2008:  08:19:12


I have to admit, doing scales every time I before I play has been most helpful.

Has anyone started that thread on arpeggios?

God put a fiddle in my hands
and told me to play.

Feistyfidlr - Posted - 12/01/2008:  08:22:23


Never mind, I found it.

God put a fiddle in my hands
and told me to play.

fiddleshark - Posted - 12/07/2008:  16:10:05


"Bonaparte Crossing the Rocky Mountains" is like a 4/4 old-timey version of Star of the County Down. Both are great tunes.

Feistyfidlr - Posted - 12/19/2008:  07:03:17




"keep practicing your scales!"







I am!

Thibodeaux - Posted - 12/19/2008:  07:58:47


Practicing scales has been very helpful to me, with regard to being fully oriented to the fingerboard. However, practicing basic tunes by using them as warm-ups has been equally important to my development. I don't feel I can just practice one or the other -- they each promote different aspects of my technique.

The times that I've solely focused on scales, or only worked on tunes have been nowhere near as productive for my skills as the times in which I've given the time and effort to work on both on scales and actual music. I'm one of "those" weirdos.

-Amy in South Louisiana
___________________________________________________________
"Lāche pas la patate."

TimK - Posted - 12/19/2008:  08:32:11


Nothing wierd about that Amy. I do the same thing.
Combining both as well as other exersizes into your practice routine just makes good sence.

TimK

_______________________________________________________________

Wrangle up yer mouth parts, drag yer banjer out, tune yer ole geetar till it twangs right stout, for the snow is on the mountain and the wind is on the plain, so we''ll cut the chimny''s moanin with a livelier refrain.


Edited by - TimK on 12/19/2008 08:34:39

Pops - Posted - 01/07/2009:  17:24:27


I am relatively new to the forum but agree 100%. My flatpicking teacher told me that the scale is the basis of all tunes and if you get lost come back to the scale. SO I run scales. I am making a chart that has the 5 major guitar friendly (bluegrass) scales. The pentatonic and then the I, IV and V chords (in arpegios) in first, 2nd and 3rd inversion. I spend at least one practice session a week doing scales...

Helps

"But music was his life it was not his lively hood and it made him feel so happy and it made him feel so good and he (played) from his heart and he (played) from his soul, he didn''t know how well he (played) it just made him whole. ~ Harry Chapin Mr. Tanner"

LAUS DEO !
Pops


Feistyfidlr - Posted - 01/07/2009:  18:33:22


Hiya Pops!

You really pracitce one WHOLE session doing scales?? How long is the session? Most of round here find scales to be a good thing but rather boring, so we don't do them for very long.

Hossenpheffer

Fidla - Posted - 01/08/2009:  06:15:54


I do about 20 minutes of scales every day.

______________
Adam R. Sweet
adamrsweet.com

Pops - Posted - 01/08/2009:  17:39:12


quote:
Originally posted by Hi Strung

Hiya Pops!

You really pracitce one WHOLE session doing scales?? How long is the session? Most of round here find scales to be a good thing but rather boring, so we don't do them for very long.

Hossenpheffer



Most of one. I need to break up the mononanty (sp) with tunes. BUT I find that running scales and listening to the tone help my intonation. I HATE doing scales but I think its necessary and if my flatpicking teacher hadn't insisted on it I wouldn't be doing it (thanks Adam). I always start a session buy running a D or A scale just to kinda refresh my brain. I may be picking up my first guitar student an absolute TOTAL beginner and I'm going to start him on scales from Day 1.




"But music was his life it was not his lively hood and it made him feel so happy and it made him feel so good and he (played) from his heart and he (played) from his soul, he didn''t know how well he (played) it just made him whole. ~ Harry Chapin Mr. Tanner"

LAUS DEO !
Pops


leather Britches - Posted - 02/05/2009:  07:54:23


My long term goals predetermine my practice regime, and while I am still a long way from being the fiddler I want to be, At this point in my playing
scales are an absolute necessity. I only practice a few of the common two octave scales right now, G,A,B,C,D,E,F and I practice single string scales.
It takes me about an hour to play these I guess because I am new, and I practice them with the metronome set on 40 bpm. Sometime this is just to
fast and I'll shut of the metronome and play each note form frog to tip very slow concentrating on the bow hold, angle,pressure, shoulders, elbow,wrist,
and also the left hand elbow,wrist,fingers. you know the whole thing.
One interesting story that happen to me just yesterday, I just had learned a new tune " Little burnt potato." I finally got the B part down the day before
and could not wait to play it on a fresh day. I picked up my fiddle, and it sounded real bad. I kept trying but nothing. Then I played some other tunes
that I knew, same thing. I tuned, rosined,tighten the bow,loosened the bow finally I put it down.
A few minutes latter I picked it up again and went into a different room, sometimes a change a venue helps to clear my mind. I sat down and did my normal routine
of scales,and then released I did not do any scales before an was just a hair sharp and for some reason I did not pick up on it. For what ever reason my hand was in the
wrong position. I don't know why this happen, but doing the scales resolved it.

John

My cat stopped yelling that must be a good sign right ?


Edited by - leather Britches on 02/05/2009 07:55:42

Fidla - Posted - 02/05/2009:  09:33:03


John you read my mind.

______________
Join us online at the Fiddle World
fiddleworld.ning.com/

KingKrunk101 - Posted - 02/05/2009:  19:02:02


I completely agree. Scales are very important, in my eyes.

P. T. Porter - Posted - 02/06/2009:  05:10:27


Something I got from Steve Kaufman which I believe makes sense no matter what instrument: it's more fun to play the tunes, and by playing the tunes you will be playing scales, or pieces of scales, to which he added: whenever you encounter a pattern (like F#-G-A-F# in a D tune), then play that pattern across the neck through the entire scale. Kind of like what another poster described as making exercises of the tough parts and working them out.

My 2cents from the shores of the Chesapeake this cold morning...

Fidla - Posted - 02/06/2009:  08:11:53


You're absolutely right, PT Porter!

It is more fun to play the tunes

But if you play 20 minutes of scales every day, you can have more fun because you will be able to play MORE scales!

______________
Join us online at the Fiddle World
fiddleworld.ning.com/

Teetotaller - Posted - 02/06/2009:  14:05:54


I don't want to spoil the fun here, but what kind of scales are all you guys playing? Are you all in equal temperament?

We all know of course that fretted or keyed instruments today are all tuned in equal temperament and that they can't be tuned by ear with any accuracy - the reason being that the scale is an artificial logarithmic one (each semitone being 100 logarithmic cents). If you try to play the same scale on your fiddle you will never do it. In fact practising such scales is simply practising at playing "out of tune" - which might not be all that constructive !!! (Only the octaves are in tune in E.T. - no other note is in tune.)
If you play a natural scale - such as Just Intonation or Pythagorean - where the notes are based on resonances - then you can actually hear when you are in tune !!!!!! This seems like a good thing to practise.
It doesn't take long however to find out that you cannot get good harmonies with Pythagorean notes so then you start to mix Pythagorean scales with Just harmonies for chords and it gets complicated.

All the music notation remains the same for all of this - but there is no point practising major/minor scales etc. if you don't know that there are many different ways to space intervals to make each note and that totally ignoring this fact is the absolute worst option available.

"Equal temperament" is a bad compromise for a fiddler and causes many intonation problems. The best solution I have found is in a small book by professor Ross Duffin called "How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony (and Why You Should Care)". He shows that the best system for tuning a fiddle is "extended 1/6 syntonic coma meantone" tuning. This was the system taught to Mozart by his father Leopold - and is now well forgotten as everyone is brainwashed into trying hoplessly to conform to equal temperament - with its artificial construction and hoplessly out of tune 3rds.

I bought a Peterson stroboflip tuner and programmed it to this tuning to use for verification of intonation. It works! Many old Irish fiddle tunes where the 3rds sound weird in ET (equal temperament) sound great with no fudging necessary with this tuning.

Just think - if you have been practising scales endlessly without knowing any of this stuff - you will now have to wonder what the heck have you actually been practising?

jehanna - Posted - 02/07/2009:  07:08:09


accueillez le monsieur Teetotaller,
Math major are we?
I think the translation is tune 10 cents sharp to play with the banjo.

The devil went down to Georgia
Johnny played and I hid under the porch
sebabluegrass.org

abinigia - Posted - 02/07/2009:  08:40:16


Practicing scales on a regular basis would drive me nuts. I think too much scale playing leads to boring melody lines (if you improvise at all). Learning scales and arpeggios is of course important at first, like learning to balance before you walk. But after you know them you'll naturally want to make music. When I practice a scale at all anymore it's because there is something new to me I'm trying to get used to. For instance I've been learning a lot of Kenny Baker tunes lately and there's the use of 2nd position in the key of C, so I'll practice that a little to get more familiar with it. But mostly I'll work on the musical passage itself that gives me trouble. I try to practice a couple hours a day but it's almost all learning tunes or working on little parts of them.

Brian Wood
briankwood.net/

OTJunky - Posted - 02/07/2009:  09:10:23


quote:
Teetotaller wrote:

"Equal temperament" is a bad compromise for a fiddler and causes many intonation problems. The best solution I have found is in a small book by professor Ross Duffin called "How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony (and Why You Should Care)".
Thanks for bringing this up again.

I think both oldtimer and Dan Gellert mention this "Just" vs. "Equal Tempered" issue from time to time and oldtimer's even mentioned Duffin's book before. But most of these posts are now buried in threads that are older, so most people haven't seen them.

I'd guess that most people who are playing scales play them in just temperament since that's what the ear wants to hear - unless, of course, they're unlucky enough to be using a piano, electronic tuner or some fretted instrument to check their intonation.

I guess the only instrument that's really safe to use in checking your intonation is a fretless banjo...

--OTJ
"I can barely fiddle on four strings. Why would I want five?"


Edited by - OTJunky on 02/07/2009 09:25:08

Teetotaller - Posted - 02/07/2009:  09:41:55


Thank you jehanna. I prefered physics to maths but just hated education in general - mainly because it had very little to do with imparting skill or understanding.

The tuning from Mozart's dad is actually very simple once you get it, but the main thing is it makes your playing sound better.

You know that if you tune your open strings correctly by ear that you have perfect "Just" fifths - with no beat frequencies to be heard from the upper harmonics when two open strings are played together. This is both Just and Pythagorean tuning. To alter your fiddle to a fretted or keyed instrument you'd have to widen the fifths each by 2 cents - which makes the G 4 cents lower if the A is kept at 440 hz. This makes a scale where the 3rds are very bad, and the 4ths not so good and the 5ths ok. It is our universal friend Equal Temperament.

For Leopold's tuning you do the opposite! You narrow the fifths by 1.6 cents. This has the effect of giving acceptable 3rds, perfect "Just "4ths and good 5ths. Your music will simply sound better in both scales and harmonies - plus it is simple to play - you just tune this way and play your scales as before.

There is one difference however - you make your sharps slightly sharper and your flats slightly lower. This means that for example a D# is not the same note as an Eb (which it is in equal temperament). This is not a problem because you can really hear the difference and you pick up on it quickly. The melodies simply sound better when you do this and the ear references to it easily.

When equal temperament forces us to play a D# as identical to an Eb (example only) then it is depriving us of the real value of our instrument and the fact that we are not limited by frets. Learning what Mozart's dad has to say really frees the ear and the fingers.

My issue is that you could practice hundreds of scales in equal temperament and all you have done is to have taught yourself to play out of tune in hundreds of different ways. Sounds like a great waste of time to me.

If this all sounds like gobbledegook then just buy prof Duffin's book from Amazon - it's a great read anyway and simply written. It has liberated me so much with my music that I heartily recommend it to everyone. As much as I hate education this is one prof who has got it right.


Page: 1  2  3  



Want to hide these Google ads? Join the Players Union!




You are not logged in.
Log In


Not a member? Create an Account (FREE!)



325 FIDDLE LOVERS ONLINE

HOME | FORUMS | MEMBERS | MEDIA ARCHIVE | TABS & LESSONS | CLASSIFIEDS | REVIEWS | LINKS | CALENDAR | STORE | TERMS OF USE