Okay, I am really new at this fiddle business... I was wondering if there are standard fiddle ornaments - as an example - guitars bend notes, hammer on, pick off, etc. On pennywhistles, there is tonguing, cuts taps, slides etc.. Banjo (three finger style) has certain rolls which everyone who plays that style knows; Drumming, there are different rudiments, and don't even get me started on bagpiping, where there are a bunch of ornaments (embellishments) to notes.
On listening to the fiddle music styles I prefer, Breton, Scots, Irish, and OT, I hear certain recurring themes, and ornaments... In each of the above styles, have the ornaments more or less been standardized? I realize much of the style is the way it is bowed, but I was wondering if the left hand contributes to these styles a great deal.
Appalachian fiddling doesn't use many left hand ornaments that I'm aware of - other than hitting the "third" of the scale slightly below pitch the sliding up to pitch. Don't know whether you'd call that an "ornament" or not. So, I think Appalachian fiddling depends largely on bowing for rhythmic emphasis.
Irish fiddling - on the other hand - uses a lot of left hand ornaments - patterned after the ornaments used on the wind instruments - whistle, flute and Uilleann pipes. The ornaments include the "long role", the "short roll", and an approximation to the "cran" used on the pipes. Irish fiddlers also use the "bowed triplet" where three stacatto notes are played in time it usually takes to play to.
Missouri and Texas fiddlers sometimes use left hand ornaments as well - something similar to the Irish "long roll" but timed a bit differently.
The "bowed triplet" is also used in Cape Breton and Scottish fiddling. I think other left hand ornaments are used in these styles as well - but I'm less familiar with these style so somebody else will have to elaborate.
--OTJ "I can barely fiddle on four strings. Why would I want five?"
Do you read musical notation ? If you do, here are two excellent publications -
1. The Complete Irish Fiddler - Book and CD. Includes detailed instructions on playing Irish fiddle music. In addition, there is lots of interesting information on Ireland and its fiddlers. Detailed notation for lots of popular Irish fiddle tunes. I have most of the Irish fiddling books, and this book is my favorite.
2. April Verch has an instructional (Mel Bay Publications) on Canadian fiddling. Each tune has a simple version and two more advanced versions. Covers lots of different types of Canadian fiddle tunes. Ornamentation is described and included in the instructional. Having a simpler version, then two more advanced versions is an excellent idea. I wish more publishers fiddle notation books did this. If you live in the northern part of the U.S., some of these tunes may be played by local fiddlers.
By the way, if you play drums you might consider getting Mark Stone's bodhran rhythm CD from the CDbaby website. I enjoy playing along with this CD and it helps me get the "feel" for the different types of Irish fiddle tunes.
Some OT genre's use ornamentation sparingly or on some tunes, just not the big roll (which I think of as stereotypically Irish), but there is the occasional triplet grace note run up (or down) to a strong beat (I'm thinking the A part of Green Willis - triplet from open A to the first D). In the styles you've mentioned, OT is generally the least ornamented. A typical OT move is to slide to a unison open note, like sliding to 'E' on the A string while playing the open E. This is akin to a particular bending of the note into a held note on the electric guitar ala Jimi. Creates a delicious tension as the two notes get closer together. This is sometimes facilitated by open tunings. I would say the right hand is more responsible for ornamenting an OT tune. Search the forum for bowing for more on that. Before joining, I didn't realize how much that defined a player or how much it created variations in a tune.
______________________________________ "Music makes time audible" - Suzanne Langer
Irish has fairly standardised techniques for most ornaments. Of course, most allow for personal style. Not all players' rolls sound exactly like, for instance. And who would want that, anyway? Long roll and short roll are basically the same thing, just a bit different timing. No real sense in distinguishing between the two. Cuts, double cuts, open string rolls, grace notes, triplets, trebles, slides are all pretty standard. Any other ornaments are less common, and much more personalized. Like crans. Not that common, but some players do them. A bit of droning is pretty common, but how and when depends on the player, mood, area, occasion, etc.
The thing to remember about the fiddle is that it is much more versatile and expressive than many other instruments. hence it lends itself to personalization more than, say, guitar. This also reflects in ornaments.
quote:My mom got me a fiddle ornament to hang on the tree this year. It's a dandy.
I'm glad I wasn't the only one who thought that!
quote:On listening to the fiddle music styles I prefer, Breton, Scots, Irish, and OT, I hear certain recurring themes, and ornaments... In each of the above styles, have the ornaments more or less been standardized? I realize much of the style is the way it is bowed, but I was wondering if the left hand contributes to these styles a great deal.
Just some that I remember.
Slides into notes as in sliding the third finger into an E on the A string. Slides away from a note used in blues style. Forming a chord or double stop for Blue Grass Bringing the their finger close to the index and executing a triplet similar to a hammer on as a type of filler done with long bowing.
Some traditional styles use ornamental playing and some do not. Immigrants from Europe influenced the ways that American fiddling style developed. The English style is not an ornamental style like the Scots-Irish style is. It is fun to research and listen obscure recordings and note the differences. It will certainly broaden your perspective of early 20th century traditional music.