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Bowrocking is bedeviling me.

Posted by bj on Friday, January 16, 2009

I'm trying to get up to speed with bowrocking but it is coming along very slowly.
As in slowdownly.

Actually, certain songs are coming along, and they have rocking between two adjacent strings and the songs sound better not all that fast. They're coming along, and I've got them to about 80% speed of where they should be. I should be able to record one of those sometime soon.

It's when I'm rocking from the A string to the G string, with the D as the fulcrum that the bowrocking falls apart with the bow going helter and skelter instead of nicely back and forth. And of course everything else falls apart too, like intonation and left hand fingerings and . . . and  . . . and . . . 

Maybe I should just work on adjacent string bowrocking until I get it down really well. THEN maybe I can get fancier.


9 comments on “Bowrocking is bedeviling me.”

ChickenMan Says:
Friday, January 16, 2009 @6:52:05 PM

What tunes are you working? How much rocking are we talking about here? Examples?

So many questions.
Curious little monkey, isn't he?

bj Says:
Friday, January 16, 2009 @7:00:11 PM

I'm okay with Pretty Little Dog the way that Chirps plays it. I don't do it nearly as well as he does, but I've got the gist of it. I've added in some bowrocking of a similar sort to a couple other tunes as an alternative bowing.

One I'm working on is Bonaparte's Retreat. That's the one that requires the bowrock from the A to the G string using a D fulcrum. When I do accomplish it, it's GREAT. But that's only one out of ten times, and slowed down so much you can barely recognize the tune.

fiddlepogo Says:
Friday, January 16, 2009 @9:22:04 PM

Skipping over a string like that is NOT easy.
Blackberry Blossom does that in the B part,
and Stoney Point in the A part.
I think it took almost three years from the time I started fiddling again to feel comfortable with the technique.
In the meantime, yeah, adjacent strings are easier.
Once you get those butter-smooth, you wlll probably be more ready for the challenge.

ChickenMan Says:
Saturday, January 17, 2009 @9:05:40 AM

Yeah, that's more than rocking, you're skipping a string too. I will listen to Chirps' tune to see that example. What version of Bonaparte's Retreat are you learning?

bj Says:
Saturday, January 17, 2009 @9:29:05 AM

I'm making up my own version of Bonaparte's Retreat. :-)

Chirp's version of Pretty Little Dog just bowrocks adjacent strings. A lot. A whole lot. I can play it somewhat confidently at 60% of speed, and sometimes get it right at 70%, most times with only a few oopses. I've only played it once at 80% with few mistakes. Most times at that speed it starts to really fall apart.

janepaints Says:
Monday, January 19, 2009 @9:38:46 PM

Try letting the weight of the bow itself do the rocking. I.E apply almost no pressure and barely grip the bow. Kinda like how some folks shake hands with a 'limp handshake.' As if you're hardly holding the bow. I can't explain it very well, but it seems that's part of what's going on when I bow rock. Minimal control from my hand, like it's just there to prevent the bow from falling off the fiddle entirely. Especially when rocking across all four strings. Kinda reminds me of volleyball--most of the time the ball's in the air, flying around, only gets tapped back into flight when it sinks too low. I can't explain it too good, but that's what it feels like here. If it's any consolation, I only became able to do it in the past three years or so. Before that I wasn't even aware there WAS such a thing as bowrocking--and was doing it before being aware there was a term for the technique. Me pisces--just swim around, nary a thought in my noggin, going 'glub glub glub' until I bump into something. P.S.: GOOD ON YA for making up your own version of Bonaparte--or any other tune. How this old world gonna get back to the future if everybody's always marching in step? That kinda same-same-same malarky can knock down suspension bridges from all the goosestepping viberationary omen vibes. Besides, some years hence, folks might have a swell new Argument Topic at jams on account a you: "Whatchoo wanna play? 'Regular Bonaparte' or 'BJ's Bonaparte?" My policy is: The More Chaos, The Merrier." But then I'm pisces, lefthanded PLUS ambidexterous. Fave lyric-bit from a song somebody wrote that impacted my noggin many moons ago: "believers are easily led." Chaos, wildness and willful messing-with-the-status-quo is the super-grandmammy of invention. :)

bj Says:
Tuesday, January 20, 2009 @5:05:19 AM

LOL! My BR is not all that different, just some bowing differences, and a bit of a flourish on that first A part, to make it sound a little less Loony Tunes version of the Casbah.

Re the bowrocking, I'm thinking I might have to drag the mirror back out when I get home tonight (oh, am I looking forward to THAT!) and check. I think my "little circles" are too dang big. It seems to work at slower speeds, but when I kick it up a notch, I'm outta control.

Midwest_Fiddler Says:
Friday, January 23, 2009 @9:10:08 AM

Howdy bj. Glad to hear you are enjoying my version of Pretty Little Dog. I had to go downstairs and try it out again on my cross-tuned fiddle. As you probably know I hold the bow thum-under-frog. The rocking is done from my wrist and on my fiddle I don't have to move it too much to rock adjacent strings.
Skipping a string can be more challenging. I guess I never actually thought of that as rocking. When I am skipping a string in a tune it is usually just to get an open string to ring. An example might be Stony Point- I quickly reach over and hit the G and later the D. It sounds good to make them ring out and adds a rhythymic element as well.
Continue having fun with the bow rocking!

bj Says:
Friday, January 23, 2009 @12:52:01 PM

Thanks, Chirps! Your Pretty Little Dog was the right tune at the right time. I have a love affair with A modals, and have been working on a number of them. So this one was easy on my left hand, since it's already primed for that. The bowrocking was the new skill this added to the toolkit, and since the left hand was relatively easy for me it allowed me to really concentrate on that bowrock. It is coming along nicely, though I keep getting distracted with all the Melvin Wine vids being posted lately. ;-)

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