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Fiddling on my faddle

Posted by FiddlerFaddler on Friday, May 29, 2009

The surge in violists fiddling on their chosen instrument has panged my conscience for not having spent more time myself learning to play fiddle tunes on my faddle (my pet name for the viola).

So I put a man right on that.  The two gems I'm polishing on the faddle are: Henry's Hornpipe, an old, downstate Illinois fiddle tune; and (Farewell to) Angus Campbell.  The advantage of the faddle over the fiddle is that I can additionally play those tunes (and others, of course) a whole octave lower without having to modify the melody for want of lower notes (F# for Henry and E for Angus).

For bonus points, it forces me out of the first position (oh, up there somewhere - I have never learned the names for the other positions) to play the tunes in the original octave.  Not having a high E string forces me to play stopped instead of open-string drones as appropriate, so that is another technique stretcher.  Double stops are also more cantankerous in the higher positions, forcing me to further develop my technical abilities.

It is easier to play the tune in the original octave on the fiddle, but the benefits of playing the same tune on the faddle are manifold and well worth the additional effort required to master a tune on it.  I am hooked.

I look forward to the day when I can have my aforementioned gems sufficiently polished on the faddle so that I can introduce them to the jam that I regularly attend.  I had better get to work, as my FHO friend brynmawr is way ahead of me and has left me eating her dust.

4 comments on “Fiddling on my faddle”

mudbug Says:
Saturday, May 30, 2009 @4:39:25 AM

Good for you! The viola is a gloriously toned instrument, and I hope to have one someday.

bj Says:
Saturday, May 30, 2009 @6:55:21 AM

I've been thinking that SOMEDAY I want an octave fiddle. But this sounds pretty cool. Hmm.

Helenofmusic Says:
Sunday, May 31, 2009 @12:42:24 PM

I say that someday we shall meet and fiddle.
Two cool things for you to consider - on a road trip sometime, go to Red Wing MN and get to Hobgoblin music. It is in an old barn on the west side of Red Wing out in the country. They have open air concerts and festivals on the hill beside the music store/barn.
Check it out on the web. Just type in Hobgoblin music. Very cool instruments and very good music book selection.
My kids bought me a fiddle book titled The Dance Music of Ireland, O'Neill's 1001 Dances, jigs....
It is loaded with great fiddle tunes, and if you can transpose from viola clef to violin or back, you would have a ball with it.
Happy tunes!

FiddlerFaddler Says:
Sunday, May 31, 2009 @8:01:00 PM

Hi Helen. Thanks for the tip about Hobgoblin Music; I found it and bookmarked it. I had heard about O'Neill's book - I will put it on my to-buy list (that list keeps getting longer, even as I acquire things on it, covetous soul that I am).

I am alto-clef challenged. I can do it, but only with difficulty, not having enough practice doing so. In the church orchestra I read off the bass clef to play the tenor or tenor + bass (when possible). When playing melody, alto, or fiddle tunes I use the treble clef.

I once transposed a cello part for an organ accompaniment and forgot to remove the tenor clef in one section! The organist brought it to my attention with the full expectation that I should remedy that. :D

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