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Revisiting Tunes not played in awhile

Posted by bj on Monday, March 1, 2010

The last few days I've been heavily revisiting tunes I haven't played in awhile. I've been doing two things with them. I'm changing up the versions a bit, now that I've got more versions in the earbugs, and also changing up the bowing.

After seeing this gal fiddle in a couple videos I've been revisiting the nashville shuffle heavily, since I really love the rhythm she's getting, which reminds me a bit of Bill Huber's playing. He was also a heavy nashville shuffler. And I'm finding I'm not very good at it. It's not as intuitive for me as the georgia shuffle. I think I need to make it so. I've always been able to add a swipe or two of it here or there, but sustaining it at a fast pace through a whole tune I end up sounding very mechanical with it, instead of playing it with lilt and liquidity. I also sometimes get tangled up with it in some places where the left hand fingerings are complicated, since it's less intuitive.

I feel like I'm a beginner again instead of a solid intermediate fiddler whenever I try to do this nashville through the whole tune thing. Which is also complicated by my truncated practice time these days. I'm still down to around a half hour a day, though after this pay period things should start to normalize again. These 13 hour workdays 7 days a week are making me very weary. But lately I've been going back to my mini fiddle breaks, since otherwise I just get too burned out. For every hour of work I get to play one fiddle tune four or five times through. And that's been helping some, and cumulatively it probably adds at least a half hour to 45 minutes to my playtime every day, but I do need to get back to a minimum couple hours of fiddling every evening along with that, instead of a puny half hour session.

The version changeups I'm doing separate from the bowing. Most of this involves getting closer to source instead of playing the festival versions, or, in some cases, simply putting a lot of the notes in that I took out when I was a beginner fiddler, since now I'm good enough to handle a bit more complication. Actually, that's the one thing that's going very right. I've been shocked at how easy it is to play stuff that I couldn't hope to handle 6 months to a year ago.

I'm also doing at least one tune every evening sawstroked. That has definitely had some good effects on my fiddling, though it's still painful at times to hear how left hand / right hand coordination still needs so very much work, which is what the sawstroking points out all too painfully.

Oh well, at least it isn't snowing. Now. Yet.

5 comments on “Revisiting Tunes not played in awhile”

carlb Says:
Monday, March 1, 2010 @7:35:11 AM

Gee, I need to revisit tunes, I haven't played in a while, just to remember them. Sometimes I need a little shove to remember how they go; say a bar or two (by listening to a couple of bars off a recording that brings back the whole tune).

Cyndy Says:
Monday, March 1, 2010 @9:40:16 AM

Yeah. A lot of what I have to do every day is computer work and I take fiddle breaks, too. Those short times really do add up, but I hear you. It takes more than that to go to bed feeling like it's been a satisfying practice day, doesn't it? On the bright side, you have those wonderful summer plans to look forward to . . . Yup. I'm envious there!

ScottK Says:
Monday, March 1, 2010 @10:54:47 AM

Hi bj! The fiddler in that video is Sophie Vitells who lives here in Portland, Oregon. She used to be in the local stringband Government Issue Orchestra. She also teaches fiddle tunes in a local stringband class. - Scott

bj Says:
Monday, March 1, 2010 @11:09:31 AM

LOL! Carl, I've been moaning about the disconnect between tune names and the actual tune for ages! Only half my repertoire has a full connection between the two!

Cynthia, yes I have the plans. I just hope Murphy doesn't strike again, it's been an altogether way too Murphy couple years! ** KNOCK ON WOOD!!!! **

Thanks, Scott! Good to know who she is, I really like what she's doing, and it's very different from what I've been doing.

fiddlepogo Says:
Monday, March 1, 2010 @9:45:31 PM

I hear ya about Nashville Shuffle- it's a WHOLE lot easier to explain it,
and have someone get the concept, that to actually be able to execute it smoothly.
After nearly 5 years back playing fiddle, and using about five other shuffles, I still find Nashville to be one of the hardest to execute well.
Being able to do the first half of it, then turn around and do it mirror image, and make the two halves GROOVE together is a whole lot harder than it sounds.
And it's true, some people just seem to have a gift for making Nashville Shuffle sound cool again, just when you thought you'd written it off.

The peculiar thing is that my Nashville Shuffle sounds rather Canadian, even though I'm not, so I tend to use it on a few Canadian tunes I know!!!

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