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Goin' Nuts With Nashville

Posted by bj on Thursday, May 20, 2010

I should have done this a long time ago. But truth is though I lovelovelove the way Nashville Shuffle sounds, I just never LIKED actually doing it. So I put it off. Yes, I'm the Regional Head Poobah for Procrastinator's Anonymous. We're having a meeting tonight . . . unless I put it off so I can go jam at CoffeeCoop's tonight. 7PM. See you there.

Anyway, for the last few months I've become acutely aware of and attracted to tunes played by fiddlers who have mastered the fine art of the Nashville Shuffle. Could be my subconscious is a lot wiser than the rest of me, which has avoided it like the plague. It's not that I don't use it at all, but I've done it as a bit here or a bit there. Not as the framing for the whole tune's bowing. I've always used Georgia for that.

I do remember now why I avoided it, now that I've decided to finally embrace it. Since the bowing rhythm seems to be, at times, completely divorced in any real sense from what the left hand is doing, other than melody string choice, I'm back to being a total freaking klutz. My left/right timing on this, quite frankly, vacuums (as ajisai so discreetly put it once) and if I do screw up, I find it much MUCH harder to get my bowing hand back into the flow again, causing the whole tune to come to a screetching halt, so I can start back at the beginning. I feel like I'm back in first year fiddling, and I thought I was OVER  this! ACK!!! So I'm not ready for jam time with these almost totally Nashvilled tunes, especially since I'm learning all new tunes using this. Probably a bad idea in hindsight. Be easier to work on tunes I already know, but I don't HEAR  them that way. Yet.

Even worse, I'm back to slowing things down. Which I haven't done in almost a year, except occasionally, just to hear a detail or ornament better. And we're not talking a notch or two. I'm down to 6 or 7 speed on WMP just to ge through the dang tune without majorly screwing up. This is embarassing.

I'm actually worse at this than I am at sawstroking. YIKES!

The other thing that's happening is that when I do try to speed up, my bowing wrist takes on the rigidity of steel. Why can't I relax into this dang pattern???

But the other part of my personality, the part that takes over when I've finally stopped procrastinating, is that of a stubborn she-dog. I WILL master this dang pattern. I WILL I WILL I WILL!

In other news, I'm heading up to Black Creek for Memorial Day Weekend. Festival Season is officially kicking off. YAY! And I'll be jamming tonight and Tuesday night, and possibly playing a gig with Jane this weekend. I'm playing a lot, now that the ulnar stuff is cleared up. And playing a lot always makes me happy.

10 comments on “Goin' Nuts With Nashville”

fiddlepogo Says:
Thursday, May 20, 2010 @11:55:55 AM

Well yes.

Nashville is the EASIEST shuffle to explain in theory, but one of the hardest to master in practice.
To make it sound right, the second group of 3 strokes have to match the first group of 3 strokes purtenear purfectly. And that's not easy to do. For one thing, it helps if the bowhold is very loose and limber.

Also, because so many fiddlers use Nashville, and so many of them have too stiff of a bowhold or wrist, it makes the Nashville Shuffle very rigid, and one player with a rigid Nashville won't be able to adjust to another player with a rigid Nashville.
So the two together will sound awful because they are fighting each other rhythmically.

So, get the ring finger up on top of the stick, flex that thumb, and wiggle that wrist!!!

robinja Says:
Thursday, May 20, 2010 @5:44:55 PM

I think the only time that I really like Nashville is when it DOESN'T exactly suit the tune - when you have to slur during the long bow part. I avoid Nashville like the plague - I find it to be very boring in so many tunes. But in some tunes, it funkifies it and syncopates the melody. That's when it gets fun...and difficult.

bj Says:
Friday, May 21, 2010 @9:29:01 AM

The ring finger belongs ON the stick? Imagine that . . .

Funny you mentioned about the slur on the longbow part, Judy, since the two tunes I'm working on do that more often than not. And these are both high syncopation tunes, and will be a whole lotta fun to play if I ever get them up to speed.

fiddlepogo Says:
Friday, May 21, 2010 @12:29:22 PM

I must not have made myself ferpeckly clear!
(Hmmm, I DID say top, I just didn't do it in caps!)
UP on TOP of the stick, like classical players do with the pinky, as opposed to draped over the stick like the first and second fingers are. The ring finger can go either way, but when it's on TOP of the stick,
rather than draped, it ANGLES the wrist so you can get a LOT more natural flex from it.

Humbled by this instrument Says:
Friday, May 21, 2010 @2:24:51 PM

Love throwing in the Nashville here and there, simply heartily enjoy the pattern; in fact, I ebulliently enjoy the pattern...I just like it, okay!

Humbled by this instrument Says:
Friday, May 21, 2010 @2:26:45 PM

(Oh, I see you've Snake Chapman on your list of faves. In our family we've got Cousin Snake, for that side always liked Biblical names....)

bj Says:
Friday, May 21, 2010 @3:16:15 PM

Michael, I often forego the use of the ring finger and pinky finger on the bow entirely. More comfortable and makes for a looser swing of the bow.

Humbled, I'm sure you've got more than one Snake in the Family. ** wicked grin! **

ChickenMan Says:
Saturday, May 22, 2010 @10:00:15 AM

Try to just get the shuffle ingrained into the right arm (and extremities) with a simple tune like Bile 'em Cabbage Down. I like Old Joe Clark (just shuffle on the longer notes - it works "Old Jo-oe Clark the-e preach-a-er man-ana..."). You will surprise yourself once it becomes subconscious at how easy and automatic it can be. I know how the slowing down process can seem like a backwards step - I've been studying Emmett Lundy's peculiarities and spent several days with one tune slowly incorporating the new bowing licks. It's fun - double up bows used with regularity.

bj Says:
Saturday, May 22, 2010 @8:16:55 PM

Well, leave it to me to blaze the path with machete swinging. Jane and I played a farmer's market gig this morning and I ended up playing one of the new tunes, Paddy on the Handcar. I didn't break any speed records, but I got through the tune without a trainwreck and had some fun with it.

ChickenMan Says:
Sunday, May 23, 2010 @10:27:28 PM


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