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Fiddlin for Progress

Posted by harwilli55 on Saturday, June 26, 2010

My computer crashed a couple of months I have been relegated to primarily reading what everyone's written on my phone. I have found that having to thumb type really seems to be a barrier to communicating what I am thinking.  Unlike now( am using work computer) to type with a keyboard, there is little interuption between the flow of my thoughts and fingers, so my writing resembles how I think so much more completely, than when my thoughts have to slow wayyyyy down and wait is my excuse and I am sticking with that.

On the fiddle am I in the middle of the plateau !! Several factors are affecting that. I am working 12 -14 hour days again ( plus a weekend day too) the amount of time I get behind the bow has become limited. Longer hours means less jams I can attend. Plus the energy level to sustain a good practice has become limited.

Then there are the natural plateaus one hits, no matter how much practice these just take time to work matter what( unless one of course is a savant which I only resembe the prefix     " idiota" .

It is also challenging how outside influences juxapose desires  in ones life sometimes.  We are not always as free as we like to think. I find that my fiddlin interests are drawn to OT , yet because of the time limitations, the oppportunities to play in OT jam settings are limited, so they have become mostly Irish Sessions I can attend. So, I practice OT at home, then cram an Irish practice in the day of the session, so I can at least grab some notes....though decidedly unlilting, unlifted, and pretty flat....lolol....with a couple of innappropriate doublestops thrown in for good measure. I cannot complain though,  because I have been playing with most of these folks for a couple of years now and we have been building a pretty darn good repertoire and can play tight sets at session speeds which is a blast to be a part of. Plus, it is with people with whom I have become friends and learned to play this music.

While both the Irish and OT jams are tune based, I find that I am drawn to wanting to make danceable fiddlin(bowing) the basis of my skill.  Yea.... yea.... yea..I know that Irish session tunes are dance oriented, but I grew up in rural Virginia where flatfoot barndancin captured my soul. I regret that I never considered I could learn to play that kind of music until so late in life, yet I am always excited to that I am learning and playing it now, especially when I have the opportunity to sit in with seasoned OT muscians.

So, what plateaus have I hit ? 

(1) Bowing, bowing, bowing... ..patterns... ..shuffles..... circles(figure 8's) .....syncopation ..... rythmnic ..... timing..... etc. All those wonderful little dances the bow can do that make the feet, toes, body, head....etc  want to move......

(2) Ear training..... learning tunes on the fly ....hearing the notes and having the fingers intuitively find them ..... I am still relying about 90 per cent on notation, which by the way, my sight reading skills have grown tremedously. .....   however, hearing the melody in my head and being able to sing it from memory ......blech...... really really vacumn at that !!!

Of course, the ear training also overlaps with the skill to play harmonies, or breaks, along with old time songs and folk songs.....sigh.....such a long way to go.

(3) Learning tunes ..... when I had more time, I got to play more jams .... over and over and over ...... and that is where I built a fairly decent little repertoire over the past couple of years, because I would get to hear and play those tunes again and again....the repetition in the jams along with practicing the dots at home,  hammered them indelibly into my neural circuitry.  Those are the tunes I now have some capability of experimenting with and learning variations. However, my new tune learning curve has slowed to a crawl.....grrrrr !!!  I absolutely love the challenge of getting a new- to- me tune under my fingers ( so to speak).

Of course there are more plateaus  that  make themselves present when I actually have the bow in hand, but for now, those are enough. So let me state the overwhelmingly positive sides of being plateaued :-D

My intonation is getting better and better, for the most part.  Because I am playing the notes with better intonation, the fiddle rings with a much fuller sound. It is amazing to realize that intonation is a confluence of bow control as well as finger placement. One affects the other either badly or goodly.

I am experimenting more with emoting and less concerned with reproducing.... ie.... developing my own voice ....perhaps.  This is fun, though I am often jealous of the phrasing, tempo, variations, that other fiddlers use . However, I am having fun with finding myself.

i am less and less dependent on mandolin and guitar when in jams or sessions, therefore finding I can keep up with jam and session speed tunes.  Can't start'em, but more and more playing all or most of the notes. What is even more fun, is on the tunes I have down well, is finding a groove with someone else beside me and playing off each other that !!!

While progress has slowed, I know from experience that that is natural.  The mind, body, and ears have to acculturate, assimilate, and imprint while the fine muscles need time to settle into the new demands. So, overall, I am happy to be where I am now, and as always impatient to be further down the road capable of doing so much more and exploring so much more.

Till the next time I have a moment of time and a computer in front of me.... Salud !!!


2 comments on “Fiddlin for Progress”

bj Says:
Sunday, June 27, 2010 @9:11:04 AM

I wondered what happened to you! Now we know. You're currently all thumbs, LOL!

Though I guess your bank account is fat and happy, I hope things get to a better fiddle balance for you soon.

harwilli55 Says:
Monday, June 28, 2010 @6:04:38 PM

LOL @ bj....thumblefingers....hey....that is how one might describe my fiddling.....sadly ...I might add :-D Its a good thing people enjoy my personality much better than my musical ability....!!!!

Hey.....That might be a great name for that band I've never had ....." ThumbleFiddle" ......not bad huh :-D


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