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Peggy has inspired me to have some bowing fun . . .

Posted by bj on Monday, September 20, 2010

Watching Peggy's videos and hearing her talk about her approaches to bowing has really got me thinking about my own bowing. Especially hearing and watching her TUG chugga PUSH chugga nashville shuffle on Over the Waterfall and Waterbound, which is a whole lot less mechanical sounding and a lot more FIDDLEY sounding than what I've been doing!

I also realized, over the weekend during my three hours of playing at an event and going through a pretty significant chunk of my tunelist, that I've gotten a bit rusty on stuff that's heavily sawstroked. I had concentrated on that for about three or four months over the winter and I absolutely positively have to get back on it. I'd say it's pure laziness, but that isn't really the whole story. During festival season I'm in heavy tune learning mode, and the technical detail stuff tends to fall by the wayside, and then I catch up with all that stuff over the winter months, when I'm playing out less and learning fewer new tunes. Bottom line is I realized it pretty quickly and did some repeats rather than play stuff I couldn't do as well as I wanted to. And I think I have to remember that tendency next festival season and designate at least a couple days a week to technical brush-up practice time. If I can. But when I'm in tune learning mode . . . ah, it's so hard to work on technical stuff when there are so many new tunes blasting through my brain!

But the last couple days I've been slowing things down and seeing if I can get some more excitement into my bowing and phrasing. I'm mostly working on tunes I know fairly well, but that maybe had hardened into a fairly static bowing version for me.

One of the nice things about having finally achieved a bit of competence on this infernal instrument is that this experimentation is turning out to be a lot of fun! Yes there are screwups galore, but not nearly as many as I might have expected, and I can suss out alternative bowings much more easily and quickly. I have to say too that listening to Peggy and Bosco and what they do with a tune to turn it on its ear is really making me approach things differently, and see where things can fit in a new way.

I'm going through and adding sawstroke and TUG chugga PUSH chugga to a bunch of tunes that I've been playing mostly with georgia shuffle and what I call modified georgia, which is slurring however many and then a quick accent upbow dig to suit the tune, which ironically ends up being mistaken for nashville shuffles by other fiddlers when they hear recordings of what I'm doing, but it isn't nashville at all.

Be interesting to see how things come along over the next couple weeks.

8 comments on “Peggy has inspired me to have some bowing fun . . .”

carlb Says:
Monday, September 20, 2010 @7:54:55 PM

For me phrasing is the key. Hope you'll keep working on that.

bosco Says:
Monday, September 20, 2010 @8:11:24 PM

To me, learning the new tunes and learning bowing and phrasing(technical stuffis) is the same thing. I can't lean technical stuffs without tunes. I can't learn tunes without thinking bowing and phrasing.

bj Says:
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @3:44:02 AM

Yes, phrasing is the key. It's easy to apply in GA and sawstroke, not so easy in nashville shuffle. But nashville has always been a bit of a challenge for me, though I can't figure out why. Maybe the messiness of it not fitting the downbow on a downbeat that I feel so comfortable with.

Bosco, when learning a tune I just . . . bow it. I don't much think about it, it's the left hand that's getting my concentration as I start to internalize the melody, and the bowing stays very simple. Once that left hand is solid, then the right hand gets some consideration, and I dress things up a bit for Sunday Dinner.

Cyndy Says:
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @5:20:22 AM

That thread has inspired me, too. I want to be able to catch another string on the first "short" of the shuffle and Bosco's video prompted me to start working on it again. Playing along with Dean's banjo slows things down which makes it the perfect time to think about bowing.

bj Says:
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @1:41:57 PM

I envy you your new banjo slave. And my friends are sick and tired of me trying to talk them into taking up clawhammer . . .

eerohero Says:
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @7:54:19 PM

Now, I havent been reading this all yet, in a terribel hurry, have you tried georgia shuffle,its more accomplished than Nashville shuffle.

yet Nashville shuffle is my favorite anytime, I use it on
"Lee Highway Blues" all the way,Georgia shuffle didnt fit on that one
If I used only sawing on "Lee Highway Blues", my arms would have went off for long ago

bj Says:
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @8:12:30 PM

I find georgia shuffle MUCH easier than nashville. It's my "default" bowing style, though I don't use it completely, just more than anything else. Peggy had pointed to this video of Lewis County Kentucky style bowing, which is very similar to what I do when I'm first playing a tune, and before I work through variations in bowing:

tsaimichael Says:
Wednesday, September 22, 2010 @12:48:53 PM

Thanks for sharing your learnings. I plan to exploring my bowing with vigor.

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