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Rythmic bowing...........

Posted by oldtimewine on Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Out of all the questions i have see on playing the fiddle i didn't see ANyone ask about rythmic bowing. So How would a person develop a strong rythmic bowing stye? If anyone has any good excercises,ideas,comments throw them at me! Now i do have one that i know of given by David Bragger, when playing a single string shuffle on the A string you can add the  E string for every short....example   

A aaA aa

   ee    ee      OR    L ssL ss

                                     ss   ss      and by adding that drone it gives a little rythmn. this helped a little with me but i need more,LOL.     HAppy Fiddling--Jesse Wine



1 comment on “Rythmic bowing...........”

bj Says:
Wednesday, December 8, 2010 @9:06:55 AM

I did take a few lessons when I was starting out. The guy I learned from is a hellacious fiddler. He taught me to downbow on the downbeat. Now, when you're primarily using Nashville Shuffle, you won't be doing that 100% of the time, but if you keep it in mind when you're going in and out of the different shuffle patterns and varying up your bowing it will always help you to keep the rhythmic groove going. Because you downbow the downbeat, the stroke you start out on may vary depending on if and how many pickup notes there are.

It's a bit tricky to get it going on a regular basis, but once you get used to it, it helps you when you're later picking up tunes on the fly since you'll always have a workable bowing ready for any tune you're learning, even if maybe it isn't the fanciest bowing. It comes so automatically to me now that I don't even have to think about it and haven't for a long time.

Jane is an anarchic fiddler if ever there was one. I was talking to her about this one day back when I was learning it, and she said that's what Melvin tried to teach her what he called downbowing but she couldn't think of things that way and it wouldn't stick. She said Melvin must be whispering in my ear. ;-)

Not all good oldtime fiddlers are/were downbowers (by this particular definition of downbowing the downbeat) but many were. Be aware that there's another definition of downbowing that has you always downbowing the first stroke and upbowing the last stroke of any part of the tune. Most of the Irish Trad fiddlers follow this convention and also call it downbowing. Some OT fiddlers also do this. They also seem able to get a mojo going with the rhythm, somewhat stronger than the anarchic anywhichwayers do, though there are always exceptions (John Morris being the most obvious exception and about as much of a bowing anarchist as exists on the face of the planet, yet keeps a strong groove going.)

I hope that helps.

One other thing I wish I had done more of starting out is sawstroke, which is one note per bow. It seemed too simple to me compared to Nashville and Georgia Shuffles so I ignored it somewhat in the beginning. The reason I wish I hadn't is because it really is the rhythmic secret sauce to many tunes, now that my ears are a bit more educated. Also, it's hellaciously hard to get left hand / right hand coordination perfect when doing it. So the more you practice it from your early days, the better you'll be as you progress as a fiddler. I'm playing catch-up with it now.

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