Posted by fiddlepogo on Wednesday, May 7, 2008
I have noticed that in bowing discussions, as soon as I mention a shuffle or a pattern, often someone dismisses me as a "pattern bower", saying something to the effect they don't want to cram a melody into a pattern. Well, I agree with them in that I don't want to cram a melody into a single pattern... in fact, I don't want to cram at all.... I want to get to know the tune, and then apply patterns to it in appropriate places. The effect is MUCH different from what most would think of as "pattern bowing", which, BTW usually means Nashville Shuffle, or more rarely Georgia Shuffle.
My bowing philosophy is not to cram the melody into a sometimes ill-fitting pattern, but to "clothe" the melody in patterns that accent important parts of the melody, and bring out the rhythms inherent in the melody, or at least that version of it.
A lot of times there aren't enough terms to adequately describe something. To describe snow, English basically has two words, snow and sleet, three if you count hail as a form of snow. Eskimos apparently have more than a dozen to describe snow with different characteristics.
When you have only two words, there is a tendency to either ignore something or miscategorize it.
Anyway, I'm not a "pattern bower"... I'm a "patterns bower". Small difference in spelling but a big difference in application. I DO NOT want to get stuck in a single pattern for a tune. I have found few fiddle tunes that don't need at least two patterns to sound right, most need three, and some need four.
I _practice_ a bowing when I learn it like a "pattern bower" would- I find a part of a tune where I can play it all the way through, then practice that part along with the pattern or shuffle until the bowing is smooth and natural.
But in actual normal playing, I think like what I would call an "eclectic" bower. I don't think about patterns, normally... I play the tune as well as I can... but because I have practiced these patterns, they naturally pop up in certain places in a tune
Think about it... if you don't practice patterns, you MIGHT intuitively play the same pattern I would play at a certain point in a tune... but that might be the first time you've played that series of single notes and slurs... and I've practiced it hundreds if not thousands of times... who's gonna execute it better? Plus, because I've played patterns so many times, I know them like the back of my hand. I can hear places where they belong, just because they've become like old friends.
I recommend getting started on Sawshuffle, at least- it's similar to the straight sawstroke many of you are probably using, and also has similarities to Georgia and Nashville Shuffles. Don't try to use it in a tune right away- just shuffle away on an exercise or a double stop, until you get _really_ comfortable with it. At some point, it'll start popping into tunes without you even thinking about it. It can take awhile. I mostly just used Sawshuffle and Smoothshuffle along with Sawstroke for 15 years, practiced Syncoshuffle occasionally, but never felt comfy with it. Then I stopped playing for 15 years, started again, then shortly after I recorded most of the stuff on ezfolk, it just clicked! Now I sometimes think I use Syncoshuffle more than Sawshuffle- but I've never bothered to count! So it pays to keep a shuffle cookin' on the backburner... you never know when it'll click and be useful, but if you don't have it on the backburner... it'll never click!