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Oct 11, 2017 - 10:34 PM
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Perhaps my ear is not as keen as I think it is...

But…  based on past (and present) discussions about bowing patterns...  to me, it seems there has always been a disconnect between what I have been told is “authentic” or “traditional”  and what I have heard on recordings.  I have been told in the past that a bowing pattern being played "religiously" - all the way through a tune - is the only way for a fiddler to sound authentic / traditional. And what I hear on most all recordings (old and new) does not confirm that to be true - at least not to my ears.

Now, I'm not saying there are no bowing patterns in old time music (never have). There are.  imo - all tunes are made of melody and rhythmic patterns. And those unique rhythmic patterns are repeated throughout most tunes – and sometimes, they are the very “hook” that defines the tune.

And...  there are a large number of different ways to bow a phrase that can produce a desired result (duplicate a phrase or pattern). One could be determined to be an exact replication. Several may be a very close representation. And others might be an adequate interpretation. And, of course, there would be others beyond that.  But, we need to decide - are we trying to faithfully duplicate the original recordings - or trying to be faithful to an artistic expression based on the original (without being tied to a recording), or are we wanting to take things to a different place?

To me - "anywhichway" (as it has been called) has never been a haphazard – a mindless bowing technique. Rhythmic patterns can be (should be) discovered in tunes. A very basic question - what are the rhythmic patterns that make up the tune. They don't need to be identified by a name or categorized. They may be unique to that tune only. And if they don’t carry over to other tunes – that shouldn’t matter. However, many do. But that rhythmic pattern should be the basis of how we intend to play the tune.

Nevertheless - imo – the idea that we can / should start with a specific bowing pattern and then learn to play a tune using that specific pattern as the basis for how we play the tune – will usually violate the very rhythmic pattern that makes the tune unique. Would it even be the same tune?

Having said all that- I still think - nothing we do should be considered "wrong".  But no one should be surprised or disappointed at any public reaction.

We can (and hopefully do) learn from our mistakes / ahhh…    no... from our experiences.

 

Oct 12, 2017 - 5:20:53 AM
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You might think that ME, of all people would disagree with you, but I don't..
No doubt you've read my recent post about the 'shuffle'...When I encourage beginners to use it or other patterns the goal is NOT to get them to use the pattern throughout any particular tune but rather to just help them get some control over their bows..
Personally, I struggled with my bow for 20 loooong years and then when I finally learned about structured bowing, my life changed. I suspect that fiddlers who are functional but who have not specifically studied patterns probably DID spend a lot of time trying to Listen and Duplicate another fiddler's bowing.. and THAT is, to me, another form of studying patterns...
Patterns offer options...

Tony, I'd LOVE to see the sheet music (including bowing, of course) for an Anywhichway tune.. If I am correct, then there would probably be variations each time through.. I think of Benny Thomasson and other fiddlers who have had transcripts printed.. I've played those and the musicians are constantly changing their bowing ... Maybe that could be called 'anywhichway'... You may have noticed that my new Hangout name is Tune Weaver... I made that change this summer when someone said that I was good at 'weaving' a tune.. I'm still not sure if that was a compliment or an insult, so I chose to consider it a compliment.... I virtually Never play a tune twice the same way...(Unless I'm Teaching bow control)......

Edited by - TuneWeaver on 10/12/2017 05:38:54

Oct 12, 2017 - 7:38:12 AM
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The bow goes up the bow comes down ... S.G. .... granted not an OT fiddler... I'm working on including bowing patterns in my fiddling currently ..... that pursuit is driving me a bit crazy .. alright more crazy.. Pulse ... is what I am after. That drive you can get going with good smooth bowing. < Sigh ..
Whosoever said "Man invented the fiddle and the devil invented the bow " had a good point ... R/

Oct 12, 2017 - 9:51:39 AM
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quote:
Originally posted by TuneWeaver

You might think that ME, of all people would disagree with you, but I don't..
No doubt you've read my recent post about the 'shuffle'...When I encourage beginners to use it or other patterns the goal is NOT to get them to use the pattern throughout any particular tune but rather to just help them get some control over their bows..
Personally, I struggled with my bow for 20 loooong years and then when I finally learned about structured bowing, my life changed. I suspect that fiddlers who are functional but who have not specifically studied patterns probably DID spend a lot of time trying to Listen and Duplicate another fiddler's bowing.. and THAT is, to me, another form of studying patterns...
Patterns offer options...

Tony, I'd LOVE to see the sheet music (including bowing, of course) for an Anywhichway tune.. If I am correct, then there would probably be variations each time through.. I think of Benny Thomasson and other fiddlers who have had transcripts printed.. I've played those and the musicians are constantly changing their bowing ... Maybe that could be called 'anywhichway'... You may have noticed that my new Hangout name is Tune Weaver... I made that change this summer when someone said that I was good at 'weaving' a tune.. I'm still not sure if that was a compliment or an insult, so I chose to consider it a compliment.... I virtually Never play a tune twice the same way...(Unless I'm Teaching bow control)......


lol...  no, I didn't expect you to disagree.  And yes, your recent post was what caused me to think about all this again. 

I think learning a bowing pattern for the reasons you suggest is appropriate.

Concerning your last comment - about playing variations each round - I will usually have a standard version that I will play, but I will often look for ways to change things here and there - just to keep it interesting to me. Nothing radical, and most folks won't even catch it.  Most tunes will have a few places that seem perfect for changing things a little. I enjoy that. But yes, writing that out would require a different score for each variation - not practical.  

I've watched videos of two or more fiddlers playing through a tune - and - almost without exception - they never play with bows in sync with each other. If they were playing patterns - you'd think they would be in sync. And to me, they are playing patterns. If I close my eyes, they sound pretty much in sync - but from watching, it is apparent that they just use bowing patterns they worked out for the tune(anywhichway?).

...off to Alabama! and a weekend with the Canote Brothers.

Oct 12, 2017 - 10:02:50 AM
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Patterns exits, but they rarely continue through the whole tune. Even if you bowed every note, most OT tunes have longer notes that break up the string of 8th / 16th notes (whatever you're calling them) and create patterns. Now bluegrass and Texas styles might differ but they both benefit from some slurs.
The fella who taught me my first tunes always suggested breaking up the 'boring one note per bow' with an occasional 2 note slur. Instead of 1111 he would say "try this" 211, 121, 112, 22. He did not advocate any 3 note slurs saying it was too much like classical. I suspect this opinion came from teaching too many people who came from the classical world.
So my approach is to just play what works. If a pattern develops, so be it, but a pattern doesn't sound right (all the time) for most of not all of my tunes.

Oct 12, 2017 - 11:57:32 AM

1313 posts
Joined Oct 22, 2007

There have been some very successful fiddlers that lived on one note per bow. I can see how they fall into it. But eventually I'll come across a phrase that I can't bow fast enough so I slur it. So I don't hang my hat on one note per bow, but I do use it as Billy said to break up what could sound monotonous. In other instances I tend to accidently "Cajunify" too many country tunes. I can't help it, it's just sort of a default. I can't rightly say what the cadence is but it fits into too many country beats. Like I said, I shouldn't do that continuously either. I don't have anything to pass along other than, I don't think it's any good to be too much one way or the other. Because you steel from yourself. Like I said, if I was committed to one note per bow, I could only play a certain percentage of the tunes I play. Same way with anything set in stone.

Oct 12, 2017 - 2:16:25 PM
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boxbow Players Union Member

USA

2185 posts
Joined Feb 3, 2011

I don't think in terms of patterned bowing when I'm playing. It takes more attention than I can split off from not fumbling the dang tune in the first place. I play what's in my head, which mostly resembles the tune. The bow goes up, the bow goes down. Any patterns are what I develop to get through the sticky bits without crashing. On well-known tunes played many times through, the siren call of novelty demands that I change it up some, and it's easier to do so if I'm loose and acclimated, so to speak, to the tune. Patterns aren't loose for me. They're mostly training exercises in my practice room, like the double shuffle. Needs lots more work because I get so tense I'm practically seeing spots.

Oct 12, 2017 - 6:59:42 PM
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West Virginia banjo player Dwight Diller always said its more important what you do with the spaces between the notes than with the actual notes. He was talking about clawhammer, and about coordinating right hand rhthyms with notes, but I think it probably could apply to Fiddling too. To me, I've spent the last nine years thinking about this and fiddling around with it...and I learned early on, that I don't care how good you are, I can never imitate your bowing. I tried to learn from videos of people calling out the ups and downs, and finally gave that whole idea up. There might be something to studying patterns to stick in your bowing, but what I think I eventuallydiscovered was that it seems like to be, pretty much a Nashville Shuffle type person...if I set up the fell of the shuffle, then wander out of it ( because it gets boring), but underlying whatever I am doing there remains a sort of ghost of a shuffle, ghost of a Nashville shuffle...it doesn't seem to matter if I play a known and studied authentic pattern or just make something up, as long as underlying in my mind there goes a Nashville shuffle along. As an example of this...my neighbors had an eclipse party in August and wanted me to play the djembe drums for it...yes, it was that weird. Well I don't play those drums, but I did it anyway. Honestly, I surprised myself with how good I sounded on that drum, and the neighbors were happy and thought they made the right choice for the drums. Anyway, after that party I got curious and looked up how you're supposed to play those drums..lol..being totally ignorant of what I was supposed to be doing. I found some info suggesting a person start with a simple rhythm, not too different from clawhammer rhythm or shuffling on the fiddle...after the djembe student gets that solid, they can do a buncha other stuff that can actually overlay somebody else doing that rhythm, or cut away to the thing while keeping the feel of the original rhythm. I'm like...wow...it's really like just setting up a rhythm, anywhichway...lol...then improvising within the context of that rhythm. I had to learn bowing patterns before I could see that...but now I think I understand that anywhichway or patterned people are going for the same thing. Some might need to know the patterns to get there...some might just stumble into it like I seemed to on the drums that night at the eclipse party. I think the old timers we hear probably have more stuff going on between the notes and so nobody on this earth can exactly figure them out...yet, in my own opinion, we don't need to. If their playing inspires us...we are of a different generation and need to preserve old time fiddling from our own perspective...imho.

Oct 12, 2017 - 7:06:52 PM
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But I should add...the only places that gave me trouble on the djembe drum was not always getting the feel of which hand should go next...can get awkward. When I saw the lessons it showed which hand should go when so you could get around the rhythms without stumbling. Same with fiddling...I believe. Seems to me the most trouble I had was when I had a split second of not knowing the best way for the bow to go and then I'd crash on the fiddle. Well, that almost never happens now...but I can see where learning patterns good enough to stick them in here or there, or at least be aware of what you're gonna do to fill up the space of a couple of Nashville shuffles and then move on to something else without stumbling, or without having to give a thought about which way to move your bow next...seems that knowledge or security of not having to stop and think which way to go would get good thing, however you can get it.

Oct 12, 2017 - 11:20:59 PM
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i like Peggy's "Ghost Shuffle"  idea, its similar or the same as what i tend to do lately, the shuffle is in my head, not necessarily in my bowing,  and it keeps things on an even keel

i don't give the different patterns i think of as i am playing names, they just split the bars up in different ways, or ride across the bar lines providing rhythmic tension and release, or accent a beat, i can change the patterns in my head for different sections of a tune and the bow seems to follow... from now on i'm going to call them "Ghost Shuffles", similar to what i call "Ghost Notes".... they are implied rather than played, but sometimes they come out, and they keep the rhythm tidy(er)

Oct 12, 2017 - 11:45:16 PM

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BTW i think the shuffle rhythms may originate from African polyrhythms?? so Peggy's Djembe experience seems to fit as well

Oct 13, 2017 - 12:43:36 AM

fujers

USA

4574 posts
Joined Feb 14, 2008

I'm back, You know I couldn't stay away to long with out saying something..but I'm a fiddler just as you are good or bad I would like to give my thoughts on this this subject. Now what I'm going to say is this

Tony, You don't have to fret nune about bowing. Just play it as you know it. Heck a lot of fiddlers did that way. How did you think the old timers did it and they didn't know one bowing from another. If you find a bowing technique that works for you ..play it..there ain't nothing that says you can't. Just look in the Fiddlers Hand Book page 16. It says..all bowing is allowed. Now if you use the bowing the bowing that you know...who knows you could become a star one day.

In all..you can play anything you want to. Don't worry about the name of something just fiddle. perhaps the name of something and trying to play that something my hold you back from what it is that you truly want to play. I say..poop on that..I'm going to play what I want to play..I mean that. Just fiddle Tony..don't let something or anything hold you back. Jerry

Oct 14, 2017 - 6:36:39 AM
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I have been told by other fiddlers not to worry about such things. Just try to play what you hear. If it sounds like what you hear, that's good. This is not information coming from a teacher, just from other fiddlers at the jam who have played for decades.

As a newbie at fiddle, I'm having to work my way up from easier tunes. When I can get an easier tune sounding authentic I'm very happy. By easier tune I don't necessarily mean beginner tune. More like something that is easy for me to replicate, which sometimes can be tunes that are pretty hard for me to play on the mandolin.

It helps to watch other fiddlers play, too. At least it becomes clear that there is no rote pattern anybody is doing. I usually can't figure out what anybody is doing by watching, but it is clear everybody is doing something different, and even a single person does something different each time the tune comes round again.

It helps to study good fiddlers on youtube. I love Moonshine V's youtube channel. John Bekoff has a very unusual style of fiddling where he sometimes combines polyrhythms into it. Moonshine has a lot of videos of him. She's got a lot of videos from festivals of great players playing different styles and even one or two where the fiddler explains a bit of what they did. I've yet to see any good fiddler do anything only one rote way throughout an entire tune. I think that trying to do that is why a lot of stuff sounds like it is missing something.

Oct 14, 2017 - 7:31:42 AM
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Peghead

USA

1487 posts
Joined Jan 21, 2009

Great post! Here is my favorite bow pattern. Seriously though, my personal approach is to find the bowing that best communicates the musical idea or phrase as I hear it. It's a marrage. With OT that mostly means arranging the down beats. Not all downbeats are equal, so my goal is to to create the hierarchy that brings the tune into focus. For a long time my bowing was dictated ergonomics, doing what was easy is a natural way to progress. In listening to myself, however the accents were off the mark. It was a hit or miss affair. On big thing I was doing avoiding slurred string crossings or slurring into the down beat too much because it fingered easily. Regarding patterns, they will emerge, our brain just sees them and even creates them where none were intended. For me, bow patterns are an observation after the fact. I don't cut and paste patterns per se, but I do arrange the slurs and changes of bow direction, it's patterning but on the atomic level. I've noticed that there can be a few bowing options that are true to the musical intent for a particular phrase but the list is finite. I'll use those as variations. So, I don't always play it the same way. Other fiddlers might notice but most people wouldn't which is the good. There are many more bowings that are out of the question because they just sound weird. It's a judgement call. However, I have noticed over the years that as technique improves I can make more bowings sound right that I would have not considered before. Some bowings come with and are identified with the tune as brand and changing them is delicate. Regarding tradition, 100 years from now fiddlers will listen to us and say "everyone around 2017 sounded like that", and that will be "traditional". We'll never hear things the way they did 100 years ago either, our musical landscape is so different. Absorb the past and be in the present is my approach.   


 

Edited by - Peghead on 10/14/2017 08:15:40

Oct 14, 2017 - 11:15:53 AM

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Joined Aug 10, 2017

Here's a good one from the Canotes. stringband.mossyroof.com/BigEyedRabbit.mp3 You can totally hear that it's not straight shuffling. You can hear the bow bouncing as it travels in one direction. Not sure if there's a term for that. Great rhythm and pulse without that rote shuffle uniformity you described in the original post.

Edited by - sbhikes2 on 10/14/2017 11:16:13

Oct 14, 2017 - 2:49:02 PM

9769 posts
Joined Sep 23, 2009

I do think there is something good in learning about what Shuffles have been figured out, as much as can be possible, by people who were able to observe it in some of the old time greats. With the discussion about that that happened for a few years here, I did so much thinking and experimenting with shuffles, etc., and I think it catapulted my playing somewhat, just to be familiar with all of that. Especially since I was 55 years old when I really starting learning. However...I think if somebody learned growing up, they could absorb it better just by having the experience of being right there with a grandparent, watching and copying. But I understand the original post...that no matter how anybody dissects a great fiddler' playing, you can't really parse that out...there's just something else in there that you can't get so easily as with Shuffle.

Oct 14, 2017 - 3:31:24 PM
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Tony, I have listened to all of the recordings that you have posted here on the Hangout.. No doubt... you DO have a great Old Time sound.. and no, you don't sound like you are playing a lot of patterns.. I'm impressed... !!!!

Oct 14, 2017 - 8:50:15 PM
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fujers

USA

4574 posts
Joined Feb 14, 2008

If you took just one bowing pattern and stayed with it for a while. The pattern will open up new doors for you. Nothing comes cheap. Jerry

Oct 15, 2017 - 3:54:47 AM
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quote:
Originally posted by fujers

If you took just one bowing pattern and stayed with it for a while. The pattern will open up new doors for you. Nothing comes cheap. Jerry


Truer words were never spoken, Jerry.....After I discovered the 'shuffle' I played it extensively for years and during that time also discovered several uses and ways to do it.. including nuances within the shuffle including giving emphasis to one note verses another and applying it with and without drones..Eventually I went on to other patterns..It took a LOT of slow playing, demanding of myself that I put the shuffle where i wanted it and not only where it was Easy...

Oct 15, 2017 - 9:26:38 AM
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I'm not sure about the Canote version, but this one by Mr. Tommy Jarrell, who is a source for this tune, clearly had a pattern.

https://www.slippery-hill.com/recording/big-eyed-rabbit

I'd go out on a limb and say that Mr. Jarrell's Disciples are probably responsible for all this pattern talk in the first place because HE had a repetitive way of playing that was hypnotic and appealing to an emerging generation that was influenced, however consciously or subconsciously, by rock and roll. 

smiley

Oct 15, 2017 - 10:29:10 AM

fujers

USA

4574 posts
Joined Feb 14, 2008

If you take a look at Dave Reiner's music page he might be able help with some of what you are looking for. He is an excellent fiddle player and knows a lot about bowing..he wrote the book. Look under Georgia Shuffle. He demonstrates a lot of the techniques of bowing. Jerry

Oct 15, 2017 - 2:21:03 PM
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quote:
Originally posted by sbhikes2

Here's a good one from the Canotes. stringband.mossyroof.com/BigEyedRabbit.mp3 You can totally hear that it's not straight shuffling. You can hear the bow bouncing as it travels in one direction. Not sure if there's a term for that. Great rhythm and pulse without that rote shuffle uniformity you described in the original post.


ahhh...  the Canote Brothers.  They are a real treat, a lot of fun, and good teachers.  I spent this past weekend at a workshop where they were teaching tunes.

Gregg is an excellent fiddler. His recordings are deceiving. They sound really simple, but he really deals with tunes - note by note - and there is a lot there you probably are missing until you hear him live. He figures out exactly what he wants to do for each tune. He was very big on teaching a lot of different bowing techniques that he likes to use to get certain phrases to work for him. I don't recall him talking about bowing patterns at all. (Caveat - that's not to say he doesn't think they are important - but does imply that for him - they aren't as important as the techniques he demonstrated)

He carries a book full of the tunes he plays - written out in notation. But he doesn't follow his own note for note "pattern" strictly when performing or jamming. He will play with the melody a little. I think it is useful to him as a core to build on and play with - and to teach.

I really enjoyed the workshop.

Oct 15, 2017 - 2:23:18 PM

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Joined Aug 7, 2009

quote:
Originally posted by TuneWeaver

Tony, I have listened to all of the recordings that you have posted here on the Hangout.. No doubt... you DO have a great Old Time sound.. and no, you don't sound like you are playing a lot of patterns.. I'm impressed... !!!!


You are very kind and generous. thanks...

Oct 15, 2017 - 2:37:35 PM
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Tonyelder, I would love to take an in-person lesson from them. I instead try to learn by ear from their recordings. I lack the skills to copy most of what I hear from them. This video is what I imagine when I hear people say that you should shuffle throughout an entire tune in order to get that "old-time sound". There's just something missing from this, and for sure it's nothing at all like what the Canotes do.

youtube.com/watch?v=Lou-YFz3kb0

Oct 15, 2017 - 2:43:28 PM
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quote:
Originally posted by sbhikes2

Tonyelder, I would love to take an in-person lesson from them. I instead try to learn by ear from their recordings. I lack the skills to copy most of what I hear from them. This video is what I imagine when I hear people say that you should shuffle throughout an entire tune in order to get that "old-time sound". There's just something missing from this, and for sure it's nothing at all like what the Canotes do.

youtube.com/watch?v=Lou-YFz3kb0


I don't know that fiddler but I'd guess that she is NOT an Old Time fiddler and that she is Classically trained.. 

Please don't let her be the 'standard' for what a shuffle tune should sound like..

Oct 15, 2017 - 2:45:45 PM
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I know, that's NOT what it should sound like. But anytime I hear someone say it must be shuffled consistently throughout is when you end up with something as awful as that video. That ain't how it's done.

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