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Double stop exercises

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May 28, 2020 - 5:18:22 AM
25 posts since 3/16/2008

What exercises/practice techniques have others used to improve your facility in using fingered double stops? I'm not talking about playing with drones where one sting is played without any fingers but where fingers are played in both strings more or less at the same time.

May 28, 2020 - 5:44:17 AM

Swing

USA

1960 posts since 6/26/2007
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I often without thinking about it play the D and G scales in double stops... just as a quick exercise. Once you get those down the rest come more easily... if you play in the third position double stops are even easier because you are playing in a closed position though the same fingering works in any closed position not just the third...

Play Happy

Swing

May 28, 2020 - 6:02:51 AM

2257 posts since 10/1/2008

Swing gives good advice here. Scales and position shifts ..... Both shifting with the same fingers paired in scales and different pairs... Latching the index finger across a pair of strings and playing a scale yields several double stops that are useful. Watch what you are doing as well as listening. Adjust one finger at a time. Practice with your tuner on. Use a mute ..... when I started out with double stops the cat invariably wanted "OUT OF THE HOUSE". I didn't blame him. And relax this takes awhile. R/

May 28, 2020 - 6:42:30 AM
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RobBob

USA

2679 posts since 6/26/2007

There is a video lesson by Vassar Clements on "Listen to the Mockingbird" and that is a good intro to double stops. Even more current is John Mailander's fine Fiddler's Guide to Moveable Shapes a small book with loaded with great information.

May 28, 2020 - 8:08:44 AM

252 posts since 7/18/2014

Don’t disregard the pinky; you get some free ones with that little guy.

May 28, 2020 - 9:51:01 AM

151 posts since 3/1/2020

Sevcik and Dont are very good resources if you want to build technique.

May 28, 2020 - 12:10:44 PM

2527 posts since 7/12/2013

Just a cool aside, I can't remember who, maybe it was Alex Hargreaves and Matt Glaser, but the student was playing Tennessee waltz in double stops, but around the melody, so the double stop never included the melody note, it sounded really awesome. I wish I could find that video.

May 28, 2020 - 2:43:36 PM
Players Union Member

boxbow

USA

2531 posts since 2/3/2011

I'm assuming this is about getting started with double stops. If you're asking for advanced stuff, skip this.

I learned the chord shapes on mandolin and started dissecting them. I noticed that, since fiddle tunes so often are built of arpeggios, holding a prior stopped note to pair with or anticipating the stopped note to come created some pretty obvious double stops. Lazy fingers. My trouble is that I know so many tunes in D that I have a lot of double stops programmed in and I have to think a bit to transpose them to some other keys, like C as discussed in another thread. I can't think why. It's not that I can't do it or figure something out, I often do. It's just not on auto pilot like in D.

When woodshedding, I'll slow the tempo down, way way down, so I can add far too many double stops and change them without losing the gist of the tune. Much. It's a good way to explore a new tune and it's a fun game with an old tune.

My warm up is a descending series of double stops played on the lowest pair of strings that I can manage. I try for the G and D. I like to start with my pinkie doubling a D to check intonation against the D string. Then my 2nd finger stopping a F# on the D string against the open G to check that. Then make the double stop (F#/D) and hear it. Swap fingers to the forefinger and ring finger thus dropping a whole step. Hear it. My thinking is that if I can work on the ring finger and pinkie really hard, the other two fingers will catch on. It seems to work. I like to continue the descending run on the D string against an open G for no other reason than I like the sound of it. Then play the ascending scale. If you fatigue quickly shift up to the A and E strings. Much less torque on the wrist to start. I like it because I can and do easily check intonation throughout. If I can't hear it I sure won't be able to play it.

I failed to add that an out of tune fiddle makes this even less comprehensible.

Edited by - boxbow on 05/28/2020 14:45:31

May 28, 2020 - 4:03:23 PM

1941 posts since 10/22/2007

Play Down Yonder. Play in E, and the rest of the closed chord keys.

Jazzmando.com has a FFCP (4 finger, closed position) section. It doesn't spoon feed you as a fiddler. You have to relate the principles to the fiddle. But there's alot there.

May 29, 2020 - 2:55:50 AM

Peghead

USA

1552 posts since 1/21/2009

When I practice double stops, I look for the harmony of one of the fingered notes to it's adjacent open string for reference. It doesn't matter what that harmony might be, it could be 3rds, 5ths, octave or strange, what ever. Then I work on the other note of the double stop and keep returning to the open string to check. I guess I'm creating a 3 note chord to triangulate the pitch. If the double stop is in a higher position I bow slightly closer to the bridge. Bowing can alter the pitch if the strings are deflecting.

May 29, 2020 - 5:25:18 AM

1941 posts since 10/22/2007

One more thing. Because of how a fiddle is tuned and laid out, i don't differentiate drones from true double stops. They're all duo-tones. When i am playing, i automatically extrapolate. It's already been said, there are interval all over the fingerboard. I'll add, in a repeatable pattern. Learn one key. Learn it well. Then transpose.

May 29, 2020 - 6:46 AM
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Peghead

USA

1552 posts since 1/21/2009

It seems obvious but practice double stops with long bows so you get sustained intonation feedback. Lightest finger pressure possible with the left hand but firmer bow pressure, remember you're activating 2 strings.

May 29, 2020 - 6:53:49 AM

RobBob

USA

2679 posts since 6/26/2007

quote:
Originally posted by fiddlinsteudel

Just a cool aside, I can't remember who, maybe it was Alex Hargreaves and Matt Glaser, but the student was playing Tennessee waltz in double stops, but around the melody, so the double stop never included the melody note, it sounded really awesome. I wish I could find that video.


This is a jazz technique. There is a recording of the pianist Bill Evans at Montreux Jazz volume II where he plays Alphie leaving out the melody note https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtuNalgPpHk

It is a real attention getter.

Edited by - RobBob on 05/29/2020 06:54:12

May 29, 2020 - 7:32:12 AM
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4653 posts since 9/26/2008

quote:
Originally posted by fiddlinsteudel

Just a cool aside, I can't remember who, maybe it was Alex Hargreaves and Matt Glaser, but the student was playing Tennessee waltz in double stops, but around the melody, so the double stop never included the melody note, it sounded really awesome. I wish I could find that video.


Classic seconding. There are some swing fiddlers who are masters of this.

Edit to correct spelling

Edited by - ChickenMan on 05/29/2020 07:32:43

May 29, 2020 - 12:24:56 PM

2527 posts since 7/12/2013

Cool I didn't know what it was called.

May 29, 2020 - 9:35:34 PM

2497 posts since 9/13/2009

I don't have any specific exercises/practice techniques to suggest, but this might help...

As I started out with I already played rhythm guitar accompaniment... so knew how chords and rhythm work. I included a lot more of the idea accompanying/seconding approach from get go; borrowing from the guitar. Knowing some of that "theory", and thinking like a accompanist might help.

One thing I did was simply "sing", use the fiddle to play simple chordal backup to my singing, esp slow songs... like Amazing Grace. Tennessee Waltz, Cheatin Heart, Jambalaya, Hook and Line, Liza Jane, Sail Away Ladies.

I also did the "just mess around" - with the sound of just chord progressions and rhythms, different voicing, perhaps adding bit of riffs or fills. just listen to sound, cause and effect thing.

On simple fiddle tunes... I often try and fill out the sound by simply adding a chord tone on certain notes (not continuous)... like end of phrases.

I should add, I listened to others - esp fiddlers and accordions, in what they were doing to give me ideas.

Edited by - alaskafiddler on 05/29/2020 21:41:38

May 30, 2020 - 5:45:35 AM

1941 posts since 10/22/2007

Classic second, and third:
youtu.be/IKYwdZrs1GE

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